Traitor Heart 

Melodies come into the world in many ways. I’ve had the most beautiful melodies come to me seemingly divine, through dreams or the twilights of dreams. Sometimes they arrive through the white noise of rolled down car window, or by the rhythm of pavement seams on a long drive. Some just pop into my head, usually at the least convenient times. Then there are the laymen melodies, who are generally good sport and offer themselves for any old lyrical idea - they come by less mysterious ways, typically by hours of sitting at the piano trying new things until something interesting happens. Last count I had close to 600 melodies, all waiting for lyric assignment. I do sometimes feel guilty that these poor things must wait so long, sometimes years. I especially feel bad for those that came in such angelic ways - now having to sit and wait along with the average toot-lee-doos and dum-dee-dums and old nameless waltzes who bide the time with chess games, no longer even looking up when the door opens. But all melodies arrive naive to their purpose and ready to adapt, if necessary, to their soon-to-be partners for life: the lyrics. Sometimes though not so soon. 

Here’s the story of one melody in particular.

Three years ago the most intoxicating little marching melody arrived at the doorstep of my mind. He had his lead sheet, his license to inspire, everything in order. The smile on his young face was half the song. To be real and honest, I can’t actually remember how the melody came, but given the feel of it it was probably after hearing one of my old school classic favs, on the local classical station, probably while driving. Probably Ravel as some will immediately recognize. But here was this little guy. And it just felt best to give him his first trial run into the real air accompanied by my daughters and our ukulele. Sometimes the girls don’t oblige, but this time they did. 

Traitor Heart Conception - Listen Here!

 

I recorded this on my phone. And what I ALWAYS do is email these recordings to myself, so that they are safe in my email server, at least until I catalogue them later. For whatever reason I didn’t email it. I forgot to. A few weeks later my phone was charging at my parents house and Dad brushed up against the wire. It slipped off the counter and slapped the tile floor hard facedown.

 

No big loss. I was due for an update anyway. But when I got a new one I failed to transfer or save some of the audio recordings thinking I’d emailed them to myself. I have to say, I’m an absolute rough idea cataloging zealot. These ideas are caches of gold. The flashes of potential I’ve always thought of as sparks of lightning fire to cavemen - God-given beginnings of emotional sustenance and warmth, and my own evolution as a songwriter. They don’t happen often enough and when the strike occurs you drop your flint hide- scraper and you make a tar sludge torch... and you carry that flame like your firstborn until it is safely saved and backed up as a bed of coals on the cave floor.

Three years later (and this is literally five days ago at the time of this blog) I am desperately seeking one more solid track for a kids album. The album had great songs but needed that 12th man - that secret ingredient to add some charm. I was searching through my roughs trying to find any old recording that I might have made of the bedtime songs I used to sing for my kids, possibly for a hidden track. Anything really. And then I thought, well just maybe there’s one on that old cracked phone. For some reason I’d kept it in the back of my desk drawer. Pam somehow found a prehistoric charger in another drawer, and I plugged it in and waited........... Can I just say. These devices. As frustrated as I get daily with them, they are truly amazing. It lit up, wide-eyed and ready to dumb down my brain again, as if it had never left us. It’s little shaded rounded app icons. So 2014.

Carefully thumbing across glass shards, within a few seconds I was in my old audio files again. I didn’t find that hidden track candidate. But I did find that little marching melody. Back to the beginning of this blog entry. Songwriters are sometimes terrible matchmakers. These melodies and these lyrics, all desiring their perfect mate for life, don’t always start off with the right partner. When I heard that little melody, the lyrics of another song I had written since, immediately ran to my frontal lobe and fell hard and deep into lovely rhythm with this young march. 

There was nothing I could do. I was witnessing an all-out lyric/melody affair in broad daylight. And I let it happen. When you’re trying to get an album done you kinda look the other way on things like this. I’m NOT looking forward to the slow walk with the other abandoned melody, back to the waiting room with the old waltzes and simple country boys. He’ll understand though, and agree whole-heartedly. These melodies are a reasonable and patient species. I love them every one. 

So... here is a preview of this new marriage...

Listen to Traitor Heart Sneak Peek!

Thank you for visiting my site and indulging me with this blog. I’ll try to do more entries. The complete song and full kids album will be available for pre-order on June 8th. By the way when I say kids I mean of all ages :)

Winterborn 

 

From the north the killing force arrives 

Winter stars extinguished from the sky 

Arctic wind spreads death across the plains 

Cold gray hands embalming every vein 

Of all the nights fate chooses this bleak night 

To birth a beast into the cruelest plight 

Lying there in shock and bare extreme 

From safe warm womb to freezing misery 

Suffering. Struggling. Trembling tightly curled 

In roaring gale his feeble bleats unheard 

Accepting this as only newborns can 

A fight for life within death’s crushing hand 

A flaw in nature, logic might suggest 

Bringing life into a night like this 

Where grizzled bison bawl with primal fear 

A cold this country hasn’t seen in years 

The eldest know the only way to hide 

Lie still and let it bury you alive 

Short and shallow panting through the nose 

Lungs will ache wheezing frothy foam 

The dim gray dawn brings forth an abstract sight 

Monsters rising slowly from the ice 

Mother beckons babe to try and stand 

He wobbles up and falls back down again 

The thirsty herd begins to walk away 

She nudges him to try and stand again 

She knows if left alone there’s little time 

Wolves have quite the taste for left behinds 

He tries again but one leg has gone lame 

The foot half froze will never be the same 

With healthy legs a trial this act would be 

The scrapper slowly rises on just three   

Finally up and sucking warm white life 

Muzzle thrusting drinking with delight 

Standing strong this little tripod form 

Quite the fighter is our winterborn 

The lessons of the killing months are learned 

Within his supple mind the cold is burned 

His temperament imprinted from the herd 

Less playful, more quiet and reserved 

He learns to taste the air for hint of steam 

Rising from the flowing saving spring 

He notes the first warm brush of southern wind 

The scent of side-oats written deep within 

Some calves are born in summer, most in spring 

They play their first few days in waves of green 

Thin and tender skin of little strife 

Biting flies their greatest strain of life 

But now and then a birth in winter months 

Brought forth on the far side of the sun 

And these rare few, often stunted souls 

Flaws in nature, reason might propose 

But nature always proves her methods sound 

To every glitch she gives a work around 

A strength for every curse she often deeds 

As tempered steel doused in great extreme 

Behold the scrapper now a massive beast 

Out in front, standing in the lead 

To cold and thirst his herd may soon succumb 

The ceaseless storm has drove them lost and numb 

He turns his head his nostrils twitch and flare 

Tasting every atom in the air 

Testing ice-dried wind for wisps of wet 

Taking any hope that he can get 

He starts one way then makes a gentle veer 

A thousand beasts trusting where he steers 

A mile wide trail of hoof churned earth and snow 

The rumbling crunching mass of mammals go 

To liquid life and maybe winter grass 

Today the fate of death they’ll just slip past 

And death recalls this beast with gimpy gate 

The one that long ago somehow escaped 

This one from whom death took the stinging jilt 

Who rose up on three legs to reach his milk 

Then grew to fight and earn his rightful claim 

This quiet beast the winter wind has named 

    —— 

Some are born in summer, some in spring 

Spending sunny days in love and ease 

Tender skins as young ones ought to have 

Spirits on the smooth and well-lit path 

If you are a soul that fate has cursed 

That winter winds have buried deep in hurt 

Left for dead trembling cold and lame 

Perhaps a greater purpose calls your name 

      

You might just be the one that nature formed 

To lead the hurting masses through their storms 

The one that death regards with seething scorn 

The mighty one the wind calls Winterborn