Give in to Love (a demo)

As an exercise, I initially wrote most of these lyrics to the melody of Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehaving.”

But I liked the lyrics and the story too much to simply file them away as an exercise, so I had to write another melody for obvious reasons. I chose a two-stepping swing melody, a particular genre I’m partial to as those know who have followed me in this and my Other Songs’ blog.

But also, giving it a little swing seemed in keeping with the New Orleans jazz or “stride” genre that Waller was famous for, that highly syncopated “oom-pah” rhythm.

I pictured a roaring 20s gentleman trying to woo his lady at a beachside resort. Perhaps on Tybee Island, after they had danced to either Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington at Tybrisa Pavillion, where those two greats and others did in fact play during the 1920s.

In a tradition of the AABA form (verse, verse, bridge, verse), the title is in the last line of the verses, as it is in “Ain’t Misheaving.”

Thomas “Fats” Waller’s other famous composition is “Honeysuckle Rose.” He was known as the “black Horowitz” because of the way he attacked the keyboard, reminiscent of the flamboyant style of Vladimir Horowitz.

Unlike Horowitz though, Waller was once kidnapped at gunpoint to play at Al Capone’s surprise birthday party.

 

The above is just me and my guitar

 Give in to Love

there comes a time in everyone’s life
you might not know when or even why
but there’s no doubt about it our time has come
all we need do now darling is just give in to love

the night is young, the moon is high
we have the beach to ourselves at low tide
it’s no coincidence, it’s what dreams are made of
all you need to do now darling, is give in to love

like falling off a log,
there’s no effort involved
just let yourself go,
don’t try to hold on

like music and candlelight, an ocean breeze
well the two of us, we were just meant to be
there’s no denying, who wouldn’t approve
all you need to do now darling, is give in to love

 

 

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Don’t Worry about Me (a demo)

During a two-month period I lost my brother-in-law and a dear friend.

Pete Williams was very much like a brother to me, and while he had not been healthy for a while, his death was nevertheless unexpected.

Lynn Boykin, the wife of my AJC colleague Don, had suffered long enough. She, like Don, was a stalwart disciple in her church. Her illness led her even deeper into her faith.

Pete’s suffering had him asking the universal questions, and I felt honored to share in some of that search.

The song that came from their passing is not one you might expect. It certainly doesn’t reflect their suffering.

And perhaps “Don’t Worry about Me” is too simplistic an answer to Pete’s questions. But then, perhaps it’s the questions, not the answers, that are complicated.

 

The above demo is just me and my guitar

Don’t Worry about Me

I can’t explain how airplanes fly
or the ebb and flow of the tides
but I see heaven in the smile of a child
so don’t you worry about me

I know friends can’t always stay
I know loved ones will pass away
But I can almost hear them say
don’t you worry about me

I can be hard to live with
harder still to forgive
but you say you love me and always will
and you say don’t worry about me

I’ve seen the writing on the wall
I’ve read the letters of St. Paul
they say empires and nations will fall
but we don’t need to worry about empires at all

I know my time on earth will end
but I have faith in what happens then
so when it does just say amen
and don’t you worry about me

 

 

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Another Stop Along the Road (a demo)

I like a two-step, Texas swing sort of song. I enjoy listening to them, playing them and writing them. (See One Day at a Time).

I wrote “Another Stop Along the Road” with a female singer in mind. So, if some of the lyrics lean toward the feminine, that’s why.

She’s telling her former boyfriend that she’s over him and even though he’s back, she’s “not holding my breath.”

There’s a chance they might get back together, but not much of one.

Although written from the woman’s perspective, I have had no problem performing it as is.

As with some of my other songs, the structure is more natural than standard: two bridges (a section that contrasts with the verse) where one is usually enough, though in this song, the last two lines are the same in each.

It’s those two last lines that I particularly like: the play off the words “scene” and “seen.”

 

The demo above is just me and my guitar

   Another Stop Along the Road

my phone keeps ringing with news your back in town
and everyone’s wondering if you’ve come around
but I’m not holding my breath or (canceling my) making any plans
and I think you know me better than that

(refrain):
yeah I’ll need to know if you coming back for good
or if this is just another stop along the road

1st bridge:

when you left, I cried, but not for long
I picked myself up and learned, to carry on
now you’re back and making quite a scene
but it’s something I’ve seen before

I hear you’re saying what I always wanted to hear
but now I know a thing or two, I didn’t know then
like the moon, and stars still come out and play at night
and that ol’ sun, always rises, in morning sky

(refrain):

2nd bridge:

I wasn’t born, to sing the blues
and I sure wasn’t born, to play no fool
now you’re back and making quite a scene
but it’s something I’ve seen before

(refrain):

 

 

 

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The Counting Song (a demo)

This is a light little tune with some playful lyrics.

To me it has the feel of a little show tune, something that could be part of a musical. I felt this even before I realized its mysterious connection to such.

When I wrote the line “jump through hoops or do the hoopty-do,” I was sure I had made up a word, “hoopty-do” (not to be confused with “whoopty-doo,” a phrase signifying something lacking in importance).

In this song, hoopty-do is meant to be some soft-shoe shuffle or silly dance step.

But in googling “hoopty-do” before claiming to be a neologist (one who makes up words), I found 1) a 1950 polka called Hoop-Dee-Do and 2) a long-running Disney musical by that same name at its Fort Wilderness campsite in Orlando. The song was apparently quite popular, as Perry Como and Doris Day recorded it the same year, 1950.

In playing off the word “hoops” and writing hoopty-do, I imagined some little dance step, though certainly not a polka. While some may say I obviously once heard, even if there is no conscious memory, “Hoop-Dee-Doo,” I like to think it’s more mysterious. It’s the universe’s way of distributing song fragments. In this case, perhaps even recycling some.

My favorite part of the song is the second bridge, where the singer gladly anticipates being told how high to jump by concluding with “who’d have thought love would teach a man how to fly.”

I hope you enjoy this fun little song.

           The demo above is just me and my guitar

The Counting Song

one two three four five six seven
I’m counting on getting to heaven
with you; you know it’s true

I can be such a clever fellow
write songs like some write letters
cause I’m singing to you; only you

one two three four five six seven
there’s no mistaking my intention with you
there’s nothing to see through

I’ll jump through hoops or do the hoopty-do
turn back flips if you want me to
walk through fire and that pouring rain
anything, babe, you just need to say it

cause I would like nothing better
than for us to get together
dancing; to a brand new tune

one two three four five six seven
I’m counting on getting to heaven
with you; you know it’s true

I may not have a lot of money
but gold and silver never bought much loving
so baby, what say you

you tell me how high to jump
and I’ll ask you to look up
in the sky as I’m sailing by
who’d have thought love would teach you how to fly

I can think of nothing better
than for us to get together
singing; a new melody
that goes like this:

one two three four five six seven
we’re counting on going to heaven together
you know it’s true
just say you do
do-do-do-do-do

 

 

 

 

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When You Kissed Me (a demo)

This is a grownups’ love song.

Not for the faint of heart are love and its vagaries. Especially during the time of great desire and burning jealousy.

Musically, this is a melody that I have been playing around with for a couple of years. But the story, and therefore the lyrics, was elusive.

Some songs exist independently. And find their songwriter by means that remain one of the great mysteries of art. I was sitting at the right place, at the right time, strumming this melody when the story of a double-edged breakup came along.

Not often does a song have room or time to include two sets of relationships being dissolved.

But I like that there is not only a sweetness to the confession of the affair but an acknowledgement of the pain it caused.

The sharp edge of love and its aftermath is also revealed in the quote from William Congreve: “Heaven has no rage like love turned to hate.” (Which is the front end of a more famous quote often misattributed to Shakespeare: “…Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”).

I’ve been pleased with the reaction when playing this song live on a couple of occasions, as well as Melissa’s opinion – if you were wondering why it leads off this series of Demos.

 

The demo above is just me and my guitar.

 When You Kissed Me

I see you’re leaving by the clothes you’re wearing
And the bags you packed by the door.
I’d beg you to stay but I’ve learned the hard way
That our love’s a double-edged sword

We sat under a moon ‘til the sky turned blue
Knowing exactly where it would lead us
There was nothing I’d rather do except what we shouldn’t do
And then we’d both be defenseless

And then you kissed me
And then you kissed me

We thought we knew it all and we’d be absolved
From breaking the hearts of our lovers
But “heaven knows (has) no rage like love turned to hate”
And they burned all our bridges

Just like a summer storm, trouble seems to comes along
When you are out in the open
And we were running wild with nowhere to hide
And it ended all so sudden

And we blamed each other
With word that kill just like murder

so as you say goodbye, i swear I’m going to try
to remember only the good times
like when you made me blush and we were making love
and you said close your eyes…

And then you kissed me
And then you kissed me

so as you say goodbye, i swear I’m going to try
to remember only the good times
like when you kissed me
like when you kissed me

 

 

 

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The stories behind the songs:
#10 Last Child

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll remember that I mentioned that the great country songwriter Harland Howard was renown for having to have a title before writing a song.

The title to “Last Child” came from my bookshelf.  Literally, I was strumming for a melody and sort of free-form jamming off the titles in the bookcase next to my writing desk.  “The Last Child” is a novel by John Hart, a North Carolina writer.

As soon as I jammed the first lines:  “No more secrets, no place to hide,” I knew what “Last Child” was going to be about.  It had been a long incubation.

The last child is me, the youngest of four who grew up with an alcoholic father who was enabled by our mother.

I have often introduced this song as one that’s pure Southern gothic:  I was raised by a Bible-thumping mother who covered up for my alcoholic father.  She was raised and saved as a Southern Baptist.  But she raised us as Methodists because that was my father’s denomination, though he never darkened the doors of the church.

That only makes sense to those living it.  Which is why it takes those same people a long time to realize it made no sense. And it takes some longer than others.

Each of the short verses is based on actual experience.

This is another song I needed Melissa to validate.

When you write a song so personal, you don’t really know whether it is any good.  I was worried about that and also that the melody was perhaps too one-dimensional, too repetitious.  I also worried that it was too long.

Here again, I think the insecurity of putting something so personal out there creates reticence.

I suggested cutting this verse:

telephone rings,
middle of the night
you cross your heart,
and hope to die

Melissa said absolutely not.  She said that was one of the stronger verses.

(I can’t count all the songs Melissa has helped by suggesting more, or less, or simply affirming a song.  I trust her totally. It helps that she was an exceptional newspaper editor.  And when it comes to songs, she has a perspicacious sense of story and proportion and what people will hear and when they will want to know more.)

One of the best compliments I have received for “Last Child” came when someone asked me not to play it.

A songwriter friend, who I was going to do a writers-in the-round showcase with, asked me not to play it, as it had brought tears to his eyes and a lump to his throat the first time he heard it.  He didn’t want to struggle with singing with a lump in his throat.

Last Child   

no more secrets
no place to hide
doesn’t matter
you’re too old to cry

(refrain):
last child at home
last child to know
last child

read your Bible
say your prayers
don’t get caught listening
at the top of the stairs
(refrain):

(bridge):
they’re not fighting, just disagree
the question is the bottle half full
or half empty

telephone rings
middle of the night
you cross your heart
and hope to die
(refrain)

brother goes to college
sisters went to work
just a few more years
and you’ll be sitting on top of the world
(refrain)

daddy died from thirst
momma survived
God only knows
how i got out of there alive

(refrain):
last child, last child
last child

 

 

 

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