In A 12-Bar Frame of Mind

February 24, 2020 § Leave a comment

On the off chance the title didn’t give it away, today’s entry is a blues lyric. Blues songs are deceptively simple in terms of structure, perhaps, but a good blues song can be devilishly difficult to write.

The traditional 12-bar blues song features 12-bar verses, with the first line of four measures  featuring the I chord of whatever key the song is. The line is then repeated, starting on the IV chord for two measures, then returning to the I chord for two measures. The last four measures of the verse traditionally feature the V chord for two measures before resolving back to the I chord for the last two measures of the verse.

My verses follow that traditional 12-bar format with a slight variation. In the first verse, the first line is repeated, but in subsequent verses, no lines are repeated, though the traditional chord structure is maintained. The bridge is eight bars, starting on the IV chord.

I deliberately kept the lyrics relatively short (for me, at least) to allow more space for soloing during the song. As written, the song features an instrumental verse before the bridge and another instrumental section to close out the song.

The instrumental before the bridge could easily be extended if more than one instrument is taking a solo (e.g., harmonica and/or electric guitar). The instrumental at the end of the song, at least as initially conceived, would be four bars, thus adding the four bars lost by only having eight bars in the bridge, and would basically revolve musically around the first line of a verse before coming to a close.

The song shares its title with an Eagles tune but takes nothing else from that classic rock song.  One other note: on the words ending in -ing the ‘g’ is  elided or left unsung. So “knocking” becomes “knockin’.” And so on. As always, your thoughts are welcome. Enjoy!

Already Gone

You may be knocking, but baby, I’m already gone
You may be knocking, but baby, I’m already gone
You may want to hang on to the past, but I’m already moving on

You may be sorry for all the things you did to me
Sorry don’t cut it, so don’t expect no sympathy
I know you love me for my money, but you’ve seen all you’re gonna see

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE
You’ve been messing, left me guessing
Now it’s too late for true confessing
You really hurt me; you know it’s true
I chose to heal myself by walking out on you

You tried to play me, treated me like I was a pawn
You said you love me, but I know that was just a con
You came back thinking I’d be waiting, but I’m already gone

INSTRUMENTAL

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Going Retro

February 21, 2020 Comments Off on Going Retro

Today’s entry is a little ditty that hearkens back to the 30s and early 40s. It’s a style I only occasionally try to write in. In fact, I’ve only written two or three songs in this style.

The first attempt came about four years ago. Where I live, there is (or perhaps was) a mother-daughter duo (mother on electric guitar, daughter on vocals and violin) who performed cover tunes from mainly the 30s and 40s and original songs in a similar style.

After hearing them a couple of times, I was inspired to try and write a song for them. The collaboration didn’t pan out, but I ended up with a song that we perform on occasion. After that, I wrote another song in that style that we also perform from time to time.

So I guess this would be the third song I’ve tried to write in a 30s or 40s style. I envision it as a ballad with a slight swing and syncopation to it. The song has an instrumental section that can be as short as a verse or as long as several depending on the instrumentation involved and the number of solos incorporated.

In my mind, I hear the song played by something like an archtop electric guitar, accompanied by a snare drum played with brushes. It could easily incorporate horns as well. The song itself is short, around three-minutes, which neatly coincides with the typical length of recordings back in the days of 78 rpm records. Enjoy!

Who You Gonna?

Who you gonna tell your troubles to
After you and I are done
Maybe you can share them with the squirrels in the trees
Or yell them up at the sun

Who you gonna share your problems with
After I walk out that door
Whatever you do won’t matter to me
I won’t be there to hear them no more

REFRAIN
The world always seemed to turn around you
The rest of us, just extras in your play
No one else could ever get a word through
Almost like we were in the way

Who you gonna keep your secrets from
When you don’t have me around
Maybe you will learn to somehow enjoy
The sudden solitude that you’ve found

INSTRUMENTAL

REFRAIN

Who you gonna try to rub the wrong way
Without me to give you a spark
Will the time come when you finally see the light
Or will you simply stay in the dark

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

A Life On The Move

February 19, 2020 § 1 Comment

In a previous life (as it were), I worked in radio and television, something I have noted in the past on these pages. That career was not all that lucrative (to say the least), but it did take me to parts of the country I might not otherwise have ever visited.

Although it is possible (I think) to move up the ranks of a single radio or television station, the typical route to advancement (either in terms of responsibility or salary) is to move to another, larger media market or, for a select few, a network.

My career, a remarkably undistinguished one in the annuls of broadcasting, took me to radio and television stations in Alabama, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and Washington (where I got my start). In ten years, I spent time at three radio stations and five television stations (one of them twice).

I once had the notion of trying to write some sort of memoir about these travels. I even had the title worked out, Life In A One Camera Town, but I concluded I did not have the discipline to write, nor would anyone have the inclination to read, such a work.

Instead, I decided to cover some of it in a song lyric. Today’s entry makes no mention of television or radio, but it does cover some of the places I traveled in my career (except for Montana), and the people/experiences in it are real.

The melody and rhythm are different, but I used Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” as a rough blueprint for the lyrical structure, though I deviate from that structure a bit. Let me know what you think.

The Right Place

I was out in South Dakota
Living on my own
Trying hard to make a name
Find a place I could call home

Met a woman with two kids
Thought we’d be a match
She said I wasn’t ready
Still had an itch I had to scratch

I was young and so naive
Thought that I had found
Myself in the right place
With my feet on the ground

Hooked up with a married lady
Whose husband was away
She was kind, but in my mind
I knew I couldn’t stay

Ended up going way down south
West of New Orleans
Just a few bucks to my name
And a head still full of dreams

I was running from myself
And hoping I had found
Myself in the right place
With my feet on the ground

BRIDGE
Headed over to Alabam
There, I found my life
And a woman who gave me strength
She ended up my wife

INSTRUMENTAL

We headed north, up to Illinois
It was too damn cold
Wind would cut right through your clothes
Put frost around your soul

Now I’m living in Idaho
Feels like I might belong
Found a place to put down roots
Where I can sing my song

It took some time and a lot of miles
But I have finally found
Myself in the right place
With my feet on the ground

Now I’m here in the right place
With my feet on the ground

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Not Waiting For The Ink To Dry

February 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

I thought about waiting another day or two before posting again, but sometimes you encounter a serendipitous moment when stars align and inspiration flows. Such was the case yesterday.

My family and I were attending a house concert hosted by and featuring our friend, solo piano artist Lynn Tredeau. With her for this house concert was a very talented guitarist from Utah by the name of Robert Linton.

The best way I can think of to describe his playing yesterday (but not necessarily the most accurate one) is ethereal. He played a bit with alternate tunings and also played with the I’ll describe as the soundscape, varying volumes, ebbing and flowing, much like the wind.

It was those variations, along with the occasional brief pauses in playing that helped inspire today’s entry, the first draft of which was written while he was performing. As he was introducing his songs, Robert several times spoke of the landscape around us and how inspiring it was, something I have found to be true on several occasions. That also, no doubt, played into what I ended up writing.

I’ve tweaked a few lines and changed a few words here and there. I may change a few more before the lyric reaches its “final” version, if there can ever really be such a thing, but I am pretty happy with where the lyric is at.

I envision a soft harmonica in the background (or even a cello), a single held note here and there, played in a slightly breathy style to try and convey the idea of the wind, which is basically what the song is about, at least on its most basic level. Enjoy!

Riding The Slipstream

Softly, I hear the wind whisper
Sharing its secrets with me
Steady, like a guiding hand
Leads me on though I can’t see

It ebbs and it flows
It comes and it goes
Leads me to where
Only the slipstream knows

Riding the slipstream
Going where it carries me
Hope rides on the jet trails
Promises of soaring free

Gently, the breeze is calling
Calling me to come and play
So I let the current carry me
Lifts me from these feet of clay

It gusts, it subsides
Then, it runs and hides
Goes to that place
Where the slipstream abides

Riding the slipstream
All my cares are whisked away
Clouds float by like memories
Like the wind, they do not stay

It lifts and it falls
Travels down nature’s halls
I listen as –
As the slipstream calls

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

My Belated Valentine

February 15, 2020 § 2 Comments

I intended to post this yesterday but, well, life. Some unexpected things popped up, causing yesterday’s intended post to become today’s actual post. (A day late and a dozen roses short.)

As we all know (I presume), yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I felt I needed to share a Valentine type of song.

Of course, “My Funny Valentine” was already taken. So I decided I would share one of my own. (Actually, that was the plan all along.)

Unlike “My Funny Valentine,” which is a lovely romantic ballad (I’m somewhat partial to the Elvis Costello version), today’s entry is more of an uptempo tune. Oddly enough, in the back of my head, I could hear the little guitar licks (a couple of notes, really) that come at the end of lines in the song “Jukin'” by Atlanta Rhythm Section from their second album, Red Tape (which includes an instrumental pulled from “My San Antonio Rose,” written by Bob Wills in the late 1930s).

The feel of this song is intended to be akin to 1970s Southern rock, although not a direct copy of that style of music. Enjoy!

Valentine

If you’ll be my Valentine
I’ll be your handy man
You know I can do for your heart
What no one else can
Got you on my wavelength
Am I on your frequency
If you’re gonna take a chance on love
You can bet your heart on me

If you’ll be my Valentine
I’ll be your April Fool
Girl, you know when you’re with me
No need to play it cool
Don’t care ’bout your reputation
Girl, your secret’s safe with me
Let us spin the roulette wheel of love
Where it ends up, let it be

BRIDGE
Baby, I’ve been chasing
You’ve been hesitating
Now’s the time for action
Girl, I’m tired of waiting
If you’ll give the signal
Just a little sign
Let me know the light is green
You’re ready to be mine

INSTRUMENTAL

If you’ll be my Valentine
I’ll be your shining knight
If you just give us a chance
I know the future’s bright
Got you on my radar
Closing in and moving fast
If you’ll be my Valentine
We’ll build something gonna last

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

From Out Of Nowhere

February 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

I like to think I write some good songs, at least some decent ones Regardless, I am a very prolific songwriter, and I am prolific for one simple reason. I am almost always open to receiving new inspiration from the world around me.

Sometimes, I just start humming tunes off the top of my head. Most of these don’t go anywhere, but they are indicative of how I try to keep the brainwaves free and open for new song ideas to form.

Today’s entry is an example of how a lyric (and melody) just began to form in my head, seemingly out of nowhere. My wife had been talking to me about how she woke up at 1:30 a.m. and could not go back to sleep.

After she left for work, I was preparing to go into the shower when the opening line to today’s entry came, inspired by her tale of sleeplessness. What I thought would be the chorus (now a pre-chorus) came soon after, followed in rapid succession by the rest of the first draft.

While the vast majority of my songs form around the idea of an acoustic guitar, I envision today’s entry as something accompanied by some simple keyboard, maybe even electric organ.

I see (and “hear”) this song as having a slight R&B flavor, perhaps because I am hearing this as more of a keyboard song than a guitar song. (On the other hand, I guess it could be a power pop ballad.) Enjoy!

Won’t You Tell Me Now

Two o’clock in the morning
I can hear you sleeping
To the rhythm of the rain

Suddenly, without warning
A note of doubt comes creeping
Finds a foothold in my brain

Have I done enough to hold you
Do you even want to stay
Is this the start of something great
Or is the ending on its way

REFRAIN
Won’t you tell me now
Before my heart gets in too deep
I don’t want to risk the pain
For a love that I can’t keep
If we have a chance
Won’t you let me know somehow
Either way, I’ve got to have an answer
Won’t you tell me now

I hear the clock striking nine
You’re late again tonight
So many thoughts run through my head

Was there somewhere we drew a line
Decided that this isn’t right
Think of the things we said

Did I do enough to show you
Just exactly how I feel
Has the moment come and gone
Or can we still close the deal

REFRAIN

Won’t you tell me now

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Is Love Blind?

February 10, 2020 § Leave a comment

I admit it. Even though we’ve been married a number of years, I still occasionally wonder what my wife sees in me or ever saw in me. Some of that, no doubt, is due to my own insecurities.

At the same time, I (and, I’m sure, many of you) sometimes see couples that seem very unlikely and wonder how they ever ended up together. That notion of unlikely pairings is at the heart of today’s entry.

Today’s lyrical effort tries to draw a bit upon a John Prine sensibility. I’ll leave the matter of  whether I succeeded or not to others to decide.

The title and several lines in the song reference God, but it is not actually a spiritual or a religious song to my way of thinking. While I do believe in some of sort of supreme presence, I am not an adherent of any organized religion these days, as I believe that no single religion has a monopoly on divine truth.

I’m not really sure where the inspiration for this song came from. For some reason, I often have lines and ideas pop into my head, and I feel compelled to write them down to see if they lead anywhere. This one did. Enjoy!

EDIT: After running through the song a few times, I decided to change the word ‘God’ in the song to ‘love,’ as that seemed to me to fit better and was also more in line with the underlying theme of love being blind. I also revised a few of the lines to better match the rhythmic flow of the song. All of the changes are noted with strikethroughs, with the new words in italics.

Sometimes Only God Love

Cheryl isn’t what you might call pretty
Jimmy isn’t what you would call smart
But she has eyes that could see a gaze that looks right through you
And he seems to have a great big heart
I’ve heard it said that fate has a sense of humor
When I look at them, I guess that’s true
‘Cause no one in their right mind could see them together
But sometimes, only God love has a clue

Cheryl walks around with a bit of a limp
Caused by an accident a mishap years ago
When she moves, she looks like Walter Brennan
Still, she gets where she needs to go
Jimmy doesn’t seem to mind the hitch in her stride
And laughing’s something that he’d never do
He simply says a prayer of thanks every day
‘Cause sometimes, only God love has a clue

BRIDGE
Cheryl wears a patch over her left eye
Just what happened isn’t really clear
Jimmy doesn’t seem to have a sense of direction
And he’s going deaf in his left ear
Neither seems to mind the other’s imperfections
Each makes up what the other lacks
They know their love can weather any storm
And help to paper over the cracks

Jimmy has a mind just like a steel trap
People joke that it has rusted shut
It might seem he doesn’t know up from down
He And isn’t always sure of what’s what
But folks no longer wonder when they see him and Cheryl
They simply smile and ask, “How are you?”
They’ve learned to accept that love can be truly blind
And sometimes, only God love has a clue

They’ve learned to accept that love can be truly blind
And sometimes, only God love has a clue

© 2020 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.