Aiming For The Blues

March 3, 2018 § Leave a comment

Although the argument can certainly be made that most of my songs are of a particular style, I try not to limit myself – with a few exceptions. I have no interest in trying to write an opera or write rap or hip-hop, and I generally (though not always) stay away from country.

One style of music I enjoy listening to is blues, and I will occasionally try to challenge myself to write a blues song. Although on the surface, many blues songs seem simple, both in structure and in lyrical content, I would argue that it is deceptively hard to write a good blues tune.

I don’t know whether I’ve yet written a good blues tune, though I have written a few I like, and I keep trying. Today’s entry is yet another attempt. This song probably marries a couple of styles. I think of it as blues with a little bit of swing to it. I recognize that the last line could be a bit difficult to sing smoothly, but I think the intended rhythm allows it to come out fine. I hope you like it.

Just A Memory

Well, I’m sitting here, nursing my drink
Got time on my hand, so I started to think
About you and everything you did to me
We haven’t got a future
And what we had’s just a memory

When you walked out the door, left me alone
I wondered if I could make it on my own
Without you and everything you meant to me
It seemed like we had it all
Now those days are just a memory

The sky was the limit
We were flying so high
There were days I felt
As if I could touch the sky
But the higher you go
The further there is to fall
I fell as far as I could
When you said goodbye

Well, I guess it’s time I found someone new
It’s not that easy getting over you
Moving on doesn’t come naturally to me
I thought we had forever
But all that’s left’s just a memory

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

This post puts this blog three away from 200 posts. Be looking for that post as I have an announcement that is big (at least to me) that I hope will keep people interested for some time to come.

Advertisements

An Active Muse

January 31, 2018 § Leave a comment

I have never claimed to be a great songwriter or lyricist or even a good one. Deep down, I think I have written some songs or at least some lyrics that I think are pretty good, which is one of the reasons I started this blog.

I realized I was never likely to get noticed as a songwriter or a lyricist, especially given where I am in my life, but I didn’t want my words to simply disappear without a trace. Over the years, I have written lyrics for more than 1,000 songs, the vast majority of them not very good and some of them simply awful.

What that means, though, is I am a very active writer. While I have a few times gone for months without writing very often and once for several years (mainly when I first gave up on the idea of making it as a songwriter), for the most part I have kept writing.

I am blessed by a very active and very present muse. Often, she will present me with a verse and the start of a melody as I am simply sitting and looking out the window or while I am doing dishes.

Today, it was as I was getting dressed. By the time I finished tying my shoes, I had the melody and the first verse (aside from the hook, which will be apparent once you read the lyrics). For better or worse, the lyrics came together in less than 20 minutes, with only two word changes.

While some of my lyrics don’t seem to warrant further work (chording and arranging), once they are “finished,” I think I will end up doing something with this one. Let me know what you think.

Only Fooling Ourselves

Maybe you were all right
Maybe I was all wrong
Maybe what it came down to
Is we were never that strong
Only fooling ourselves
Only fooling ourselves
We thought we had it figured out
Only fooling ourselves

We were young and so proud
Had the world by a string
It was all in front of us
Thought we had everything
Only fooling ourselves
Only fooling ourselves
We thought that we had all the answers
Only fooling ourselves

Slowly, the distance grew between us
We found ourselves on different planes
We didn’t so much fall our of love
As out of trust
We couldn’t break those chains

Maybe we were just lost
And we just didn’t know
Tried to stay above the surface
Without sinking below
Only fooling ourselves
Only fooling ourselves
We thought we knew what we were after
Only fooling ourselves
Only fooling ourselves
Only fooling ourselves

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

From Insomnia Comes . . .

October 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

The other night, I work up a little before 2:30 in the morning. (The reason might come under the heading of too much information.) Despite having gone to bed just four hours earlier, I could not go back to sleep. So I did what any self-respecting songwriter (or masochist) would do. I got up.

I sat up for a little while check email, reading news, doing various things to take my mind off the fact that I was wide awake while everyone else in the house was fast asleep. Then I began to put pen to paper. (ASIDE: I don’t know why I write in pen rather than pencil or on computer. I suppose the words seem more real and the changes seem more permanent in pen than in pencil while allowing me to also see what was there before – in case I change my mind back.)

This song is a little different from a lot of what I write, I think. For instance, while not overloaded with imagery, the lyrics do contain some specific little word pictures. I like some of the turns of phrase, as well. (I won’t spoil it here; you’ll just need to read on.) I hope you do, too. Please let me know what you think.

In Every Room

2 a.m. – couldn’t sleep – cold on your side of the bed
I’ve lost count of the days, but it’s been oh, so long
Told me that you needed space and time to clear your head
I do my best, but without you, I’m just not that strong
(instrumental)

Your old sweater – still where you left it
The hole you planned to mend there on display
Shed like a second skin – like us, not a perfect fit
You said you had to go – I guess it had to stay

In every room, I find a piece you’ve left behind
Every breath I take only serves to remind
The air we shared, now mine alone
But it seems colder now –

Half of a pair, not much at all
You were the calm to soothe my raging sea
It feels as if I must capsize
Without you here to steady me

I sit by the front door – I watch and wait
But it doesn’t open, and I feel a fool
If you were to cast a line, I would rise to take the bait
A pain that keeps on giving – love can be so cruel

In every room, I find a piece you’ve left behind
Every breath I take only serves to remind
The air we shared, now mine alone
But it seems colder now –
But it seems colder now –
But it seems colder now _
Yes, it seems colder now

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Born Out Of Collaboration

September 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

In my most recent post, I mentioned having breakfast with a fellow songwriter and discussing Jimmy Webb. We kicked around a few ideas and talked about trying to do something together.

The two of us worked on an idea and sent proposed rewrites back and forth. After several days of exchanging emails, suggested lyrics, and suggested edits, he wanted to try taking the song in a new direction.

Since I felt I had nothing more to contribute to that particular lyrical journey, I decided to return to the initial idea. I scrapped the lines we had been working on and rewrote some of what I had proposed. This effort fits into the same lives of quiet desperation theme I was exploring in my last post.

The title, I suppose, is modeled after Jackson Browne’s The Pretender. The lyrics, though they may slightly echo the underlying theme of Browne’s song, are completely different. Please let me know what you think.

EDITED 9-8-2017 to reflect minor lyric changes in first verse made to accommodate a change in the music and rhythm.

The Collector

He sifts through the wreckage of thrown away lives looking for some kind of clue
Through shredded papers and empty containers, trying to learn something new
Through the remains of the week that’s gone by, seeking some wisdom to share
But the tea leaves all tell him say The Collector is going nowhere

He hears the clock alarm at four a.m., exploding there in the dark
Ten minutes later, defeated, he rises, last night’s beer leaving its mark
His truck is cold, and he feels the chill; three tries, the engine won’t start
In the dark, The Collector looks for the fire in his heart

His days are spent amongst lives thrown away
Unwanted memories his stock in trade
Reads in the eggshells and coffee grounds
And sees all the choices we’ve made

After work, it’s a beer down at the bar; the smell like an old set of clothes
Nobody wants to get too close; he tells himself that’s how it goes
His hands have been through each of their lives, a ringmaster who’s never seen
There’s a thirst he can’t quench, but nobody knows what he means

Daily, he sees the bad and the good and knows there’s a fine line between
The Collector’s a modern-day Jesus washing us clean

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Lives of Quiet Desperation

September 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

I recently had breakfast with a fellow songwriter, and among other things, we discussed collaborating and songwriting legend Jimmy Webb. As our conversation progressed, we discussed Webb’s masterpiece “Wichita Lineman,” a song that Webb says was uncompleted with he gave it to Glen Campbell for consideration. After Campbell recorded his now iconic version of the song, it remained “unfinished.”

Our conversation about how Webb could write such a song about what is basically an everyday job got us to thinking about trying to do something along the same lines. That song is still a work in progress, but that effort got me thinking about trying to write some lyrics that point in a related direction, to people who don’t stand out and lives that haven’t turned out as hoped.

So far, I have a couple of songs that fit that theme, with a third in progress. While a lot of my songs are personal and are written from a first-person perspective, all of these are written from the point of view of someone else looking in.

I don’t know yet if I will share all three songs when the third is finished, though I suspect I will if I think they’re all halfway decent. In the meantime, here is the first such effort.

Dark Moon Rising

Johnny sits in the dark
And thinks about the things he’s missed
Everything he’s never done
And every girl he’s never kissed
Johnny’s thinking ’bout packing up
Packing it in, and heading south
His courage slips with every sip
From the glass he holds there in his fist

Dark moon rising, storm on the horizon
Emotions like a lightning strike
Flash and then they’re gone, but there’s no moving on
Nothing better coming down the pike

Johnny looks at the ring
On the table from the glass in his hand
Wonders where the mistake was made
Why things didn’t go the way he planned
Did he want it too much, not enough
Or was it simply bad luck?
He doesn’t move with the fortunate few
But with the unlucky damned

Johnny thought he had the answers
Until fate finally took him to task
Pride can be an awful thing
If you don’t know which questions to ask

Johnny sits it the dark
And thinks about the choices made
In his drink-filtered memory
He thinks about the debts he hasn’t paid
Wonders what it’s like to feel on top
To feel ahead, to know success
A poor old sod, he seeks another god
To whom he should have prayed

Dark moon rising, storm on the horizon
Emotions like a lightning strike
Flash and then they’re gone, but there’s no moving on
Nothing better coming down the pike

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Not Going Gentle Into That Good Night

August 28, 2017 § Leave a comment

First off, my apologies to Dylan Thomas. On the other hand, since today’s entry deals with getting older and resisting getting old, it seems appropriate.

As an older songwriter who now qualifies for AARP and discounted coffee at Denny’s, I sometimes struggle with feeling relevant in my writing and in my life. There are times when I would like to slow things down a bit or maybe just pick up and go, but the fact that I am more prolific lyrically than an almost any other time in my life tells me that maybe I still have things to say.

I sometimes wonder whether more successful songwriters and musicians struggle with these feeling as they get older. Do they ask themselves if the creative fires still burn, or are they content to simply go out and play the hits night after night.

Having never had a hit or written a hit song myself, it isn’t a question I can answer. I’d like to think, though, that I would resist the temptation that Rod Stewart has apparently had to remake one of his hits with a new backing group. The notion of a 72-year old re-recording (let alone singing) “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” is, quite frankly, something that may well give me nightmares at some point.

On the other hand, I suppose Sir Rod is also channeling his inner Dylan Thomas. Deciding to re-record one of his biggest (and most criticized) hits is decidedly not going gentle “into that good night” and probably qualifies as raging “against the dying of the light.” It is in that spirit that today’s entry, a straightforward rocker, was written.

I Ain’t Dead Yet

When you look at me, tell me what do you see
Some broken down old man?
I may not move quite as fast as I used to
But I’m going just as fast as I can

These days, I stop to smell the roses
I stop to read the signs
I may not be the sharpest tool in the box
But I can read between the lines

I never claimed to be a know-it-all
Once in a while, I forget
But buddy, I’m here to tell you I ain’t dead yet

I know you’re thinking that I’ve had my day
And I should step aside
Well, who went and left you in charge of everything
Has somebody gone and died?

I know you think that I have lost a step
And maybe that is true
But I’ve still got a lot more fight in me
And you’ll find it out before I’m through

I know that you think you have the edge
But I’m prepared to take that bet
“Cause buddy, I’m here to tell you I ain’t dead yet

(guitar and/or harmonica solo)

I ain’t leaving; I’m still breathing
Feel I still got something to prove
I’m not giving in to age
Time can’t catch me if I stay on the move

Just because I’m older, doesn’t mean I’m done
I’ve still got a lot to say
Maybe you think that I should step aside
But I won’t let time get in the way

I may have a few more aches and pains
And I might move a little slow
But when it comes time for action
You’d best believe I’ll be ready to go

If you dare to take me for granted
That’s a choice you’re gonna regret
So buddy, get out of my way; I ain’t dead yet

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Work in Progress or Finished Product?

August 6, 2017 § 1 Comment

A few days ago, I posted an entry offering up lyrics inspired by events from my childhood. For the most part, I was pleased with what I had come up with. However, there were a few lines that didn’t quite fit and did not seem to resonate with the rest of the song.

I went back and made an initial revision, which improves things somewhat. However, I still wasn’t completely satisfied with the end result. So, I took yet another stab at polishing up the lyrics.  (Even as I began writing this entry, I made yet one more change.) I don’t know yet if this will end up being the final product, but I do think it is improved over the original version. I hope you agree.

Music Saved My Soul

The music was my shelter
From angry voices coming down the hall
Angelic, those records
Every time they played, I’d heed their call

Black circles spinning ’round
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 those sweet sounds surround me
Lift me up, keep me warm
Those voices sheltered me from every storm
My gospel readings came from every track
Of every album I had in my stack
And while it could never make me whole
I know the music saved my soul

From Sinatra to The Beatles
And every song in between
I found salvation in every note
The music washed me clean

A cheap hi-fi was 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 around
I was lifted up by angels
Every time I heard their sound

In my darkness, the music found me
I let those sweet sounds surround me
Lift me up, keep me warm
Those voices sheltered me from every storm
My gospel readings came from every track
Of every album I had in my stack
And while it could never make me whole
I know the music saved my soul

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

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Writing category at My Wordsmithing.