Getaway Smile (a demo)

      John Wynn, a fellow musician who liked my song “The Girl with an Accidental Memory,” suggested I write one about someone with a make-believe memory. In other words, maybe what was remembered happened; maybe it didn’t. And if there was a couple, perhaps their make-believe memories conflicted.

Pretty cool concept.

I got as far as the first few lines:

“She wore a gypsy blouse off one shoulder; she was so hot she smoldered
and her getaway smile took her all the wayfrom the red clay of Georgia to the sandstone of Santa Fe.”

       From there it went nowhere. Perhaps that’s because there was nothing about a make-believe memory.

       The idea eventually floated off, but the “getaway smile” stuck with me for a year or more, as did the opening.

       And then I came back to it, and I’m glad I did because I really like this song and consider it as good a narrative song as I will likely write. (Sorry, John, it’s not about a make-believe memory.)

       By introducing the man, I had a couple’s story, if not a typical love story. This also afforded me the compare and contrast descriptive technique that then helped drive the story. I could write contrasting lines that played off each other, like:

          She wasn’t any one man’s woman
          And he wasn’t any one-woman man
Or

          He loved rolling those dice
          And she loved trolling the high life
And

          His luck and his welcome were running out       
          while she was out running around

 

       It’s my longest song and it became longer when Melissa insisted that I write something that lent credence or meaning to their actions. Hence the refrains. I like the way the second lines in the refrains reflect the different stages of their journey.

       I like stories where the beginnings foreshadow the ending and/or the ending reflects the beginning.  In this case the last verse is almost identical to the first verse, except for her destination.  

      Every time I sing this song, I see it as in a movie.

 

The above is just me and my guitar

Getaway Smile

She wore a gypsy blouse off one shoulder
she was so hot she smoldered
and her getaway smile got her all the way
from Santa Fe to Georgia.

They said he was wanted in another country
Something about gambling with another man’s money
But he ain’t on the run he was
Just looking for cover

         She wasn’t any one man’s woman
          And he wasn’t any one-woman man
          They knew exactly what they wanted
           and for a while it seemed they were made for each other

(refrain):

it starts out easy and it starts out small
You don’t have to run but you might have to crawl
but it ain’t over til that last call

 

He never said why they needed to leave Atlanta
Just that they’d do better in Savannah
Where life is slower
and the only heat found in the weather.

She not the kind to be left alone
being lonely can mess with your soul
Next thing you know you’re seeking comfort
 that only the night holds

          He loved rolling those dice
          And she loved trolling the high life
          He didn’t make many friends with his winning ways
          and of course she made more than could possibly stay

(refrain):

it starts out easy and it starts out small
sometimes you think you’ve seen it all
 but it ain’t over til that last call

 

It started getting hotter than the weather
And it didn’t really matter which way he bet ‘em
Those dice rolled every which way
but seven or 11.

And she was attracting attention
The kind that sends married men to confession
And if you aren’t careful pretty soon
somebody’s gonna pull a weapon

      His luck and his welcome were running out
      while she was out running around
      He wanted them to leave but he didn’t know how to ask her
      Besides he worried she might not want to go together

(refrain):

it starts out easy and it starts out small
next thing you know you’ve hit a wall
but it ain’t over til that last call

 

Now you’ve heard of an inopportune time
that when he walked in to find
her in let’s just say
a compromising position.

Her new friend went for his gun
Her old lover just stood there stunned
Knowing you can’t undo
what’s been done.

      He was the one man she would remember
      She told everyone she’d been forgiven
      Cause in that last breath he took in her arms
      He said darling don’t take this too hard

 

(refrain):
it starts out easy and it starts out small
sometimes you fly and sometimes we fall
but it ain’t over til that last call

 

She wore a gypsy blouse off one shoulder
she was so hot she smoldered
her getaway smile got her all the way
from Savannah to Seattle

 

 

 

 

 

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40 Days (a demo)

      Mary Todesca, the wife of fellow musician Jim Todesca, thought for a long time that the line “coming down on a sunny day” in John Fogerty’s “Have You Seen the Rain” was “coming down for 40 days.” If you listen to the Creedence version, you can understand the confusion.

       But she held on to that conviction, or at least pretended to, long after being provided proof.

       So, I figured there should be a song about 40 days, just for her.  So, I wrote one. 

      It has a melodic salute to Creedence (one of my very favorite bands in its heyday). If you listen closely you might detect a hint of Fogerty’s “Green River” in the little guitar riff at the end of each verse. And the bridge opens with the line: “there’s a calm before the storm,” which is the second line in “Have You Seen the Rain.”

      I’m rather proud of those touches, and I also like the song. It’s one I play out sometimes. And if I ever recorded a CD or EP of blues numbers, this would be on it. I’d love to hear a slide on a Dobro and maybe more made of the “Green River” riff.

 

        The above is just me and my guitar

40 Days

The rain’s gonna fall
40 days in all
pour down like a shower of shooting stars

the wind’s gonna blow
lordy it’s gonna howl
like a mangy old wolf on the prowl

   (bridge):
   there’s a calm before the storm
   they say that’s your chance to a run
   but you know you can’t escape
   the damage done

cause the river’s gonna rise
the levees give way
gonna drown all the sinners and saints

(coda):
Yeah, the rain’s gonna come
Wind’s gonna blow
And that river’s gonna wash over you

 

 

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I Got a Witness (a demo)

This is my attempt at gospel music.

Gospel music, like the blues, has it origins in the early 1800s and comes from the black oral tradition. Its rhythmic history is rooted in the handclapping and stomping when the singing was mostly unaccompanied by instruments. Lyrically, gospel music is simple and repetitive, often employing a call and response.

For my lyrics, I have used the weather as a simile for praying, not praying for rain, so to speak, but praying like rain, or like thunder.

Gospel music is most like the blues when describing a desperate situation that needs the Almighty’s attention. But it deviates from most of the blues by specifying the Christian atonement as the answer.

For reasons that are fairly obvious, the bottle and its different manifestations are a recurring concept in my songs. In flipping the image of the Biblical miracle of water being made into wine to say leave it water this time, I’m also borrowing from that great alcoholic’s prayer song by T. Graham Brown, “Wine into Water.” (If you’ve never heard it, google it and listen, but have some tissue near by.)

 

The above is just me and my guitar.

I Got a Witness

Lord I’m standing, standing on the edge
don’t wanna fall over, don’t wanna wind up dead
so I’m praying, praying like rain
you’ll find me instead
yeah you’ll find me instead

lord i know, I got it coming
just can’t help, but be out there running
so I’m praying, praying like thunder
i won’t come to nothing, I won’t come to nothing

(refrain):

I don’t need no alibi
got me a witness, who’ll testify

 

lord that bottle, is a live wire
and it’ll burn me, like the devil’s fire
so I’m praying, praying like wind
you make water this time, yeah leave it water this time

(refrain)

lord we’re hurting, in a world of hurt
and we don’t need, any more burdens
so I’m praying, praying like lightning
keep the home fires burning, keep the home fires burning

(refrain)

 

 

 

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Never Been to Austin (a demo)

In Atlanta, Melissa and I liked to attend house concerts, where lesser known but incredibly talented singer/songwriters earn most of their living. It’s an intimate setting, usually in the living rooms of super hosts, who invite friends and neighbors to a covered dish dinner and music.

For a period, it seemed that every singer songwriter we encountered was from Austin. At the time, I had never been to Austin, though I thought of Austin as the mecca of real country music. Country folk and honky tonk and blues all messed into a sound quite distinguishable from NashVegas.

But it became obvious that those from Austin not only thought better of themselves than Nashville songwriters, but they thought better of themselves in general.

It was just a little south of obnoxious.

At this particular house concert, the Austin singer songwriter had played a couple of what I call two-stepping songs (One Day at a Time). At the time, I had dabbled in and around the form, but had never really figured it out.

The next day I decided to write a two-stepping song.

I started strumming, figured out the melodic form and the first words out of my mouth were: “I’ve never been to Austin…..”

This is not a new song. It’s just that I finally got around to making a demo of it. I’ve been playing this song at most gigs for a few years now.

 

The above is just me and my guitar.

Never Been to Ausin

I’ve never been to Austin
But don’t hold that against me
if I’d had my say
I’d been born in Texas
but as it is I just a runaway
from way down in Georgia

but I’ve been to Nacogdoches and Longview
caught me a case of them east Texas blues
but you can have Dallas if you really want her
sort of reminds me of Atlanta Georgia

(chorus):

yeah I’m just man
whose been displaced
trying to find some saving grace
before it’s all gets washed away
come that heavenly day

it don’t take much
to satisfy me
never been accused of being greedy
but then again I won’t settle for less
than what I need

and I need a gal just like you
I think you know what I’m saying’s true
so come over here let me stare into
those big blue (brown) eyes

 

 

 

 

 

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Got the Blues Last Night (a demo)

This is not so much a blues song in the strictest sense, as it is a country cheating song in the tradition of Hank Williams: “I Got a Feeling Called the Blues.” (If only I could yodel! Seriously.)

The cheating song has a long tradition in all forms of jazz: blues, pop, rock and roll and country. In country, some of its best songs are in this sub genre: from Dolly Patron’s “Jolene,” to “Your Cheating Heart,” another Hank classic.

The key to a good cheating song seems to be the straight-ahead undeniability of the fact, and the raw emotional response.

Cheating songs, like falling-in-love songs, don’t necessarily have to come from a singular personal experience. Rather, they can come from tapping into the universal sense of falling in love or being dumped. Almost everyone has experienced either or both of those emotional carnival rides.

At a certain age, there seems to be little else one feels.

And with all blues, the singing it, the hearing it, or dancing to it somehow lessens its impact.

 

The above is just me and my guitar

Got the Blues Last Night

(chorus):
I got the blues last night
saw my baby with another guy
haven’t slept a wink
for cry-i-ng

baby had on a new red dress
where she got it don’t know hate to guess
but that’s not all that’s troubling my mind
see that wasn’t baby’s first time

(chorus)

said she’d love me til the end of time
now I know she was just lying
haven’t slept a wink
for crying

just might get me a gun
shoot that sucker just for fun
but that wouldn’t make everything right
cuz baby’s going out again tonight 

(chorus)

baby taught me a thing or two
there’s more to life than the blues
so get yourself a baby
you don’t have to worry about
looking for me a new baby
one who won’t go stepping out

 

 

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The Bullet (a demo)

The Bullet

I’m partial to this haunting blues number.

Melissa claims it crept out of the night, spawned by having watched HBO’s “True Detective.”

We didn’t take HBO at the time the show morphed into a cult hit, so we had to wait until the series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson became available for purchase.

Quite a story. And if you saw the series you’ll remember the indelible theme song, The Handsome Family’s “Far from Any Road.”

So, I think that’s what gave Melissa a sense of the song’s origin, since it is a little different for me.  She might be right.

But I was looking for a spark to ignite some songwriting and had been told that as songwriter if I change instruments or tunings, it just might spark something.

So, I grabbed my electric Telecaster down from the shelf. I seldom play it because an electric guitar is truly a different instrument and I don’t know how to play it well.

But three songs jumped off that Telecaster, the first of which was “The Bullet.”

It’s POV is clearly a different one for me, but an important one, and not so foreign as you might think. I know first and second hand the horrors and consequences of addiction. I lost a parent to a bullet. My children navigated a “ghetto” school, as they fondly called Grady.

So, this is real, which is the first requirement of the blues.

The above is just me and my guitar

 

   The Bullet

Sometimes, you can’t get enough
Sometimes, it gets in your blood
Then you’ll spend your life like
a homeless man looking for work
 
Sometimes, you got to choose
Yeah sometime, you got to move
Cause that man out there is looking for you
 
all the love in this world
can’t take back a bullet
once it’s left its gun
 
They said, just stay in school
And you’ll get ahead if you play by the rules
but just to be on the safe side
we’re going build some jail cells, too

 

 

 

 

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