Just By Listening

May 24, 2020 § Leave a comment

Recently, the songwriters association of which I am a member decided to solicit and post short video songwriting tips on its Facebook page. In the tip I submitted, I shared my philosophy, which basically boils down to: keep your ears and your eyes open and your mouth shut.

The idea is that if you are talking you aren’t paying attention to the world around you and, therefore, will miss hearing or seeing a possible inspiration or idea for a song or poem. Today’s entry serves as Exhibit A of what listening can lead to.

I happened to be watching some YouTube videos and came across one of Aoife O’Donvan and Sarah Jarosz singing songs written by Patty Griffin and Nancy Griffith. The first song they did was a Patty Griffin song called “Be Careful,” which begins

All the girls in the Paris night
All the girls in the pale moonlight
All the girls with the shopping bags
All the girls with the washing rags

After listening to the song, I was inspired to write today’s entry. The song was further fueled by my memories, real and imagined, of my high school days. As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated. Enjoy!

Truth And Consequences

See the boys all standing in the hallway
As he talks about the girls that he has kissed
Busy bragging ’bout his latest conquest
And how he’ll get the ones that he has missed

One more notch on his belt
I wonder how she felt
When he was done

Seems she’s got herself a reputation
All because of one time she said yes
Tells herself that she should have know better
Now, she’s gotten herself in a mess

When she offered proof
He refused to see the truth
Of what he’d done

REFRAIN
Truth and consequences
Sometimes, no defense is quite enough
To pull you through
Sometimes, the choice you make
Can lead to a mistake you can’t take back
Though you try to

Hear the girls talking in the bathroom
About the one who’s in the family way
Now she’s marked, just like a scarlet woman
The others glad it wasn’t them, they say

When they slipped the noose
They made up some excuse
To walk away

REFRAIN

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Some Memories Won’t Be Buried

May 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

When I was younger, I was in a relationship with a woman a bit older than me. Like some relationships do, it burned white hot at the start only for the flame to quickly die (for a variety of reasons, most of them to do with me).

The woman in question died several years ago, something I wrote about in a lyric shared just several days ago. Today’s entry also draws upon that relationship and is something I wrote a couple of months ago.

I don’t know whether autobiographical songs are ever a good idea, but sometimes, they have to be written. As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

For A Moment

It’s been 30 years, but she’s still on my mind
There in the cracks ‘tween dreams and reality
In the shadows of my imagination
It’s her face I think I see

We were never meant to be together
But I know she’ll be part of me forever
A less than stellar chapter in the pages of my life
But I can’t turn away

REFRAIN
Fortune didn’t smile on us
And fate just turned the page
But for a moment
We were all the rage

I don’t know if she saw my desperation
Or if she had a hunger deep inside
It seems that she and I both had a need
Neither one of us could hide

I thought at first was just a one-night stand
But hit and run was not what the fates had planned
Though we weren’t meant to last, not meant for a solemn vow
She left her mark on me

REFRAIN

BRIDGE
She had daughters close to my age
I didn’t know what I was thinking
She said that we could do it
Wasn’t sure I’d make it through it
So I set her free like I was Lincoln

Though the years have passed, her memory lingers
I Some times wonder where she is these days
I wonder if she ever thinks about me
Since we went our separate ways

My future has been shadowed by my past
Though I know that we were never meant to last
A major indiscretion in a less than major life
No way to go back now

REFRAIN

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspired By Insomnia

May 20, 2020 § 3 Comments

Sometimes, it takes me a little while to get to sleep at night. Sometimes, it even takes a little longer than that.

Occasionally, I’ll try to use that fact to jump-start a lyric. Such was the case with today’s entry, written a couple of months ago.

If I had to categorize today’s lyric, I guess I’d call it a sort of pop-country ballad. The verse and pre-chorus are a bit more restrained vocally, allowing things to build in the refrain, which takes on a bit more of a power pop ballad feel.

As always, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

The Answer Is No

Four a.m., I ought to get some sleep
Instead, I’m staring at an empty glass
I tell myself I’m glad you’re gone
But that feeling will pass

You packed up all your things
Put on your favorite dress
Turned and looked at me one last time
And said there’s something you must confess

REFRAIN
You said, “I don’t love you anymore
And when I turn, I’m walking right out that door
Whatever we might have had
Died a long time ago
I know I’ll haunt you in your sleep
The memory of me’s all you get to keep
You can plead and you can beg me to stay
But the answer is no”

The lights are on all through the house
And yet, I’m sitting here in the dark
Somewhere, off in the distance
I hear the neighbor’s dog bark

You took my favorite picture
Left the half that showed only me
Told me as you walked out the door
“It’s time I set the both of us free”

REFRAIN

“You can plead and you can beg me to stay
But the answer is no”

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Putting A “Spring” In My Music

May 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

I tried to think of a better pun for the title of today’s post, but nothing came to mind. The “spring” in the title refers to Bruce Springsteen, who influences today’s entry, both in terms of song style and the vocal delivery I imagine.

Today’s entry represents a bit of a departure for me. Most of my lyrics seem to me to be more straightforward or plain-spoken.

The lyrics posted below use a bit more metaphorical language and simile than I am used to employing in my lyrics. For that reason, I’m pretty pleased with this effort and am anxious to hear what others think.

Two other things differentiate this from most of the songs I write. The first has to do with the melody I’m imagining and the way in which I envision the song being delivered.

The melody I have in mind does not span a wide range of notes on the musical scale. I have not notated the music for the song (and typically don’t, simply writing out the chords), but I would be surprised in the melody even spanned a full octave.

As soon as the first lines came to mind, so did the melody. I knew right away that I wanted this song sung with something of a Bruce Springsteen vocal quality, as he sounds on tracks such as the title cuts from his albums Nebraska and The River.

The other thing that is different about this lyric is that lines sort of run together in the first half of each verse. The first and second lines are basically one long line, as are the third and fourth lines.

The first verse came quickly; the others took a bit more effort. I hope you think it was worth it. Enjoy!

Just a side note: my wife and I (as the duo Seattle Goes South) release our first single of the year, “John Pine,” May 24. Look for it on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, and numerous other streaming services. (You can find the lyrics here.)

Now And Forever

You leave me thirsty like a man out in the desert
Praying for a single drop of rain
Knowing I’ll be disappointed in the end
Still, no choice but to remain
You’ve got control and you know it well
Know that for you I would walk through hell
I would gladly risk the devil’s fire
For an angel’s kiss

You’ve got me starving for your love
Just like a man who hasn’t eaten in a week or more
Trapped out on the ocean in a boat and knowing
I am never gonna reach your shore
You hold your love at the edge of sight
So hard to see, like a flickering light
Yet I stay with you knowing
There will never be more than this

BRIDGE
You hold out the promise, never delivered
Knowing that I can never resist
Though past disappointments are remembered
Still I tell myself it’s worth the risk

INSTRUMENTAL

A hint of the treasure there in your eyes
Giving false hope in spite of your lies
I am under your spell
Mesmerized by your serpent’s hiss

You control my heart just like a puppet-master
Who knows she’s in charge of everything
I am dancing to your tune although I know
I’m hanging from a fraying string
You know I’m here at your beck and call
Knowing for you I would give it all
Though the pain is more than I think I can bear
It’s something I’d miss

Now and forever trapped in this lover’s abyss

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

“Memories . . .

May 13, 2020 § 1 Comment

. . . pressed between the pages of my mind.”  “Memories” was a song co-written by Mac Davis for the 1968 Elvis Presley comeback special, simply titled “Elvis.”

Davis says he wrote the song in one night, which makes it doubly fitting for today’s entry, which was also written in one night. Today’s entry also deals with a memory from my younger days.

The other night, I was trying to go sleep when I suddenly started to think about someone I knew when I was younger. We didn’t know each other long, and we didn’t part on the best of terms, but from time to time I find myself thinking about her since she was my first real relationship.

I decided to see if I could find out anything online, and I came across an obituary from several years ago for a person with the same first name but with a different last name than I remembered. However, as soon as I read the tribute and saw the names of her daughters, I knew it was the same person.

Almost immediately after reading the online obituary, I began writing today’s entry. It is, I suppose, a country ballad, something I rarely if ever write. Since that is the style that seemed to fit, I went with it.

As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated. (The title is probably one thing that needs changing.)

Present, Future and Past

I saw your name in the paper the other day
Where I read you had passed from this life
I wasn’t there to hold you close
I wasn’t there to say goodbye
One more thing that I can’t undo

I know that hurt you, though you never said
I could tell when I’d look in your eyes
Some things you forget
Some you’ll always remember
I know one of those things will be you

REFRAIN
Two star-crossed lovers, destined to fall
The flame burned too hot much too fast
Though the fire has gone out
The memory lingers
Present, future, and past

I lost track of you somewhere along the way
Though you never were far from my thoughts
We didn’t end the way I wanted
Or the way that you deserved
Forever — so long — we never knew

BRIDGE
Sometimes, late at night, when I close my eyes
It’s your face that I think I see
Now it’s too late, and I’ll never know
If you found yourself thinking of me

REFRAIN

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Avoiding The Pigeonhole

May 11, 2020 § Leave a comment

Most artists, at least in my experience, are associated with a particular genre of music. Not that this means every song they put out sounds the same; it simply makes it easier for retailers to categorize music for sales and probably for listeners as well.

Although my wife and I have recorded some of our songs and do perform them from time to time as an acoustic duo, I tend to think of myself more as a songwriter than as a singer. Perhaps it is because of that I try to write in multiple genres, even genres we are unlikely to be able to perform in (due to lack of instrumentation, being a duo instead of a full band, etc.).

Genres I return to from time to time when writing are blues and rhythm and blues. In particular, I come back to 50s and 60s style R&B, which often tended to have at least as much emphasis on the blues aspect as it did the rhythm.

Today’s entry falls, I think, somewhere along that blues – R&B continuum. The first seeds of inspiration were planted as I was listening to a song titled “Water In The Well” by the Colorado-based band Edison (now, sadly, disbanded).

The song’s lyrics begin with an allusion to the motif of the Great Flood with its 40 days and 40 nights of rain. As that was percolating in my head, I also began to think of the song “Texas Flood,” written in the 1950s by Larry Davis but better known as the title track from the debut album of Stevie Ray Vaughan. (There is also a line that plays off the 60s classic “96 Tears” by ? and The Mysterians.)

Once that motif was firmly planted in my head, I was off to the races. In order to avoid some of the lyrics seeming forced, I used a near rhyme in the first verse and avoided trying to find a rhyme for the word “flood” in the refrain (though I did incorporate one in the bridge).

As always, I welcome your feedback. Enjoy!

The Flood

40 days since I watched you leave
40 nights since I held you close
40 things that I should have said
That’s what bothers me most

40 times that I thought to call
40 times that I hung up the phone
40 tears for each moment lost
Now that I am all alone

REFRAIN
This river of heartache is rising
Feels like I’m going to drown
There’s no escaping the flood
The current is dragging me down

40 ways tried to make amends
40 ways to apologize
40 thoughts of what I would see
Looking into your eyes

BRIDGE
Vengeful clouds overhead
Feel the chill down in my blood
No way to keep from getting washed away
Washed away in the flood

INSTRUMENTAL

40 reasons you won’t come back
40 wishes that you’d change your mind
40 changes I know I could make
But I can’t hit rewind

REFRAIN

There’s no escaping the flood
The current is dragging me down

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspired By The Night

May 9, 2020 § Leave a comment

I don’t know why, but I often find myself writing at night after my wife has gone to sleep, sometimes with a glass of bourbon or a glass of wine close by. Today’s entry is another such effort.

Nighttime often finds me in a more reflective mood. I find myself thinking about things I’ve done, things I should have done, regrets, etc., and I suppose today’s entry started from that frame of mind.

I don’t think there’s too much else to say about today’s entry except to say enjoy!

Smoke And Mirrors

There’s a nagging thought in the back of his mind
Of the people and places that he’s left behind
The memories haunt him when he’s awake
And come alive each night in his dreams

Places and faces that he can’t forget
So many years passed, but they linger yet
The hearts he has broken, including his own
Knows his life is not what it seems

REFRAIN
All smoke and mirrors, his life is a fraud
Looks for forgiveness while cursing his God
Gets on his knees, but his pride takes control
And he buries the pain in his soul

There’s a girl that he loved when he was just a boy
The thought of forever with her brought him joy
One day, she told him that she had to leave
Though she’s gone, she is part of him still

BRIDGE
Thinks of the people he’s seen come and go
None of them could take her place
He kept on moving and tried to forget
But she was a memory he couldn’t erase

REFRAIN

All these years later, he’s still not quite whole
Smoke and mirrors envelop his soul

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.