The Finality Of It All

October 29, 2018 § Leave a comment

For whatever reason, most of my songs deal with relationships. In particular, they tend to deal with relationships that went wrong.

Perhaps that’s born out of my own relationship difficulties growing up. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, but I’m sure my wife would agree there is still room for growth in that area.

Perhaps it comes from watching my mother go through her own relationship struggles when I was a boy. Perhaps it’s just my melancholy way. Who knows?

Regardless, when it comes to relationships or even to the English language in general, there are few words with as great a sense of finality as the word goodbye. Today’s entry focuses on that word and on our sometimes reluctance to say it, even when warranted or necessary.

Today’s entry centers on the word goodbye and on how each of the two protagonists dance around it. I hope you like it. As always, please leave your thoughts and impressions in the comments. Enjoy!

Goodbye

He slams the door as he heads out once again
She sits and thinks about what she should do
They’ve been like this for quite a while
So this ain’t nothing new

She heads into the kitchen, puts the plates away
He goes down to the bar to end another day
They both know something’s got to give
But neither wants to be the one to say

REFRAIN
Goodbye, it’s time that I was gone
Goodbye, guess I’ll be moving on
It’s such a final word from which there’s no return
One final bridge that neither wants to burn
They know the truth but live the lie
So neither has to say goodbye

She starts to pack a bag, then puts the clothes away
He sits and orders up a few more beers
Hard to think they once were happy
Ain’t been there in many years

He stares into his glass and wonders what went wrong
She stands there crying, wondering if she can be strong
They tried so hard to get it right
But know they haven’t been right for so long

BRIDGE
In the beginning, they were happy
He’d bring surprises every day
Then, they began to slide
With nowhere left to hide
And now, there’s only one thing left to say

REFRAIN

Goodbye . . . goodbye . . . goodbye

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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Take Two

October 27, 2018 § Leave a comment

I was recently listening to the new album from Elvis Costello (long one of my favorite songwriters), and a few of the songs on there reminded me a bit of his Painted From Memory album that he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach. No surprise, really, as several of the song on Look Now, the new album, are also collaborations with Bacharach.

I decided I wanted to try writing something that approximated the fluid quality of those songs, even if I was unable to match them lyrically. I wrote a version, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, so a few days later I started over again from scratch.

Both songs share the same title and the same overall theme, but I can’t decide which version I prefer, although I am leaning toward version two. So I’ll let you decide. Please give the two versions a read and let me know which version is better lyrically. Enjoy!

If I Call – Version One

If I call, will you answer
Or will you simply let it ring
Since you left, I’ve come to realize
That I’ve lost my everything
The hollow feeling, the empty rooms
The echoes everywhere I turn
I can’t escape them
And the emptiness, it burns

If I call, will you pick up
Or just pretend that you’re not home
Nothing seems to ever fill the void
That comes from being alone
The lonely nights, the empty days
Seem to be all that I have now
I try to shake it
And try to break away somehow

BRIDGE
If I call, will you forgive me
For sins that I have not confessed
Or simply leave me feeling empty
My heart laid bare, feelings undressed

If I call, will you be there
Or will you move to someone new
With you gone, it seems I’ve lost my way
And I don’t know what to do
The shadows now seems to surround me
An icy feeling in the air
And I can’t shake it
Knowing that my heart’s been stripped bare

If I call, if I call, if I call, if I call
If I call, what will you do?

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Now for version two:

If I Call – Version Two

If I call, if I call
Will you answer, will you stall
Or pretend that you’re not there
Till my call disappears into thin air

I picture you the way I left you
So self-assured, so self-possessed
As if to know you is to be impressed
I guess I was, guess I am still
Now there’s a hole that I can’t fill

If I call, if I call
Will you go running down the hall
To the bed that we once shared
Once upon a time when you still cared

Do I ever seem to cross your mind
A fleeting thought, a dream at night
Have I been erased from your memory’s sight
If I stood outside your door
Would you recognize me anymore?

If I call, if I call
I won’t be the man you think I am at all
I’ll have shed my dignity
For the slightest chance that you’ll come back to me

If I stumble, I know I’ll fall
Into this quicksand of the heart
If I call

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Dabbling Once More In The Blues

October 22, 2018 § Leave a comment

Although the blues are not the genre I typically write in or the genre at which I’m best as a songwriter, I do enjoy trying now and again to write a blues tune. I guess I enjoy the challenge, and it is a challenge to write a blues tune that sounds real and has feeling. I don’t feel as if I’ve gotten there yet.

But that doesn’t keep me from trying. Today’s effort draws on a standard blues form, wherein the first two lines of each verse repeat before resolving with two final lines. This effort has no chorus or refrain but does have a bridge section. Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. Thanks.

Before I share, I’ll also tell you that the title is inspired by a line in the last verse, which is also the inverse of the title of a Nick Lowe song, “Cruel To Be Kind.” Enjoy!

Kind To Be Cruel

Saw her with the neighbor
She said they were only friends
Saw her with the neighbor
She said they were only friends
In her eyes, I see it isn’t true
The lying never ends

Tells me that she loves me
But I know that it’s a lie
Tells me that she loves me
But I know that it’s a lie
I can hear it there in her voice
She’s about to say goodbye

BRIDGE
She tells me she’s been faithful
She tells me she’s been true
But from the silence on the phone
I know there’s someone new

Says I’m her sugar daddy
She must take me for a fool
Says I’m her sugar daddy
She must take me for a fool
Sneaking ’round behind my back
Must think it’s kind to be cruel

INSTRUMENTAL
BRIDGE
REPEAT LAST VERSE

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Continuing On A Theme

October 16, 2018 § 1 Comment

In discussions with other songwriters, I will sometimes ask them what themes they find themselves drawn to. While I try to write in a variety of genres and on a variety of themes, there is one area (or two depending on how you want to look at it) that I continually find myself returning to.

A lot of my songs are what I guess you could call relationship songs. More specifically, many of my songs are about relationships that fail for one reason or another.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure why so many of my songs deal with relationships gone wrong. After all, I have been married for 25 years, so I guess you could say I’ve had at least one relationship go very right.

The other night, though, it hit me. While my songs often deal with failed relationships, the overall theme I keep coming back to is that of brokenness. I won’t go into detail, but I think that fascination with or dwelling on being broken goes back to my own childhood, when there was some aspect of me that was broken. It eventually healed but not perfectly.

Today’s entry is another song about two imperfect and broken people looking for love. I tried to hint at the desperation in each of the song’s two characters without being too obvious about it. Let me know if I succeeded.

Cupid’s Darts

The barmaid takes the empty glass
To wash away the dregs
Like some bad memory
Then she looks off in the distance
To some place there in her past
That no one else can see

She’s sure that in another life
She must have been a poet
Or a lover, or a breaker of hearts
Now she’s slinging drinks
While in her other life
She’s slinging Cupid’s darts

The cabbie drives the empty streets
Imagining what’s going on
Behind closed doors
Knowing when his shift comes to an end
And he goes home
He’ll pace across his empty floors

He’s sure that in another time
He might have been a writer
Or a leader, or a healer of hearts
Now he drives a cab
While in his other life
He’s aiming Cupid’s darts

BRIDGE
It’s said you’ll never know
Where love will find you
But when it’s lost, there’s always
Something there to remind you
When you’re looking out for love
It hides itself away
There’s no end to the games
That Cupid likes to play

The barmaid and the cabbie
Look for something they can’t see
There in the dead of night
Love can be elusive
Even though it’s often hiding
Right there in plain sight

Perhaps if they could meet
They’d find a way to make a life together
Better than the ones they have apart
Instead, they’ll go
Their separate ways
And keep on throwing Cupid’s darts

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Imperfectly Perfect

October 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

A few years ago, my wife and I self-produced a CD titled True North. (The CD itself, for some unknown reason is labeled as explicit because of a Christmas song of all things. By the way, it isn’t explicit, and the story of my attempts to get that fixed is something for another day.)

On that CD, we recorded a song I had written titled “Crazy John” about some who had returned broken from Vietnam. The song was inspired by seeing a homeless man pushing a shopping cart and me trying to imagine his story.

Earlier this year, I decided to revisit that theme. Except this time, I came at it from the angle of someone trying to put their life back together. I also added a second character to the song. Let me know what you think.

Paid In Full

He did two tours in Vietnam
Two fingers and his left leg gone
Struggles to try and find his way
Back to the light

She worked two jobs to pay the rent
And wondered where the promise went
Living just one day to the next
Each one a fight

REFRAIN
So many ups and downs
It’s hard to take control
Even one wrong turn takes its toll
Some have it easy
Others never reach their goal
But at the end, they all are paid in full

BRIDGE
Paid in full, the disappointments
For every time they came up short
Trying to find a clear path forward
When circumstance distorts

They were two wounded warriors
Each built protective barriers
Tried to give what each other’s missing
To make a whole

REFRAIN

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

History Repeats

October 8, 2018 § Leave a comment

Elvis Costello is one of my favorite songwriters. The way he shapes words and turns phrases is nearly unparalleled in songwriting, which is probably one reason he is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

One of his songs comes to mind when I think of the recent protestations and angry words that have flown around all sides of the political spectrum in recent weeks. The song, “Beyond Belief,” contains the lines:

History repeats the old conceits
The glib replies the same defeats

I think that idea may have been in the back of my mind when I wrote today’s entry. I know all of the angry words and news stories certainly were.

Today’s song does not specifically draw upon what is going on and has gone on of late in Washington. I don’t do topical or protest songs all that well, though I do think this entry is inspired by and draws upon the current situation while not actually referencing it.

Instead, today’s song refers back to a slightly less recent, though some might say still ongoing, period in American history. I don’t know how good it is. I only know I felt compelled to write it. Your thoughts and comments, as always, are welcome.

Dear Rosa

Daughter of a carpenter
Born in the Deep South
Growing up, was sometimes hard
To put food in your mouth
Couldn’t have what the white kids had
Seen as second class
On the street, had to step aside
To let the white folks pass

I hear times are a-changing
From the mouth of old white men
Dear Rosa, we need you to come again

Working as a secretary
Rode the bus each day
James Blake said you had to move
Wouldn’t let him have his way
The police came, arrested you
For not giving up your seat
So you said you would not ride
Until they admitted defeat

I’ve heard it said the more things change
The more they stay the same
Dear Rosa, we need you to come again

BRIDGE
Others came before you
But yours was the final straw
That led good folks to agree
We had to change the law
You can change words on a page
But you can’t change people’s minds
Until they are prepared
To change with the times

Wife to a banker
But no children to your name
Mother to a movement
I guess that’s your claim to fame
Kept on when your husband died
Carrying the fight
Though you’d earned your time to rest
Still tried to make it right

Working hard to make things better
Than they were back then
Dear Rosa, we need you to come again

Dear Rosa, we need you to come again

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Half Full or Half Empty?

October 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

I used to joke that I was an optimistic pessimist or a pessimistic optimist, depending on the day and/or my mood. Although I was kidding when I said such things, I think there is a grain of truth to it.

Sometimes, when I look around me, I do despair. At other times, I feel as if things are going to be alright. As before, it does sort of depend on the day and the situation I am looking at.

It’s kind of the same with growing older. There are both positives and negatives to aging. One of the positives for many people is wisdom or at least a broader perspective on the world. One of the negatives is, of course, the diminishing of ability to do the things I did when I was younger.

One of the other things people sometimes do as they age is reflect on the things they’ve done and the things they haven’t done. Today’s song taps into that reflection and a sense of feeling younger on the inside than I look on the outside, something I suspect many people go through, especially in their middle age.

The structure is a bit different for me. The beginning and end of each verse rhymes, while the middle of verse has its own rhyme. Hopefully, you’ll see what I mean as you read through the lyrics.

Half Empty Cup

You don’t know the face
That looks back at you through the mirror
Seeing the world through a younger man’s eyes
The lines on your face tell you otherwise
Thinking about when the road ahead
Seemed so much clearer

REFRAIN
Time passes by in the blink of an eye
Harder each day to keep up
When you were younger
Your life seemed much fuller
But now, it’s a half empty cup

You don’t know that person
Not who you hoped you’d become
Seeing your life like a film on the screen
Asking yourself just what does it mean
Wishing that you had made different choices
When you were young

REFRAIN

BRIDGE
Life throws you a curve
You have to be ready to hit it
No time to lose your nerve
If you do, you can forget it

You don’t know the reason
Why your life turned out this way
Not sure just what you would do differently
There in your mind, trying hard to see
Wondering if you can find clarity
Beyond shades of gray

REFRAIN

But now, it’s a half empty cup

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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