Etchings In Stone

I’ll never forget coming home from work one evening in 2002, to find Rick excited about a new song project.

We were in the planning stages for his new CD, “Etchings In Stone,” and he wanted someone to collaborate with him in writing the title track. He’d reached out to several of his songwriter friends, but so far no one had been inspired. That was until that day.

He told me to go to the phone in the bedroom and he placed a call, then yelled for me to pick up.

I did and found our good friend, John Beam, on the other end.

“John’s written the song I need to put on the album,” Rick said.

Then he proceeded to ask John to play and sing it. Tears ran down my cheeks while I listened and I had chill bumps all over. The song was the profound emotion-filled song that we’d been searching for.

So, with a little work and tweaking, we had the title track, “Etchings In Stone.”

I’d love it, if you’d listen! “There once lived a man, who did etchings in stone. He told others’ stories, but could not tell his own…”

It was with great sadness that I learned of John Beam’s passing three days ago. He was only 61 and his story intertwined with our lives from way back in the sixties.

Rick and his band, The Rhythm Rebels, played the historic London Dance Hall near Junction, Texas, on a regular basis throughout the fifties and sixties. John Beam was just a little boy, and his family came to every dance Rick played. Even at that young age, John had the passion and desire to play music. He would stand in front of the stage, play air guitar and mouth every word to the songs that Rick sang.

In my book, “Flowers and Stone,” I wrote a scene where Luke Stone (aka Rick) was playing at the London Dance hall one New Year’s Eve. During the course of the evening, he got the John up on stage, strapped his guitar around the boy’s neck and lowered the microphone. John sang and played for the first time in public.

After that, he never stopped. Once Rick returned home from prison, John quickly came back into our lives and never left. At Rick’s funeral, John sat with our family. Why? Because he was family.

He and his wife and children lived in Mason, Texas. He was the first to raise his hand whenever anyone needed help and the last to back down when someone needed defending. He had a passion for classic cars, Harleys and country music. He loved his family fiercely and was loyal to his friends. He will be missed.

So, this post is a tribute of sorts to John Beam, the man and the music. You can find several of John’s songs on Reverbnation. But I am sharing one of the most personal songs he ever wrote, “Three Old Cans of Beer,” about the Vietnam Wall. John was a veteran.

I don’t know how to properly say goodbye or to give this man the credit he deserves other than to write about it. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting John Beam.

Life is short, folks. Friends are a precious gift. Don’t waste any of your gifts!

Rick Sikes and John Beam

Descriptive Phrases

We all hear so much about Showing vs. Telling, and there are no better or more concise examples than those found in song lyrics.

Think about it. You have 3 – 4 minutes to tell an entire story. There is no time for wasted words. Then, top that with the fact that things have to rhyme and have a rhythm, and you can see that songwriting is no easy task.

Tom T. Hall is known as “The Storyteller.” So, it seemed fitting that I look at his work for a good example. Here’s one:

He was an old-time cowboy, don’t you understand
His eyes were sharp as razor blades his face was leather tan
His toes were pointed inward from a-hangin’ on a horse
He was an old philosopher, of course
He was so thin I swear you could have used him for a whip
He had to drink a beer to keep his britches on his hips (Wow! Now there’s a visual!)
It gives us a pretty clear picture, doesn’t it? I tried to find an image that matched what I saw in my head and couldn’t. These boots came close.
cowboy-boots-975113_960_720
Want to hear the whole song? Here’s the YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnvMcX95G20 
Another prolific writer, Kris Kristofferson, was a genius with words. One of my favorite, “Lovin’ Her Was Easier,” tells such a tender and eloquent story.
I have seen the morning burning golden on the mountain in the skies (I can see it!) 
Aching with the feeling of the freedom of an eagle when she flies (I feel it!)
The entire song is short, but says SO much.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCgnbRWVvU8
Mountain sunrise
Or how about “The Gambler?” That’s one helluva story. The writer, Don Schlitz, was homeless and living in his car when Kenny Rogers recorded it. Needless to say, he was soon a wealthy man.
On a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the Gambler, we were both too tired to sleep…
Haven’t heard it in a while? Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hx4gdlfamo
Another very expressive writer and performer that has emerged on the scene is Chris Stapleton. Take at look at these lyrics.
There’s a bottle on the dresser by your ring
And it’s empty, so right now I don’t feel a thing
I’ll be hurting when I wake up on the floor
But I’ll be over it by noon
That’s the difference between whiskey and you
What do you think? Can you feel the ache, the agony, the desperation? Want to give it a listen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2uPKDXS8BA
But, this song written by Hank Williams Sr., may be the most descriptive. It is exactly 2 minutes and 32 seconds long, but tells such a sad lonely story.
Did you ever see a night so slow
As time goes draggin’ by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry
The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry…
There are SO many songs out there that are extraordinary examples of descriptive writing with only a handful of words. As authors, we can learn from these songwriters
How about you? What are some of your favorites and why do they touch you?

 

Hunger

I originally wrote this as a song, but never got it recorded. Think old Tammy Wynette style when you read it.

homeless-man-833017_1920

HUNGER

BY JAN SIKES

I MET A MAN ON THE STREET JUST THIS MORNING.

HE HELD A SIGN THAT SAID, “HELP ME PLEASE.”

I STOPPED AND DROPPED A COIN IN THE CUP BESIDE HIS KNEE.

AND AS I TURNED, HE WHISPERED TEARFULLY,

HE SAID, “HUNGER WILL MAKE A MAN DO FOOLISH THINGS.

I ONCE HAD A WIFE, A HOME A FAMILY.

ENOUGH WAS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

I WANTED FAME AND FORTUNE – THOUGHT IT WOULD SET ME FREE.

I LOST A SENSE OF ALL REALITY.”

 HUNGER WILL MAKE A MAN DO FOOLISH THINGS.

HE’LL TRADE HIS SOUL TO GRAB THE BRASS RING.

HE’LL LET WARM LOVE TURN COLD,

JUST TO TOUCH THE RICH MAN’S GOLD.

THEN, FIND HIMSELF BROKEN ALONE AND OLD.

sad_Woman_Bar

 SHE SAT SILENT, ALONE WITH TEARDROPS FALLING.

DIM LIGHTS OF THE BARROOM HID HER FACE.

I ORDERED HER A DRINK, HER SORROW TO ERASE.

SHE SAID, “I DON’T BELONG HERE IN THIS PLACE.

HUNGER WILL MAKE A GIRL DO FOOLISH THINGS.

I ONCE  HAD A HOME, A MAN THAT TRUSTED.

HE GAVE ME ALL THE STABLE THINGS IN LIFE.

FOR YEARS I WAS A FAITHFUL, GOOD AND LOVING WIFE,

THEN WANTING WON AND NOW I PAY THE PRICE.”

 HUNGER WILL MAKE A GIRL DO FOOLISH THINGS.

SHE’LL TRADE HER PRIDE FOR A ONE NIGHT FLING.

SHE’LL LET PASSION RULE HER HEAD, TAKE A LOVER TO HER BED

AND IN THE END, HER WORLD IS LEFT IN SHREDS.

HUNGER SURE CAN MAKE FOLKS DO FOOLISH THINGS.

 I hope you enjoyed this poem/song. If you’d like to hear other songs I’ve written, they are on the CD, “I’ll Be Home When the Roses Bloom Again.”  I’d be honored! 

Jan and Gitjo
The first instrument I learned to play – a Gitjo. Rick took a Banjo and put a guitar neck on it. 🙂 I was very young.

A story as big as Texas itself!

Jan’s Website

Mama’s House

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothers-day

My mother was born in 1917. She was a young woman just married and starting a family during the Great Depression. The things she endured were beyond comprehension. But, she grew to be the strongest, most determined woman I ever knew. Born in May, she was a Taurus. No task was too big for her to tackle. I have a distinct memory, as a very young child, of Mom climbing up a ladder and putting a new roof on our house because Daddy was working too many long hours to do it himself. I like to think I get some of my grit from her.

She could make the best peach cobbler on the face of the earth and was most at home in the kitchen.

When she passed away, I wanted to create some sort of deserving tribute. I was driving down the highway between Coleman and Brady, Texas one day and this song came to me all at once and clear as a bell. I pulled over on the side of the road and wrote it. I hope you enjoy it and the photos that accompany it.

My tribute to Marian Edith Clark Smith.

Thank you for listening.

Hate The Sin

Back in another lifetime, I was a songwriter. It was a time I treasure with all my heart, along with the recordings that we managed to preserve our music with.

Jan in NO vest (2)       Rick_Anson_Texas

 

We had an outdoor spa building behind our house. One night I was in the hot tub by myself and this song came to me. I wrote it all within twenty minutes. (We kept pad and pen close at all times.)

The result of that late night soak was “Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner.

I loved every aspect of this creative mode from jotting an idea down to finishing out verses and chorus and walking into the studio to record.. Do I miss it? Heck yeah, but the writing just simply turned a corner in another direction.

Hope you enjoy!!

Hate The Sin But Don’t Hate The Sinner by Jan Sikes

Purchase Links:

Amazon      CDBaby    Website

Rick & Jan 06-22-08

 

Crackerjack lines!

colorful-music-notes

Everyone who knows me on any level knows how much I love music. But, even more than the melody, the WORDS draw me in. So, I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite lines from songs that give me chills or make me turn up the radio.

There are hundreds of thousands of song lyrics and honestly to narrow it down to a few has to be from music I hear on the radio every day or music I’ve been introduced to through doing artist interviews recently. That being said, all of the lyric lines I’m listing are from current “today” artists (except for one obvious one) and most in the Texas Music Scene.

songwriting

Here we go in NO particular order.

“Took half the cops in Dallas County to put one coon-ass boy in jail…” Trudy by Charlie Daniels

“She only drinks Bloody Marys, Silver Bullet ain’t her style…” Wolfhowl by Jerrod Medulla

“I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when. I may not know where I’m going, but I SURE know where I’ve been…” Highway 87 by Hayes Carll

“I awoke in the early hours of morning, heard a song riding on the wind, felt the chill of a cold day dawning, saw the world coming to an end…” Early Hours of Mourning by Rick Sikes

“Shooting stars and whiskey bottles lay scattered across the yard and I’da stayed back home in Houston if I’d known it’d be this hard…”  Wish I hadn’t Stayed So Long by Hayes Carll

“So this is life, when you get lost in a fairy tale, when you dream big and you love well, you barely get by…” So This Is Life by Courtney Patton  **This song gets to me in a big way!** YouTube 

“Strap in those kids, give ’em a little bit of Vodka in a Cherry Coke, we’re going to Oklahoma…” Choctaw Bingo by Ray Wylie Hubbard 🙂

“Nobody cares about truth anymore. Ain’t that what songs are for…” Bad Liver and a Broken Heart by Hayes Carll

“”It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and I’ve done put my trust in two. I’ve got Sam Colt and Jesus. I’ve got nothing to fear…” Sam Colt and Jesus by Robby White

“If you want to know about limits, talk to a man of the law. If you want to know about salvation, talk to a man of the cloth. But, if you want to know about sorrow that runs deeper than time my friend, just sit right down beside him, you’ll be talking to the right man…”  Man In The Neon Moon by Jamie Richards **In addidition to the lyrics the chord progression and haunting melody grabs me**

“Walking through the front door, lonely silhouettes on old bar stools…” Man In The Neon Moon by Jamie Richards

“But beware the mouth of the dragon and the lungs of coal he keeps…” The Mountain by Shane Smith and the Saints. **This is another one that gives me chills. The harmonies are SO tight!

“Ain’t got no meat in my Frigidaire, my children’s feet they all need shoes to wear, Laid off my job I walk the streets all day, looking for work so I can make my way…” It’s Hard on a Good Man by Gus Samuelson

Truly, I could go ON and ON, but I will stop here. Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into song lyrics that move me personally!