Music As Metaphor

September 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

I am, I suppose, an odd duck (as they used to say in quaint British comedies and movies) when it comes to songwriting. When I write a song, I don’t really write music. That is to say, I come up with a melody in my head but do not notate the music. Instead, I record what I have and hope my wife and arranger can hear the chords and write them down.

To perhaps remedy that or at least to help me communicate what I think I hear when I write a song, I began taking guitar lessons from an accomplished local guitarist. I tried lessons when I first bought my guitar more than 20 years ago. The instructor, though, seemed to have a one-size-fits-all approach that did not work for me. That, plus the fact that I was not writing much at the time, led me to stop lessons not long after starting.

I hope and believe this time will be different. For one, I’m older (and maybe a tad wiser, but who can tell?). Second, I know my instructor, and we have a number of friends and acquaintances in common, which I hope will help to make me more diligent and accountable. Third, I am writing more frequently and, I believe, better than in the past, and I want to get as many of these songs out there as I can.

I’ve had a couple of instances in the last week where I was a bit nervous and apprehensive heading into something I had scheduled. Last week, it was a songwriters workshop. Yesterday, it was my first guitar lesson. In each case, I got the beginnings of a song out of that nervousness and anxiety.

This song uses music as a metaphor for a failed relationship. It is, perhaps, a bit too clever; I don’t know. I’ll let others be the judge. I simply present it here for your consideration.

Measure By Measure

I haven’t always found the notes or known the tune
Sometimes, I feel I’m living out of time
Seems I’ve always been too late or come too soon
Always grasping for the rhyme

Our rhythms never seemed to coincide
One of us always fast or slow
Measure by measure we lost the melody
Until one of us had to go

We always seemed to move at different speeds
And never quite in harmony
I thought that love played best as a simple song
You wanted a symphony

Major and minor scales that always clashed
Falling in and out of key
Measure by measure we fell out of time
Your song had no part for me

(Instrumental)

Sometimes I wonder how we fell out of tune
No longer singing with a single voice
I always thought that our duet would last
But I’m soloing again; I guess I’ve got no choice

Maybe one day I’ll finally learn the chords
And learn to play love’s melody
Don’t know if I can learn the third or fifth
Living in a minor key

I guess our opus will stay incomplete
A movement now that is unplayed
Measure by measure we strayed from the score
Until our song began to fade
Until our song began to fade

© 2017 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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More From The Road

September 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

In my last post, Inspiration From The Road, I wrote about finding inspiration from a mileage sign and the probably unintentional sense of humor someone must have had to name a town in practically the middle of nowhere Bliss.

On the journey back to Boise from Castle Rocks State Park, we passed another interstate sign marking the exit to Paradise Valley. Although I don’t normally come up with a song title before writing the lyrics, as we passed the exit sign, I thought to myself that Paradise Valley would be a great title for a song.

Perhaps someone else has already written a song called “Paradise Valley.” If so, this would not be the first time more than one song has shared a title (“Crazy Love” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Van Morrison comes to mind), so I won’t bother to apologize for repeating a title.

It may not be as good (probably isn’t), but this song is in a similar vein to John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” with perhaps a hint of “Lonely Ol Night” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” thrown in for good measure.

Paradise Valley

Me and Mary on a Saturday night
In the back of my daddy’s car
While everybody else was at the game
We were wishing on a shooting star
Mary was gonna shake the dust of this town
And I was getting out at any price
For a few hours, we escaped
Traveled to Paradise

I came from the wrong side of town
Mary lived way up on the hill
When we first met, I thought that she
Was simply looking for a thrill
Her momma told her ’bout my side of town
Mary didn’t listen to her advice
And for a few hours every Saturday
We traveled to Paradise

In the valley where we lived
We all knew the score
If one person knew, everybody knew
A secret wasn’t secret anymore
What me and Mary found
Could never hope to last
We couldn’t have a future
With our backs up against the past

Me and Mary graduated from school
And then we went our separate ways
Though it’s been a lot of years
I still think about those days
Mary still lives up on her hill
While I’ve been married twice
At night, I still dream of escaping
And traveling to Paradise

I’d gladly pay the price

© 2017 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspiration From The Road

September 14, 2016 § 1 Comment

Over Labor Day weekend, the family went camping at Castle Rocks State Park, southeast of Twin Falls, Idaho. Along the way, we passed a mileage sign and an exist sign for the town of Bliss, Idaho. That part of Idaho is not exactly what one might term as “blissful” so I was struck by the unintentional irony of a town named Bliss is almost the middle of nowhere.

blissI kept that juxtaposition in mind until we reached the campground, then I whipped out my trusty notebook and got to work. A short time later, I had the first draft of new song lyrics. My wife and arranger, Teresa, quickly put down some chords, and we had ourselves a new song.

Ten Miles From Bliss

Friday afternoon, heading out of town, driving east on 84
Punched the clock and did my time; when the clock hit five, I hit the door
Now I’m traveling east, nothing else to do but reminisce
Then I see the sign that lets me know that I’m ten miles from Bliss

Thinking ’bout the things that I should have done; instead, I’m out here on the road
Traveling light, but deep inside, my heart carries a heavy load
Just east of nowhere trying to forget her goodby kiss
That sign had the nerve to let me know I was ten miles from Bliss

Ten miles from Bliss; closer still to heartache
Feel like I’ve been kicked when I’m down; not sure how much more I can take

I’m thinking to myself, I never signed up for this
So close and yet so far away, to be ten miles from Bliss

Driving down the road, thinking to myself, we could have been so much more
Instead, I had to save my pride; now I’m alone on 84
I could have bent a little, stubborn me, I had to resist
Now I see the sign, it’s mocking me, tells me ten miles from Bliss

I never thought it would look like this to be ten miles from Bliss

© 2017 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

NOTE: The picture in this post was taken by my wife, Teresa, while I was driving on Interstate 84 at roughly 60 miles an hour.

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