When Others Inspire

August 22, 2019 § Leave a comment

When it comes to songwriters and musical hotbeds, Boise, Idaho probably isn’t the first, the tenth, or even the fiftieth place that comes to mind. Typically, it’s the usual suspects that come up: Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, perhaps Chicago and New Orleans (especially for blues and jazz lovers).

And that’s a shame. I happen to think there is quite a lot of talent here in Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley. While much of the local music scene is centered around cover bands and karaoke, there are any number of talented songwriters, as evidenced by the growing number of people who come every month to the Idaho Songwriters Association’s (ISA) monthly forum to share their songs and the creation of additional outlets aimed at encouraging local songwriters.

This summer, the ISA has staged, in conjunction with a local hotel/venue, a Friday afternoon songwriter series. Three hours in which select area songwriters (including yours truly) get the chance to showcase (either primarily or exclusively) their own original compositions.

Last Friday, I happened to hear one such songwriter. Steve Brown hails from Payette, Idaho, a small town about an hour or so away from Boise. Many of his songs draw upon his life growing up in Idaho and on small town life.

During his performance, Steve did a song dealing with time he spent living in Georgia. That got me to thinking about the eight-plus years I lived in Alabama. It was in Alabama that I met my wife and where our son was born. It was also where my career in broadcasting came to an end (not necessarily a negative).

As Steve was singing his song about Georgia, I started getting some thoughts for a song about Alabama. I wrote a verse, intending to come back to it that night or the next day. In the end, I started writing this song four times, each time coming a little closer to what I wanted. I don’t know if I nailed it, but I think I came pretty close. Thanks Steve!

Another Quiet Night In Alabama

Another quiet night in Alabama
A million stars up in the sky
The moss is dripping off those old magnolia trees
A night to let sleeping dogs lie

Another quiet night in Alabama
I hear the frogs outside my door
Croaking out a song as sad as it is lonesome
Heard it so many time before

The fireflies hover ’round my back porch
Like tiny stars that learned to fly
Off in the distance, I can smell the honeysuckle
A scent so strong it makes me high

INSTRUMENTAL

Another quiet night in Alabama
Like a mother’s hug, it draws you in
Feel its sweet warmth promising redemption
Willing to forgive any sin

The neighbor’s dog howls in the distance
A lone note sounding clear and bright
It’s another quiet night in Alabama
The stars shine down on her tonight

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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Slightly Older, Yet New

August 20, 2019 § Leave a comment

I realized today that it has been almost a week since my last post. That’s practically ages for me and for this blog these days.

Since my last post is now “so old,” it seemed fitting to share something a tiny bit older with you. Not that it qualifies as old when it comes to songwriting, but because I tend to write so much, so often, this is a little older in that it is almost two months old.

I am, admittedly, very prolific, even as prolific people go. I long ago lost count, but I would estimate I have written well in excess of 2,000 sets of lyrics. I’ve shared more than 350 of those here on the blog in a little over five years (not including duplicates or revisions).

Many of those lyrics have dealt with failed or broken relationships, and today’s entry could easily be interpreted as falling into that category. I’m not sure where many of those lyrics come from or why.

If I had to guess, I would say many of these broken relationship songs come from my ability to take something minor and blow it out of proportion, as it were. Not necessarily a great trait when it comes to interacting with others, but very handy when it comes to writing a lyric.

For example, a minor argument with my wife, which might be over and done with in just a few minutes, could be turned and shaped into a song about a love gone wrong or the ending of an affair.

Lately, I have also been more attuned to current events, and today’s lyric also draws upon the atmosphere of what I observe to be happening in the world. Granted, your mileage may vary. Enjoy.

Memory

You and I seem to disagree
About everything under the sun
Can’t appeal to your better angels
At the point of a loaded gun

Where did you learn to hate the way you do
Nothing I can say can get through to you
What is it you’re running from
“Cause I haven’t got a clue

REFRAIN
What is it you’re holding on to
Is it something I can’t see
Something that you’re afraid of
Or something in your memory

Me and you see things differently
I guess one of us has to be wrong
Time’s only been kind to one of us
The other trying to belong

BRIDGE
Time’s a finite quality
Sooner or later, it has to run dry
Always something you can’t see
Difference between truth and a lie

REFRAIN

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspired By A Spammer?

August 14, 2019 § Leave a comment

If you are anything like me, you receive countless calls every day from people (or recordings) purporting to be from research firms, Social Security, Visa and MasterCard, the Microsoft support desk, or one of the seemingly million or so police fraternal organizations. In our home, we receive at least half a dozen such calls on a daily basis.

Often, I don’t even know what spammer or scammer is calling because they often wait several seconds to say anything or play their recorded message. If I don’t hear anything within two or three seconds of saying “Hello?,” or if I hear an electronic beep on the caller’s end (which I think indicates to them there is a live body on my end and connects the call), I hang up. This happens with at least 75-percent of such calls to our house.

Usually, such calls are an annoyance, but in the case of today’s entry, one such call served as an inspiration, at least for the opening lines. I hope you like it.

Crack In The Foundation

The phones rings, but nobody’s there
You slam it down and walk away
She stands and gives you that stare
But you’ve got nothing to say

Another crack in the foundation
Another minor situation
You move like people trying to tiptoe on air
Afraid of the slightest hesitation

Dinner time, and conversation’s
Not the only thing that’s cold
You both have turned into strangers
If the truth were to be told

Another crack in the foundation
Another little irritation
You move like people trying to tiptoe on air
Afraid of the slightest complication

BRIDGE
Once the two of you moved and thought as one
Now, the slightest trouble, and you’re both ready to run
Cut your losses, make your escape
But can either one of you admit you’re done

The night comes, and the quiet’s so loud
But neither one dares to break it
The lines are drawn, and you both are so proud
Both convinced that you can take it

Another crack in the foundation
Though just the slightest deviation
If only you weren’t trying to tiptoe on air
Might have a chance at preservation

Instead you watch
The foundation crack and fall

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Inspiration’s In The Air

August 12, 2019 § Leave a comment

As I’ve written in other posts, sometimes I find lyrical inspiration in the things people around me say. My own son has unknowingly provided inspiration, through things I’ve heard him say, for a number of songs, some of which we perform publicly.

Occasionally, I find inspiration for my lyrics in current events, including this post, which it appears still has not been viewed by anyone. Other times, the inspiration comes from something I see or hear.

The inspiration for today’s entry literally came on the wind. I happened to be sitting on the back patio with my wife when a slight breeze kicked up and blew through where I was sitting.

I found the breeze to be cool (especially nice as we were in the midst of several days with high temperatures in the upper-90s), refreshing, and inspiring. I hope you agree with the inspiring aspect after reading today’s entry.

The first three lines of the song are basically the facts of that moment — the breeze, the sun shining, the cup of coffee. From there, imagination took over. Mostly.

We have sunflowers, but they are in the front yard. The yard needing to be mowed is a constant, but we have no pine tree, though we often have birds chirping.

The title plays on the idea that simple things can often fix, at least for a time, those things that ail us, pressure us, or place demands upon us. I hope these lyrics convey that same idea to you.

God’s Remedy

There’s a gentle breeze blowing ‘cross my shoulders
And the sun is shining in a big blue sky
I’m sitting with a cup of coffee in the backyard
On a day like this, feels like my dreams could fly

There’s a bird serenading from a pine tree
Another joins the song in harmony
I see a wisp of cloud that looks like cotton candy
Feels like a day to simply sit and be

REFRAIN
I know there are things to do, but they can wait
They’ll still be there when the moment’s passed
Moments like these are to be savored
So I’ll enjoy them while they last

I can see the bees buzzing ’round a sunflower
And the grass looks like it could use a little trim
But I’m sitting here just soaking up the moment
And doing something else feels like a sin

BRIDGE
A day of simply doing nothing
Feels like God’s remedy
For the bumps and bruises
Of the world outside
And fixing up what’s ailing me

INSTRUMENTAL

REFRAIN

Moments like these are to be savored
So I’ll enjoy them while they last

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Existing Music As Inspiration

August 10, 2019 § Leave a comment

For the second post in a row, today’s entry is inspired by an existing song. It may seem like taking the easy way out, but when you get a song stuck in your head, what are you going to do?

One of my favorite singer-songwriters is John Gorka, a talent not as well known as he deserves to be. His song “Blue Chalk” is one I especially enjoy singing.

Recently, my wife was working on arranging another John Gorka song for possible inclusion in our repertoire. The song is called “Procrastination Blues” from his album Bright Side of Down. You can listen to it here.

For several days after my wife finished working on the song, I had it stuck in my head. Finally, I decided I should do something about it, and I wrote a song modeled on Gorka’s tune.

For now, the song very closely mirrors the rhythm and melody of “Procrastination Blues,” something I know will need to be addressed before I can perform this one. In the meantime, though, enjoy.

Yesterday’s News

If I had a dollar, it’d be more than I have now
If I had a dollar, wouldn’t do no good no how
I’d probably kneel down before it like a sacred cow

Holes in my pockets, arms in their sockets
If I had a front door, I’d use them to lock it
Like sand through my fingers
Fortune doesn’t smile on me
Feel I’m barely hanging on, just like a dying tree

If I had a job, I’d surely get in my own way
If I had a job, I know it’d be all work, no play
It would take up all my nights and ruin all my days

Nothing to lose, holes in my shoes
Walking like a bad case of yesterday’s news
Like a tree in the fall
Pieces of my life all around
If I stand still long enough, they’ll put me in the ground

INSTRUMENTAL

Why think about tomorrow, it will be just like today
Why think about tomorrow, thinking just gets in the way
Since I done run out of dreams, there’s nothing left to say

Nowhere to go, ain’t got the dough
Looking back on my life, I’ve nothing to show
Lady Luck was never one
To ever smile on me
I learned that the finest things in life are never free

Nothing to lose, holes in my shoes
Walking like a bad case of yesterday’s news
Like a tree in the fall
Pieces of my life all around
If I stand still long enough, they’ll put me in the ground

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Hello?

August 8, 2019 § 2 Comments

After the rousing success of my last post (as of this writing, zero views), I thought I’d subject myself again to the possibility of abject humiliation or deafening silence. Which brings us to today’s entry.

Today’s lyrics are about otherness and our fear of the “other.” I’d like to think it also touches on the idea that the “other” person is, in many ways, much like us.

The song does not have a chorus that repeats, though the even-numbered sections (omitting the bridge) have a repeating melody and take the place of the traditional chorus. Rhythmically, the odd-numbered sections (again, leaving out the bridge) take their cue from a classic tune by The Youngbloods, “Get Together.”

The bridge section uses rhyme for the inner lines, then a musical break of several sections before the final line is sung. As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated. Enjoy!

Man Over There

There’s a man over there
Doesn’t look like you do
Tries to go about his business
Why is that threatening you?

You worry about the future
Trying to live in the past
But that world you remember
Was never meant to last

There’s a man over there
A far-off look in his eyes
Don’t know what he is thinking
Keeps his thoughts well disguised

He sees some folks as “other”
The fires of hate deep down burn
Staying cool on the outside
But the wheels inside turn

BRIDGE
You and he, not so different
Though you try to deny
Tell yourself another lie
You ever ask yourself why —
What is it you fear?

There’s a man over there
Looks just like your reflection
A face in the mirror
Lost all sense of direction

He doesn’t have a reason
He doesn’t have a care
What about the man that he mirrors
That man over there?

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Music As Healer, Music As Protest

August 5, 2019 § Leave a comment

Today’s entry is a song I’ve debated sharing since I wrote the first version one month ago. I debated, not because I think today’s entry is a bad song. Quite the contrary. In fact, I think it is one of the best songs I have ever written.

The reason I debated sharing this song is because I suspect some who read the lyrics or listen to the song might be offended by the sentiment contained in those words. However, I ultimately decided the song deserved to live somewhere other than on the pages of a notebook gathering dust on a shelf.

My feelings about music are multi-faceted. Of course, music has the power to entertain, but I also believe music has the power to evoke emotion and the power to heal.

Music also has the power to tell stories, which is what I have tried to do more of in my songwriting. That is why I have come to self-identify more and more as a folk singer and songwriter even though I also write in other genres.

One subset of folk music that has endured since its inception is that of the protest song. From Woody Guthrie to Pete Seeger to Phil Ochs to Bob Dylan and countless others, the protest song has been an important element of folk music.

It is in the protest song that folk music speaks truth to power and perhaps forces us to face inconvenient truths. That is the spirit in which today’s entry was written.

The song is inspired by recent events and reports coming from where immigrants are being held along the southern border. In the wake of this weekend’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, a shooting apparently fueled by a hatred of immigrants, I felt it was time for this song to see the light of day. If you want to hear the song, you can see my performance of it on YouTube.

Unto Me

People at our southern border
All of them are running scared
Angry voices in the distance
Just because these people dared
To come looking for liberty
In the land of the free
We lock them in a cage
What does that say about you and me?

REFRAIN
We call ourselves a Christian nation
Yet turn away the refugee
I’m sure that Jesus said
“As you do it to the least of them
So you do it unto me”

We used to sing “God Bless the Child”
But that’s the child that’s got his own
These people left the only home
That they have ever known
They say, “God Bless America”
We say they must go back
They come here for asylum
And we call it an attack

REFRAIN

BRIDGE
Suffer unto me the little children
I’m sure that’s what He said
If Jesus walked amongst us now
Would we still leave him for dead

Vigilantes in the darkness
Out on refugee patrol
Did they get the thirty pieces
For the selling of their soul
We’re told “do unto others”
Isn’t that the Golden Rule?
Is He looking down and wondering
If we played him for a fool?

REFRAIN

So you do it unto me

© 2019 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.