"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My song "Halsey" should touch MN boomers

Debra Gordon sings "Halsey"
The boomer generation of Minnesota developed a great affection for Halsey Hall. He could be like a surrogate favorite uncle. His home was in the broadcast booth. He's associated with the Calvin Griffith era of Minnesota Twins baseball. It was the first era in the history of our storied franchise.
I am pleased to have written a song about Halsey. I hope more than a few long-time Twins fans stumble onto this YouTube page and give a listen. Debra Gordon does a marvelous job singing this song, simply called "Halsey." The song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank Michels. Frank is a great guy who puts his heart into his projects. He's a bandmember with Michelle Wright.
I love Nashville. I have spent some time hanging out at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Broadway in Nashville. It's a hangout where stars of the Grand Ole Opry once retreated to. It's a most humble place. Great songwriters frequented there. I hope some of that songwriting genius rubbed off on me. 
Here is the link for listening to my song, "Halsey."
Back when I first began dabbling in songwriting, I thought the music, i.e. the melody, was most important. I wrote melodies that were distinctive but sometimes went a bit too wide with vocal range. That's fine if you have George Jones or Ronnie Milsap singing for you. Or Frankie Valli!
These days my emphasis is on the lyrics. I strive to write songs with a storytelling air. My melodies sound nice but they tend toward the generic. That doesn't bother me at all.
Today in the music business, there is a problem with artists accused and sued over writing melodies that have similarity to a pre-existing melody. Well. . . Songs are not random patterns of notes and chords. There are certain progressions that work. You all know how "three chords" prevail in so many songs. Some recent highly-publicized lawsuits were directed at musical composers who inadvertently wrote something that had (at least some) similarities with something previously written. There is much concern being vented about this trend.
Countless songs have been written through the years. How can we count on each new song being completely original? We can't.
As a non-professional, I don't have to worry too much. I have no economic incentive. My lyrics are my top priority. I try to craft song ideas that are similar to what the great Tom T. Hall gave us.
Thanks to Frank Michels - actually it's "Franklin" - and Debra Gordon for making my "Halsey" song, in my mind anyway, memorable. I hope my song brings a smile to everyone who grew up listening to Twins radio and TV broadcasts in the 1960s.
The bridge in my song accents a major contradiction of the 1960s. It was a decade of tremendous pain if you remember the news headlines of that era. The Viet Nam war was No. 1 on the list of unpleasantness. We sought escapism through baseball. That's where Halsey figured in. My bridge talks about the pain of the bad stuff, but how we could still "find a smile" through baseball. There are signs of hope and optimism through each era of adversity. Call it the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
Halsey left us for that broadcast booth in the sky in 1977. Us boomers can imagine his voice, his laughter and even his cigar smoke as if it were yesterday. My song "Halsey" was a labor of love. If you know of friends who'd enjoy listening to it, please forward a link to them. Thanks as always to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck MN for getting the song online for me.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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