A Productive Day: The Finale

May 23, 2018 § Leave a comment

As mentioned in my two previous posts, I had a recent day where I was able to complete lyrics for three songs. The first two were more serious. This third entry is more of a dance or club type tune.

In my head, I can envision horns. The tempo is slightly upbeat, and the rhythm is slightly syncopated. I suppose if you picture John Travolta walking the streets of New York in his white suit in Saturday Night Fever, you’ll get the idea.

Stepping Out and Letting Go

Puts on his finest outfit
Decides to hit the street
He feels the rhythm of the weekend
There in the souls of his feet

The 9 to 5 left behind him
48 hours of possibility
It’s Friday night, and he feels alright
The music soon will set him free

Stepping out and letting go
Time to raise the roof
The music is his heartbeat
The rhythm is his truth
Stepping out and letting go
No fear and no regret
He’s gonna keep on dancing
The song’s not over yet

Sees her over in the corner
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
He hopes that she is also waiting
For passion to be unchained

In the late hours of the evening
There’s a different feeling in the air
The night gives way to another day
The moment’s now, the place is there

Will he lead, will she follow
Like steps within a dance
The music echoes in their hearts
It’s time to take the chance

Stepping out and letting go
Time to raise the roof
The music is his heartbeat
The rhythm is his truth
Stepping out and letting go
No fear and no regret
He’s gonna keep on dancing
The song’s not over yet

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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A Productive Day: The Sequel

May 22, 2018 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a day a few months back where I wrote lyrics for three songs in one setting. Two of the songs, the one already shared and today’s entry, are a little similar in theme.

One difference between the two is that the previous song had to build to something slightly more positive or hopeful. Today’s entry, on the other hand, tries to juxtapose the positive and negative in each verse and in the bridge, albeit in subtle ways.

Today’s entry is not modeled on anyone in particular. There are, though, elements that might apply to several women I’ve known through the years.

The major challenge for with this song is trying to decide on a melody. Because the verse lines are long, deciding on a rhythm for this song was tough. Right now, although the lyrics are serious, the melody in my head has a more moderate and upbeat tempo. If there is someday a final version, that may change, although I suspect the lyrics will need some serious revision in that case.

The Simpler Life

She looks at the bills there on the counter
Another fight this month to make ends meet
Knows she’s living paycheck to paycheck
And that she’s one bad break from the street
But she finds purpose in the struggle
Growing stronger through the climb
Between wealth’s trappings and her life’s simplicity
She’ll choose the simpler life each time

She thinks about the man who said he loved her
Then walked out in the middle of the night
Now her heart’s a closely guarded secret
She keeps tucked away and out of sight
Sometimes feels as if she’s reached the bottom
Decides that she has nothing left to lose
Though her life may seem so hard to others
Still, it’s the simpler life she’ll choose

Had a child at 16, two more by 21
At 25, though still alive, she felt like she was done
But she refused to listen to the voices all around
Convinced herself the simpler life
Would lead to higher ground

She knows down inside the life that chose her
Is not the road she would have picked to go
But now, if she had the chance to change it
She’d keep things as they are, that much she knows
Maybe it’s that her life is familiar
But it’s more than meets the eye
Don’t know if you can find contentment
In the simpler life until you try

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

A Productive Day

May 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

A few months back, I was sitting at a table in a coffee shop while my son was taking part in a gaming get together. I remember it was quite loud, what with the various conversations taking place around me.

I had gone with my wife, who was off talking to a friend of ours, and I was left on my own, nursing a cup of tea and thinking. As is often the case when I am out and about, I had a notebook and a pen with me.

I opened my notebook and let the pen go where it would. When I put the pen away and closed the notebook, I had the lyrics to three new songs. Two are in a similar vein, while the third is more uptempo. One needs some revision, but the other two feel pretty solid.

I can’t really speak to where the idea for this song came from. I suspect some of it was thinking about the hard life my mother had at times, but I can’t be sure. (The woman in the song, though, is completely a product of my imagination.) I’ll leave the analysis to others. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Nothing Is Real

She looks at the face in the mirror
And wonders who’s there looking back
The woman she is, the girl she once was
Or someone who fell through the cracks

She kicked the drugs long ago
But she can still see the tracks
The past, left behind but not really gone
Just one slip, fade to black

She’s sure that happiness is an illusion
That one day the truth will reveal
Hard to move on when you feel your faith’s gone
Thinking that nothing is real

She thumbs the small box of photos
She got when her mama died
The woman she sees is the girl she once was
And knows that life is a life

She found herself on the streets
Life taught her how not to cry
She once believed, seems so long ago
She’s long since stopped asking why

She’s sure that happiness is an illusion
That one day the truth will reveal
Hard to move on when you feel your faith’s gone
Thinking that nothing is real

She went to school in the school of lost souls
Watching her friends fall away
Clung to a thread that in her mind said
Tomorrow brings one more chance
Brings one more day

She goes to bed knowing that she’s survived
Another round in her fight
No longer fears what may lurk in the dark
After she turns out the light

She pull the covers around her
And grabs a hold of them tight
Hopes if she wakes up tomorrow
Everything will be alright

She hopes that happiness is no illusion
And one day, the truth will reveal
She can move on after her faith is gone
Even if nothing is real

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Dealing With The Ghosts

May 11, 2018 § Leave a comment

My wife has told me on several occasions that she thinks I blocked out a lot of my childhood. She bases this on those times when someone shares a childhood memory or activity that “everyone” has experienced, only for me to say it is something I never did, never had, never went through, and so on.

Every now and then, I try to write lyrics that reflect on the experiences I do recall. One such experience was of my father leaving us when I was young. One day, when I was five, my father left the house and never returned.

Growing up, I would ask why he left, only to be told he could not handle having a family. As a child, i.e., the thing that turns a couple into a family, I internalized that and took it to mean I was to blame for his leaving. It was years before I finally received an explanation that made sense given his sudden departure.

I’ve tried a few times to channel those feelings into something creative: a poem, a song, but nothing quite said it. Now that I have exorcised many of those demons and can look back with some sense of perspective, I think I may have finally been able to channel those feelings into something I can be happy with.

This song is based on my father’s leaving, but I deliberately wrote it from a more universal perspective. It can just as easily be about the ending of a relationship or the breakup of a marriage or a friendship. Send me your thoughts.

(Your Ghost) Still Under My Skin

When you left, when you walked away
I couldn’t understand, I couldn’t find the words to say
Time may heal, but time cannot erase
The emptiness I felt, the absence of your face

Your ghost is always here with me
Sometimes, these days, it’s a little hard to see
Scar tissue hides what might have been
Even now, you’re still under my skin

For so long, I always wondered where
And hoped I’d turn around to find you standing there
Always kept your picture close to me
The ghost behind the image never set me free

I used to think I was to blame
Thought that I’d somehow pushed you away
Took so long to get past the shame
Of thinking I was why you couldn’t stay

Time has passed, but I still think of you
All the time we missed and all the things we didn’t do
Though I try, can’t seem to let you go
So I do my best not to let it show

Your ghost is always here with me
Sometimes, these days, it’s a little hard to see
Scar tissue hides what might have been
Even now, you’re still under my skin

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling Funky, Hearing Horns

May 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

Although I “hear” the melodies for my songs in my head, I don’t notate music and don’t usually chord my songs. My patient wife usually helps with the chording and arranging.

While we perform as a singer-songwriter act (me on vocals and hand percussion, my wife on acoustic guitar), I can sometimes “hear” or at least envision other instruments on some of what I write. Usually, this takes the form of electric guitar or harmonica, with the occasional piano.

Sometimes, though, the song seems to cry out for horns. Such is the case with today’s entry. By the time I had finished writing the first verse, I was hearing trumpet in my mind. By the time I had finished writing the lyrics, I was also hearing trombone, combined with the trumpet in a slightly uptempo and funky beat. See if you can “hear” them too when you read these lines.

I structured this song a little differently from most of my compositions. This song has an opening verse, followed by a pre-chorus or bridge, followed by the chorus/refrain. However, instead of coming out of the chorus into another verse, it comes out into another pre-chorus/bridge, followed by the second verse, followed by another pre-chorus/bridge before launching back into the refrain. Hope you like it. And “listen” for those horns.

Caught By An Angel

Girl, the way you look at me
You hide it well, but I can see
The way you really feel
You don’t have to say a word
But if you did, the voice I heard
Would surely seal the deal

You’ve got a certain something
Simple words cannot describe
For me, it’s as if I have gone to Heave
Because I know I must have died

If she walks, if she talks
If she looks like an angel
Just stand there in her light
Once you’ve looked, you’ll be hooked
Caught by an angel
No need in putting up a fight

The time has come to surrender
I’m facing certain defeat
I knew the battle was lost from the moment
I first saw you on the street

Girl, you act like you don’t care
But there’s a charge, it fills the air
Chills up and down my spine
You move like a symphony
Your every step in harmony
All I need is a sign

There ain’t no doubt about it
Your hooks are deep into me
No use resisting, I never stood a chance
Because any fool can see

If she walks, if she talks
If she looks like an angel
Just stand there in her light
Once you’ve looked, you’ll be hooked
Caught by an angel
No need in putting up a fight

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspired by Other Songwriters

April 26, 2018 § Leave a comment

Most songwriters, whether they choose to admit it or not, are inspired and influenced at some level by other songwriters. These can be names from the distant past (such as George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer) or names more recent songwriters (such as Elvis Costello or even Taylor Swift).

These influencing figures can be well-known or not. For instance, I like to listen to artists not necessarily in the national spotlight, artists such as John Gorka, Luka Bloom, and Idaho’s own David Robert King.

King has a haunting song based, I believe on a true story and a real person. Simply called “Idaho,” the song is haunting and evocative and serves as the title track from a CD he released a few months ago.

His songs often tell a fully developed story, whereas mine often do not, although I occasionally do try my hand at a more storytelling approach in my lyrics.

This entry is based on my year as a student at Rainier Beach High School. The year I was there, Rainier Beach was a combined junior and senior high school (grades 7 through 12), with some 3,000 students. Some of the things in the song actually occurred after I left to attend a different school, but they seemed to add to the lyrics, so I included them. Please let me know what you think.

The Halls Of Rainier Beach

Roamed the halls of Rainier Beach
While armed guards walked the floors
One eye on the kids in cliques
One eye on the doors
Batons at the ready
Guns loaded, within reach
Just an average day
In the halls of Rainier Beach

Poor kids, some with no way out
The fuse already lit
Waited till too late to douse the fire
Every day a circus
Every day a risk
Felt like we were walking on the wire

I was just a sheltered boy
In a wild, wild world
Where one hand was open
One a fist, tightly curled
The halls filled with casualties
No one wanted to teach
Just an average day
In the halls of Rainier Beach

So many hollow spectres
Their lives already done
Just that no one’s given them the news
One is meant for prison
One meant for the streets
Much too young to pay them kind of dues

Made it out some time ago
One of the lucky few
As if an unseen hand
Randomly said, “not him, but you”
I recall that wide-eyed boy
Thrown into the breach
On an average day
In the hall of Rainier Beach

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Keep Your Eyes Open

April 18, 2018 § Leave a comment

I’ve written on several occasions how I am inspired lyrically by things I hear and by things I see. That requires being open to receiving the sights and sounds with an inspired mind, as it were.

Even when I am driving and thinking about other things, I try to keep a portion of my mind clear and open to the possibility of inspiration. Sometimes, that requires being able to notice little things.

Case in point: I was driving with my son after a shopping trip, and he was talking about video games, as he often does. Between that and paying attention to the road, I could have been excused for thinking I had my hands full.

As we were driving, I happened to notice a man with a portable sprayer in front of his house, working on his yard. Because I was open to possibility of inspiration, I was able to see more than that and was able to fill in some imaginary gaps.

After I finished the lyrics, I was reminded of a song recorded 50 years ago by Glen Campbell, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” I won’t claim it is as good a song, and I’m not sure (again) about the title, but I’m pretty happy with it. I hope you like it.

In Suburban Land

He’s out in his yard every afternoon
The pride of the neighborhood
Working his fingers to the bone
Trying to keep it looking good
Keeping it trim and keeping it neat
He keeps the grass green and the flowers smelling sweet
He does all the things
That he’s thinking that everyone should

She’s there in the kitchen most every day
Dreaming of some far-off land
But she knows they’ll never leave this house
As she looks at the ring on her hand
Cooking the meals that they eat every night
She listens as he tells her it’s never right
He’s never happy
Though she’s doing all that she can

Another day, another couple in suburban land

So many dreams, so many plans
So many seconds slipped through their hands
There in the mirror someone they don’t recognize
No longer see the dreamer in each other’s eyes

They sit and they wait for the hours to pass
Nothing ever seems to change
When they were young, inseparable
These days, they live estranged
They go through the motions and say the right things
Remembering the promises tied to their rings
They live their lives with everything neatly arranged

Another day, another couple in suburban land

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.