Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Lyrical Sense of Place & A Few Other Favorites

People close to me know I’m as drawn to the lyrics of a song as the melody or rhythm.

A pleasant surprise when I was recruited to Durham in 1989 to jump-start the community’s official marketing agency was learning that this is the hometown of Hall of Fame song writer Don Schlitz who has written 24 #1 Hits and will perform May 10th at the Casbah here.Don-Schlitz-poster-REVISED-final

Coincidentally, Keith Whitely had introduced me to Schlitz a year earlier when he first took the song When You Say Nothing At All co-written by Don to #1, a song Allison Krause took to #3 a half a dozen years later from a tribute album to Whitely.

Keith Whitely died of alcohol poisoning less than a month before I arrived in Durham. His Greatest Hits are still a favorite companion through my helmet earphones on long motorcycle rides through North Carolina countryside.

Early in my tenure in Durham, Don Schlitz co-wrote I Still Believe In You with Vince Gill, a song that still continues to capture what I want my only child and now lawyer-single-Mom daughter to feel.

Written by Don a decade before I arrived in Durham and later a hit recording by another North Carolinian, Randy Travis , Oscar The Angel, gave me a glimpse into Durham’s unique character as a community.

I understand that lyrics differ from poetry in several ways but primarily because poetry can be much more complex. Lyrics, however, must work in tandem with the rhythm and structure of music and are meant to be heard.

But I enjoy reading lyrics. Poems also work best for me when I read them aloud. And then there are those exquisite moments when a poem and lyrics come together like Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah also beautifully interpreted by Jeff Buckley!

Below is a very brief sampling of 25 other partial lyrics that are favorites, all reflective, but in no particular order:

“Everybody wants a little piece of my time
But still I put you at the end of the line
How it breaks my heart to cause you this pain
To see the tears you cry fallin' like rain
Give me the chance to prove
And I'll make it up to you”

- Vince Gill and Don Schlitz

“I'm just a whisper of smoke
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire
That once burned out of control
And took my body and soul”

- Hugh Prestwood

“I have come to listen for the sound
Of the trucks as they move down
Out on ninety five
And pretend that it's the ocean
coming down to wash me clean”

- Emmylou Harris

“Oh I wanna do right but not right now”

- Gillian Welch

“For everything you win, there’s something lost”

- Dan Seals

“And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time”

- Damien Rice

And each night begins a new day
And if you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probably just ride away…
And they're always alone
even with someone they love

- Ed and Patsy Bruce

“And freedom, oh freedom
Well that’s just some people talking”

- Don Henley and Glenn Frey

“I used to be the main express
All steam and whistles heading west
Picking up my pain from door to door
Riding on the storyline, furnace burning overtime
But this train don’t stop, and this train don’t stop
This train don’t stop there anymore”

- Bernie Taupin and Elton John

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more”

- John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“No, I can't forget this evening
Or your face as you were leaving
But I guess that's just the way the story goes
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes, it shows

I can't live if living is without you
I can't live I can't give anymore”

- Harry Nilsson

"There is a town in north Ontario
With dream comfort memory to spare
And in my mind, I still need a place to go
All my changes were there”

- Neil Young

“Then I crossed the empty street
'n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken
And it took me back to somethin'
That I'd lost somehow, somewhere along the way

'Cos there's something in a Sunday
Makes a body feel alone
And there's nothin' short of dyin'
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin' city sidewalks
Sunday mornin' comin' down”

- Kris Kristofferson

“I guess you're tired of walking tightropes
Of setting up and tearing down
You want a place to call forever
And rest your feet on solid ground

Somewhere you've lost that sense of wonder
But that’s still the place I’m bound
I’m a storm in search of thunder
I’m a circus leaving town

-Travis Tritt

“He put her out
Like the burning end of a midnight cigarette
He broke her heart
She spent her whole life tryin to forget
We watched her drink her pain away a little at a time
But she could never get drunk enough to get him off her mind until tonight
She put that bottle to her head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away his memory
Life is short and this time it was bigger
Than the strength she had to get up off her knees”

- Bill Anderson and Jon Randall

“Daddy when will you coming home
I’m already there take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
I’m you’re imaginary friend
And I know I’m in your prayers
Oh, I’m already there”

- Richie McDonald

“You know she came to see him one last time
We all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he's over her for good
He stopped loving her today”

- Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman

“I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I been a runnin' ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming but I know
A change gon' come oh yes it will”

- Sam Cooke

“I was there when you were a queen,
And I’ll be the last one there beside you”

- J.D. Souther

“If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes”

- Garth Brooks and Kent Blazy

“When I was just a baby my mama told me. Son,
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns.
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry”

- Johnny Cash

“All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go
I'm standin here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin it's early morn
The taxi's waitin he's blowin his horn
Already i'm so lonesome i could die”

- John Denver

“This ol' airports got me down
It's no earthly good to me
'Cause I’m stuck here on the ground
Cold and drunk as I might be
Can't jump a jet plane
Like you can a freight train
So I best be on my way
In the early mornin' rain”

- Gordon Lightfoot

“Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late In my career?
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don't bother - they're here”

- Stephen Sondheim

“I hold it up and show my buddies
Like we ain’t scared
And our boots ain't muddy
But no one laughs
Cause there ain't nothin' funny
When a soldier cries
And I just wipe my eyes
I fold it up and put it in my shirt
Pick up my gun and get back to work
And it keeps me drivin' on
Waitin' on letters from home”

- Tony Lane and David Lee

1 comment:

Brandon Jozwiak said...

Great stuff. What are some of your Keith Whitley favorites?