Time Traveling

January 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the challenge my guitar instructor had given me – write a song in the key of A. I actually ended up writing two. I like to think I’m an overachiever.

Occasionally, I like to challenge myself to write certain types of songs – blues, country, straight ahead rock and roll, light jazz. Part of that challenge also includes trying to write in a different time signature.

Most of my songs as envisioned as straight 4/4 tunes, although I do write from time to time in 3/4. Recently, I decided to try my hand at writing something in 5/4 time.

The song itself has a bit of a swing/jazz feel, with a slightly syncopated vocal. We have arranged the song for acoustic guitar, though I could see some horns or an archtop guitar and maybe some saxophone. Please let me know what you think.

Lover’s Lament

I can feel your eyes
Burning a hole through me
I can’t escape
Wondering what I did
To hurt you
Something I forgot to say

Know I can be cruel
Or make you feel a fool
Nothing I intend or mean to do

I can see you
Waiting patiently
To see what I will do
Wondering if I’ll twist
The knife again
Or make it up to you

Sometimes, I can’t see
Just what you need from me
If my heart is locked, can’t find the key

Instrumental

I can tell you’re thinking
That there’s somewhere else
That you should be
Wondering what
The chances are that
You can do better than me

Your time has been spent
In this lover’s lament
Wishing you knew where the promise went
I wasn’t heaven-sent

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Challenge Accepted

January 11, 2018 § Leave a comment

My method of songwriting is, I suspect, a bit unorthodox. I do not notate music, nor do I find a chord pattern I like and then build the melody and the lyrics off of that.

Instead, my songs usually come with me getting an idea for a phrase, after which the idea for the melody quickly falls into place. Occasionally, I will get an idea for a melody and then have the words come. Usually, though, the words come first. Not unusual, I suppose, given that I was an English major in graduate school.

That method developed because I did not play an instrument of any kind, although I had played saxophone in school. Because of that, my wife has served as arranger and band for any of my songs that we perform. She comes up with the chording and any strum pattern,

Several months ago, I did manage to write, chord, and arrange a song I had written for my wife, but it took several days to chord because I was simply searching out chords and trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Even then, the words and melody came before the chords and arrangement.

This week, my guitar instructor and I talked about songwriting and about how often a song will come out of a chord pattern that the writer discovers while trying out things on guitar or piano. She then asked me if I had ever written anything in the key of A. I said that I thought I had, but I do know it was not intentional; it just sort of happened that way.

Toward the end of the lesson, she challenged me to write something in the key of A and notated the chords and variations in that key which were at my disposal. I accepted the challenge, went home, and came up with today’s offering.

This effort uses some of those variations (such as Aadd9 or Asus2 and Dadd9 of Dsus2, depending on how you want to label them). I also came up with a pattern that I goes from A to Asus2 at the beginning and end of each verse.

Once I had a chord pattern that I liked for the verses (there is no bridge or refrain though the chords change as if there were), the melody and lyrics came quickly. I tried to punctuate with dashes and paragraph breaks to help indicate phrasing and where the main chord changes (between verse and refrain-like melody) occur, even though it might not be completely clear. I hope you like it.

Words

These eyes – have seen so much
Time can’t wash away
Tears – cried Late at night
That never see the light of day

I can’t turn back now
No return that I can see
Words are not enough
To bring you back to me

This life – mistakes I’ve made
I cannot repair
Why – can’t I let it go
Those ghosts are always there

I cannot forget
Forgiveness so far away
Words mean nothing now
There’s nothing left to say

No time – to make amends
You walked away, now I’m alone
That time – now erased
My heart was never stone

I can’t walk away
You’re always here with me
Words brings no release
They can’t set me free

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

When Politics Inspire

January 8, 2018 § Leave a comment

I don’t try to write much in the way of political lyrics. That doesn’t mean I have no political views. I do; just as my friends and family.

I don’t write political lyrics because it seems to me that many of those types of songs have a shorter shelf life. They are often written in response to a particular moment in time, and once that moment is over, the songs are no longer relatable.

Although there are examples, they are written in response to a specific moment or episode but are written in a way as to be able to relate to other moments or periods in time. Those songs last.

I don’t really expect that my songs will be considered alongside the greats such as Gershwin, Berlin, Kahn, or even Dylan or Lennon-McCartney. At the same time, I do try to write songs that could stand the test of time if given the opportunity.

However, there are occasions when a moment or even an utterance will inspire something that is more “of the moment.” That was the case when, the other day, President Trump took credit for the talks about to take place between North and South Korea.

This song has little, if anything to do with those talks, but his pronouncement got me to thinking back over the last year about some of the things I’ve heard, seen, and read in the news and on social media. That, in turn led to today’s entry.

Anger In The Streets

Angry voices, empty threats
Everybody trying hard to hedge their bets
Worried ’bout the future and living in the past
Never know which day is gonna be our last

On the brink of Armageddon
Or just another day
To let our best intentions
Simply fade away

There is anger in the streets
Resignation in the home
Across the generations
And yet, we feel alone
There is fear deep in our hearts
We try to put on a brave face
All the while suspecting
That we have lost the race

Pointing fingers, shifting blame
Wishing all the while that we could be the same
Differences that scare us here inside our cocoon
So busy worrying, it’s over all too soon

On the edge of revelation
Or ignorance, our bliss
Tempted by the angel’s promise
And the devil’s kiss

There is anger in the streets
Resignation in the home
Across the generations
And yet, we feel alone
There is fear deep in our hearts
We try to put on a brave face
All the while suspecting
That we have lost the race

There is anger in the streets
Resignation in the home
Across the generations
And yet, we feel alone
There is fear deep in our hearts
We try to put on a brave face
All the while suspecting
That we have lost the race

© 2018 Walt Huntsman

Inspired By The Red-Headed Stranger

January 6, 2018 § Leave a comment

The other night, I happened to watch an 2016 interview Dan Rather did with Willie Nelson. In the interview, Rather asked Willie about his songwriting.

In his answer, Willie drew upon something he had heard another country songwriter say and talked about writing in “three chords and the truth.” For some reason, that phrase resonated with me, so I was determined to try to write something with that phrase in it. So I did.

This song definitely falls into the country category. In fact, I can almost hear Willie Nelson sing it. I hope you like it.

Three Chords And The Truth

I’ve wandered through this life
Always tried to do the best I could
I’ve had my ups and downs, but through it all
I’ve always tried to see the good

I’ve walked through the desert
Worked my fingers to the bone
Tried my best not to let
My heart turn into stone

I never claimed to know the answers
I never said I had the proof
I tried to walk the straight and narrow
Me and three chords and the truth

I’ve loved ’em and I’ve left ’em
But I always left a piece behind
Broke my share of hearts, been broken too
And through it all I seemed to find

Love’s a losing proposition
‘Less you’re prepared to lose it all
It’ll bring you to your knees
Or make you feel ten feet tall

I never claimed to know the answers
I never said I had the proof
I tried to walk the straight and narrow
Me and three chords and the truth

I never claimed to know the answers
I never said I had the proof
I tried to walk the straight and narrow
Me and three chords and the truth

© 2018 Walt Huntsman.

A New Year, A New Lyric

January 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

First off, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2018 (I can’t believe I’m writing that) be all that you hope for and maybe all that 2017 wasn’t.

It’s hard to believe another has slipped past us. Time moves past whether one is looking or not. It was with that idea in mind that I wrote today’s entry.

I find as I get older that time – the passage of, the wasting of, the stillness of – creeps into my lyrics a little more often. Today’s lyrical effort combines a couple of those notions.

This lyric is different from most of my efforts in that there is no real rhyme scheme. In fact, the closest I come to rhyming is a near rhyme in the bridge. I also made a conscious effort to be more economical with words while at the same time trying to offset the sad tone of the verses with a faint note of hope. I hope you like it.

Regret

Where did it go?
Time slipped past while you weren’t looking
Now you’re standing closer to the end

So many days
When you thought maybe tomorrow
Now tomorrow’s become yesterday

Regret
Regret
Regret
Regret
Regret
It’s not over yet

Thinking you should pull the pin
Call it quits and start again
But you can’t seem to let it go
Regret

Where are they now?
People drifting in and out
They come and go like the changing tides

Feeling sorry
Looking back at chances lost
Everything that you let slip away

Regret
Regret
Regret
Regret
Regret
It’s not over yet

Regret
It’s not over yet

© 2018 Walt Huntsman

One More Christmas Offering

December 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

Every year, I set myself a challenge of writing a Christmas song lyric. Some years, I fail. Other years, I write something so bad, I feel I should burn it or bury it in the back yard.

This year was a bonanza, however. I actually wrote two holiday songs. The first, “Christmas Once Again”, I shared a few days ago. Today’s offering is a bit more of a romantic bluesy number, though one with a happy ending, at least for Christmas night. I hope you like it. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christmas Here With You

Beneath the mistletoe
The Christmas tree, the winter snow
There’s a feeling I can’t seem to shake

Things are going much too well
Won’t take long, and I can tell
The gods will say there’s been a mistake

But until they change the plan
I’ll enjoy it while I can
And grab all the joy one man can take

Because this Christmas you are here with me
You’ve made my heart light up like a Christmas tree
Tomorrow may come and you may go
But tonight you’re here and this I know
You’re gonna make my Christmas wish come true
Because I’m spending Christmas here with you

Christmas carols everywhere
Anticipation in the air
Wondering if this time it’s for real

Right now, it feels so right
I’m hoping come Christmas night
That’s still the way I’m gonna feel

But until the fates decide
To punish my foolish pride
I’ll take all the love that I can steal

Because this Christmas you are here with me
You’ve made my heart light up like a Christmas tree
Tomorrow may come and you may go
But tonight you’re here and this I know
You’re gonna make my Christmas wish come true
Because I’m spending Christmas here with you

Because I’m spending Christmas here with you
Because I’m spending Christmas here with you

© 2018 Walt Huntsman.

A Sentimental Christmas Offering

December 22, 2017 § 1 Comment

I’ve spent Christmas in a variety of places over the years: from California to Washington to Montana to South Dakota to Louisiana to Alabama and now Idaho. Some of those places had snow for Christmas, some didn’t. The jury is still out as to whether we’ll have snow this year. (We have a little now, but it may not last.)

Of course, Christmas has changed since I became an adult. Now, I buy presents instead of simply receiving them. One other thing has changed. Most Christmases are now spent with a lot fewer people.

As an adolescent, I remember spending Christmas mornings opening gifts, then heading off to my grandmother’s house in south Seattle. That house was the antithesis of what one would consider an open floor plan; there seemed to be walls everywhere.

Yet, she somehow managed to host Christmas dinner (and usually Thanksgiving dinner as well) for the entire family – her seven children (when they all could make it), their children, and even some of their children’s children.

Up to four generations would find a seat at the Christmas table, a table that started in the dining room just outside the kitchen doorway, stretched into a room that was neither dining room nor living room, then continued into the living room before ending near the front door. The setup was somewhat elaborate, befitting such a maze of seating.

Most years, the weather was wet or simply overcast with no snow. Sometimes, I would go out for a walk in the late December drizzle after the Christmas meal. Other times, I’d battle with cousins to see who would be the last one up from the table.

Those memories were all at work as I was writing the lyrics for this offering. Not every line has a direct correlation, but the overall tone reflects, I think, what Christmas was like when I was growing up. I hope you like it. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Once Again

Outside it’s raining, no snow again this year
But the tree is up, the lights are neatly strung
The milk and cookies laid out
When the Fat Man makes his rounds
On the mantle, all the stockings have been hung

The damp seeps into old men’s bones
But they remember when
And feel the joy of Christmas once again

Grandma is cooking, the smell fills up the house
The pies are cooling on the window sill
There’s a turkey in the oven
Wrapping paper on the floor
So long ago, but the memory lingers still

There are moments late at night
I still remember when
And feel the joy of Christmas once again

People laughing, sharing
People loving, caring
Telling stories handed down through the years
Little girls and boys
Showing off their Christmas toys
As a mother dries her baby’s tears

Outside, still raining as we start to head for home
Our stomachs and our hearts both feeling full
People wishing they could stay
Though they know it’s time to leave
They feel inside that familiar Christmas pull

Those days now seem so long ago
Let’s all remember when
And feel the joys of Christmas once again

© 2018 Walt Huntsman.