I Didn’t Know Them At All

I’ve wanted to write songs for awhile now, but didn’t really know where to start. One thing I did know was that I liked songs which used a real-life incident to point to a deeper truth, and when years ago I read about the incident described in the first verse of this song I filed it away in my mind. But despite occasional efforts I never got further than that.

Coming back from West Virginia with a song seems to have broken the ice for me, and when I turned back to this idea it became clearer what I wanted, and I had the ideas for the second and third verses. But the words weren’t coming to me easily.

Just Friday I was reminded of a song I’d always wanted to do, “I Saw a Man at the Close of Day,” and thought about using its melody. There wasn’t room in the melody for the words I had written—and that turned out to be the key. I pared down the verses to fit, and the result seemed right.

Chris and I tried it for the first time yesterday, and although it needs to be polished I think the result is already pretty good. We recorded this at the Coffeetree this afternoon.

The preacher and his wife walked down
To the station in the pouring rain
They stepped onto the tracks, stood and held each other tight
And turned to face the oncoming train

     I always thought I knew them well
     Never thought that they could fall
     But folks can hide what they want to hide
     I didn’t know them at all

My folks built a marriage oh so strong
Deeper love I’ve never known   
Then an old flame lured my mother away
Left my father all alone 

     I always thought I knew her well
     Never thought that she could fall
     But folks can hide what they want to hide
     I didn’t know her at all

I talked to my boy on the phone last night
First time in fifteen years
He told me he wished he’d never left
And I couldn’t hold back my tears

     I always thought I knew him well
     Never thought that he would call
     But folks can hide what they want to hide
     I didn’t know him at all

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