"Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost" Ralph Waldo Emerson
John Denver died 25 years ago on this day October 12, 1997. Beloved by many, parodied by some, I will always be in debt to him. The first songs I ever learned to play were Denver songs. The first John Prine songs I ever heard--"Angel From Montgomery" and "Paradise"--were Denver covers. To this day I resonate with the opening line of "Rocky Mountain High." But "This Old Guitar" reminds me of my ultimate connection to Denver. In the final analysis, he was just a nerd with a guitar.
Gordon McKinney is a Norman, Oklahoma based singer-songwriter who you should know. He is a friend and encourager to many songwriters. And those of us who know him, respect and appreciate his gifts and generosity. The love of his life, Heather Burns, is the talented dancer and choreographer who helped in the production of these two videos.
Gordon's thoughts on "Someday I'll Be Gone":
"For me, this song is about what and who we leave behind. It's me acknowledging and trying to accept that, no matter my intentions, my plans, hopes, dreams. I really have no control over when it all ends. I have now. That's a scary idea to me. I tend to spend a lot of time rooting around in my past and grieving a future I someday won't know.
Honestly, I think the song came about because I'm quickly approaching the age at which my own father died. There was so much unresolved between us and, as a parent myself, I don't want that burden for my children.
The chorus is my prayer/hope for myself. When the day (of my death) shall come to me, I pray the lord to let it be "hallelujah, I'm finally free!"
I guess in short, this song is a hope, a prayer, a plea and an apology.
Gordon's thoughts on "Ransom Note":
"This song came about when I realized that my life was being held for ransom. The kidnapper was the life plan that our culture sets out...go to the school, get the degree, marry the girl, buy the house, have the kids...rinse and repeat. And the worst part was that the ringleader was me.. I was thinking that the Ransom we pay to get our lives back is 30 to 40 years in the work force doing something we probably don't like...just for the privilege to retire at an old age and finally be given our freedom back. No thanks man!
But what if we "died" to that idea? To that life plan. What if we sought out the better parts of ourselves...the things that bring us joy. What if we did those things? What if we refused to be held ransom?
In the chorus :
"On the other side of dying (to the life plan) there's a place I long to be (free to choose a different life). Please don't mourn me ("oh..you're gonna ruin your life") for I'm only trying to find the better parts of me.
I guess what I see as thematically shared in these two songs is the idea of death, both literally and figuratively, gives way to freedom...freedom from something and freedom to some better way. The other shared commonalities for me are time and how quickly it passes, learning to live in the now and being honest about my fear and hope and longing.
Celebrating the artistry of Don McLean and commemorating February 3rd, the day the music died.
"Fort Worth Blues" is considered one of Steve Earle's finest compositions. If true, it's fitting--this classic is Earle's tribute to his mentor and inspiration, the incomparable Townes Van Zandt.
In this live version, we see firsthand the emotional response to the song of another great artist, Nanci Griffith, who passed away in 2021.
For full lyrics, see "Poetry Corner" at Belated Bard.
Simple, powerful, evocative song showcasing the collaboration across genres of two authentic songwriters--Tom Morello and Chris Stapleton. The song, "The War Inside," is featured on Morello's newest solo album, The Atlas Underground. Belated Bard has recently featured Morello's songwriting and thoughts on creativity in several recent Legenda posts (November 10 and November 23, 2021).
Oklahoma singer-songwriter Chris Blevins will be sitting down for a "Conversation" w/ Belated Bard soon. In the meantime, here's a cool cut off his new album "Grief, Love & Other Gifts" now available now on Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/search/grief%2C%20lov
This song represents a perfect blend of execution and emotion. In the words of the writer, Richard 'Daddy' Love "Linger expresses the feelings of separation and loneliness that comes with a long distance relationship. Our biggest dream is the next time we will see that person. The music from a single guitar and lone voice is meant to express that loneliness, hope and faith that soon we will be together again, and perhaps this time we can linger." Check out all his music at dadylovesmusic.com.
In honor of the passing of Larry McMurtry, we give a listen to a great cut from his son, Texas singer-songwriter James McMurtry.
In this exquisite song, singer songwriter Michael Hilliary of Norman, OK introduces us to the "strongest person" he knows and draws us into contemplation of the indomitable human spirit. With the sensibility of an artist, Mike paints a tragic picture that exudes great beauty. As you listen to the song, you'll want to read the sheer poetry of the lyrics posted below the video.