The Power of Music

April 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

EDIT: I’ve revised a few of the lyrics, and I think the end result is a much better song. (The original lyrics have a line through them followed by the new lines.)I hope you agree.

Let me start by stating what may be obvious to most – music is a very powerful thing. I’m not talking about dance music or electronic music, which can be powerful through the use of bass, rhythm, and volume and is designed mainly to get people onto the dance floor. No, I’m talking about music that is personal, that can stir emotions, that can make the listener think.

This morning, I was listening to the new CD from Idaho singer-songwriter Lee Penn Sky, called 29 Left Down. The album title comes from a mining disaster that left 29 people dead. While Penn Sky might not be a great singer, his songs do come across as very personal and with feeling. The kind of songs that almost beg you to listen to the words rather than the tune. The kind of songs that make you think.

Listening to the CD, I was moved to introspection. At some point, my thoughts turned to my late mother, who died of cancer nearly 20 years ago. As I thought about her, the words started flowing, and what resulted is probably one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written. I’d also like to think it’s one of my best.

Do Voices Carry?

I remember when my mama died
I was two thousand miles away
They called to say she’d met her maker
I got the call that said she’d gone to meet her maker
I didn’t hear ’til the next day
It didn’t come ’til the next day

I had to drop all I was doing
And so I dropped all I was doing
To go and say my last goodbye
I don’t know if she heard me
Do voices carry when you die?
Do voices carry when you die?

I never even got to see her
She’d gone to ash the day before
No marker left of her existence
No sign of her left anymore

Old pictures tried to tell the her story
The day I tried to say goodbye
And then I tried to say good bye
I don’t know if she heard me
Do voices carry when you die?
Do voices carry when you die?

Death may not be the final chapter
But the sequel won’t be written for a while
Still many miles to go
To reunite mother and child

It’s 20 years since I last saw her
Still think of her from time to time
But I don’t see the sick, frail woman she became
Instead, I see her in her prime

Wonder if she was all alone
Since I wasn’t there to say goodbye
Don’t know if she’d have heard me
Do voices carry when you die?
Do voices carry when you die?

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

The Mystery of Inspiration

April 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

When I’m not writing, doing chores around the house, cooking, or catching up with friends and family on Facebook, I like to sit down with a good mystery/thriller. (Ian Rankin is one of my favorites, as is the mother-son team known as Charles Todd.) Lately, I’ve been reading quite a bit of Michael Connelly.

Just last night, I finished reading Connelly’s novel The Closers, featuring one of his recurring characters, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. While reading the book, I came across several phrases that sort of stuck with me, phrases I wrote down, thinking I could use them for inspiration or turn them into something new. And that’s what I did.

When I first finished these lyrics, I looked at them and asked myself what this song is about. Most of my lyrics tend to be a bit straightforward than these, and as a result, it’s usually pretty clear what I am writing about. At first glance, that is not the case with these lyrics, not even to me.

As I re-read and thought about them, several things came to me regarding what this song is about. First, there is the perspective of time and of how time can change one’s perspective. There is also the idea of not giving up or giving in with regards to one’s dreams. Finally, there is the opposition of day and night, dark and light, but with the darkness presented as a positive force rather than a negative, as is often the case when referring to the absence of light.

I think that is perhaps enough (too much?) analysis. I quite light the overall sense of these lyrics, and I hope you will as well. The song title is taken from a chapter title in Connelly’s novel.

Darkness Always Waits

Here in the harshness of the dawn
I get the feeling that I should be moving on
To where, I really cannot say
It’s just a feeling, should be on my way

The patient moon waits for me
Her arms are open wide in sympathy
Knowing that I cannot depart
Gently, she smiles down on my heart

In the daylight, seems the road ahead of me
Is subject to the winds of fate
In the calm of night, the moon reminds me
Patience is a virtue
And gently whispers, darkness always waits

The coming dusk begins the dance
That in the music of the night sings of romance
The rustling leaves whisper to me
Of peace and hope and possibility

The graceful moon sends out her light
To help me navigate the mysteries of the night
Her fullness gently comforts me
Along a path I cannot see

In the daylight, seems the road ahead of me
Is subject to the winds of fate
In the calm of night, the moon reminds me
Patience is a virtue
And gently whispers, darkness always waits

In the calm of night, the moon reminds me
Patience is a virtue
And gently whispers, darkness always waits

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Advancing Lyrically Into April

April 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s the start of a new month and the continuation of a recent writing spree. I’ve been very prolific, lyrically speaking, over the last week or so, writing lyrics for seven new songs and starting the lyrics for three others.

Obviously, writing at such a pace as I have recently ensures that there will be clunkers in the bunch. Still, I feel I’m writing better than at any other time in my life, and I think the prodigious output is helping me to hone whatever ability I might have.

This latest effort wasn’t really inspired by any specific event, by anything I’ve recently read, or by any specific conversation. The opening phrase just sort of came to me, and the lyrics took off from there. It was all very organic, if you will, almost stream of consciousness, which is actually how a lot of my songs comes together.

The chorus was, I think, influenced somewhat by a book I recently read, “God’s Message to the World: You’ve Got Me All Wrong,” by Neale Donald Walsch. The title, I later realized, was a bit of a play on the title of an old Carpenters hit.

I’ve Only Begun

Sometimes, I can’t find the words
To say what I mean
Or mean what I say –

Sometimes, it’s hard to be heard
Above all the noise
That gets in the way
Of finding the truth –

Exposing the lies –
Of seeing what’s hidden –
Behind the disguise –

And if I have to answer
For all that I’ve done –
I’ll just smile and say
“Excuse me, I’ve only begun” –

Sometimes, it’s hard to decide
Which way I should turn
Or where I should go –

Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure
Of just what is right
How will I know
If I was correct –
Or made a mistake –
If I touched a heart –
Or caused one to break –

And if I have to answer
For all that I’ve done –
I’ll just smile and say
“Excuse me, I’ve only begun” –

Sometimes, I wonder
If this is worth all the pain
Trying somehow to get it right
So many notions
Keep colliding in my brain
They make it hard to sleep at night

Sometimes, I think I should stop
And be satisfied
With where I am at –

Something keeps pushing me on
In search of a dream
That won’t leave me flat
Or out in the cold –
Or out in the rain –
Though trying to reach it
Might drive me insane –

And if I have to answer
For all that I’ve done –
I’ll just smile and say
“Excuse me, I’ve only begun” –

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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