Learning to Collaborate – Sort Of

June 27, 2015 § 2 Comments

When it comes to writing, I’ve never been much good at collaboration. As a news producer, I hated it when others rewrote or revised my copy. When I got married, and my wife and I decided to write the music for our ceremony, I had difficulty working with her. Suffice to say that I’ve always been a bit of a loner in the writing arena, perhaps because for me writing is such a personal and solitary endeavor.

Recently, however, I’ve started to get a little better at collaboration. Working on a recent song, my wife had trouble working out the accompanying chords, so we talked about rewriting the melody. She started playing some chords, and we worked out a new melody on the fly.

At about the same time, a friend of mine, Anita Sugimura Holsapple put up a lovely sentiment on her Facebook page. As soon as I read her words, I saw the potential for a song and came up with a verse and chorus that same day. The rest of the lyrics took a few more days to come up, but they finally came. I present the initial draft here for your consideration.

NOTE: Anita is also a filmmaker and is trying to put the final touches on what I believe with be an important documentary about the challenges soldiers and their families face after returning from serving in combat. The film is called Battlefield: Home Through the Lens of the Daughter of a Vietnam Vet. (Click of the title to visit the film’s home page.) She could use a bit of help and has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money still needed for post-production. From the film’s homepage, you can go to her Kickstarter page and lend a hand. Check it out!

Follow Your Heart

There will be times
When you feel you are walking alone
You will meet people who seem to have hearts made of stone

There will be days when you’re searching for ways
To try and make sense of it all
Simply keep moving forward, keep on believing
And pick up yourself up should you fall

There will always be haters
So follow the love
Some will say it can’t be done
So just rise above
Some will be jealous
And try to tear your dreams apart
Simply go where the love is
And follow your heart

There will be days
When you feel that you just can’t go on
Don’t worry about yesterday
‘Cause it’s already gone

There will be tears that you’ll cry through the years
Each time you feel you’re falling apart
Try to remember each day’s a new chance
For you to make a new start

Sometimes you’ll feel that you’re all alone
Nothing on which you can depend
But the world that you make —
The chance that you take —
Is the only thing that matters in the end

There will always be haters
So follow the love
Some will say it can’t be done
So just rise above
Some will be jealous
And try to tear your dreams apart
Simply go where the love is
And follow your heart

2015 Holsapple – Huntsman.

The “B” Side, Getting Serious, and Revision

June 18, 2015 § 2 Comments

When I write lyrics, I don’t like to revise or rewrite. It is almost as if I am impatient to be done with them and move on to the next song.

Lately, though, I have begun to revise more of what I write. I don’t know if it is a sign I am finally maturing (albeit slightly) as a person and as a writer or simply that the original line was so bad even I knew it had to be changed.

In my last post, I offered up some lyrics dealing with one soldier’s adjustment to life after returning from war. Today’s offering deals a bit with the aftermath of war from the perspective of the person left behind. As always, comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.

Water From An Empty Well

Just a spot on the map
Where Uncle Davey fell
Aunt Mary kept all his letters
They all spoke of war as hell

Wondered if he’d make it back alive
But soon his letters gave up hope
And when Aunt Mary got the news, she didn’t cry
Already knew she’d have to cope

We remember those who fell
Those who died marching through Hell
What of those they left behind?
Do they ever cross your mind?
Left behind to pick up all the pieces
Like fetching water from an empty well

Each day, she gently dusts the medals
50 years since Davey fell
Even now, her heart still skips a beat
When she hears the front doorbell

Though he didn’t make it back alive
He lives on in Mary still
In all those years, she hasn’t thought about another man
And I doubt she ever will

He lost all his tomorrows
She lives in yesterdays
He gave his life, but somehow
It seems she’s the one who pays
He is forever young
She’s simply growing old
The silent victim
Her story still untold

We remember those who fell
Those who died marching through Hell
What of those they left behind?
Do they ever cross your mind?
Left behind to pick up all the pieces
Like fetching water from an empty well

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Walking Down Memory Lane

June 16, 2015 § 1 Comment

As I mentioned in my last post, a friend of mine, is finishing work on a documentary outlining the challenges our fighting men and women and their families face when returning home from active service. After making a small donation to her Kickstarter campaign to raise the needed money for finishing the film (here’s the link: Battlefield: Home), I was reminded of the limited exposure I had to the plight of veterans as a news reporter in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Since this was more than 30 years ago, my memory is a bit hazy. However, I believe I was working on a local angle story to mark what at the time was the ten-year anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. I was lucky enough to be too young to go to Vietnam and lucky as well that the draft was ended about the time I was finishing high school.

The report I put together was a bit of a challenge in that I had trouble finding vets willing to talk to me on camera, something I doubt has changed with regard to the veterans of our latest military endeavors. I did, however, find someone willing to talk to me, someone who had the double challenge (as I recall) of being both a combat veteran and a Native American trying to find his way back into “normal” society. I wonder if he made it.

All of this is by way of working around to sharing some lyrics I wrote about six weeks ago, when my friend first entered the home stage on her film. I dedicate them to the memory of her father, himself a Vietnam veteran, and to the vet I interviewed all those years ago in Rapid City. I hope you made it all the way back.

Crazy John

He left his mind back in Vietnam
These days he stands and mutters ’bout the bomb
He says we’re headed straight to Hell
If we don’t change our ways

Some folks dismiss him as a Jesus freak
Watching him, I’m reminded of the meek
Who shall inherit the earth
At least that’s what the Book says

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

He came home from the war to start again
They all turned their backs, even his friends
And when he thought he’d hit bottom
Found he’d further to go

Soon he found himself out on the street
Not much to his name and less to eat
He didn’t care what others thought
Some things, no one could know

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

He’d seen the things a man could do
And knew the things that he had done
In lucid moments, still amazed
At what one could do with a knife and a gun
He tried to push the memories away
The drinking didn’t, then he found a way
He turned his back on sanity
Then, finally, he was free

They found his body on a winter’s day
And knew the demons were now chased away
The frozen smile there on his lips
Said he’d found peace at last

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Time and Experience – An Initial Draft

June 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

Usually, I like to present what I write in its finished form. And this may yet prove to be the finished form for my latest composition, although I suspect there may be a tweak or two.

Recently, a friend of mine and a former colleague from my previous life in television news, Anita Sugimura Holsapple, finished work on a documentary film titled “Battlefield: Home” detailing the challenges those who serve, as well as those who love them, face when they return home from active duty. I was lucky enough to work with Anita years ago at a television station in Lafayette, Louisiana and luckier still to reconnect with her a few years ago on Facebook.

Her work helped provide the inspiration for this latest song, titled Up Around the Bend

Up Around the Bend

It seems we’ve come a long, long way
From where we thought that we would ever be
We’ve done some things and had some words
And saw some things we never thought we’d see

With so many miles behind us
Some might think we’re just coasting to the end
But it feels as if this is just the start
With so much to see still up around the bend

It feels like it was yesterday
We were 18 with our whole lives ahead
Years later, we still chase our dreams
Because we know we are a long time dead

With all the things we’ve seen and done
There might be things that we’d wish to amend
But instead, we’re still looking forward
With so much to see still up around the bend

Perhaps we haven’t always made the best decision
But we have never stopped to second guess
We know that hindsight possesses perfect vision
Looking back, we did our best – more or less

And if we had another chance
We’d probably make the same mistakes
With not a care for what others thought
We went in knowing the stakes

With a chance to go back in time
Even if somehow we could transcend
Not sure we’d change much knowing what we know
With so much to see still up around the bend

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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