SW​​:​​S Retreat - August 23​-​25, 2013

by SongwritingWith:Soldiers

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    All purchases are tax-deductible donations to SongwritingWith:Soldiers. Our mission is to hold retreats that pair professional songwriters with military veterans to write songs about their experiences of combat and returning home.
    Participating military service members include Katie Dowell, Charles Hayes, Ernest Johnson, Rebekah Layton, Stacy Pearsall, Greg Masiello, AJ Merrifield, Katie Robinson, Nikki Shaw, and Jamie Trent. These songs are their stories.

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Songwriters include Gary Nicholson, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Darden Smith, and Greg Trooper.

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released August 26, 2013

Thank you for your support of SongwritingWith:Soldiers.

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SongwritingWith:Soldiers Austin, Texas

Founded by Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Darden Smith, SongwritingWith:Soldiers is a non-profit 501c (3) organization. Our mission is to assist in the emotional healing process of both active duty U.S. soldiers and veterans through collaborative songwriting. ... more

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Track Name: Battle Buddies
BATTLE BUDDIES
Stacy Pearsall / Katie Robinson / Darden Smith / Greg Trooper

In a land of sand and oil cans
Me and Katie would stand with any man
We’d crack a joke or lend a helping hand
Everywhere that we went
From a mission to the defac tent
Chaos was our most loyal friend

Battle buddy, We’re alive
Love and laughter brought us to the other side
Carry me and I’ll carry you
Together we can make it through
Battle buddies to the end

We could make the Chaplain blush
Give an FNG a rush
Or calm each other with a tender touch
But most of all sisters in Arms
Under bullet fire and exploding bombs
We were each other’s lucky charms

I damn near broke my neck for one
Then they shot off Katie’s fucking thumb
Sent us home and said thank you’re on your own
When my back’s against the wall
You’re the first number that I call
Because we’re battle buddies ‘til the end
Track Name: Character Flaw
CHARACTER FLAW
Greg Masiello / Greg Trooper

Bright light gleaming from an old streetlight
Shimmers in the pool of a Saturday night
Your silhouette screams to this old boy
But don’t start thinking I’m the real McCoy

I don’t have to guess how this might end
I’ve always thrown caution to the wind
Girl your spell is drawing me in
Another mistake I’m about to begin

You’d think by now I’d figure this out
I can hear them talking ‘bout this old lout
However this ends win, lose or draw
I’m still stuck inside this character flaw

When I was at war I swore by Jim
When I got home I wouldn’t fall back in
To taking some girl on a one night ride
I’d clip the wings off my wild side

But you over there all sultry and sleek
Remind me of a tragedy Roman or Greek
Just like Cupids arrow gone astray
I’ll save that promise for another day

You’d think by now I’d figure this out
I can hear them talking ‘bout this old lout
However this ends win, lose or draw
I’m still stuck inside this character flaw

What do you mean you want to come home with me
I’m just a snake and your mom would agree
Track Name: Mama
MAMA
Charles Hayes / Greg Trooper

We went running through the blue
Felt like nothing we couldn’t do
Train whistle crying familiar moan
Baseball sliding into home

Mama, Oh mama I miss you so

Fishing on the river bank
Fish give that bobber a mighty yank
Pitch a tent down by the river side
Start the fire we got fish to fry

Mama, Oh mama I miss you so

Suppertime six pm
Sometimes chicken sometimes ham
Apple pie still needs to cool
You have one slice, I’ll take two

Mama, Oh mama I miss you so

Paper boy riding by
Sun’s not even in the sky
Milk delivered in the box
Not one worry, no doors locked

Mama, Oh mama I miss you so

Nighttime falls time for bed
You said a prayer kissed my head
Mama, Oh mama I miss you so
Mama, Oh mama I love you so
Track Name: Man Of The Family
THE MAN OF THE FAMILY
Charles Hayes / Darden Smith

I was called to be the chaplain
Of another hero fallen in the fray
From a leaden sky a bone chilling rain
Was coming down on Saratoga Cemetery
There was a twelve-year boy all dressed blue
And a mother full of pain that didn’t know what to do
And that boy said "tell me sir will I ever see my daddy again"
I got down on my knees

I said "yes you will
Because your daddy’s in God’s hands
And someday through faith
You’ll see him in that promised land
But for now your dad would want you to be
The man of the family"

I said "He’d want you to take care of your mother
And help her through this troubled storm
Be there for your sister Ellen
And comfort her in your sure, strong arms
I know this all might seem like a burden to you
But ponder what your daddy would want you to do
‘Cause one day son, you’re gonna see your daddy again"
He got down on his knees

He said "yes I will
Because my daddy’s in God’s hands
And I know one day
I’ll see him in that promised land
But for now my dad would want me to be
The man of the family"

And off in the distance the bugle played
The tears came down we walked away
Except for that boy
I heard him softly say

"I know now Daddy you are in God’s hands
I can see you walking with the Lord
Hand in hand through that promised land
So don’t worry dad I know I can be
The man of the family
The man of the family"
Track Name: My Little Angel
MY LITTLE ANGEL
Greg Masiello / Darden Smith

You were seven years when I got the call
You had to be strong, stand up big tall
Daddy’s little girl all set to grow
Front teeth missing, hair in a bow
I’d lay in my bunk biding my time
Thinking bout that little girl of mine
Time just crawled, I wished it would fly
I’d a given anything to sing you a lullaby

As that year went by I saw you there
Larger than life playing truth or dare
Sitting on the edge fifty feet high
Spreading your wings like you’re gonna fly
My little angel
My little angel

You built sand castles on the white sea shore
Fussed with your momma over dresses and chores
I did my time and when I came home again
You were more a woman than a girl by then
Standing in the kitchen on a Tuesday night
Looking at your school picture and your smile so bright
I just wanted to hold you, I fought back the tears
Because I knew that I could never get back those years

As time goes by I will see you there
Larger than life playing truth or dare
Sitting on the edge fifty feet high
Spreading your wings girl you’re gonna fly
My little angel
My little angel
My little angel
You’ll always be
My little angel
Track Name: Never Really Made It Home
NEVER REALLY MADE IT HOME
Greg Masiello / Jamie Trent / Beth Nielsen Chapman

You look right through my eyes
Seems like all you see
Are smoke filled desert skies
Haunted memories

I can never understand
Those images so real
Of a lost and distant land
A sandbox battlefield
Sometimes only time can heal

You came back into my arms
With a shattered broken heart
Just a shadow of the man I’ve always known
As if the man of my dreams unafraid of anything
Never really made it home
Never really made it home

You lie here by my side
I know you’re not asleep
The battle scars you hide
A million miles too deep

There’s nothing I can say
There’s nothing I can do
I’m praying for the day
When I have all of you
And I pray we’ll make it through

Baby won’t you come back home
When you gonna come back home
Track Name: Out of My Hands
OUT OF MY HANDS
Jamie Trent / Darden Smith

I was just a punk kid
Made a mess of my life
My dad said son
There are two roads
And the way it looks to me
You’re on the wrong one
So I signed on the line
Did a four year tour
My life has never been the same
Wound up in a hospital bed
Staring at the ceiling damned near dead
Trying to keep score in a losing game

So I try everyday
To walk a line a little more straight
Live according to a plan
That I can’t see
Though it was written just for me
The end is out of my hands

Cause from what I’ve seen
I can live a life so clean
Cling to the letter of the law
And still at the end of the day
It don’t matter what I say
It don’t matter what I did or what I saw
It’s all about living right
Try to turn a little bit towards the light
Love my family, love my friends
Cause the big man up above
Has got his hand on the pulse
Ain’t nobody knows when it’s gonna end

There’s always another snake in the grass
I could hunt down or just let it pass
Track Name: Quicksand - Darden Smith
QUICKSAND
Katie Dowell / Darden Smith

I’m a farmer’s daughter, I was a rodeo queen
But I’m a soldier now with a different dream
I want you to love me for who I am
Cause right now it feels like I’m trying to make a stand
In quicksand

I’ve known for more than half of my life
Now you’re my husband and I’m your wife
I think you still see me like the girl next door
But baby I’m so much more

I’ve been around the world, I’ve been to war
I’ve seen things worth fighting for
I love my country, I love what I do
Baby if you let me I can love you too

I try to talk and you don’t say a word
Love should easier so I’ve heard
The struggles of combat I’ve got to admit
Are nothing compared to this

I still believe in the two of us
But it’s getting harder and harder to trust
That you’re gonna be there when I need you

I’m a farmer’s daughter, I was a rodeo queen
But I’m a soldier now with a different dream
I want you to love me for who I am
Cause right now it feels like I’m trying to make a stand
I’m reaching out my hand
In quicksand
Track Name: Soldiers Hate War
SOLDIERS HATE WAR
Katie Dowell / Rebekah Layton / A.J. Merrifield / Gary Nicholson

You wanna protest raise up some unrest
You say it shouldn't even be our fight
you want world peace you want the fire to cease
You say might is never gonna make right
Till you find a way to bring it to an end
stand behind the troops or get in front of them

Soldiers hate war more than anyone
They're the ones facing enemy guns
They want some good news in Washington
But it ain't good till its done
Soldiers hate war more than anyone

You think you got the cure make love not war
But there' ain't nobody shooting at you
You sit and complain and try to lay blame
While you watch it on the six o'clock news
It's the home of the brave and the land of the free
Cause there's lives on the line for you and me

Soldiers hate war more than anyone
They're the ones facing enemy guns
They want some good news in Washington
But it ain't good till its done
Soldiers hate war more than anyone

It's the home of the brave and the land of the free
Cause there's soldiers on the front lines just like me
Track Name: Somebody Else's War
SOMEBODY ELSE'S WAR
Nikki Shaw / Beth Nielsen Chapman

People say this is somebody else’s war
So much at stake ~that’s what I signed up for
What I gave there’s not much measure for
But I’m alright

When we were kids I had a vision for where I’d go
We loved that flag I’d play with my GI Joe
lAnd little sister you’d tag along
And always have to keep me in your sight

When I left that day it was to keep you safe
You cried and cried
You didn’t know why
And you held me tight
As I walked out the door
To somebody else’s war

Then I heard you joined up just like me
My heart was broken as it could be
I love my country from sea to shining sea
But I love you more

When you left that day I couldn’t keep you safe
I cried and cried
And I knew why
To let you fly
Made it’s so much more
Than somebody else’s war

bridge: they can’t have you
they can’t have you
I went so you
would not have to.....

I could have stopped you
But the choice was yours
I had your back, talked you through that tour
And now that you are home
I’m alright
You’re alright
The war goes on
But we’re alright
Track Name: Soul
SOUL
Greg Masiello / Darden Smith

What is it that I had when I was a child
I would talk to the moon I could make him smile
I knew what made the sun shine and the green grass grow
Some things you don’t have to learn some things you just know

I think it’s soul
I think it’s soul

What is it about a song that makes you want to cry
What is it that makes me think that I know how to fly
What is it makes a man get paper and a pen
And write down all the darkest secrets that he holds within

Sometimes I think that I must’ve lost my way
I can’t find the feeling I had back in the day
I miss the curve of a woman and her hand upon my neck
I miss the way her smell would hit me and make my life a wreck

So what is it I’m missing, what is it I need
Could it still be hiding somewhere inside of me
If I look a little deeper beyond this great divide
What is it that waits there, what could I find?
Track Name: Storm Warning
STORM WARNING
Ernest Johnson / Katie Robinson / Greg Trooper

You can’t change a storm’s direction
I’ll tell you what you can do
You can harness its power
Baby it’s up to you

I’ve built this levee
Built it six years high
The clouds are growing darker
And water’s on the rise

You can feel the thunder
You can feel the thunder
Feel the lightening and thunder
But you won’t see the rain

I am flying over water
I’m being drawn into the heat
On a wind that’s cold and unforgiving
I pray these opposing fronts don’t meet

I look for light in shadows
I look for clouds to part
Rain don’t come any closer
I’m afraid you won’t stop once you start

There’s no clear path I see to take
But I can surely let these rain clouds break
Track Name: The List
THE LIST
Jamie Trent / Gary Nicholson

I know you had to be crazy to do it
Or you wouldn’t have put us all through it
What could make a man take his own life
And break the hearts of his children and wife
When we found the list you left
And tried to imagine the pain you felt
It didn’t help us make much sense when we read
What the list said

Pay Jamie the fifty bucks I lost
When Virginia beat UNC
Give Bobby back the green tie I borrowed
It never looked right on me
Return the tools to the neighbor next door
That tried to help me fix my car
And stop by the Idle Hour when you can
I left quite a bill at the bar
Yeah I know this list gets a little long
But there’s really nothing left to say
Just try to forgive me if you can for leaving this way

None of us knew how hard you got hit
That it was enough to make you want to quit
We all just wondered if you thought it through
Was there really nothing left to do
We just think of all you left behind
Trying to understand what goes through the mind
Of a desperate man
With no better plan

Give my good golf clubs to Nick Lavelle
He’s too cheap to buy his own
Give my season tickets to Trevor
The biggest Bristol fan I’ve ever known
Pass my autographed Michael Jordan basketball
To anyone you want to pass it to
If anybody wants to come to my funeral
Have ‘em wear Carolina blue
After all this I know there’s not a lot to say
But please try to forgive me if you can for leaving this way

Yeah when you talk to the kids I know it’s gonna be hard
To find anything to say
But just ask them to forgive me if they can
For leaving this way
Track Name: The Road to Victory
THE ROAD TO VICTORY
Katie Dowell / Rebekah Layton / A.J. Merrifield / Gary Nicholson

On the long road to victory
You never know what you're gonna see
You just do what you know you gotta do
Whatever it takes whatever gets you through
There's s fist and a saber still haunting me
On the long road to victory

Rules of engagement Laws of war
You give it all you got and wonder what for
When was the last time leaders put it on the line
How can you say don't fire when you never leave the wire

On the long road to victory
You never know what you're gonna see
You just do what you know you gotta do
Whatever it takes whatever gets you through
There's fist and saber still haunting me
On the long road to victory

We don't néed to brag don't need to wave the flag
Still gonna feel the pain and never be the same
Seems so pointless we keep losing kids
We keep wondering how we're gonna get out of this

Tears drops on the horizon
My heart cries for home
Every day i'm more alone
But i've got to soldier on

On the long road to victory
You never know what you're gonna see
Here's a fist and a saber still haunting me
On the long road to victory
Track Name: Waterfalls
WATERFALLS
Rebekah Layton / Stacy Pearsall / Gary Nicholson / Beth Nielsen Chapman

There were waterfalls
There were trees to climb
Moons and suns to rise and fall in perfect time

There were unicorns
There were fairy queens
I grew up in a place where I was safe to dream

All these things I want to pass along to you
All the things every child would want to do

There was mortar fire
There were bombs that fell
There were endless nights of living through a burning hell

There were soldiers’ cries
There was broken trust
There were friends that disappeared in a cloud of dust

All the things no child should ever have to face
All the pain that I know time cannot erase

The best and the worst has to live together now
The good and bad memories haunting me
The winding road I have to take to get me home
I know I have to walk alone

There is nothing, babe
That I wouldn’t do
Anything to keep this world
Even paradise
Isn’t meant to last
You turn around and life is coming at you fast

Someday I know I’ll have to let you go
But today I want love to be all you know

The best and the worst has to live together now
The good and bad memories stay with me
The winding road I have to take to get me home
We can walk together but the burden’s mine alone

I want to give you waterfalls and trees to climb
Moons and suns that rise and fall in perfect time
Unicorns and fairy queens
I want to give you a place safe to dream
Track Name: Women In The War
WOMEN IN THE WAR
Katie Dowell / Rebekah Layton / Gary Nicholson

She starts her day before she sees the sun
Evening comes and she’s not done
Cooking and cleaning paying bills
Laundry and dishes and baby spills
Making lunch and driving carpool
Get the husband to work get the kids to school
A woman’s work is never done
She closes her eyes the next day’s begun

She starts her day before she sees the sun
But this day starts with a four mile run
Puts on her armor and picks up her gun
Equipment checks and maintenance done
Mission ready lock and load
Rolling out to the danger zone

Women in the war
Really know what they’re fighting for
Freedom for her children
And a better life
She’s more than a soldier
She’s a mother and a wife
Every man can be thankful for
Women in the war

Some say are they strong enough
Can they really be that tough
Will they cry when they get hurt
But what hurts more than childbirth
They can pull the trigger and carry the weight
Take a life when that’s what it takes

A woman’s work is never done
She closes her eyes the next day’s begun