wyattgrayson

Songwriter/artist

Snow Falls

This was written in Berlin in late 2008 or early 2009 (that was a good place to come up with ‘… the river is dark, the valley is gray’).  This was right around when the U.S. started to really get into these tough economic times and the fate of the major auto companies was hanging in the balance.  Being from Detroit,  I felt sensitive to that and folks who work on the line.  My dad worked at Ford once upon a time.  Although this song has kind of a mountain feel to it, with the melody and the way it’s played, for me it’s a little reminiscent of Springsteen’s ‘My Home Town.’  If someone were to listen to these songs years from now, they’d probably put them at right about the end of the Industrial Age.  I love Jason Roller’s fiddle playing on this.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Snow Falls

Snow falls on the frozen ground, the river is dark, the valley is gray
It’s a cold walk on the road to town, and a cold walk back at the end of the day

I wonder where she is tonight, if she ever found her beautiful place
Far away from this town that died and the dreams we had that we could not save

I think of the life we had when the foundry trains rolled through the night
And the steel we made built a might land, and the hungry wheel was satisfied

I cannot help the way I feel about the ran our fortunes to ruin
Even now I’m sure they’re warm and filled, while such as I am all done in

Too old to buy, too late to sell, there’s nowhere to go and so I remain
Where a used up mine and an old church bell are my heaven and hell, my night and my day

Snow falls on the frozen ground, the river is dark, the valley is gray
It’s a cold walk on the road to town and a cold walk back at the end of the day

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All rights reserved.

Semper Fi

I’ve heard the words ‘Semper Fi’ so often, I take for granted that everyone knows what it means and knows what organization has adopted that phrase as their motto.  If you don’t know, it means ‘always faithful’ and it’s the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps (abbreviated from ‘Semper Fidelis’).  Being in government service overseas, I have been around Marines day-in-day-out for the past 25 years.  They have a special place in my heart, especially a few that I count as personal friends.  When I wrote this I was in Baghdad, it must have been late 2005 or early 2006.  I was thinking of them, how they go outside the wire for us, and because I know some of them personally I used this song to try and put it in the perspective of ‘the kid from down the street.’  They are all someone’s friend and neighbor, maybe yours.  But they do what they do for all of us, and they have my eternal gratitude.  May God bless and keep them.

Semper Fi

He’s the kid from down the street, I’d see him every day
Riding on his bike from school or to a football game
He signed up with the Corps and I think about him now
I remember what he said the day his bus pulled out of town

Semper Fi, anywhere and anytime
Semper Fi, lay it all on the line
Semper Fi, yeah we live until we die
Until we die, always faithful, Semper Fi

The night before he left we had a couple beers
Talked about what’s going on and the girl he’s leaving here
Now he’s far away from home in some forsaken place
And half the way around the world, I know what he’d say

Semper Fi, anywhere and anytime
Semper Fi, lay it all on the line
Semper Fi, yeah we live until we die
Until we die, always faithful, Semper Fi

Now when I read the news, the truth and all the lies
Whatever else I might believe, I believe in ‘Semper Fi’
And when I’m safe in bed at night before I start to dream
I’ll remember someone far from home, like the kid from down the street

Semper Fi, anywhere and anytime
Semper Fi, lay it all on the line
Semper Fi, yeah we live until we die
Until we die, always faithful, Semper Fi

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All rights reserved.

Please Give Me The Keys

From a July 2011 WBAY-TV Green Bay (Wisconsin) news broadcast: “(Teenagers) Sam Goudy, Paige Riley, and Arielle Lewandowski were killed June 19, 2009, when authorities say 52-year-old Steven Siebert drove the wrong way on Highway 41 in Brown County and hit their car head-on.  Authorities say Siebert, who also died in the crash, had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.  Sam’s parents are trying to prevent others from suffering the same loss, and they’re doing it with a message drivers will see every time they put the key in the ignition.”

Sam’s parents are Tom and Terry Goudy, and the foundation they established is ‘PLZ…GIVE THE KEYS.’  The Goudys set  up this organization with one burning desire, to keep others from ever having to experience what they and their children have gone through, and “to prevent others from being lost in such a senseless and completely preventable tragedy.”  I wrote this for them, and any profits I receive from downloads of this song will go straight their cause.

Please Give Me The Keys

I saw a small, white cross by the side of the road on our way as we drove to the bar
It was Saturday night, we were out on the town in my old friend’s brand new car
We pulled in to park so far from the bar, we walked half a mile to get in
Cause my friend don’t want a scratch on his new Cadillac, so he parks where nobody else is
He parks where nobody else is

It’s a good night all around as he puts the shots down, like he has a mind to celebrate
And I’m nursing a coke cause I already know by midnight he’ll be in no shape
We talk and we dance and we look for romance, like any old boys always do
And as often as not we don’t have much luck, as we head out by the light of the moon
As we head out by the light of the moon

When we get to his car he leans on the door, and he’s laughing out loud and I say,
“I think I should drive,” cause there in my mind is that little white cross on the way
But he started his car and he spun the wheel hard, and I watched him go speeding away
Later that night they told me he died and he took three young kids to their graves
He took three young kids to their grave

I could have been much more of a friend, I should have twisted his arm
Lord, what might have been if I’d only said, “Give me the keys to your car,
Please, give me the keys to your car.”

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All rights reserved.

Today I Killed Your Memory

Nice story behind this.  A songwriter friend I met on The Songwriter’s Forum, Roy Harris, threw a challenge out and invited us all to come up with some music to match a set of lyrics he’d written.  To make a song out of it.  Lyric-wise, my response changed a few things while keeping the overall idea of the story.  I had to get my head around what was being killed.  The song could have gone the direction of actual physical violence, but I didn’t want to go that way.   I’m proud to tell you that once Roy heard this, he  said I’d very much captured what the song should be.  When I listen to it now, I get an image of the inside of an old honky-tonk somewhere, and there’s a band up on stage playing this song.  There’s hardly anyone there, just someone at a table nursing a drink and a couple out on the dance floor, moving slowly in each others arms to the music.  She’s wearing a dress.  When I listen to this song, that’s where I go.

Today I Killed Your Memory

I’ve been stumblin’ ’round this house morning, noon, and night
Tryin’ to figure out what I did wrong and how to make it right
Since I saw you holdin’ hands with my old best of friends
They say all’s fair in love and war, they say that all good things must end

Today I killed your memory, every shot went to the heart of a love that used to be
And at the bottom of the bottle I found a heart as cold as stone
Free from the passion of a love that’s dead and gone

I’m like a brand new man today, feeling no more pain
Now I know it wasn’t me who made the blue skies start to rain
You played it cool I have to say, you really pulled me in
Now you can watch me walk away from all we might have been

Today I killed your memory, every shot went to the heart of a love that used to be
And at the bottom of the bottle I found a heart as cold as stone
Free from the passion of a love that’s dead and gone

Copyright 2011 Tex-Ark Publishing.  All rights reserved.

Without Your Love

This one’s from Budapest around 2000.  Up to that time, I had actually not written many country songs.  It can take some heartache to get you there I guess.  This one, to be honest, didn’t get a real strong review from the folks at Nashville Songwriter’s Association International, but I’ve always liked it, especially the chorus.

Without Your Love

If I think for awhile I can picture your face
And I see how far I’ve fallen from grace
Down so far that it’s hard to find a trace
Of the love we had, the life we made

Now every sundown is just another goodnight
To a life going nowhere, with nothing in sight
When I lost you it cost me more than I
Can ever get back, will ever make right

Without you I can take or leave tomorrow
Without you if it comes let it come
I can take the pain, I could live with the sorrow
But I won’t last long without your love

If I listen for awhile I can still hear your voice
Whispering the reasons that I once had to rejoice
Telling me how wrong I was to make the choice
Letting you go, making my point

Now at night when I dream I only see dark visions
Of everything I had as it falls into perdition
And every new sunrise I remember what I’m missing
I remember us, I remember living

Without you I can take or leave tomorrow
Without you if it comes let it come
I can take the pain, I could live with the sorrow
But I won’t last long without your love

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All rights reserved.

Twilight Debut

I’m just in the process of uploading to my Reverbnation site a new album, ‘Twilight Debut.’  These are all country songs I’ve written over the years (note: ‘Today I Killed Your Memory’ is a song I co-wrote with Texas friend and fellow songwriter Roy Harris).  I hope you enjoy them all!  The tracks were produced by Jason Roller (Magic Shack Productions, Nashville) and feature the vocals of Darryl O’Donnell (with Ronnie Kimball on ‘Semper Fi’) and Ms. Kalii Palmer singing ‘Maybe Tomorrow.’  I’m also very pleased to announce that profits for the downloads of ‘Semper Fi’ and ‘Please Give Me The Keys’ will be donated to, respectively, the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and ‘PLZ…GIVE THE KEYS,’ a Wisconsin-based foundation that promotes driver awareness and flat-out hopes to make drunk driving a thing of the past.  I hope you will download both songs and support these two great causes.  I also hope you’ll check out ‘Twilight Debut’ and find some things you like.  Also, under ‘Lyrics’ on this same site you’ll find the words to all the songs included in ‘Twilight Debut.’  I hope you enjoy looking through them, reading my notes, and that you’ll leave a comment.  I’d love to hear what you think of anything I’m up to here.  Peace and love, Wyatt.

Ghosts Of The Dixie Highway

Dixie Highway, starting up in Michigan and running south all the way to Florida.  It used to be the grand old highway before I-75 came along.  And the Dixie runs right through the little heart of Bridgeport, Michigan, where I grew up from 1964 and eventually left in 1977.  All my junior high and high school days were there.  I worked on this song for quite a while.  As it started, the only idea I had was to express the mystical space that exists between past and present by using the imagery of ghosts.  How in our memory and experience, what we’ve done and lived remains somehow, lost but still tangible in our thoughts and feelings, like shadows and whispers no one else can see or hear, especially in old, familiar places that will never be the same.  I still go back.

Ghosts Of The Dixie Highway

I went back home for the first time in years to the place I grew up as a child
Where I had my first kiss, my first cigarette with the boys out where the trains go rolling by
Driving down past the houses and farms where my friends lived once upon a time
Now I wonder where they’ve gone, it’s been so long, still their shadows run across my mind

Not a soul could I find that I recognized, at the church I stopped to pray
That they all found peace and they found release
All the ghosts of the Dixie Highway

Coming back after all these years I try to separate the past from today
I remember when this town seemed dead and I was bound to drive myself away
Now the twists and the turns of this road have brought me back full circle and I find
What the man said is right, you can’t go home, but for all of that I had to try

Now this highway’s a lonely old road of bittersweet and endless memories
And all I left behind down the line is more and more like a dream to me

And I can’t tell you why but I nearly cried, at the church I stopped to pray
That we all find peace and we find release
All us ghosts of the Dixie Highway.

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All Rights Reserved.

Kaylene I Believed You

There is a Kaylene, or was.  This song dates back to at least 1975.  In 1971-72, thereabouts, I was playing in a rock dance band, The Fadeways, up in Port Austin, Michigan at a roadhouse called the Cartwheel Inn.  The story is semi-fictional, Kaylene and I never really got going, but there’s expectation and loss and rejection here, all close enough for me to be able to breathe into the words.  That and I just loved the name and wanted to use it.

Kaylene I Believed You

It’s midnight and I’m sitting here alone, trying not to lose my mind
Chasing my ideas up the wall, can’t help myself I’m knotted up inside
I wonder how I ever let you go, I couldn’t even say goodbye
I wonder where you’re living, is it where you’ll die?
I wonder why I cannot even cry

I couldn’t please you, was I a fool to even try?
Kaylene I believed you, now all that’s left to do is wonder why

I see the sun rise naked in the sky, I want to run away and hide
I rise to the curtains from the fiery light that duels with the darkness in my mind
A phone is ringing somewhere in a dream, I wonder if you’re calling me
But I don’t want to know and I don’t want to be forever hanging on for you Kaylene.

I couldn’t please you, was I a fool to even try?
Kaylene I believed you, now all that’s left to do is wonder why

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All Rights Reserved.

Like Me And You

Another song that was a long time in the making.  I started this out in Budapest back in 2000 with a theme that was a man-to-woman confessional.  About all that remains of the original idea is the chord structure and melody.  Credit to my wife. This is for all intents and purposes a co-write with her on the lyrics.

Like Me And You

The first time that I saw you, like an answer to a prayer
Leaning out your window, sunlight in your hair
And if I could turn the days back I’d take them more in stride
And you might still be with me, you might have been my bride

But if I had forever, what good would it do
If some things were never meant to be, like me and you?
Like me and you

Next time that I saw you there was someone in your life
I could see the love in your eyes and it cut me like a knife
But circumstances take us over roads we would not choose
And everywhere they take me I only think of you

But if I had forever, what good would it do
If some things were never meant to be, like me and you?
Like me and you

Last time that I saw you I’d made a brand new life
And I told you I was happy, and we talked about my wife
But you saw the look in my eyes, and what I could not hide
That I can’t stop thinking of you no matter how I try.

But if I had forever, what good would it do
If some things were never meant to be, like me and you?
Like me and you

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All Rights Reserved.

Maybe Tomorrow

This song was a long time in the making.  Totally different when I first began working on it 12 years ago in Budapest.  The original idea had a guy very inside himself and the song keyed on depression.  The lyrics were very different, except for the recurring theme, ‘and this depression…’.  In this version, completed in Ottawa in 2011, it becomes more of a story.  The breakthrough for me as a writer – with my wife’s help – was crafting a song that could be credibly sung by a woman.

Maybe Tomorrow

Some days are better, some not at all
Reading your letter my tears start to fall
I look for a sign, some fragment of hope
Between every line of the words that you wrote

And this depression, I recognize it
Like an old enemy who knows where I’m weak
And it’s hard to hide it, but maybe tomorrow you’ll come back to me

I don’t understand it, I don’t even try
You said you were leaving but it wasn’t goodbye
What does that mean and why should I stay?
Reliving the pain of this lonely place

And this depression, I recognize it
Like an old enemy who knows where I sleep
And it’s so uninvited, but maybe tomorrow you’ll come back to me

I walk the streets alone in this sad, old town
Imagining that everybody knows what a fool you found
My world is upside down, everything is inside out
Would you even know me now if you were still around?

Do you remember what I said before?
This love’s going nowhere if you walk out that door
But I’m still here and the door’s open wide
Like it was when you left and a part of me died

And this depression, I recognize it
Like an old enemy who gives me no peace
And it’s so hard to fight it, but maybe tomorrow
Maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow
You’ll come back me, maybe tomorrow
Maybe tomorrow you’ll come back to me.

Copyright 2012 Wyatt Grayson.  All Rights Reserved.

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