Visualizing The Blues

June 3, 2019 § Leave a comment

The other day, my wife and I were watching a couple of YouTube videos about playing harmonica. I’ve been trying to learn a little to help spice up our songs when we play out.

The videos both featured a 12-bar blues chord progression in G (G7, C7, and D7), and she jokingly (I think) suggested I should try to write something son we could try adding some harmonica. So I did.

One of the things I learned from watching the videos was that a blues progression in the key of G actually requires a harmonica in the key of C, at least for a beginner like me. It eventually made sense to me, even though on some other songs I add a little harmonica in the actual key of the song (G and D are currently the other two harmonicas I have).

Even though I don’t know a great deal as yet about playing harmonica, I added substantial instrument sections to today’s entry, which is essentially an extended jam with a few lyrics thrown in. I can envision adding some solo electric guitar and even some horns.

The song itself is a standard 12-bar blues progression in G, although my wife plays it in E, capo 3 for a slightly fuller sound on the chords. I also opted for a more straightforward 4/4 rock rhythm rather than a blues shuffle or syncopated rhythm.

As always, your comments are welcome. Enjoy!

Missin’ My Baby Blues

I’m goin’ back to my baby
Catchin’ the last train tonight
Goin’ back to my baby
Be home before morning light
Hopin’ that she’ll let me in
So I can make things alright

Said some things that I shouldn’t
My baby sent me away
Said some things that I shouldn’t
Now I’m one has to pay
Hopin’ that she’ll take me back
Hopin’ that this is the day

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE:
I told her that I love her
I told her I’d be true
Now I’m missin’ my baby
And I don’t know what to do
Got to see my baby
Got to see her right away
When I knock on that door
Hope she’ll let me in to stay

INSTRUMENTAL

I’m goin’ back to my baby
Catchin’ the last train tonight
Goin’ back to my baby
Be home before morning light
Hopin’ that she’ll let me in
So I can make things alright

INSTRUMENTAL CLOSE

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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Revving It Up

May 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

Today’s entry originated with a sarcastic comment I made to my wife the other day. We had gone out for lunch and then ended up at a park to sit in the sun and people watch.

While we were there, we saw a young girl heading away from our vantage point down a path on roller skates. Five or ten minutes later, she came walking back up the path, without her skates.

I jokingly said to my wife that she probably traded her skates for a pack of cigarettes. Not a very nice thing to say, I know, but within a few minutes, I had the beginnings to today’s entry, which has nothing to do with little girls on roller skates.

This song features a driving blues-rock rhythm and melody. Perhaps picture Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, or the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

I hope you like it. As always, your comments are welcome. Enjoy!

You Better Be Sure

Got a pack of smokes and a fifth of Jack
Gonna get right, I ain’t looking back
Get into my car, head south on 95
If I don’t get pulled over, I might get where I’m going alive

My baby threw me out, called me a two-timing man
I told her, “Honey, I do the best that I can”
“Lord knows I’m not perfect; doing my best to stay true”
“But if I was perfect, I probably wouldn’t be here with you”

REFRAIN
So light up, take a drink
Maybe take some time to think
Before you pull the plug on me and you
Girl, take a look around
Before you shoot this romance down
Who you gonna tell your troubles to?
Maybe you can do better
But baby, you better be sure

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE
I’m not worried, there’s no hurry
Go ahead and take your time
I’ll be right here when it becomes clear
That you’re about to change your mind

Well, I smoked a few and drank a few more
Wondering if you’d let me through that front door
Though you’d packed my things and thrown them out in the street
But you know me, I’m not one to admit when I’m beat

REFRAIN

Maybe you can do better
But baby, you better be sure

Maybe you can do better
But baby, you better be sure

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Mining The Memories Yet Again

May 26, 2019 § Leave a comment

I don’t know if it is a function of getting older, but I have thinking lately about things and people from my past. Things and people I haven’t thought about for years, buried beneath the surface, are again making themselves known to me.

Such is the case with today’s entry. When I was in elementary school in Rosamond, California, one of the children I went to school with was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who wore what are now referred to as cat eye glasses, also blue as I recall. (For a modern-day idea of what I’m talking about, these frames on Amazon would be close.)

In those days, I was very shy and relatively new compared to most of the other students, so most of them tended to avoid me. I remember that she and I spent time together on the school playground, doing things that most girls of the day did not do, like playing with toy soldiers, as I recall.

Most of my memory from that time is a blur, some of it due to time, and some of it by choice. For the most part, I don’t remember the names of any of the other students or teachers from those days, with but three exceptions.

I remember my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Spence, mainly because she was also my saxophone instructor, I suppose. I remember the one student who would become my best friend and lifeline in those days, George Atkinson. And I remember the girl, Marsha Yost.

The memory of Marsha serves as the inspiration for today’s entry. I don’t really know, even now, just how much of this tune is factual, but it is entirely filled with the spirit I remember. Marsha, wherever you are, this one is for you, and I hope the rest of you enjoy it as well.

The Girl On The Playground

She was a girl with blonde hair and blue glasses
She wasn’t like the other girls
Got in the mud, didn’t mind a little blood
The true meaning of just what sass is

She didn’t like being told what to do
Wasn’t afraid to stand up to you
Every once in a while, I find
That she still crosses my mind

REFRAIN
She was the girl on the playground
Tougher than all of the boys
Ready to get down in the dirt
Make a little noise
She was the girl on the playground
Gave as good as she got
And she got a lot
But she was somebody who
Didn’t let you tell her what she could do

She liked the things they say girls aren’t supposed to like
Whoever they think that they are
Liked to play ball, better than them all
If they didn’t like it, told them to take a hike

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE
Sometimes, I think about her
And wonder where she is these days
Did she finally fall in line
Or keep fighting to get her way

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Memories Of The Road

May 23, 2019 § 2 Comments

In an earlier life, I spent some time working in radio in television. That career took me from the coast of Washington to both sides of Montana, from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Acadiana region of Louisiana and, finally, to the northern part of Alabama.

I once thought I would one day write a memoir of my life in small-market radio and television. I even had the title picked out.

The book, had it come about, was to be titled “Life In A One Camera Town,” a reference to my first television job, in Miles City, Montana. The station was notable at the time for being the smallest television market in America.

The title for the memoir that never was came from the fact that the station owner, when he first went on the air, in the late 1960s, would set up a camera on a street corner in downtown Miles City, then broadcast what he filmed without editing the footage. When I worked at the station, the owner still took the same approach with regard to commercials – no editing.

As a result, a 30-second commercial could run close to a minute, which made coming in and out of local breaks during network programs a challenge in terms of timing. The owner also had a strict policy of not covering or reporting bad news. The only bad news we reported during my time there concerned a hotel fire that occurred while the owner and his wife were out of town.

In small-market television, the only way for most people to advance (or at least the only way I was aware of), either in terms of responsibility or income, is to move to a larger market. Not counting changing jobs in the same market (or my first radio job after which there was a three-year gap), I moved seven times during a ten-year career, once from television back to radio.

Those moves and the places I lived were the inspiration for today’s entry, an uptempo country-folk tune. I hope you enjoy it.

Traveling Man

Well, I loaded up the U-Haul, and I left to make my name
Never found the fortune; never found the fame
Never got too close, I never stayed too long
Always one more town ahead where I just might belong

REFRAIN
Those wheels keep on rolling, and the miles slip behind
The last town I left a distant memory in my mind
Each place I stop, I think I might make my stand
But I was born to be a traveling man

From the mountains of Montana to the Gulf of Mexico
The California desert to the land of Zydeco
Every place I went, it wasn’t long before
I’d get into my car and drive, drawn by the engine’s roar

REFRAIN

INSTRUMENTAL

BRIDGE
From the hills of South Dakota to the heart of Dixieland
I went where the road led, nothing really planned
Always headed off someplace I’d never been before
The road, an invitation, just like an open door . . . and

REFRAIN

Yes, I was born to be a traveling man
You know I was born to be a traveling man

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Bringing The Past Into The Present

May 21, 2019 § Leave a comment

Over the last several months, I’ve found myself writing a lot of lyrics that are either based on the past or that draw on childhood memories. One such song, “Boys From The Base,” (shared here) drew on the memories of my mother’s time as a waitress and cocktail waitress in Rosamond, California, a small city located west of Edwards Air Force Base.

Today’s entry was also inspired by memories of my mother, a strong woman who endured spousal abuse before spousal abuse had a name. Her second marriage, which began and ended before I reached my teens, was an especially volatile one, featuring routine violence and threats of violence, along with the obligatory yelling and name-calling.

The subject is not a pretty one, and the songs that come from such a subject are not likely to be pretty. I’ve tried to focus at least as much on her inner strength as I have on his lack of it, and I hope I’ve succeeded. Let me know what you think.

Above The Fray

He raises his hand, she lowers her eyes
And then lifts her spirit up to the skies
He’s thinks he’s in charge, but he cannot see
Her heart is elsewhere, she’s already free

REFRAIN
Deep inside, there ‘s a place that he cannot touch
Where she safely keeps tucked away
The love he can’t reach, the heart he’ll never hold
Protected, well above the fray

He yells out her name for the hundredth time
Like she was guilty of committing a crime
And though he believes that he’s in control
She knows that he’ll never capture her soul

BRIDGE
She’s looking for love, he’s looking for power
He raises his voice in hopes that she’ll cower
But she’s come too far to let him win now
She won’t give up or give in

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling A Little Philosophical

May 19, 2019 § 1 Comment

It’s been a few days since my last post. My apologies. Today’s entry finds me getting a bit philosophical about time and what is and is not in our control.

I’ve been listening to John Gorka all morning, and as I’m looking back over my lyrics, I’m imagining them being sung by him or in a vocal style similar to his.

The verse structure is a little different, I think. The first four lines sort of flow together, then the fifth line sort of tags on like a closing statement in each verse.

As always, let me know what you think. Enjoy.

Back Around The Sun

I can’t look into the future
I can’t think about the past
Whatever’s in between is all I have
Like something fleeting in a photograph
Out of focus, almost out of frame

Every day’s another struggle
To do better than the last
I can’t measure life by victories won
Every day’s another one and done
No two are ever quite the same

REFRAIN
The days they come, the days they go
Where they’re headed, no one can know
Somewhere into the great beyond
There, to circle back around the sun

I don’t ask about tomorrow
I won’t relive yesterday
Today’s the only thing I can control
The rest just disappears into a hole
Not mine to see or to understand

BRIDGE
Time is just a construct of the mind
One moment here, the next one gone
Who’s to say that what we leave behind
Isn’t waiting up ahead to help us carry on

Every night’s another mystery
When the light has gone away
Find ourselves on the dark side of the sun
Real and imagined, they both seem as one
Looking for the promise in the Promised Land

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Feeling My Leonard Cohen

May 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

I just recently wrapped up three years of voice lessons. One of the things my voice teacher wanted me to do was to use my lower register (as well as my “head voice”) more.

One of the times we talked about using the lower portion of my vocal range was after singing Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” at the end of a lesson. He sings the song so low that I sung it up an octave in order to hit the notes.

My teacher lamented that doing so took me away from some of my lower capacity, though I am not able to sing quite as low as Cohen could later in his life.

I was recently listening to that song again, still trying unsuccessfully to hit those really low notes. Afterward, I was inspired to try to write a song of a similar vein, keeping the melody toward the lower end of my vocal range, though not as low as Cohen’s melody.

The lyrics are of a similar theme and seem to fit with some of the current discourse going on in America. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

The Game

One born white, one born black
One born rich, the other poor
One has all, one has nothing
Yet the one with all is wanting more
Right from the beginning
It’s always been the same
Someone’s always trying to rig the game

One is privileged, one is not
One succeeds while one can’t rise
One knows how to take advantage
One can’t break through all the lies
It’s either who you know
Or just your daddy’s name
That helps you get ahead to win the game

REFRAIN
The game is always played by different rules
Whether you live with the angels or the fools
Roll of the dice, turn of a card
Determines whether life is easy or if it’s hard

One born with a silver spoon
One born with no spoon at all
One is given the advantage
One dreams of the other’s fall
One walks among the gods
One stuck among the lame
Some always have an edge playing the game

REFRAIN

One is healthy, one is sick
One grows old while one dies young
Is there someone keeping score
When the final bell is rung
When the curtain falls
Will you be glad you came
No choice but for you to play the game

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.