Even Television Occasionally Inspires

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Television has at various times been referred to as “the boob tube” and as a “vast wasteland.” Occasionally, however, television can be enlightning, educational, even inspiring.

Recently, I have been watching Ken Burns’ ten-part documentary for PBS on jazz. Although some critics called the miniseries oversimplified, for someone like me who enjoys jazz but doesn’t necessarily know that much about it, it has been both educational and entertaining. Even inspiring.

As I watch the series, I am reminded of how much I enjoy the music of both Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. With regard to the latter, I especially enjoy his efforts to marry the blues and jazz into something almost classical in nature. In particular, I am thinking of Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess. The latter, of course, features the famous tune “Summertime.”

While watching one of the episodes of Burns’ miniseries, I was reminded of “Summertime” and decided to see if I could come up with something possessing a similar flavor. Hopefully I succeeded. The tempo, at least, is similar.

Late At Night

Late at night
When the dreamers are sleeping
Only the hollow men
Have their eyes open wide
Certain truths
Can be seen in the shadows
That in the light of day
We try to hide

Late at night
When the city is naked
And its inner soul
Is laid open to see
All its faults
Like the cracks in the concrete
Are put on display
Without sympathy

The sirens and ambulance lights
Proclaim the show’s about to begin
The action is starting to build
Even as the crowd is starting to thin
Someone in the wrong spot
Will get their 15-minutes of fame
And 15-minutes after that
We won’t recall their name

Late at night
Single mothers are weeping
Because they know
They’ll sleep alone again tonight
Lonely men
Walk the streets seeking comfort
To give them strength
To face the morning light

Late at night in the shadows
The colors fade
To black and white

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.


The Power of Protest

May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Even people who do not watch or read the news on a regular basis (as I no longer do since leaving that field years ago) can’t help but be familiar with the latest events taking place in Baltimore.

I don’t normally write songs about topical events because such songs run the risk of becoming dated before they ever become widely known. Both the events and the public feelings (on all sides) aroused, along with the relatively short shelf life of protest songs got me to thinking of Phil Ochs, a folk singer who became well known in the 1960s and faded almost as fast, on both accounts because of the topical songs he wrote and sang about civil rights, the Vietnam War, and so much more.

In spite of the short life span of “protest songs,” I felt like I wanted to and should write something about what has been happening in Baltimore.

Apparently, great minds think alike because, no sooner had I finished writing my song when I found out that Prince had also written a song about Baltimore. I’m sure his is probably better. For one thing, he writes with more of a vested interest as an African-American. Second, he has been writing commercially/professionally for longer than I. In spite of that, I share what I wrote in hopes of adding a little something to the discussion and in hopes of getting more people talking.

          Baltimore, City of Broken Dreams

I see the pictures on the evening news
So many people,
So much to lose
Baltimore –
Coming apart at the seams

I hear the people yelling in the street
So much anger
You can feel the heat
Baltimore –
A city of broken dreams

From Camden Yards
To old Mount Clare
The tension’s building
It’s everywhere
From Pier SixTo the Armistead
All your colors
Now have run to red

I hear the critics from the left and right
The middle ground
Is nowhere in sight
Baltimore –
The memory of Pratt Street lives on

People opening wounds that never healed
Long buried passions
Are again revealed
Baltimore -The charm of your city has gone

From Camden Yards
To old Mount Clare
The tension’s building
It’s everywhere
From Pier SixTo the Armistead
All your colors
Now have run to red

Baltimore –
Your colors have all run to red

Baltimore –
Your colors have all run to red

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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