Digging Through The Pile

July 28, 2017 § 2 Comments

For years, I struggled to deal with some of the events, memories, and traumas of my childhood. I won’t go into a litany of what those were, but I will say that the two constants for me growing up were books and music.

Books allowed me to escape for hours at a time from the horror that I felt was my reality. I would open a book and dream of living in the world described in its pages. I sometimes did this even to the point of fantasizing of a similar life for myself, projecting it out years into the future.

Music served a similar purpose. If I was down or upset or even on the few occasions I felt happy, music was my touchstone, my safe harbor. From Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to Blood, Sweat, and Tears and David Bowie to John Denver and Barry Manilow, music and especially the lyrics allowed me to get outside myself to a place where things were more constant, more peaceful, more joyful.

The lyrical side of music also because a place for self-expression, a chance to work through various thoughts, feelings, and events in my life. I wrote my first lyrics a little before my 19th birthday. Lyric writing became my form of journaling.

Over time, most of my lyrics have moved away from such self-absorbed content and have drawn inspiration from the things I see and hear around me. Lately, though, I have felt compelled to try to better examine and deal with some of my own experiences while also challenging myself to make those experiences and memories perhaps a bit more accessible for others, something my earliest lyrics likely did not do.

In a way, music was my church growing up, an idea I had never really explored in my lyrics. Until now. Please let me know what you think.

The Music Saved My Soul

The music, my shelter
From angry voices coming down the hall
I knew if I stumbled
That I wouldn’t have far to fall

Black circles spinning
At 45 or 33 and a third
Kept me from losing hope
I found my church in the notes I heard

In my darkness, the music found me
I let the sweet sounds surround me
Lift me up, keep me warm
Those voices sheltered me from every storm
My Gospel reading came from every track
Of every album I had in my stack
And while it couldn’t ever make me whole
I know the music saved my soul

From The Beatles to Sinatra
And all the songs in-between
I found salvation in their words
The music washed me clean

A cheap hi-fi, my altar
I knelt before that heavenly sound
My bedroom was my church
That turntable was sacred ground

Those discs were hypnotizing
Healing me as they went round and round
I was lifted up by angels
Every time I heard their sound

In my darkness, the music found me
I let the sweet sounds surround me
Lift me up, keep me warm
Those voices sheltered me from every storm
My Gospel reading came from every track
Of every album I had in my stack
And while it couldn’t ever make me whole
I know the music saved my soul

Maybe music couldn’t ever make me whole
But I know music damn sure saved my soul

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Blasphemy or Divine Inspiration or Maybe Something In-Between?

July 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

Friday night, I was privileged to once again see one of the best songwriters most people have not yet heard of, David Robert King. His songs are from the heart and from the soul and do not easily fit into any preconceived box or category.

Last year, I saw David perform for the first and was also part of a group of people who attended a songwriting workshop he conducted. Since that experience, I feel I’ve written some of the best lyrics of my life.

At Friday’s house concert, David performed a song he also did the first time I saw him, a song which may be my favorite of his songs and one which will be included on his upcoming CD. The song, “Idaho,” ignited the creative gene in me that night (or maybe it was the wine or a combination of the two), leading to this lyrical entry.

My song has nothing to do with Idaho and nothing to do with David, aside from the fact that his inspired songwriting inspired this effort. Thank you, David, and I’m sorry to lay the blame for this at your feet. Unless, of course, you like it. Then I’m not sorry.

Mother Mary

Mother Mary, won’t you watch over me
‘Cause I’m a sinner, and I’m cold as I can be
There’s a shadow cast upon my soul
And I can’t find the light
Heal my heart and make me whole
Help me find my way
I don’t know which way to turn

Mother Mary, I don’t know where I went wrong
My wheels keep spinning; I don’t know where I belong
Can’t seem to tell the truth from a lie
The words all sound so sweet
They make me want to cry
Help me stop the flood
Otherwise, my heart won’t learn

Did Joseph ever feel like he was out of place
A third wheel or a stand-up guy
What could you promise; what would he take
When what you had was just a lie?

Mother Mary, is forgiveness still a choice
If so, perhaps my sins can give me voice
Judgment at the end’s not what I fear
It’s what I tell myself
In the judgment now and here
To get through the night
And the flames that never burn

Mother Mary, won’t you watch over me

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

The Flip Side of the Past

July 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

Back in March, I posted some lyrics inspired by half of the older couple my sister and I lived with while our mother worked nights as a cocktail waitress. That song, about the husband, was inspired by the memories I have of him working away in his small shop. (He once made me a wooden box with a locking hasp in which to store all of my treasures. I kept that box for years.)

The wife was someone I did not remember as fondly. She was the disciplinarian, the one who made us go to church and Sunday School every week, and the one who made sure for the most part that we stayed out of trouble.

She was tough. Looking back across the years, I imagine she had to be. Her husband was a happy-go-lucky guy who had little use for discipline. She was the adult in the marriage and, in large part, in the lives of me and my sister. (Because our mother often worked six nights a week, we usually only saw her on weekends.)

Having already written about her husband, I figured it was time I wrote about her. I’m not sure I did her justice, but hopefully I came close. Some of what follows is based on my memories. The rest is imagination and conjecture.

Nora

Nora Penguilley was harder than steel
If she had a softer side, she never revealed it
To anyone, not even her husband and son

Her childhood was hard and life only got worse
Felt like she had to be under a curse
For something she’d said or something she’d done

When she was younger, she looked for a love
To last her the rest of her life
Common sense won out over fairy tales
When at last she was a wife

Nora Penguilley had nothing to lose
Though there were times when she wished she could choose
To turn her back on it all and just walk away

Not easy to love or easy to know
Her feelings stayed hidden, buried below
What she showed to the world every day

As she got older, she gave up on love
Exchanged for a warm bed at night
Locked away dreams she’d had as a girl
Forever banned from the light

Nora Penguilley was harder than steel
But even metal will finally feel
The onset of age, the passage of time

She died alone as she knew that she would
Her final wish was a hope that she could
Find something more than that left behind

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
So says the book that she read
Here on this earth never quite felt alive
Hoped for life when she was dead

Nora Penguilley was laid in the ground
No one to say a prayer or make a sound
Over her soul left to drift away
Into the heavens, her demons at bay

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

A Musical Update

July 7, 2017 § 1 Comment

No lyrics today. Simply a briefly note to let everyone know that my wife and I have finished putting together our second self-produced CD, titled Ten Miles From Bliss,

Our first CD, True North, was put together primarily for friends and family. With this second effort, we hope to branch out a little. Over the next couple of weeks, digital downloads of this new CD will be made available at CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon, and others. Individual tracks will also be available through these sites. We’ll make physical copies of the CD available for sale at CDBaby and through Kunaki.com.

I believe I’ve heard it said that every artist is his or her own worst critic. That’s most likely true in my case as I can always find things I wish I had changed or done differently.

Having said that, I have to say I am proud of these songs. Several of them represent some of the best material I’ve ever written. If you happen to hear or buy the CD or any of the individual tracks, I hope you’ll agree.

Where Am I?

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