April 7, 2015

Songs

Ships

My favourite lyric. It has been rewritten and rewritten so many times and finally I think it’s complete. This song started off in 1998 as “Nocturne”, a night scene set in The Last Chance All-nite Diner. I was influenced by Rickie Lee Jones and her Last Chance Texaco from her debut album. Years later I came up with a chorus to go with the song and it became Ships. The diner became The Wee Small Hours and a few verses were dropped and the bridge refined. It’s still probably too long but the demo I made with Paul White is wonderful. It started out being about all these characters with one thing in common and probably ended up being about me.

Sunday Town

Originally written in about an hour at work one Sunday in 2004. It has gone through the customary huge number of rewrites and will undoubtedly go through more. It was about so many of these once thriving towns and cities in the US I have visited with dead town centres. This song was inspired by Fairbanks in Alaska, Wichita in Kansas, Weirton WV, Asbury Park NJ and Gary Indiana. Some of these are going through urban renewal now but when I visited them they were pale shadows of their former glory. Sunday Town is an amalgamation of these towns and cities.

Winter People

Another one of my ‘happy songs’. Once a part of a group of four season themed songs it became a commentary on the way we treat our elderly and growing old. It’s so easy to become invisible after a certain age. Love the title and I like quite a few lines in this song. Stone washed senior citizens eke away their lives and weighed down by their years appeals to me. Not totally happy with it but Paul White has made it into a great sounding demo.

Stones

My latest lyric written in India while on holiday. Started on an overnight train and finished in Rishikesh. The hook came first with ‘So much water passed beneath the bridges I burned’. It’s about a failed relationship and the regrets of not doing enough to keep them together. Happy with the images of a jigsaw past and the keepsakes that remind him of her. Hopefully not to many revisions to do. Has a killer chorus on the demo by Paul White.

Too Old To Change

My attempt at a country sing a long song. Flawed but fun. Printed in the American songwriter magazine in 2014. Nice bridge and plenty of humour. Good to write something less serious and in a lighter vein. Not far from the truth.

Hindsight

Different song structure for me with the bridge serving as an intro. This is about a friend and her marriage to a charming man who cheated on her. The names were changed to protect the innocent. It was obvious after the event but hindsight is a wonderful thing. She just couldn’t separate the charmer from the snake at the time. Uptempo and catchy.

Love Bite

Started in 1982 at my first job as a veterinarian. A nurse I was working with came in with a hickey on her neck and I set about writing a love song involving a vampire. Lots of imagery. New chorus and refined bridge completed it in 2014 while in Washington state after visiting Forks of ‘Twilight’ fame. Pale as the moon, cold as a corpse in the grave – how romantic.

Come Rain Come Shine

Robert Frost when asked about life was quoted to have said “All I really know about life is it goes on.” With this in mind I completed this song climbing a sacred mountain in China. With the help of a new friend Romina, I put it to music on a ship sailing down the Yangtze. We performed it that evening on a grand piano to our friends in our G Adventure group and recorded it to video. The song looks at life in particular comparing life as seen through a young and old person. It has a sweet melody, almost music box like. I like it. Three years later I added 2 verses and removed one to complete the song and make it one persons look at  life. It won the Dallas Songwriters 2018 Summer Lyric contest.

Words are Weapons

Tongue in cheek but with an edge. Started off with the lines ‘Think you’re funny, don’t make me laugh. Some kind of wit, you’re only half’ and worked from there. An Elvis Costello influenced lyric I wrote about a couple I have met. One kept cracking jokes at his partner who didn’t appear to be enjoying his sense of humour. He was oblivious!

The Silents Were Golden

When in LA around the turn of the century I visited Forest Lawn Memorial Park and found interred along with other graves John Gilbert (1899- 1936). In his day John was up there with Rudolph Valentino as a movie lover and heart throb starring in silent movies with the likes of Greta Garbo. He had a tumultuous life marrying 4 times and dating Garbo and Marlene Dietrich among others. With the advent of the talkies his career went downhill and he lost the great popularity he once had. He became an alcoholic and died of a heart attack ( a broken heart) aged 36. This song has a simple lyric with a sweet 1960s doowop feel written with the aid of Kevin Ferguson.

 

Skin Diving

Another song generated from a conversation from one of my nurses, This is a love song from a different angle. Happy with the way it turned out.Hope to set it to music one day soon. It won the Fall 2017 Dallas Songwriting Association Lyric Competition and a top 5 in The Great American Songwriting Competition.

Snapshot

Inspired by my late friend Jeff Cahill, who was a very good professional photographer. I used a lot of photography terms and double entendre to tell a rather sordid story. Years ago I gave an early version of this to Gary and Steve Wilson of Tuxedo Wave who made it into a great poppy new wave song typical of its time (the 1980s). This was the first time I got to hear one of my songs played live and it was a great thrill. It is somewhat dated now with the advent of digital photography.I updated the lyric years later to tell a more complete story

 

Stainless Steel and Polythene

When you’re helpless and comatose. Who looks after your welfare? Who gets to play god? This is a song from the viewpoint of an accident victim with no say in the matter. I enjoyed putting in a little back story of time spent in Savannah Georgia, one of my favourite places in the world

Tall Tales and True

A story song written many years ago from a different time. I remember listening to beautiful songs like Daisy a Day and Whisky on a Sunday and wrote my own. These days you can’t imagine an old man telling tales to young children in a park but this was written in a different time, a more innocent time.

 

Closer To Fine

A song written in one day. It’s based on an actual phone call from an ex. It was bitterly cold early in the morning and she was calling me because she was lonely and missing someone in her life. She asked me how I was doing and I said I’m getting closer to fine. I was trying to move on but wasn’t quite there yet but was getting closer to fine. I was listening a lot to Damien Rice at that stage and the songs melody reflects that.

A Life Less Ordinary

I was walking around my local video rental store (when they were commonplace) one day and came across a film titled ” A Life Less Ordinary” and thought what a great title for a song. I went home and gradually put together a song based around this title. The song is about a man with his lonely regimented life going through the motions but it wasn’t always that way. He once lived a life much more fulfilling and happy. I like the melody to this with the verses in a minor key and the chorus a major

Gone Fishing

Everyone, no matter how happy they are with their job and life, dreams of getting away from it all and having some “me time”. A secluded place to escape to and relax. This is a folk country singalong ballad of escape. As I near retirement this becomes more and more relateable to me.