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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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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