I don’t know why I am such a glutton for songwriters contests. Of course I enjoy writing songs and prefer for that to happen when they just “come to me”. Seeking out a song, hunting it down, forming it for a somewhat specific purpose, and having a deadline creates a different kind of energy. Maybe it actually helps focus the musing and it is a good thing? I know it helps me with may day job, tapping into my creative side while meeting deadlines….
So last fall, Jason Wussow at Beaners put on a 36 hour songwriters challenge whereby he texted a single word to me and some others afflicted by songwriters contests. We all had 36 hours to craft a song “inspired” by that word, and then perform the song live on the Beaners stage. The word was BRAVERY.
Maybe some other gluttons had songs in their back pocket, but in this case, my approach (and personal challenge) was simply to not use any previous material, and to not use the “word” too much, if at all, in my song.
It was a fun, challenging experience and I ended up with an fast-moving diddy about two soldiers from opposing sides, but sharing many parallels form signing up for service to watching all their comrades die on this gory, smokey battlefield somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The hook came towards the end when both soldiers, realizing pretty much everyone else was dead, caught each others eyes through their scopes and had a “moment” where they both paused, stood, dropped their weapons, and went out to pay respects to the fallen.
I guess I felt that was some extended, unique form of bravery and it still gives me chills when I play it, so I guess Jason’s 36 hour challenge produced fruit.
Here is that verse:
“They were the last two soldiers alive, as they’d come to understand….understand
And as they walked out of their cover, eyes fixed on each other,
They both picked up their flags, and slowly dropped their arms…that caused the harm
They walked around the dead, to the middle of that field.. that deadly field
And strapped their flags together, half-mast in the dirt….Mother’s Earth
Together they buried the dead, toe to toe, head to head.
Each got a fitting grave, together for each they prayed…yeah they prayed
They could say hey, they could say no. They could say hey, hey, hey brother don’t you know.”
Here is a link to the full lyrics of “Two Brave Soldiers“, hope to record it someday…
So tonight I have the chance to debut a new one at the Red Herring Lounge in Duluth as part of Duluth Dylan Fest, a tribute to Bob Dylan and sort of week-long celebration of his birthday here in his birthplace of Duluth, MN. John Bushey, a nationally acclaimed student of Dylan’s work, is putting on the Duluth Dylan Fest Songwriters Contest. It has been held for several year’s in Hibbing and this is the first year of having it on the hills of old Duluth.
Last night after work, I spent some time on the shore of Lake Superior with my guitar and put the final polish on my tune.
Its called “Visions of Bob“, which is an amalgamation of about 20 Dylan-inspired visions he transmitted to “us” in his musings. Its an upbeat tune with a few harmonica slices. I’m really in love with the chorus:
“Through you we rowed every ocean, with Spanish boots on our feet,
To new worlds with Captain Arab, Johanna’s vision when we speak.”
For Dylan affectionado’s, this song is inspired by 18 Dylan songs. Here are the lyrics and the “key” listing the songs that primarily formed the visions of this tune.
If you are near Duluth, stop into the Red Herring tonight at 7PM to hear my debut of “Visions of Bob” (and several other gluttons sharing their Dylan-inspired musings), or catch me at the Streetcar Pub in Carlton Saturday night from 8-10 for a full set on Bob’s Birthday Eve.