Friday, June 15, 2012

On the 5th day of "pre CD release" Eric gave to me

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.  -Dinesen, Isak
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It's always our self we find in the sea.
~e.e. cummings

Today's blog is the back story/idea for the song "Saltwater".
I was born and raised along the shore of Mobile Bay in Mobile, Alabama. As a child, every single day invovled that bay water some how. My brother, Wendell, the Browning boys (Tommy , Hanan, and Justus) from next door, and I were never far from that saltwater. We were either throwing our cast nets or sailing or swimming or trying to build a raft or playing guitar out on our pier. In some capacity we were virtually always in or around that water. The water of Mobile Bay was always so prevalent in my daily activities that I truly feel like it is a part of me. I can't imagine living far from that water for any extented time. Even when I moved to Muscle Shoals in north Alabama to write for FAME publishing company, I'd have to make frequent trips home. I joked that I had to make the trip to "keep my gills from drying out" but it was basically to return to the comfort of home. And with the absence of that water, no other place feels like home.While thinking about how important that saltwater has been and will always be to my existence, I began writing a song. I wanted the song to have a touch of longing, but to be more of an inspirational type thing about the power of that saltwater.I started playing and singing "Saltwater, Saltwater........ I can see....(mumble mumble mumble) what I need...." I wasn't sure where I was going with it but I knew I was headed in the right direction. Life throws moments of peculiar sychronicity at us every so often just to keep us on our toes. One such moment occurred to me while while strumming and singng the rudimentary chorus "Saltwater.....". As I was fiddling with melodies and basically daydreaming about home I opened my internet browser. When I did this the first page I opened had the Isak Dinesin quote on it. It was startling at how appropriately timed it was. And I was ecstatic because this quote reinforced the idea I wanted to convey with the song. I am not a big proponent of fate or destiny simply because those concepts inherently rule out free will. I feel like we are in control of our actions (and if something is compelling me to feel this way it is doing a phenomenal job of at least making me FEEL like I'm the one making the choices). We get to relish in the results of the good actions and we must take responsibility for the bad ones. But even I must admit that when things like the Isak Dinesin quote leaps up from nowhere at the exact moment it was makes me grin knowing that I may be wrong. But I digress.The Dinesin quote really summed up my thoughts very succinctly. I began constructing one chorus about sweat, one chorus about tears and one chorus about the ocean. My great friend, Dale Drinkard Jr. after hearing me hacking away at different versions of "Saltwater" (each with different characters), suggested it be the story of a carpenter who had passed away without completing his life's goal (building a sailboat). That idea sent sparks through my mind and made the writing of the basic versions of the verses and choruses easy. As Dale has done many many times through the years, he gave me just the idea I needed at the moment I needed it. (thank you Dale Drinkard)With tha basic idea in mind Wendell and I fleshed out the final version. In the story, a son is forced to finally deal with his dad's death when he enters his workshop and holds his dad's worn wooden hammer in his hand. The pain he had built up for all those years of not dealing with his dad's passing poured from him. For the first time since his dad's death he broke down and cried. With his tears he came to grips with his dad no longer being around. The saltwater flowing from his eyes was actually what he had been needing for him to have peace.Once he has taken that step he looks around the work shop and sees his dad's plans to build a sailboat. Then he understands that this was an important mission for his dad and because of this it then becomes his intention to complete the boat. The guy works feverishly on the construction of this boat because he knows he is finishing what his dad had started. Over and over he swings that same hammer until he is soaked with sweat. But rather than regret the task at hand for being so arduous he relishes it. Building this boat is a labor of love. The sweat that is pouring from him isn't a reminder of pain and suffering, it is a reminder that he is reconnecting with his dad and finishing what his dad was unable to finish. Therefore once again that saltwater is the vehicle by which the guy reaches peace.The finale of the song sees the guy sailing on the completed boat. He is finally totally at peace. His dad's last life lessons to him were all displayed for him to see via Saltwater. His dad wanted him to understand and be truthful with himself about his emotions. The guy  realizes that in order to do this he had to let his salty tears flows. His dad wanted him to work hard at the job at hand, but only if it was a job that was meaningful to him. Through building this boat, the guy's sweat showed him that hard work can be a wonderful thing if it's the right work. And his dad wanted him to realize the connection we all have with the world around us and how important it is to nourish that connection. The guy sees this as the waves of saltwater crash over the bow. Just as Dinesin said "the cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or sea". The guy is shown this very vividly post humously by his father.This is where I felt like I was writing about myself and not just about some character. Just like the guy in the song, for me saltwater wasn't just a nice part of life, it was the integral fabric of life.  Whenever I have found myself in a bad spot , one way or another saltwater has been the cure.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Eric. I have loved this song since I first heard you sing it on the deck of Ed's on the causeway. And now I love it even more.