SW​:​S Retreat August 2017

by SongwritingWith:Soldiers

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    Our retreats pair professional songwriters with veterans, military families and couples, and active-duty service members to write songs about their military experiences and returning home. Casey Hildreth, Brian Lehtinen, Josh Mantz, Mike McBroom, Mike Medeiros, Cliff Richardson participated in the August 2017 retreat. These songs are their stories.
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released September 6, 2017

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SongwritingWith:Soldiers Austin, Texas

Founded by Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith and Mary Judd, SongwritingWith:Soldiers is a non-profit 501c (3) organization.

Our Mission: We transform lives by using collaborative songwriting to expand creativity, connections, and strengths.
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Track Name: Struggling
Group / Darden Smith

Struggling trying to figure it out
Struggling to try to make sense
Of why I’m still here
Why I’m still here
Struggling
Struggling

I’ve been struggling with all that I don’t know
Struggling just to be myself
Why the good ones go
All that I don’t know
Struggling
Struggling

Just to get up
Just to get going
All the goddamn pills
Just to lay back down
All my time gone
I don’t know where it went
Running from it all
Running from all
The struggling
Struggling
Yeah I’m Struggling
Struggling

I’m just struggling trying to keep up
Struggling just to let go
Just to be here now
To be here now

Struggling
Just to get up
Just to get going
All the goddamn pill
Just to lay back down
All my time gone
I don’t know where it went
I’m running from it all
Just running from all
Struggling
Hey struggling
Oh struggling
Yeah all struggling

©2017 Darden Smith Music / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Unfuck My Life
Brian Lehtinen / Darden Smith

Unfuck my life
Get my mind right
I gave all I had to give
Now I wanna to learn how to live again
And unfuck my life

I got my lucky charms
Got all my legs and arms
My soul my mind
That’s what I left my behind
Unfuck my life

A Trigger temper, a cold-black heart
All my love’s been blown apart
Want some joy, want some peace
Want to find sweet release
And unfuck my life

I’m a junkie for the stress
Shoot at me I’m at my best
I’m feeling old, goddamn tired
I just wanna get unwired
Just tell me how to unfuck my life

A Trigger temper, a cold-black heart
All my love’s been blown apart
All the joy, all the peace
Wanna find sweet release
And unfuck my life
And unfuck my life

© 2017 Darden Smith Music / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Grey
Darden Smith

Grey, grey
No night, no day
Just fear, just numb
These tears they come
Grey

Ten years they’re gone
Roll dice friends gone
Come home go back
No white no black
Just grey

But one day I’m gonna see again
Laugh and I’ll joke and I’ll dream again
One day all of my troubles they’re gonna end
I’ll just get lost in an old guitar
Lay on my back and sail through the stars
One day I won’t be grey

So I, I believe
I wake up, from this dream
New dawn, new me
This world this world won’t be
Grey

But one day I’m gonna see again
Laugh and I’ll joke and I’ll breathe again
One day all of my struggles they’re gonna end
I’ll just get lost in this old guitar
Lay on my back with you in my arms
One day I won’t be grey
No I won’t be grey
I won’t be grey


© 2017 Darden Smith Music / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Ink
Will Kimbrough / Jay Clementi & Group

There's a pleasure in pain
I push to the brink
I cover my scars
All over with ink
There's pleasure in the pain
You better believe
I wear my hurt
All over my sleeve

Moving too fast
I silently scream
I cover my scars
All over with ink
Cause I’ve been to the edge
I’ve been all down in hell
I'm covered with stories
They’re too heavy to tell

There's a pleasure in pain
I push to the brink
I cover my scars
All over with ink
There's pleasure in the pain
You better believe
I wear my hurt
All over my sleeve

If you see my arm
You see my gun
My shooting hand
Then you better run
Because A man always needs
A girl on his arm
It's all on my sleeve
To cover my scars


There's a pleasure in pain
I push to the brink
I cover my scars
All over with ink
There's pleasure in the pain
You better believe
I wear my hurt
All over my sleeve
All over my sleeve

I've been grabbing at straws
I'm grabbing for beers
I'm covered with stories ya’ll
Made out of tears
The artist is ready
The pen in his hand
A new masterpiece
For the tattooed man

There's a pleasure in pain
I push to the brink
I wear my scars
All over with ink, yes I do
I wear my scars
All over with ink

This is my story
Just so you know
I carry it with me
Wherever I go

I've seen it and heard it
And i know it smells
Confessing my stories
To heavy to tell

Cause I've seen it and heard it
And i know it smells
Confessing my stories
They’re too heavy to tell

There's a pleasure in pain
I push to the brink
I cover my scars
All over with ink
A pleasure in the pain ya better believe
I wear my hurt all over my sleeve

© 2017 Will Kimbrough Music BMI admin. Bluewater Music Inc. / Sony ATV Cross Keys (ASCAP) / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Inside the Armor
Mike Medeiros / Gary Nicholson

I can strap on all my gear
And march into the fight
At the end of the day if I’m still here
I know I’m all right

When the bullets fly and bombs light the sky
I know what to do
But the silence of a lonely bedroom
Is so hard to make it through

Inside the armor
The fight still rages on
Inside the armor
It’s still all going wrong
Inside the armor
The wounds that never heal
Inside the armor
Is the only me that’s real

I wear my vest of foolish pride
And nothing can cut through
I have my mask of secrecy
I know what I must do

Fake it till you make it
I know I’ll be all right
If I you don’t wake up screaming
In the middle of the might

Inside the armor
The fight still rages on
Inside the armor
It’s still all going wrong
Inside the armor
The wounds that never heal
Inside the armor
Is the only me that’s real

I’m gonna try to let you in
And open up my heart
May take some time to strip it on down
But I’ll find a way to start
Inside the armor
That’s the only me that’s real
Inside the armor
I want to show you the only me that’s real
I want to show you
Inside the armor

© 2017 Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing/Gary Nicholson Music (ASCAP)
© 2017 SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Into The Darkness
Jay Clementi

Midnight coffee in a dust bowl trailer
Getting some of that graveyard humor
Fighting over the nights' assignments
Working on the scheme of maneuver

Gathered round watching the feed
How many mag’s do you think we’ll need
Building up a charge & prepping the fuse
Watching for the gates the bad guys never use
Bout to go

Into the darkness
Don’t know what’s waiting behind that door
A scared little kid or just another one room war
I know my boys need me now, I’m not gonna let em down
Times like these are the hardest
Walking into the darkness darkness into the darkness

Three bedrooms on a quiet street
She was my everything
We got lost along the way
She’d rather drink these days

That sun ain’t even set
And I’m standing on our front steps
Bout to go

Into the darkness
Don’t know what’s waiting behind that door
Will she have dinner on the table or be passed out on the floor
I know that she needs me now, and I don’t wanna let her down
Times like this are the hardest
Walking into the darkness into the darkness darkness

Tired of fighting these demons within
Just wanna look in the mirror again
I don’t wanna go

Into the darkness
Don’t wanna open that door
All I want is the future I’ve been hoping for
But I’m gonna face it now, I’m not gonna let me down
Just like my heart is
I’m so damn done with all this
Walking into the darkness into darkness into the darkness darkness
Well I don’t want I don’t want no more darkness

© 2017 Sony ATV Cross Keys (ASCAP) / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Love Again
Casey Hildreth / Jay Clementi

I’ve danced with the devil
I’ve loaned him out my soul
Turned my back on heavens angels
Let Jack Daniels take control

My Heart feels cold calloused
Filled with darkness and it’s numb
Maybe it’s from all the years
I’ve spent behind this gun

I just wanna learn how to love again
Just wanna learn to let that light back in
Be a better father, brother and friend
I just wanna learn how to love how to love again

War is beautiful and tragic
It just does things to a man
If you haven’t been there
You just can’t comprehend

When you make peace with death
Your heart feels just like a prison
I’m so tired just surviving
I’m dying to start living
Dying to start living

Just wanna learn how to love again
Just wanna learn to let that light back in
Be a better father, brother and friend
Oh I just wanna learn how to love how to love again

I’m ready I’m ready to put down all this weight
My heart just needs a key it’s tired of being locked away

Just wanna learn how to love again
Just wanna learn to let that light back in
Be a better father, brother and friend
Oh I just wanna learn how to love how to love
Oh I just wanna learn how to love how to love again

© 2017 Sony ATV Cross Keys (ASCAP) / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Redemption Road
Casey Hildreth / Mike Medeiros / Clifford Richardson / Gary Nicholson / Darden Smith

I’m thankful for the broken road that got me here
But I’m not going back that way again
My old suitcase I’ll leave by the roadside
Cause where I’m going don’t look like where I’ve been

I won’t say I won’t walk through that fire again
Just to see my dreams go up in smoke
But I don’t want to retrace those steps again
I just want to see those ashes turn to hope

Trying to find redemption road
Wondering which way it’s gonna go
Not sure where it will take me
All I know is I can’t walk alone
Down redemption road

I won’t take the path of least resistance
Even if it takes a lot more time
I see some smoke off in the distance
Someone else’s baggage left behind

Gonna keep my faith in tomorrow
Do the best I can today
I’ll be leaving my signs along the trail
Help someone else along the way

Trying to find redemption road
Wondering which way it’s gonna go
Not sure where it will take me
But I know I can’t walk alone
Yes I know I can’t walk alone
Down redemption road

© 2017 Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing/Gary Nicholson Music (ASCAP)
© 2017 Darden Smith Music / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Straw Man
Mike McBroom / Darden Smith

Straw man
A house on shifting sand
Straw man
The wind scatters you
Scatters you
Across this land

An ember a match
And the tinder would catch
And light up this little boy’s night
I didn’t run I couldn’t fight
It didn’t matter wrong or right
The straw man never learned
I’d just let that straw man burn

Straw man
A house on shifting sand
Straw man
The wind scatters you
Scatters you
Across this land

The rage and the fear
You showed me so clear
The right and the wrong way to love
And the devil that we hold
Ain’t a devil we control
Till we look the devil in the eye
And see that straw man inside

Straw man
A house on shifting sand
Straw man
The wind scatters you
Scatters you
Across this land

The smoke is cleared
What am I to do
How long shall I carry you
Put down these ashes
Pick up a brand new fire
And walk away
Yeah walk away
I’m going walk away
Just walk away
From the

Straw man
And the house on shifting sand
Straw man
Let the wind scatter you
Scatter you
All across this land
Scatter you
Just let the wind scatter you
All across this land


© 2017 Darden Smith / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Journery to Surrender
Josh Mantz / Will Kimbrough / Gary Nicholson

If you know shame you’ve walked my battlefield
If you know guilt you know who I am
If you know darkness then you know my weakness
But I’m reaching for the light every way I can

It’s a journey journey to surrender
The long long walk to find ourselves again
The journey journey to remember
Reaching out for that place deep within

There was beauty, beauty in the suffering
The grace I didn't know was healing me
I went down the road of good intentions
But my dying showed me all that life could be

It’s the journey journey through connection
The long walk we all take to find ourselves again
The journey back from my own resurrection
Reaching out for that deep place within
Everyday I try to remember
It’s one more step on the journey to surrender

I found the peace the peace of letting go
It's all right it's all right I’m not in control

© 2017 Will Kimbrough Music BMI admin. Bluewater Music Inc.
© 2017 Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing/Gary Nicholson Music (ASCAP)
© 2017 SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)
Track Name: Pillar of Peace
Cliff Richardson / Will Kimbrough

I've been all over this great big world
I've done what I've done the best that I can
And I've seen men be cruel and unkind
To each other and this beautiful land
We spend a whole lot of time just fooling ourselves
Can't see the forest for the trees
If we really look deep, most everyone knows
That you got to be a pillar of peace

I've seen the world from 20,000 feet
And I've seen it from the bottom of the sea
I've thought a whole lot about what it means to be free
And I want to be a pillar of peace

If we look past our differences I know we will see
A whole lot of good all around
Nothing is forever except for the earth
So I keep both my feet on the ground

I've seen the world from 20,000 feet
And I've seen if from the bottom of the sea
I've thought a whole lot about what it means to be free
And I want to be a pillar of peace


A good man he don't have to be rich
And a poor man don't have to be bad
A wise man's knowledge ain't just in a degree
If he shares everything that he can
Things don't always go my way
And life ain’t all about me
But you know if we all work together
We'd all be pillars of peace

I've seen the world from 20,000 feet
And I've seen if from the bottom of the sea
I've thought a whole lot about what it means to be free
And I want to be a pillar of peace

I want to be a pillar of peace


Life is meant to be loved
Life is meant to be lived
Life ain’t made for regret
You know good friends and family and lessons we learn
I don't ever want to forget
No I ain't ever gonna forget

I've seen the world from 20,000 feet
And I've seen if from the bottom of the sea
I've thought a whole lot about what it means to be free
And I want to be a pillar of peace

I've seen the world from 20,000 feet
And I've seen if from the bottom of the sea
Thought a whole lot about what it means to be free
And I want to be a pillar of peace
Yeah I want to be a pillar of peace
Oh want to be a pillar of peace
And I’m gonna be a pillar of peace

© 2017 Will Kimbrough Music BMI admin. Bluewater Music Inc. / SongwritingWith:Soldiers Music (ASCAP)

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