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James McLean Davison / Blog

The Workshop

This is the anniversary of my dad's death from lung cancer (he did not smoke...), which is why I have waited until today to drop this song. This is a therapy song for me…it is the third song of a trilogy I have written about my father, his life and his death. I have only put two of the three songs written about him on Reverb – this one, about his totally cool workshop, and “A Simple Lad” a song about how he was a simple country kid when he went to war during World War II. The song that is not on Reverb is called “Doesn’t Matter” and it’s a slow, angry and mournful song about how it seems inevitable in today’s world that everyone will die from some kind of cancer…and I plan to never let it be heard except by my ears. I know that many (and I include myself in that list) would say that I need to write happy, fun songs about his life, about the hunting he loved, or fishing or camping. And I don’t disagree, so maybe some songs will come from that happy place later…maybe. With regards to this song…”The Workshop”…Dad was a “tinkerer”, kind of an inventor who always thought of ways to improve something he’d previously invented. He also had a great workshop with a band saw, drill press, working wood lathe, arc welder, etc.; all the stuff a guy who likes to work with his hands could acquire over a long and happy life. This song grows out of the total emotion I feel every time I go into his now-empty workshop. All the tools he lovingly used hang there, waiting for his hands to return to them. It was so much more painful the first few times I returned after his death, but, even now, more than two years later, when I walk into his workshop and see everything as it was the day he left the house, never to return, it’s like a dagger into my heart. I literally stand there and mourn him in the dark. But, I also know that my mother, still living, needs love too, so I mourn dad and then go hug her to see if there’s anything she needs. Though I say, “Now I don’t know you at all” in the phrasing, to me that means that I loved talking to him, loved his great big hugs, loved seeing the smile he always had and now that he’s gone, all those things are gone too, expect in my memories. The song ends when I tell him, that even though he is gone, his life had a significant impact on me. I trace much of what I am as a man back to my dad. We spent a lot of time together talking, fishing, walking in the woods hunting and cutting firewood for his old, wood stove in the workshop, and literally every moment I spent with him is cherished. I miss him. If your father still lives, call him…he wants to talk. If not, then find a way to honor and cherish his memory. I realize that perhaps not every father was/is as nice, cool, normal, etc. as mine seemed to be…so if that is the case, then, why not try to be the person you wish your father had been? Be Different. Be Better. Be Yourself. Be Happy. Or find someone who needs a father, then be that person. As always, thank you very much for listening, and for reading what I write about my songs… JAD

One More Day

This song started as a guitar riff – A to D to C to C#m to A to D - that Larry, my neighbor came over with one day saying “hey man, listen to this, I got this in my head but have no lyrics to it…”. So, I played around with it, wrote a few things that seemed to go with the music and with how I was feeling at the time, and bingo – One More Day was born. The guitar licks Larry brought that day are infectious, and I hope you like what I did with them. The rocky part just seemed to scream out for a chorus with a lighter side, which is where I used the C#m/A/D combination. Oh, I should also mention, if you are reading this and want to play it (or others I have here on Reverbnation.com) that I pretty much ALWAYS tune down to D major…not E 440. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and I hope you have a great summer of 2014! JAD

It's All Right

So, this song came about from a dream I had. I love to recall dreams, it's like they are our windows into parallel multiverses... Maybe they are...well, the "me" in one of these other multiverses had an adventure, and on waking, i was able to remember enough to make this song come from that dream.

Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy my music.

Peace - JAD

Snowmelt

So, here it is, April...thought it would never get here! I looked out my window on March 30th, and saw snow, still...so, I thought it only fitting that I start a little song called snowmelt. I tried to make it dynamic, yet soft, like the snow that was falling. The dynamic parts represent the snow melting and flowing away into the ground, rivers, etc., without getting all "tree hugger" on ya'll...so that's about all the head shrinkage I'm gonna do on this song.

I am excited about the next few songs I'm going to post, so thank you for listening, please stick around, and if you're an artist I haven't discovered yet, please send me a link to your music!

Enjoy.

JAD

Field of Lost Shoes - or Field of Shoes as my song is titled...

As a history minor in college, and as an adult, I have always been interested in the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression to my fellow southerners…). I have become even more interested since moving to the Shenandoah Valley a few years ago. I would also note that both my spouse and I had generals involved in the battles, hers especially in the Shenandoah Valley Theater of war. I have spent time at the New Market Battlefield (the wiki page on the battle has way more information that I can put here, as well as the Virginia Military Institute {“VMI”} page) and I was always intrigued by the story of the VMI cadets who answered the call of their nation to battle the Union Army in the Battle of New Market. I had also heard of the battle and the Field of Lost Shoes from a nephew – a USMC Captain by the name of Joe M. (Semper Fi) and a very good friend of my family, Bill G., both VMI grads.

The Battle of New Market was fought on 15 May 1864, near New Market, Virginia. A small Confederate army, which included cadets from VMI forced Union Major General Franz Sigel and his army completely out of the Shenandoah Valley.

The VMI Cadet Corps, comprised of many first year students, or "Rats", were called to join Confederate General Breckinridge and his army of 4,500 veterans in repulsing a Union thrust into the Valley. The cadets, under the direction of VMI Commandant of Cadets Lt. Col. Scott Ship, marched more than 80 miles in four days to meet up with Breckinridge's force. The cadets were intended to be a reserve and employed in battle only under the direst circumstances. As the general rode by the VMI cadets he is reported to have shouted, "Gentlemen, I trust I will not need your services today; but if I do, I know you will do your duty."

Breckinridge started his advance shortly after 3 p.m. with his infantry force; while crossing a field near an apple orchard owned by a family whose last name was Bushong. In the rush to battle, and after an extended period of rain, several VMI cadets lost their shoes in the mud, which led to the field being called the "Field of Lost Shoes".

The phrase “Field of Lost Shoes” stuck with me, and I’ve been turning the phrase and words to follow around in my head for about a year. Around Christmas, while driving back from a family visit in Florida, the words just started tumbling out of me, and thus the song “Field of Shoes” was born.

Thank you for listening to my music, and if you made it this far, thank you for reading as well.

Peace.

JAD

Going Back to Shreveport

Going Back to Shreveport

This song grew out of a tune I’ve had in my head, and played with, for more than 35 years. I’ve always liked the Gm6/C progression with a kinda blues slap strumming. After a long talk with my mother in Shreveport one night, I just sat ruminating about our conversation, about how she’s been alone since my dads death, and what it might be like if I were able to pick up and move back to Shreveport.

As I sat down and started writing, the experiences I’d had growing up, as well as how Shreveport looks now, influenced the words. The town I grew up in no longer exists, it’s been overrun by strip malls with chick-filets, Wal-Marts, olive gardens, Kohl’s, Pet smart and the like. Not sure how America became a strip mall full of fat shoppers, but, it’s not a good thing…

Sadly, the beautiful cotton farm that was on the south side of town near the LSU campus was eventually sold off and turned into shopping centers…it’s not a good thing to replace things of beauty with things that are not. I have wonderful memories of watching the cotton blowing in the wind as the huge combines drove down the rows, harvesting it amidst a snowstorm of flying cotton.

In the song, I describe the Bossier Strip…which is and was, a very real place…full of bars, strip clubs, seedy hotels, drugs, drunks and hookers. You always knew that the “strip” was gonna be on the news about a drug raid or a murder…kind of fitting that now, it’s home to casino’s and riverboat gambling…

That’s another change, the casino’s that have taken over the Red River. Never would I have thought that “Las Vegas on the Red” would ever actually happen. I remember one day, when I worked for Channel 12 in Shreveport, attending a chamber of commerce planning meeting. They talked about making the Red navigable with locks and dams, and then how that would attract business and recreational use and make it easier to bring large boats upriver…I bet even then they had a plan to float those casinos upriver and anchor them on the banks…which is exactly what they did…

Anyway, the song ends with the son returning home from an extended absence, after the death of one parent and a graveside promise he makes to take care of his remaining parent.

I write from experience and emotion, and feel each beat in the song reflects some measure of angst and wonder about life.

Thank you for listening, and if you have read this entire post, thanks for reading what I have written here too. Happy New Year, I hope you have a fantastic 2014!

Peace - JAD

Blue Light Night

Blue Light Night

I love driving, it’s fun to be out on the highway, cruising. However, pretty much everyone has had one of these happen to them…you are cruising down the highway, feeling good, listening to your favorite tunes…then, “crap, was I speeding” you mentally ask yourself as you check your speed quickly, trying to look nonchalant as you pass the state trooper running LIDAR/Radar in the median. (Here’s a tip – troopers are trained to look for a “dip” in the front end of an approaching vehicle, which denotes a sudden drop in speed…so don’t instinctively tap your brakes when you see a trooper…it’s a dead giveaway you were speeding…).

Sadly for you, or the next guy, the trooper turns on the blue lights and pulls out in pursuit of the offender.

While traveling one evening recently, my significant other noticed blue lights up ahead on the interstate and said “it’s another blue light night…” which I thought would be a fun title for a song…and so, here it is.

I hope you enjoy the song, thank you for listening.

Peace JAD

CycleHard Paul
CycleHard Paul  (9 months ago)

Love it! my fav blue light story: Tift County, GA on I-75, just cruising along at my normal 10% over the speed limit. Happened to be in the left of 3 lanes passing some cars and an unmarked suddenly appeared within a foot of my bumper. Not taking time to realize it's smokey I sped up to avoid being spun out by a maniac, so he blue lighted me and got me for >10 over speed limit AND failing to use my turn signal getting out of his hellbound way. Turns out to be around $850 in county revenue collection and the advice from 3h of Internets research way "don't even bother trying to fight it even though unconstitutional!

Thanks for the memories...

Its Been Great…

Every song doesn’t have to tell a story I guess…but it seems that mine tend to tell stories. This song is no exception, I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have I value very much, and I appreciate their love and guidance whenever I reach out for it. Each line in this song tells a story from my life; in fact, it could be from all of our lives…

So, as I drop this onto Reverbnation.com, I am sure some of you out there will think this song is about you. Well, you are right, and it’s also about everyone else as well…We all just want to be loved, and when it happens, even for a brief moment of time, we achieve perfect love... We should recognize also that if it goes away, at least we have the memories…so, thanks for the memories, I for one hope to build many more!!

Thanks for listening, and if you’ve read this, thank you for reading my post as well.

JAD

Cane A Comin" Blog Post

Growing up in Louisiana, there are a few things that are expected…gators, fishing, very hot weather, crappy weather, tornadoes, gumbo, crawfish, cotton, awful weather, oh, and hurricanes. Where I grew up, the threat from hurricanes was diminished, but the threat of tornadoes was very real, and in fact pretty much every hurricane that went through the southern Louisiana coast, produced foul weather regardless of it’s “rated” intensity by those lying weather people…

Watching a retrospective of the 2013 hurricane season recently, I thought back to a time when a Cane’ was a comin’ to visit us, and a conversation I had with my dad about what to expect, what to do, and where to go to be safe, which is kind of where this song originates.

The first real hurricane I remember as a kid was hurricane Camille, which hit the Redneck Rivera in 1969 as a cat 5. I was a kid, and my dad, mom, little sister and I were enjoying an annual Florida beach vacation at Pensacola when we were uprooted and sent packing due to the fact that Camille was coming in hard.

I have a visceral memory of sitting in traffic, of the salty air smelling like something bad was coming, that it was coming for us, and that we had to get the heck out of there. That trip home to Louisiana took far longer than usual, cause we had to divert up into Alabama and Mississippi to avoid evacuation traffic issues. I remember it like it was yesterday.

So, on watching this TV show last week, a tune popped into my head, followed by lyrics, and the result is Cane A Comin’.

The song begins with thunder SFX, then transitions to my music. It ends as all thunderstorms end...slowly fading into the background...we've all laid in bed, counting the seconds between lightening and thunderclaps to determine how far away or how close a storm is; that is what I simulate with the ending, a slow fade away...

Thanks for listening, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy my music.

Peace. JAD

CycleHard Paul
CycleHard Paul  (10 months ago)

Whoa, posting of Cane A Coming a few days before Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) changed the world is way too eerie. I loved your story and am thankful your family could get away. God bless the Philippines, especially those trying to survive and those putting themselves in harm's way to help.

Just Another Day

This song kind of started in my mind one day when I was off work, just sitting around after breakfast...looking at the day ahead with nothing to do, no where to be, no one to play with...and so it just happened...

I am a big Elvis fan, especially with his Shreveport connection ( LA Hayride, James Burton - his guitar player is a S'port native and lives there still - etc.) and thought it just felt right to put in the "shooting his TV" part to end the song... I'd like to say that I've never felt like doing that...even with prices down, TV's are still not cheap...so, instead I just don't worry about it too much, and just change the channel until I find something I like...

Thanks for reading, for listening, and I hope you enjoy the song. Will post more songs this coming week...have a good blues tune I wrote this week.

JAD

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