Harry Chapin2

A child arrived just the other day…”

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Many years ago I heard the music and writing magic of Harry Chapin… musician, songwriter, storyteller superb.

Harry transformed me.

The beauty in his storytelling had an incredible way of capturing the depth within a life’s soul with few words.

Perhaps no song of his is more gut-wrenching… more heartbreaking… than Cats In The Cradle, a song of father and son.

It’s a song of longing-to-be-loved in the moment, but both the dad and the son in their own time are unable to give the other what he needs.

In the end, the father sees and laments where those seeds of unintentional neglect that he sowed so early on have left him in his later years.

There seems to be many songs of fathers and their overlooked sons.

But what about mothers and their children?

Perhaps a bit unusual, I have seen some examples out there of strained mother-child relationships and pondered…

So, this week in my lyric writing, I’ve taken Harry’s wondrous inspiration and my own observations… but with a turn of the gender tables (yes, idea sex at work).

This song tells of a woman who truly wants to meet society’s expectation of what a mother could and can be, but sadly, is unable to unearth the ability to give, to step back from her own needs.

The song has no formal chorus like we come across in most current songwriting. Instead, I’ve set in a small 2-line bridge between each verse to show a transition of forward movement in time.

(NB: An inside scoop? Writing song lyrics requires deft rhythmic ability. I know from experience that when I write lyrics, the rhythm and pacing in my writing won’t run smoothly when I begin setting a melody to the words. So if you notice an unsettling unevenness to the lines, don’t be surprised. I’m not. This jarring arrhythmia gets worked out as I settle down to my guitar or piano and “fine-tune” in much the same way I edit a blog post, over and over.)

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Take A Breath

by Larry Green

Take a breath
it’s over soon
Take a breath
it’s over soon

They told her she’d be maternal
perhaps she’d live the dream
and when the searing scorch she felt
below as the infant came
was the burning birth of
shackled days in chains.

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Sleepless nights made hollow eyes
thank god she had her man
supermarket smiles a constant drag
with every aisle she slogged
expectation’s lure too great
smeared cheerless laughs across her face

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Her man he made the meals
most times he cleaned the house
normality like a pancake flipped
absorbed by her mother’s doubts?
but her kids still feel the sunshine so
she poured another glass of wine

Take a breath
it’s over soon

The job she chose meant pretty clothes
a steady stream of evenings out
the kids in bed when she came home
the bedroom lights turned dim
she swore she’d dance them to the moon
one day in her world of might-have-been

Take a breath
it’s over soon

Each year’s gift passed in turn
pencil lines marked the growth
kids blown afar with deeper scars
lamented choices too early sown
guilt’s voices sing their songs
the voices sing their songs

Take a breath
It’s over now.