Using Melody For Effect

July 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

Today’s entry is a little different for me in a couple of respects. First, it is in 3/4 time. I don’t write much in a waltz time signature, so that’s a bit of a change.

The other thing that is a bit different is that I tried to reflect the words I would be singing in the melody itself. The second half of each verse contains the line “falling, falling, falling for you.” In order to help convey that sense of falling, the melody descends down the scale each time the word “falling” is sung.

The song is, admittedly, a bit wordy in that each line of the verse is fairly long, but that was a deliberate decision to go along with the slight sing-song nature of the melody. Hope you like it.

Falling For You

I never was much good at reading writing on the wall
I never really ever learned to brace for the fall
Now I’m drifting through space and slipping through time
If I had it to do over, I would not do the crime
Of falling, falling, falling for you
I can’t erase all that you put me through
You took me to the top just to see how far I’d drop
From falling, falling, falling for you

I never found a way to see behind your façade
My heart was just some thing your ruled as if you were a god
Now I’ve faded from view, I’ve slipped though the cracks
You try to hide the traces while you cover up the tracks
Of falling, falling, falling for you
You keep me hooked while you tell me we’re through
Now I’m tumbling down, haven’t yet reached the ground
From falling, falling, falling for you

I can’t escape from the trap that you laid
How much will it cost before my bill is paid

For falling, falling, falling for you
I start to break free, but then you turn the screw
Now my back’s to the wall, doesn’t cushion the fall
From falling, falling, falling for you

I’m falling, falling, falling for you

©2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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The Things You Hear

July 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

As I have said on several occasions, one of the secrets (I guess it’s not really secret if I’ve stated it several times on this blog, is it?) to my prolific lyrical output is my ability (and willingness) to keep my eyes and ears open and, to the extent possible, keep my mind open.

That ability has stood me in good stead through the years, giving me song phrases, subjects, and titles I might not otherwise have thought of. Such was the case recently.

My wife and I were visiting with some friends and, during the course of conversation, someone uttered the phrase “catch and release.” I don’t remember the subject of the conversation or the context in which the phrase was said. I do remember saying that it sounded like a song title. I later went home and made it so.

I don’t write a lot of country songs or too many really uptempo songs, but I think this one fits into both categories. I envision this as a bit of a honky tonk tune, with a pretty strong rocking bass and rhythm line. Hope you like it.

Catch And Release

You watch her walk in, wearing that tight-fitting dress
The guys all take in the view
Your shirt is wrinkled and your hair is a mess
Still, she walks up to you
You’re thinking, maybe if you play your cards right
This might turn into a hell of a night
You open up your mouth to speak, but before you do . . . .
She says

Catch and release, that’s my rule
I’m not looking to get tied down
‘Cause mama didn’t raise no fool
All’s fair in love and war
But tonight, I come in peace
As long as you know, in the morning
It’s catch and release

You ask if maybe you can buy her a drink
She gives a single nod of her head
You’re looking her over and starting to think
You’ll go wherever you are led
You think you’ve finally hit a winning roll of the dice
Shrugging off your buddy’s advice
You ask if you can take her home, before she says yes . . . .
She says

I don’t want forever
Baby, it’s now or it’s never
One night is all you’ll get
But it’s a night you’ll never forget

Catch and release, that’s my rule
I’m not looking to get tied down
‘Cause mama didn’t raise no fool
All’s fair in love and war
But tonight, I come in peace
As long as you know, in the morning
It’s catch and release

©2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Where Does The Time Go?

June 30, 2018 § Leave a comment

The title of this entry refers to a couple of things. First, I realized it had been nine days since my last entry. No real excuse, except that we have been trying to prepare for a couple of gigs, plus I’ve been busy working on my new music podcast, Measured Voices, and the accompanying blog.

However, that does not mean the lyrics have dried up. Not yet, at least. What has changed of late is that I’m writing lots of fragments and fewer “finished” songs. (I put finished in quotes because many songwriters will tell you a song is never truly finished.)

Today’s entry follows a structure I’ve often used. The song has a verse/chorus feel, but there is no true chorus, as that section changes after each verse. There is simply one line that repeats (with a slight variation the final time through) in each “chorus” section.

There is also a bridge. So the structure of this song is verse/”chorus”/verse/”chorus”/bridge/verse/”chorus”. The inspiration came from driving along the same street I was driving on when I wrote the lyrics featured in this post from April. Please send along your thoughts and reactions.

Successful As He Wants To Be

He doesn’t drive a new car
And the house could use some paint
Patches of dead grass across his lawn
He doesn’t work in management
Or pull six-figures down
Before the next check comes, the last one’s gone

But if you ask, he’ll say he’s happy
He’s living right and living free
Then he’ll stand there and he’ll tell you to your face
I’m as successful as I wanna be

His wife died a few years back
Now he spends most days alone
Working in the yard or learning French
Doesn’t get many visitors
But that’s just fine by him
Sits and waves to the neighbors from his front-yard bench

Ask him, and he’ll say he’s doing fine
Sitting beneath his old oak tree
Then he’ll tell you with a look that’s seen it all
I’m as successful as I wanna be

Talks about the fast track
How he ended up nowhere
Money rolling in
Thought he didn’t have a care
Then the sickness came
Before he knew it, she was gone
Nothing that he wouldn’t give
To have her there

He goes down to the hall
From time to time to see his friends
Play a little gin and drink a beer
Can almost count his friends on one hand
Fewer every day
As he gets closer, the end holds no fear

And if you ask, he’ll say he’s ready
His wife of thirty years to see
There’s nothing left he thinks he wants to do
He’s as successful as he wants to be

©2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Hanging On A Phrase

June 21, 2018 § Leave a comment

If you take part in or listen to enough discussions about songwriting, sooner or later you will hear someone talk about “the hook.” Successful songs have to have a hook.

More often than not, this “hook” will take the shape of a chorus or refrain that repeats after ever verse. There are, of course, variations to this formula. I often will have a couple of verses before I get to the first time through the refrain, for instance.

Lately, I’ve written a number of songs that do not really have a chorus or refrain. Some of them have a chorus/refrain melody, but the words do not repeat. Other songs hang on a phrase or variation of a phrase that repeats throughout the song.

Today’s entry falls into the category of the repeating phrase, but it does so as if it is on steroids. I was driving and happened to pass some people on the street who looked like they could be homeless.

The phrase “old, ragged man” quickly popped into my head. Before I had gone more than a few blocks, I had most of the first verse. the rest of the song came quickly once I got home.

An Old, Ragged Man

Just an old, ragged man
In an old, ragged suit
With an old, ragged story to tell
About an old, ragged life
In this old, ragged world
Now he’s in an old, ragged hell

Started out with smooth sailing
But then, the winds of change began to blow
Found himself in an old, ragged boat
Adrift with nowhere to go

Had an old, ragged dream
About an old, ragged girl
In some old, ragged place far away
Saved each old, ragged dollar
In his old, ragged pants
And swore he’d find her one day

Then the bottle seduced him
And it’s been so long since he’s seen the sun
Now he hides in his old, ragged shadows
Ashamed of what he’s become

Looking at the choices he’s made
Isn’t sure which one to blame
Wonders if he’d done things differently
Would he have ended up the same?

Just an old, ragged man
With an old, ragged face
Each line tells his old, ragged tale
For the price of a drink
He’ll tell his old, ragged story
It’s all he’s got left for sale

About a life full of promise
Made and broken many years before
Leaving him an old, ragged shell
With nothing left anymore

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Painting Word Pictures

June 18, 2018 § Leave a comment

Even after as long as I’ve been writing lyrics, using imagery and metaphor tend to be weaknesses. Most of my lyrics tend to be somewhat straightforward. Metaphorical imagery in the vein of Squeeze or Elvis Costello (two of my favorite artists) tends to be beyond me.

That doesn’t mean I don’t try. I have on occasion tried to be more cryptic in my lyrics, but that is not a strength of mine.

In this song, I decided to try again, at least to paint some word pictures in the lyrics. Instead of trying to create or write unusual metaphors, I opted to incorporate a few clichés in the lyrics.

Songwriters are often warned to stay away from clichés, but clichés become such because they are repeated and also because there is a grain of truth in them. People don’t usually speak in metaphors, but clichés often find their way into everyday speech.

In the end, I suppose writing lyrics that come across somewhat as everyday speech is what I’m striving for. Here’s my latest effort. Please let me know what you think.

Instead

I wake up to the song a serenade of birds and garbage trucks
Just before the sound of the alarm
I smell the coffee brewing in the other room
It pulls me out of bed, where it’s still warm

Another day, another dollar
That’s what my father always said
But if it’s true that money is the root of evil
Maybe I’ll stay with you instead

I battle with the other cars to get make my way to work
An unseen Piper calling us on
Not even nine o’clock and I’m already thinking
This day needs to end and I need to be gone

No shooting star on my horizon
A hungry heart that’s never fed
Thinking about the choices that I made this morning
I should have stayed with you instead

If I’d stayed with you, we could go dancing in the rain
Or maybe chase a dream and bring it home
I’m counting down the hours till I can be with you again
For now, I play the 9 to 5 ’cause when in Rome

I drag myself home like a bird in wintertime
Flying back to where I belong
Finding redemption by going to the source
Here within your love, I’m never wrong

Another night, another memory
That we’ll make right here in this bed
No matter where I go, no matter what I do
I’ll always be with you instead

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

EDIT: I don’t often do many revisions, but I had revised the first line of the lyric so as not to have the word “sound” appear in successive lines. However, I was not that happy replacing “sound” with “song” in line one. I finally hit upon serenade, which I think is a bit more descriptive in terms of what I’m trying to convey.

Once I replaced “song” with “serenade,” I decided to take a look at line one of the second full verse to see what change I could make to keep the rhythm similar to verse one. Replacing “get” with “make my way” accomplished that and also, I think, does a better job of conveying the idea of the struggle to get to work. Let me know whether you agree.

Feel The Love

June 16, 2018 § Leave a comment

It seems that most of my songs are about relationships that did not work out. Writing upbeat or uptempo songs is not my strong suit.

Despite that, I thought I would try my hand at writing a love song. This is it. Hope you like it. And to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day.

She Walks In Sunshine

She’s a free spirit
Got a mind of her own
Doesn’t let no one else think for her
Doesn’t mind being alone
Why she chose to be with me
Not even she can say
But I count myself lucky
Every day

She walks in sunshine
And I dance in her light
Keeps my head in the clouds
And my feet on the ground
Lets me know everything’s alright
When I found her
That’s when I saw the stars align
She brought me out of the dark
Into the light

Got a small birthmark
There on her face
She doesn’t really like it much
But it adds a touch of grace
She is perfectly imperfect
And I cherish every flaw
If she was ever sad
Her tears could leave you raw

I don’t know what I’d do
If she ever came to her senses
And went to find somebody new
She’s torn down all my defenses

She’s got a good heart
Always thinking of me
Don’t know what I did to deserve her
But I know she holds the key
Never doubted that she loves me
Never stopped to wonder why
Hope I never hear her
Say the word goodbye

She walks in sunshine
And I dance in her light
Keeps my head in the clouds
And my feet on the ground
Lets me know everything’s alright
When I found her
That’s when I saw the stars align
She brought me out of the dark
Into the light

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Something Familiar, Yet Different

June 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

I had a new song I planned to share with you today, then I wrote an even newer song that I decided to share instead. I’ll the other song in a later post so as not to leave you hanging.

Today’s effort is a love song of sorts. It isn’t based on anyone I know or on any relationship I’ve ever had. Yet it feels real to me somehow

One of the things I like about this effort (I like the entire song, actually) is that I changed up my song structure a bit. In this song, it feels to me like there is a verse, a pre-chorus of sorts, and a chorus. The process then repeats.

The rhyme scheme, while perhaps a little different, is one I’ve used before. In the verses, the first two lines rhyme with each other and also with the last line of the verse. The chorus varies this pattern by having the second and fifth lines rhyme. The third, sixth, and eighth lines also rhyme with one another.

There are a couple of other subtle differences in the structure. The verses and pre-chorus sections do not have the same number of lines. In addition, though the chorus is a standard eight lines, it does not break into what might be a four line pattern where the chorus goes four lines and then repeats the pattern melodically and rhythmically.

Instead, the chorus uses a three-line pattern that repeats once before picking up the final two lines. One other thing: I didn’t have a title for this song until I decided to change the last line of the chorus, the last change I made to the song. I hope you like it.

Feel The Earth Turn

I can still see her standing there
In the simple peasant blouse she used to wear
Old and faded jeans
That hadn’t seen the other side of new
She didn’t care

Knew that beauty
Was much more than just skin deep
Had an inner beauty
She would always keep
I still can see her now —
Every night in my sleep

In my dreams, she’s like a Venus
Reaching out her arms to me
But I’m able to reach out in return
And no matter how I try
There are some things that I can’t see
I only hope that one day I might learn
To see behind the shadows
And feel the earth turn

It seems hard now to reconcile
But she and I shared the same dream for a while
Though I never knew for sure
I could always see the promise
In her smile

Though it seems forever
Was not meant to be
Still it seems that she’ll
Forever be with me
She holds me even now —
My heart cannot get free

In my dreams, she’s like a Venus
Reaching out her arms to me
But I’m able to reach out in return
And no matter how I try
There are some things that I can’t see
I only hope that one day I might learn
To see behind the shadows
And feel the earth turn

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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