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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Lights, camera, action

A little over a year ago, I was trying to take a nap when I got a call from an agent at the William Morris Agency.

I immediately recognized the name of the world’s largest entertainment agency and my mind quickly began thinking perhaps someone has heard a song and wanted…. when the caller asked if my book “The Real Coke, the Real Story” had been optioned?

This gave me pause. Book? I had written a book 29 years before. Option?

I managed to say without too much hesitation, “No.”

He then says two of his clients want to option my book for a movie. And he wants to arrange a telephone conference so they can make their pitch.

Random House 1986

Random House 1986

I had managed to get both feet firmly planted on the floor just before I was elevated to whichever cloud induces fantasies of fame and fortune. But I was soon to learn that to arrive at such destinations one must travel a long and winding road full of delays without end or explanation.

I was told the two writers were the writers behind one of Hollywood’s recent surprise hits: “Zombieland,” starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Esienberg, with a cameo by Bill Murray. Critics loved it and it made lots of money. They even overnighted me a DVD of the movie, as if I hadn’t seen it.

While I waited for the conference call, I did a little research on these two and found out they were also the writers on the much-anticipated movie “Deadpool,” a spin-off from Marvel’s and Sony’s X-Men goldmine.

These guys had other credits as well. They were, in other words, the real deal.

I speculated, and they later confirmed, their interest in new Coke came about because of the success that Oscar year of two business scandal movies, “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Hence, the creative types in Hollywood, home of the world’s largest Xerox machine, were brainstorming other American business debacles or scandals.

Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese landed on new Coke. They found the Kindle version of my book on Amazon and fell in love with it.

They told me they envision the Coke movie, like “American Hustle,” as part period piece, in this case, the “vibrant” 1980s. They speak in hyperbole, which I’m too modest to repeat, about how big they think this could be. And some of the actors’ names they toss around, well, quite frankly make me giggle.

So who knows? It may never happen. I bet there are a 100-plus options, if not multiples of that, for every movie made.

Still, I have a book that has been optioned for a movie.

Yeah!

And for y’all dying to know but won’t find out in the grocery store tabloids: There is no money paid for an option (or otherwise Hollywood would go broke, per the above ratio of options to movies).

Payment is made on day one of the actual production. So, they have to get the movie financed and into production before I would receive anything.

So, keep your fingers crossed. And if anyone ever suggests I take naps because I’m lazy, you now know the real reason: I am waiting on a call.

 

P.S. For those who would like to read the book before the movie comes out, follow the Book link in the header above or click http://thomas-oliver.com/books/

Better than Ever (a demo)

I was told it is ill advised to write an ironic song. The point you’re criticizing might be taken as something you actually admire rather than something deserving ridicule.

Unless you have a blog to explain the deeper, hidden meaning!!

“Better than Ever” is a takeoff on my generation. You know the one where drugs, sex and rock and roll were going to change human nature. When disposing of a president, ending a war and bringing about social equality would result in peace on earth.

You get the drift. We were special, and we knew it.

At this point in history, if not our lives, the irony should be obvious to anyone, but I’m still surprised at the number of my generation who act as if the appellation, “the greatest generation” applies to us.

For those unexposed to the drugs, sex and all that was college of the late-1960s and mid-70s, let me just say that it wasn’t necessary to be stoned or tripping to have these delusions of grandeur, though it certainly helped.

 

The above demo is just me and my guitar.

 
Better than Ever

when things were good, we’d stay home
and pretend we were shut-ins waiting for the meals on wheels to roll
we were young, hell-bent for leather
and we knew, it’d never be better

 
(chorus):
and we knew better, better than our elders
we knew better, smoking (tripping) on beer and wine
we knew we’d never surrender or go under
we’d make history just a matter of time

 
when things were bad, we’d hit the road
watching for undercover narcs and hidden 5-0s
we were ramblers, almost always stoned
and we knew better than the folks back home

 
(bridge):
we made an art out of smoke and mirrors
we signed up all the poets and ghost writers
and they kept telling us we were so much better
better than ever, never been better

 

 

 

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Rescue Me ( a demo)

This is the “old” song in this batch of demos. It was written eight years ago, or a year or two before Melissa and I married. And it reflects the growing frustration that we still weren’t married and living together.

As such, it speaks for any person who knows that love answers a part of the big unknown — why am I here – and yet, for whatever reason, love hasn’t found him or her.

And then it does.

And that’s impossible to describe perfectly, and that’s why there are a gazillion attempts through poetry, song, movies, novels and art.

And it is those attempts that help us define ourselves: “That’s my song”…”that’s exactly how I felt.”…. “how did you know”…. “I want that kind of love”…Etc.

It’s a simple formula: I need someone. I found someone. I can’t believe it.

the above is just me and my guitar

Rescue Me

 Always knew there was someone for me
even though I’ve been so alone
never knew just how it’d all work out
‘til you walked into this room

(chorus)

come on now and rescue me
don’t know how much longer I can last
holding on for all I’m worth
can’t believe this is happening

come sit down and talk to me
I’m so lonely here in this crowd
don’t know what brought me out tonight
I’m usually way too proud

(chorus)

(bridge):

       there’s so much I wanna say
       so why don’t we get out of here

(chorus)

 

PS: In thinking this could be sung by a female, I wrote a different line for the last line of the 2nd verse. In my mind, they are saying the same thing, but expressing it as their gender might.

don’t know what brought me out tonight
(male):     I’m usually way too proud
(female): I’m usually ruled by doubt

 

 
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That Cold Dark Hour (a demo)

The prophets of the Old Testaments were my first, early immersion into the blues. Bemoaning their condition, blaming others, praying for relief from any more tests of their faith and crying out for the death to their enemies. If that ain’t the blues, nothing is.

From time to time, I find myself writing what I call a spiritual blues song. It’s a wonder I don’t write more.

One of my favorite movies is 1997’s “The Apostle,” which Robert Duvall, wrote, directed and starred in. There’s a scene in this picture about a wayward but believing preacher (Duvall), where he is in his room screaming at God, demanding that God make things right.

So it is in this song. In speaking of the Crucifixion, the singer dares suggest that the burden of being human gives us some insight into the pain of the Cross. And as such, “we don’t need another lesson;” we need relief.

 

The above is just me and my guitar

That Cold Dark Hour

when you were hanging on the cross
and you felt so abandoned
was it hard to ask for help
and to cry out in your anger
and did you receive an answer
and did it feel any better
when you finally surrendered
in that cold dark hour

cause

we don’t need another lesson
in how far we all can stray
what we need now Lord
is some more of
your amazing grace
cause
the days are getting harder
and the nights so much longer
sometimes it feels just like
that cold dark hour

you know our hearts before we speak
still we kneel and pray for those in need

 
 
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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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