Getting A Bit Experimental

April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

Last night, Teresa and I had the privilege of performing once again at the Idaho Songwriters Association monthly forum. For those not familiar with this event, area songwriters sign up ahead of time (or day of the show) for the opportunity to perform an original work before an appreciative and attentive audience. This latter aspect makes the forum event unique, I believe, among live music events.

We’ve been lucky enough to perform at a number of these forums, and last night decided to do something a little different. Before I get to that, though, I guess I should lay out the back story.

One day, we were walking back to our car (parked a couple of blocks away) after meeting for lunch. As we were walking on the sidewalk along a busy street, a truck decided to try to pull out of a business parking lot into said busy street. This coincided almost perfectly with Teresa and I being in front of said truck.

Teresa managed to push away from the truck to avoid being hit, suffering only a bruise on her arm for her trouble. In the process, she crashed into me, sending me sprawling into said busy street. I looked up to see a car, about a block away, heading toward me. Figuring it would take to long to try to get up and out of the roadway, I simply rolled to the curb to avoid being hit. I don’t know whether it was a close call or not, nor do I want to know. (I don’t suppose it was too close a call, though, as nothing resembling my life flashed before my eyes.)

From that incident came the idea for a new song, along with the first line of that song. The rest of the lyrics followed quickly, and when I was done, I knew I wanted to keep the instrumentation sparse and nearly non-existent.

The song features a recurring three-note bass line, followed by a percussive beat (done with either a bass drum or by plucking a deadened string on the bass). Teresa was asked before our performance what genre this song fell into, and neither of us was sure. We still aren’t. The lyrics suggest a type of blues song, but combined with the sparse accompaniment, perhaps war chant is more appropriate.

State Of Mind

I’m bruised and battered; my heart’s been shattered
But you can’t keep a good man down
Yes, I’ve been cheated; I’ve been mistreated
But I picked myself up off the ground

When times got hard, I just worked harder
Doing all I could to get my share
I took the long way, maybe the wrong way
Some nights my soul felt like it’d been stripped bare

But I kept on trying; I didn’t stop
Always believed I could make it to the top
I’ve fallen down, fallen behind
But I learned failure is a state of mind

I’ve made mistakes, had some bad breaks
But I dusted myself off and tried again
I touched the fire, felt the desire
That nearly broke me ’til I learned to bend

Now I’m telling you this much is true
You only get out what you’re putting in
Instead of pleading, work ’til you’re bleeding
If you do that, then you’re bound to win

So just keep on trying; don’t ever stop
If you believe then you can make it to the top
You might fall down and fall behind
But you’ll learn winning is a state of mind

© 2016 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.


Now For Something Completely Different

April 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

When I write my songs, I don’t actually write music. The whole process is somewhat organic; I come up with the first line, then I get a sense of the melody, and the rest proceeds from there.

Tonight, I was listening to my wife practice her guitar. While she played, the following line sprang forth from within. Unlike most of my songs, I have no melody already in mind for this effort, so I don’t know whether these are lyrics to a song or lines from a poem. I suspect they work either way.

Cruel Mistress

I hear the guitar playing
To a crowd no one can see
But it doesn’t really matter
Because tonight, you’re feeling free
Escaping in the music
Riding high on every note
Lost within the melody
Like some forgotten quote

The music comes to life
With the band inside your head
Your fingers feel alive
Keep your heart from feeling dead

The strings bend to your will
Sounding off at your command
No tolerance for a stray note
If you’d keep the upper hand
You lose yourself in playing
To a room with no one there
The sound of melancholy
Echoing in the air

The music is your life
A cruel mistress just the same
Demanding everything
And yet, denies your claim

You play until your fingers ache
Because you have a need
And it’s in the strings
That a part of you is freed
The song torments and comforts you
While begging for release
Though each mistake is agony
The playing brings you peace

The sounds you play are symbols
Of the dreams you never share
Taunting and reminding you
If only you had dared

© 2016 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Making Lemonade?

April 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

A good many of the lyrics I write get their initial inspiration from what I see or hear around me – a glimpse, a phrase, a combination of the two – then my imagination kicks in and takes it from there. Sometimes, I get more than a glimpse or a phrase and get an idea from something that directly happens to me.

Recently, we flew to Alabama to visit family. The plan was to fly into New Orleans, spend the night, then walk around the French Quarter before driving over to spend the rest of the week with the family. That was the plan.

Instead, our flight to Denver was delayed and then canceled, as was the second Denver flight the airline booked us on, all because of a blizzard and power outage that caused the closure of the Denver airport.

Nine and a half hours later, we were finally on a plane bound for . . . Los Angeles. That change meant we would not make our connecting flight to New Orleans and would instead have to fly from L.A. to the Big Easy. Unfortunately, that flight would not get into New Orleans until 5:30 the next morning, resulting in another seven and a half hour wait.

As a result, our six hour flight (including layover and time change) ended up taking 22 and a half hours. We did still end up spending a night in New Orleans on the back end and did still get to walk around the French Quarter. Plus, I got a song out of the adventure.

A Day At The Airport

I spent a day at the airport
That wasn’t really the plan
My flight to Denver got canceled
I got the word from The Man
He told me there was a blizzard
And that the power was out
    So because of the snow
    I wasn’t able to go
The choice was out of my hands

All I could do was sit and wait
And hope I reached my destination
Before it got too late
I was left with time to kill
But airport life holds no thrill
Especially when you’re being shuffled
From gate to gate

I was bound for New Orleans
Big Easy anything but
And like a bag on a carousel
I seemed to be in a rut
I couldn’t make my connection
Somehow it wasn’t my day
    Don’t know who pulls the strings
    When it comes to these things
So I just kept my mouth shut

All I could do was sit and wait
And hope I reached my destination
Before it got too late
I was left with time to kill
But airport life holds no thrill
Especially when you’re being shuffled
From gate to gate

After surviving this mess
Next time, I’ll drive there, I guess
Or bring a pillow
So that I can sleep while I wait

© 2016 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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