The Promised Land (#poem)

Tiny little towns lie in the Valley paved with gold
Pickup trucks and cowboy boots lined with filth
Rickety shacks and outdoor houses she didn’t have to choose
Coats catching fire, coffee burns or so I’ve been told

Two families from the same place take different paths to the Promised Land
One chose north, the other chose south, but it didn’t really matter
Picking fruit or Hollywoodland, mine chose the latter
I ended up with the one that was fake, but I played in the sand and got a nice tan

Too young to understand what true love is, it’s not for me to say
It’s not what I would have wanted for her, but others wouldn’t have changed a thing
It’s their version of the Promised Land of sun and Golden grain
Muscle beach, curly hair, eyes of blue, and a quick roll in the hay

They hold on tight to the lie he didn’t give her a ring
Those are the same who like to say I have no legitimate claim
This is about my life, I say, this is not some twisted game
Close to my heart for so very long, it’s my God-given dream

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California Screaming (#poem)

Tom Petty sings about it, where life is messy
A world without dads and cold spaghetti
The California dream has its limitations
In a land of make believe and illusions

They looked at me with awe and envy
I couldn’t complain, every day was Thanksgiving
Seen through their eyes beyond their reach
Me living a perfect life at the beach

It came as a surprise when I realized
My dad was not my dad but a dad in disguise
I had to smile and hide my real feelings
Wondering about my “real” dad and if I had other siblings

Years later I found him with other children
They didn’t want to know me for I had been hidden
Don’t believe what they say when you’re California dreaming
You might just end up California screaming

Choices (#poem)

Swollen breasts strain against a t-shirt
Ripe with motherhood questioning the future
Young girl’s fingers caressing the keyboard
Pimping music like a surgeon’s suture

Life changing moments in an instant
Can be swept away as if they never existed
To have and to hold as life unfolds
When your instincts scream “go, go, go!”

Choices we make can be a burden
When chasing dreams, escaping the warden
When you lose your way in the dark of night
Accept the gift in the flickering light

 

Writing Advocates in Heaven

One of the first songs I wrote in my songwriting class was “Advocates in Heaven.” The idea of the song is about losing those closest to you as life moves on until one day you feel as if you have few, if any, advocates on earth, which could feel devastating until you remember you now have advocates in Heaven.

This morning as I ate my cantaloupe I was reminded of one of those advocates. We called him “Papa” and he was my grandmother’s second husband. They married a week after I was born. In fact, he liked to brag that his car was the first car I ever rode in. At the time, my father was stationed overseas in the Naval AirForce.

I could do no wrong in Papa’s eyes, and I think that influenced my grandmother’s opinion of me, too, and that kept my mother in check. Any mis behavior on her part would have to be hidden or at least escape my grandmother’s eyes.

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ – we’d start the day off with Papa’s favorite breakfast of cantaloupe and toast, he’d leave for work and later I’d ride shotgun as my grandmother drove all over Southern California delivering bras, make-up, vitamins, and lingerie to her customers. We’d stop for lunch at Sizzler, which was a big deal back then. Most families I knew back then rarely went out to eat unless it was a some burger or taco joint that SoCal is known for.

My grandmother wasn’t much of a cook so dinner was something simple like popcorn and iced tea or tacos or burritos or so me other Southwestern/Mexican food if Papa was in charge. She would go to bed early and Papa and I would stay up late watching Westerns. He’d regale me with scintillating stories of living the life of a cowboy in Arizona and his daughter and my step dad doing their homework together back in high school in the Central Valley (yes, my step dad was once married to his daughter). I was introduced to country music through Papa and I first read “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by borrowing his copy.

Of Irish descent, he was quite the storyteller. He seemed to recall precise conversations from the distant past, although my mother insisted he embellished them, which is probably true. He was just a storyteller. He reminded me of Roger Craig, the manager for the SF Giants when I first moved to the SF Bay Area.

Today I’m missing my Papa and other advocates now in Heaven. You don’t realize their influence and how they kept things in order until they’re no longer with us on here on earth.

Maybe I’ll rewrite the song and weave him into the story.

 

Time to Retreat

This has been a hellish day and I was already feeling under the weather before I got the email that blindsided me. It reminded me of all that I disliked about publishing and why I walked away from it to pursue music.

So when I gathered the troops by listening to “Stronger,” I was longing to write a song, sing, record, mix, and produce music again. It’s something I can do in my studio that brings immense joy with just me, myself, and I. I mean, how can you look at the mixing board and not want to jump right in – lol! After all, my uncle is a bass player and sound engineer – it definitely runs in the family.

And that microphone – be still my heart. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – practically everyone on my dad’s side of the family plays something. So off to the studio I go.

I’m working on learning this song on the piano, tuning my vocals, and coming up with my own mix. If I end up with anything halfway presentable, I’ll post it.

I also think I need a break from sharing while we’re in the middle of so much.

If you see a privacy sign on this blog, don’t panic – I just need to close the doors for a bit.

White Room, Laith Al-Saadi, Voice Finale

My top choices on The Voice changed over the the last few weeks. At first, Alison was my #1 pick and then she dropped below my top two choices: Adam Wakefield and Laith Al-Saadi.

But after Laith opened up the finale with his version of White Room – WOW! He moved to #1. In fact, all of his performances last night were stellar. I downloaded his song on iTunes because not only was his performance amazing, but he brought me back to my youth and the original version of the song by Cream.

Reading the lyrics, I was reminded that it’s really a poem written by Pete Brown, a performance poet.

The first song I submitted for professional feedback had started off as a poem and the mentor praised the writing but then asked, “Do you know the difference between a poem and a song?”

There was a time when it didn’t really matter. Songs were made from poems, as in the case of White Room. I should have started writing songs back when the world understood that.

I’m inspired to get back to writing poetry – my lyrics were stronger for starting off as poems. My paternal grandmother wrote poetry. My paternal grandfather sang and played the keyboard in a band (his father made instruments). Uncles, cousins, nephews, etc. – all musicians. Yes, I come from a musical family and it’s time to embrace that side of me totally.

“White Room”

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Black-roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.
Silver horses run down moonbeams in your dark eyes.
Dawn-light smiles on you leaving, my contentment.

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines;
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

You said no strings could secure you at the station.
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows.
I walked into such a sad time at the station.
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning.

I’ll wait in the queue when the trains come back;
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves.

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd.
Consolation for the old wound now forgotten.
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
She’s just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings.

I’ll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves.

White Room (Eric Clapton on guitar)

Writing Poetically

Some people are very literal and they take what you say literally. But some of us speak more in principles or generalities or poetically or romantically or we create a montage of people/experiences in what we say. Sometimes I forget that when I express myself on the internet, I’m no longer talking with like-minded people, taking for granted that people will understand me. I’m so used to my husband and me being in such agreement in how we think that I forget other people aren’t like us. 🙂

I take for granted my romantically, poetic view of life, grounded in Scripture and symbolisms founded on the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation. I take for granted my love for Jesus’ teachings and parables and hidden meanings. I take for granted that other people don’t always find these things fascinating, digging into the meaning of the early church fathers and others like John Chrysostom. But this is like music, to me.

The world is far too literal for my taste, believing that the “Good Samaritan” account and other Bible stories are exemplar tales of “be the Good Samaritan” or “be like Job” or “be like Noah.” The real meanings are far more interesting. The Good Samaritan is Jesus, pointing to Christ for salvation. The prodigal son isn’t a story of “don’t be like the wayward son or the older son.” It’s the story of God’s love for us, looking for us, searching for us, welcoming us, and celebrating our return to him, turning our life around.

When I first started writing my story, I full expected people to understand and cheer me on, and celebrate the triumph of it all. I’d kept quiet for so many years, and I’d finally found my voice. Woo hoo! What I found, instead, is that a whole lot of people didn’t and don’t understand.

Thankfully, I’ve found many who not only understand, but speak out about it, write books about it, and speak about it on radio and TV. And I have to say that my greatest gift is having a heart or an ear for God. The Scriptures, to me, are like music.

 

 

 

 

Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes

The song that lured me to buy Ronnie Dunn’s latest album was “Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes,” which is a metaphor for longing for his younger self.

Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes

Luke Laird, Lori McKenna & Barry Dean (BMI)

I wish I still smoked cigarettes
Light one up and travel time
When a stiff drink and a whispered yes
Was enough to light a fire, to feel alive
Wish I could go back to those nights sometimes

I wish I still drove a muscle car
Horses rumbling under the hood
Flying past the welcome sign under the stars
Wishing I could leave for good, I swore I would,
Every now and then I go back to that neighborhood

(CHORUS)

Wish I still did a lot of things I don’t do anymore
When I didn’t know what wasn’t good for me
But I knew everything else for sure
I guess what I really miss is the freedom and
The way it felt, the innocence
That’s what I really meant
When I said
I wish I still smoked cigarettes
I felt more grown up then

We were talking about where we gonna go
Instead of talking bout where we’d been
We’d ride around the lake and make those plans
Still had the world in the palm of our hands
We never had a chance, now and then

(CHORUS)

Wish I still smoked cigarettes
Something to calm my nerves
Wherever you are tonight
You were better than I deserved (I was better than you deserved)
Wish I still smoked cigarettes
So I had something to let go up in smoke

Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes, Ronnie Dunn

Writing from the Heart or Writing for the Charts?

Mary Gauthier teHappy572x429-425x319lls the story of how she started songwriting and that she’d taken a couple of songwriting classes but they didn’t really work for her. They were teaching how to write songs for the charts. She was/is much more interested in writing from the heart.

I know how she feels – I do everything from the heart. If my heart’s not involved, it’s just too hard to do it. “Logical” types don’t get me and try to apply their logic to what I do from the heart. Thankfully, my soul mate understands this need of mine even more than I understand it myself sometimes.

Anyway, I’m working on songs from the heart that are meant for me as singer/songwriter and songs for the charts, like the ones I’ve received some positive feedback for. But even that song comes from a place in the heart. So, yes, I’m hoping to do both. I think I’m getting better at knowing which is which and what is what.

On days I’m not in the mood to work on a song for the charts, I write a song from the heart. And that’s what I did today. Just sat down and wrote a song from a poem I’d written on 9/25/12 and made a rough cut of it. I’m hoping to do a final mix to a couple of these song and upload them before long. And then there’s that feedback song begging for my attention…

Thanksgiving at the Prison (Song of the Day)

The best part about what I went through – admitting I wanted to know my father, searching for him, confronting those who needed confronting, rejecting the lies, embracing the truth, risking and losing family relationships – well, the best part was that I gained compassion for others.

In last night’s Survivor, Will attacked another person for “not having family” as if it was her fault. She came from an abusive home and the wise person will remove themselves from dysfunctional and hurtful relationships. Some people you have to love from afar. Will has yet to learn what I’ve learned. His issues are blinding him to others’.

In When the Counselor Comes, Father Powell says this:

Jesus promises that this world divorced from Him is so dysfunctional that they will HATE those who are healed and enter into communion precisely because their healing and wholeness reveals the brokenness of this world! No one gripped by darkness enjoys the LIGHT being turned on!

Mary Gauthier sings about what it’s like to spend Thanksgiving in a prison. My step cousin’s wife, a Catholic in California’s Central Valley, part of the family who is very supportive of me, ministers to women in a women’s prison. I admire her for that. Listen to the lyrics of this song: