Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Music of Words

Let me tell you a song.

Something that never fails to move me: concise lyrics that tell a full story, complete with characterization, and perhaps a twist. As a novelist I can learn much from that kind of song writing--where every word counts. Every word pulses. I want to write like that.

A number of years ago I heard Sally Klein O'Connor sing at Mount Hermon Writers Conference for the first time. Sally writes her music; her husband, Michael, pens the lyrics. As Sally played the piano and sang to that full auditorium of writers, no one in the audience moved. We were spellbound as the story of the song unfolded.

Listen to the words of Bury Your Heart in Wounded Me.

I was passed out and flat busted
Didn’t hear the last call sound
And my designated driver
Didn’t bother stickin’ round

It took all the strength I had
To lift my head and find my keys
When a hazy lookin’ stranger
Came and sat down next to me

He was clearly out of focus
As I nursed a watered gin
I could tell he’d known some sorrows
By the way he drank mine in

And he told me I was beautiful
I’d been waitin’ for that line
I half-wished he would hit the road
And half-wished he were mine

Hungry for something to fill me up
Some kind of guarantee
If you’ve got a love that can set me free
Won’t you bury your heart in wounded me

We talked there on those bar stools
So much pain and time to kill
But the hours passed like moments
Until the clock was standing still

And I swear if he’d have asked me
I’d have given him my soul
The more I emptied out my heart
The more he made it whole

He talked about his children
He wore each one on his face
He told me how their broken lives
Had brought him to this place

He said You know it really seems
A father’s day is never done
Sometimes you leave the ninety-nine
To take care of the one

He said Surely you’ve got someone
Who would give his life for you
As his face came into focus
I said I believe I do

Then I looked deep in his eyes
And saw a thousand smoke-filled bars
I guess some of us have broken hearts
And some have other scars

But I never noticed his
Until the stranger took my hand
He said Now I hope My Daughter
You’ll finally understand

Hungry for something to fill you up
Some kind of guarantee
If you need a love that can set you free
Won’t you bury your heart in wounded Me
I am the Love that can set you free
When you bury your heart in wounded Me

Bury Your Heart in Wounded Me
©1993 Improbable People Ministries
Words & Music: Michael & Sally O'Connor
Posted with permission

Listen to the song, using Real Player
Hear excerpts from the entire CD on Amazon

Buy CD directly from Improbable People Ministries


Hannah said...

The lyrics are beautiful. You're right, story-songs are the best, especially when they're personal. There's so much more behind the words.

Lynette Eason said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


Cheryl Ricker said...

So true, Brandilyn!

I love the stay-with-you power of personal poetry and inspirational story songs!


Nicole said...

Beautiful song.

And you do.

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