Behind the Songs for Show 5.

Behind the Songs Main Page.


An Antique Man (2002)

This is an autobiographical song in which I tell about collecting antiques and end up admitting that I am one myself. The statement in the bridge about liking older women is facetious. I like one older woman in particular.

Around the Courthouse Square (1995) (Around the Courthouse Square)

This song is about the courthouse square in Marshalltown Iowa. It is about 16 road miles from the farm where I was born. That was the town where we went for most of our shopping and entertainment.

The courthouse itself was made of stone blocks which even when I was young had turned gray and weathered. Originally the entire city block had been the park. The popularity of the automobile made it necessary to convert about half of it into a parking lot. The half that remained was still a pleasant space. The Elm trees which shaded it must have been more than 50 years old in 1950. There were diagonal walkways lined with benches. In the original version I referred to them as made of wood, they were actually made of iron. I used wood in the song because I didn't think anyone would believe it if I said "iron benches". They would have been cold to sit on in the winter but we never went there in cold weather. In the latest version I have decided to go back to the truth and doubters be damned.

In 1970 I went back to visit with one of my brothers and he told me about Dutch elm disease. Those beautiful old trees had already been cut down and there was nothing but the forlorn looking building standing in the middle of an empty city block. I cried to see it so alone there. Thirty two years is enough time to grow new trees but until I went back in the summer of 2002 I didn't know what had happened. A cousin who lives in Florida thought it had been torn down.

To my delight I found that they had held a community fund drive to raise money to restore the old building. The dusty gravel parking lot had been reclaimed by grass and trees and it was even more beautiful than I remembered it. I cried again except this time they were tears of joy. That evening before going to bed I borrowed a pen and notepad from my hosts and wrote the new last verse.

If you have a decaying courthouse in your town don't let it go to ruin. Organize a drive and save it. You may be able to use this song as a rallying cry. I would be pleased to know that.

Forever Ago (2002)

This title was another suggestion from Sue. Our own lives together seemed to be a natural subject for that title. The song "Hard For You to Say" is not autobiographical, this one is.

Prairie Soil (1992) From CD "River, Earth and Sky"

When I was nine years old I "wrote" new words to an existing song. Neither I nor my parents knew from copyrights. My mother highly praised it and thought it was the best thing since Beethoven's ninth symphony. That's part of a mother's job description. It was really pretty bad and I would just as soon forget it. I'm really glad that no sound recordings of it have survived. That was my first brush with writing songs.

In college my roommate and I dabbled a little but there was nothing to write home about.

In 1992 I was beginning to think about what I wanted to do when I retired about ten years in the future. In idle moments I was entertaining fantasies about being rich and famous for writing a hit song titled "Prairie Soil". I found I was composing large parts of the song in my head so I decided to put it on paper.

And that's how it all began.

I was rather naive about the music business and thought I had a sure hit. It was filled with mistakes that made it sound amateurish. Here is where many people make the big mistake. That is when the song doesn't become an instant hit they give up. I decided to study books and see what I could learn. I also had considerable help from my Aunt Grace who wrote poetry. All the advice I found was "keep writing" so that's what I have done.

I know the songs I am writing are not going to be hits in the current music market but I don't care. There some people who enjoy my songs and I enjoy writing and singing them. If one should be a hit that's fine but I'm not holding my breath.

I'd Still Be Young (If I Weren't So Old)

The subject of aging is one I have tackled before. I think about it often in part because I am soon to turn 61 and am going to retire next summer; and in part because I go twice a month to entertain at one of our local adult day care centers. This has sat in my ideas file for over a year and I finely found the proper way to present it.

Well, let's see, That would have been written in 2001. It's now 2009 and I will turn 70 in December. There doesn't seem to be any way to stop the steady march of the years. I'd still be young if that were possible.

He Plowed His Fields (1994)

This song is my tribute to my father who worked himself to death to make sure I would have the opportunity to have a better life than he had. These are debts many of us have and we can never repay them. This song is just a token but I hope as he looks down on me he will know that I understand what he did for me and appreciate it.

I'm Looking For the Highway (1996)

This song says "I'm looking for the highway that will lead me back home". It's one of those nostalgic songs about wanting to go home but there is a twist in the last verse. It's a very popular song with several of my friends who ask for it every time they see me.

The Pictures on my Radio (1993)

No doubt you have heard this one before. It's the oldest one on the show. I am nostalgic for the old time radio programs. I grew up with them. For those who are too young to know the first TV sets were black and white only and the screens were 8 or 10 inches. The pictures on my radio had been much larger and in living color. I'm also nostalgic for the old radios as well. I have collected a few and enjoy restoring them to operation. I have another web site devoted to old radios and other antique electronics including some projects you can build. The URL is

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