Morphing Memories

February 6, 2018 § Leave a comment

Several of my recent lyrical efforts (not all of them shared here yet) have drawn upon my past. Today’s entry falls into that category but with more of a twist. First the memory.

When I was young (eight or nine years old), we lived in and around the small town of Rosamond, California, at the time a small town of about 2,500 people, located in the Mojave Desert a little more than 15 miles west of Edwards Air Force Base. (We moved a few times, hence the “in and around.”)

One day, my mother, stepfather, step-brother, and I (presumably my sister, being about five at the time, came with us though I don’t remember her being there) went to visit a friend of my stepfather’s who worked and was stationed at a remote outpost along the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

While everyone else went in to visit, I was told (for a reason I can’t now remember) to stay outside in the back of the truck. Well, having an eight-year old mind of my own, what do you think I did? Of course, I did not follow instructions.

Instead, I got out of the truck and climbed up an embankment (where I presume part of the piping for the aqueduct was buried), losing my shoes in the process. Once on top, I found myself on a plateau that seemed to stretch for miles.

Now, as I remember, this was in the summer (maybe the spring) in the desert, in California. So it was at least very warm, if not downright hot. After a while, I got tired and simply sat down in the middle of all that desert dirt.

I was told years later by my mother that they came out to find me gone and had called in Sheriff’s deputies to search for me. I don’t remember that at all. What I do recall is that, after sitting in the dirt for a while, in the heat, I began to hallucinate. I remember seeing our two pit bulls there with me (they weren’t) to protect me from any dangers the desert might throw at me (such as rattlesnakes).

I also have a vague recollection of time simply standing still. Where I was had no real landmarks to look at, so all I saw was dirt, horizon, and blue sky. It was all very otherworldly and very peaceful.

Eventually, I wandered back to our truck, caked in dirt, and we went home. (If there was any punishment handed out for my escapade, as seems likely, I don’t remember it.)

For whatever reason, that memory floated back into my conscious mind and inspired today’s lyrical entry. The lyrics themselves don’t really have anything to do with that childhood incident, but the episode was always there as I wrote.

I see this song as an uptempo blues or blues-rock number. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think.

Never Take You Home

Stood there in the desert sand
Looking at the crossroads in my mind
Desert sun was beating down
So bright, it felt like I was blind
Not a soul around me
Only the voices in my head
And what they said —
Let go of the past, it’s like a stone
And it will never take you home

Looked up at the desert sky
Saw the dreams that I’d let fly away
Desert heat burned through my clothes
Too hot to move, too hot to stay
The air was deathly still
Softly, it whispered to me
Fool, can’t you see —
The past will break your heart, leave you alone
And it will never take you home

BRIDGE:
Home, like a mountain I can’t climb
So close and yet, so far away
Home, like a vision in my head
Promises relief, but I know that I can’t stay

Kicking at the desert dust
Felt the emptiness deep in my soul
Feeling like the desert ground
Would open up, swallow me whole
Without a hope in Hell
Only the voices of despair
Hung in the air —
The past will steal your life and bleach you bones
But it will never take you home

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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In A Blues Mood

February 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

The other day on social media, some of my friends were discussing the meaning of a phrase, “the devil’s doorbell.” The phrase apparently has or could have an anatomical meaning, which I won’t go into here.

Anyway, I mentioned that the phrase sounded like something from “a bad blues song.” The next thing I knew, one of my musician friends on social media had written most of a blues tune (which I’m sure is anything but bad) revolving around the phrase.

That got me to thinking about trying to write something in a similar vein. The devil is a fairly common motif in blues (think Robert Johnson) and rock music (“Devil In Disguise,” “Devil In A Blue Dress,” and so on).

I decided to try my hand, and this is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

The Devil Is A Woman

Everybody sees the devil
With horns and a tail
But from my own experience
I’ll tell you without fail
The devil is a woman
With mischief on her mind
She’ll wrap you ’round her finger
Then make you wish that you were blind

Satan can take many forms –
Short, tall, blonde, or brunette
And lead you into doing things
You never will forget
The devil is a woman
With a heart made out of coal
And if you let her in
You know she’s gonna steal your soul

BRIDGE:
Long hair, deep eyes
And tight-fitting jeans
Before you even meet
Your mind is playing out the scenes
You know how it will end
Still, you’ll walk into the trap
You’re too far gone
When you finally hear it snap

There are few who are immune
To Satan’s wily charms
You don’t know it’s too late
Until you hold her in your arms
The devil is a woman
And you’ll never get away
She’s gonna take her pound of flesh
When it comes your time to pay

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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.

Short And Sweet

January 29, 2018 § Leave a comment

I follow several music related pages on social media, one of which is Learn How To Write Songs. Recently, the page posted a songwriting challenge, which I decided to take up, although I made a slight error that I will blame on a faulty memory board. Mine.

The songwriting challenge was to write something using the following chord progression: C, A minor, F, and G. I wrote down the chords correctly, but between that time and the time I actually got around to writing, A minor got changed to E minor.

So my chord progression ended up being: C, E minor, F, and G. However, I like the end product enough that I don’t think I’ll try to change it back to A minor.

The end result is also different in that it has fewer words than most of my songs (76, I counted) and more music in between verses. I hope you like it.

But Not Forgotten

(eight measure intro: two measures each of C, E minor, F, G)

Love, if that’s what it was
Flickered like a candle and went out
Walking through Here, in the mine fields of time
The memories are tinged with cloaked in doubt

What did we have?
A moment frozen now in space
A footnote on a page of history
Forgiven but not forgotten

(repeat intro)

What did we hope to find?
An interlude or something more?
Battles we fought along the way
Funny how love is love’s so much like war

What did we have?
A moment frozen now in space
A footnote on a page of history
Forgiven but not forgotten

Forgiven but not forgotten

(two measures each of C, E minor, F, G, and ring on C)

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

EDIT: Made a few minor changes in the lyrics as noted by the words stricken through.

Wishful Thinking?

January 28, 2018 § 3 Comments

A few entries back, I mentioned that my guitar instructor gave me a challenge to write a song in the key of A. Instead of one, though, I wrote two.

The first song, “Words,” turned out very well, I thought, and it is a song I am proud of. Today, I am going to share the lyrics for the second song.

My first thought was to describe this as a “throwaway tune,” but it isn’t really that. It isn’t a deep, meaningful song like, say, “Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez or “Deportee” by Woody Guthrie. Instead, it is meant to be a fun, carefree song.

While I am a big fan of deep, meaningful songs and often try to write such songs, every once in a while, it is just nice to write a song that conveys the idea of unplugging, unwinding, de-stressing, and just relaxing. Hopefully, that is what these lyrics do. Enjoy!

Breaking Chains

Sitting here on the beach
Got my toes in the sand
Cold drink within reach
This is the Promised Land

The sun is shining on me
Not a cloud in the sky
Warm breeze on my face
Kissing my troubles goodbye

REFRAIN
I’m grabbing all that I can
While it’s there for the taking
That sound that you hear
Just my chains finally breaking

Living the life that I choose
Taking one day at a time
And the sand where I sit
That’s where I’m drawing the line

BRIDGE
I’ve punched my ticket to release
I’m leaving all my cares behind
I’m going anywhere I please
See what adventures I can find

INSTRUMENTAL

The water’s calling to me
Think I’ll relax for a while
The nine to five’s not for me
This life is more my style

REFRAIN

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Drawing From My Truth

January 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

It’s been a few days (okay, more than a week) since my last entry. It isn’t because I haven’t been writing or had anything to share. I have. It’s just life keeping me busy.

In past posts, I have written about the things I draw lyrical inspiration from: things I see, things I hear, and things that just seem to pop into my head. I don’t write much that specifically draws from my life or my experiences. Today’s entry is an exception.

I don’t know that my story is a lot different from that of millions of others, but my parents divorced when I was five. I never saw my father again. My mother worked as a cocktail waitress, which meant she wasn’t home much at night.

By the time I was born, my mother had worked as a waitress of one kind or another for at least a decade, having left school in the seventh grade. Because of that and because extended family was not nearby to lend support, I grew up feeling different from the other kids in school and usually not in a good way.

I drew upon all of that memory and experience in writing these lyrics. Feel free to share your opinion, your perspective, or your experience.

Through The Eyes Of A Child

She worked most nights, we didn’t see her much
And he had left when we were very young
My mother was a stranger, my father wasn’t there
I used to wonder what it was I’d done

I know she tried, I know she cared
I also know she wasn’t there
Sometimes felt dirty and defiled
That’s just how life felt through the eyes of a child

She started working when she was just a girl
Education was a luxury
God simply passed her over or maybe didn’t care
At least he never showed his sympathy

She tried to rise above it without a safety net
That just made it further for her to fall
Can only get knocked down so much till you surrender
When your back’s against the wall

The scars were hidden, no one could ever see
The pain behind the smile there on her face
I used to hear her cry when she thought I was asleep
A memory I cannot erase

And when she died, I wasn’t there
I was left with things I never shared
All these thoughts not reconciled
Come rushing back to me through the eyes of a child

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Time Traveling

January 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the challenge my guitar instructor had given me – write a song in the key of A. I actually ended up writing two. I like to think I’m an overachiever.

Occasionally, I like to challenge myself to write certain types of songs – blues, country, straight ahead rock and roll, light jazz. Part of that challenge also includes trying to write in a different time signature.

Most of my songs as envisioned as straight 4/4 tunes, although I do write from time to time in 3/4. Recently, I decided to try my hand at writing something in 5/4 time.

The song itself has a bit of a swing/jazz feel, with a slightly syncopated vocal. We have arranged the song for acoustic guitar, though I could see some horns or an archtop guitar and maybe some saxophone. Please let me know what you think.

Lover’s Lament

I can feel your eyes
Burning a hole through me
I can’t escape
Wondering what I did
To hurt you
Something I forgot to say

Know I can be cruel
Or make you feel a fool
Nothing I intend or mean to do

I can see you
Waiting patiently
To see what I will do
Wondering if I’ll twist
The knife again
Or make it up to you

Sometimes, I can’t see
Just what you need from me
If my heart is locked, can’t find the key

Instrumental

I can tell you’re thinking
That there’s somewhere else
That you should be
Wondering what
The chances are that
You can do better than me

Your time has been spent
In this lover’s lament
Wishing you knew where the promise went
I wasn’t heaven-sent

© 2018 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.