SW​:​S Retreat - May 2​-​5, 2014

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 Sheila Sherman Blake, Marsha Cook, Meghan Counihan, Brandy Davidson, Maria Medina, Stacy Pearsall, Shynice Pedro, Britney Pfad, Brian Shepard, Rhonda Sutton and Natasha Willford. These songs are their stories.

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Songwriters include Ashley Cleveland, Mary Gauthier, Georgia Middleman, and Darden Smith.

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released May 15, 2014

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: Where'd I Go
WHERE’D I GO
Shynice Pedro / Natasha Willford / Stacy Pearsall / Georgia Middleman

I’m wearing body armor made for men
I carry a 240 and I’m 110
I’ve been called a Desert Queen
Don’t know why they have to be so mean
They wrote my name on a Porta-John

I’m kind of done with all that mess
I’d like to try some happiness

So I’m just trying to find, just trying to find myself again
I’m just trying to find, just trying to find myself again
I know I’m in there, where have I been

With the boys, you gotta stay one step ahead
They’ll test you every single chance they get
The women they start talking smack
With you then behind your back
It’s hard to know just where you stand

If the Air Force is about respect
I haven’t met that Air Force yet

So I’m just trying to find, just trying to find myself again
I’m just trying to find, just trying to find myself again
I know I’m in there, where have I been

I’ve made some friends I’m gonna have for years
I’m not quite happy yet but I’m almost there
The Air Force went and grew me up
I saw the world and other stuff
That made me who I am today
I wouldn’t have it any other way
Track Name: For The Sake Of My Voice
FOR THE SAKE OF MY VOICE
Rhonda Sutton / Ashley Cleveland

I said I ain’t gonna go outside today
Not for the army, not for my country
Not for nobody

I said I’m gonna shut my door and leave it that way
And you won’t see me
Or steal my words from me

I was looking for justice and I wound up sick
I was looking for honor and got politics
I was looking for a reason and I found my truth
In the face of my boy, in the sound of my voice
In a friend called Winni and a dog named Zeus

And when the rug was pulled out from under me
And putting on a show got to be too heavy
Because my enemy wore the same uniform as me
I had to open my eyes and find another way to see

So I pulled back the curtain and the sun shone through
On the face of my boy, on the sound of my voice
On my friend called Winni and a dog named Zeus

Now I am able to get up out of that bed
Now I am able to claim my respect
Now I am able to mean what I’ve said
No matter who’s in charge

I’m gonna take this shame and hand it right back to you
For the sake of my boy, for the sound of my voice
For my friend called Winni and my dog named Zeus

For the sake of my voice and my dog named Zeus
Track Name: Inside Of This Box
INSIDE OF THIS BOX
Brandy Davidson / Darden Smith

Inside of this box
There’s a better girl
I want to break out
Into a better world
Where the sun is shining
Where the sun shines
I want to break out
Into a better into a better world

I laugh about everything
Cause it keeps me from crying
I show the world I’m strong
But there’s something I’m denying
I breathe for others
So that they can be relieved
But I can’t find a soul
Who wants to breathe for me

I’m a giver
But I give it all away
I’m a lover
I want a love that wants to stay
I’m a protector
I know how to build a wall
I built that wall so high
You can’t see me at all
Track Name: A Whistle Over My Head
A WHISTLE OVER MY HEAD
Natasha Willfred / Ashley Cleveland / Mary Gauthier / Georgia Middleman

Incoming, incoming, incoming
Only a voice in a box
Echoing, echoing, echoing
Off of the sand and the rocks
I’d take cover in the beginning
Now I’m just gonna stand here instead
Waiting for impact or silence
Just a whistle over my head

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice
I gave them all that I had
Fast-tracking, fast-tracking, fast-tracking
Afghanistan & Iraq
Earning my way to a Firewall
Until I fell back to basic like lead
The evidence was circumstantial
Just a whistle over my head

You turn on the lights
You turn up the music
Try to turn this tent into a home
Anything, anything, anything
To forget that I’m all alone

Numb it out, numb it out, numb it out
Nothing is that big a deal
No relief, no relief, no relief,
It’s easier just not to feel
My momma got sick, my daddy got sick
My grandma she died in her bed
My baby miscarried on Friday
Just a whistle over my head

An Airman doing her duty
Just a whistle over my head
Track Name: Turn Around
TURN AROUND
Maria Medina / Ashley Cleveland / Georgia Middleman

I got married at 18 when I was still a little girl
We hitched our wagon to the army
And took a trip around the world
The army years were good
The married years were not
But I have two precious daughters
And I say look at all I’ve got

Whatever my struggle or situation
There is new hope to be found
The path itself is a destination
And I can always turn around

I found my passion among soldiers
Who had wounds you couldn’t see
I have a heart for helping others
And to ease their suffering
In the longest days they ask me
Will it ever be okay?
I help them work it out in pictures
That lead to brighter days

Whatever our struggle or situation
There is new hope to be found
The path itself is a destination
And we can always turn around
Track Name: The Woman In Me
THE WOMAN IN ME
Marsha Cook / Georgia Middleman / Darden Smith

The me I used to be
Has gone away for good
The ties that used to bind are broken
My children are gone
My husband is gone
Sometimes I think my mind is going too
But I’m still hoping

The woman in me
Could be the woman you need
Can you see
The woman in me

I’ve seen the darkest parts of life
Oh the stories I could tell
If you would only take time to listen
What you’re going through
Sister, I’ve been there too
I know how it feels to be alone
Wishing

The woman in me
Could be the woman you need
Can you see
The woman in me

I was a military spouse
I had to run the house
I was a nurse, a teacher
A mother, a father too
And I still have more to do

Please look and see
The woman in me
Track Name: Brothers
BROTHERS
Meghan Counihan / Britney Pfad / Mary Gauthier / Georgia Middleman

War ripped my baby from my breast
Now my name and rank cover my chest
23 hours and I never slept
23 hours I flew and wept
70 lb pack, plus you on my back
Spilled my blood on the road, man I carried our load
Kept you in my view, I’d die for you
So hey, ain’t I a brother too?

I wiped my face, changed my soaking bra
Told my body not feel at all
A woman’s body ain’t like a man’s
It won’t go numb on our command
Blood blistered feet, black and blue
I slid inside my blood-filled boots
If that ain’t duty what must I do
To prove that I’m a brother too?

It’s okay to cry, that’s what you say
But if I do I’m damned anyway
So I learn to cry without a sound
Cause I’m afraid you’ll put me down

You broke my heart on Veteran’s Day
Don’t you understand those words you say
You raised a flag for the men who served
What about the women, what do we deserve
I was just like you when the bullets flew
I had your back and you had mine too
Brothers in arms, your sisters covered you
Don’t that make me a brother too?

Say it for me, say it for you
Hey brother, I’m a brother too
Track Name: I Got Your 6
I GOT YOUR 6
Meghan Counihan / Britney Pfad / Mary Gauthier

6 o’clock’s always behind you
6 o’clock on the battlefield
6 o’clock is black as gun smoke
At 6 o’clock our deal is sealed

No need to talk or testify
Just keep your story tucked inside
No savior on a crucifix
Look in my eyes
I got your 6

6 o’clock the world falls silent
6 o’clock the guilt remains
6 o’clock the breath goes sour
At 6 o’clock I’ll hold your pain

No need to talk or testify
Just keep your story tucked inside
No savior on a crucifix
Look in my eyes
I got your 6

At 6 o’clock I will defend you
At 6 o’clock just call my name
At 6 o’clock I’d die for you
And I know you’ll do the same

6 o’clock on the battlefield
6 o’clock is black as gun smoke
At 6 o’clock our deal is sealed
Track Name: An Officer's Love
AN OFFICER’S LOVE
Sheila Sherman Blake / Georgia Middleman

He was an officer
I was an enlistee
We stayed friends through the years
He was kind of like a brother to me

He was my go-to guy
Only a call away
He would pray for me and I would pray for him
At the end of the day

So what do you do
When you get that kind of news

Who’m I gonna laugh with
Who’m I gonna cry with now
Who’s gonna see inside me
Who’s gonna be there to guide me now

In 2001, I said
I’d never fly again
But he talked me into coming to see
My long lost friend

He still looked the same to me
We both had a few gray hairs
But looking in his eyes it was almost like
He was always there

Lord, if you can hear me
Please don’t let him leave me

Who’m I gonna laugh with
Who’m I gonna cry with now
Who’s gonna see inside me
Who’s gonna be there to guide me now

He was an officer
I was an enlistee
We stayed friends through the years
He was kind of like a brother to me
Track Name: Maria
MARIA
Brian Shepherd / Darden Smith

Sometimes I don’t have that much to say
Other times it would be better if I just walked away
Or when I lose my temper, because we don’t connect
She puts her pretty arms around my neck
And that’s why I love Maria

When I’m tossing and I’m turning in the middle of the night
I feel her hand upon my back, she tells me it’s all right
She’s got the magic, she’s got the healing touch
A special kind of therapy that you don’t see that much
And that’s why I love Maria

Patient and caring
She’s got the kind of love that never ends
She’s the one I lean on
She’s my one true friend
Oh Maria

Since I met Maria I’m a better man
Sometimes I wonder if it’s all part of a plan
She made the parts inside of me right where they were wrong
For so long I wandered, now I know where I belong
And that’s right beside Maria

Some day when we’re older we’ll look back on these times
Like the night we drove to Waco, she said that she’d be mine
Or the day we drove to Beaumont for a burger and some fries
I saw the future written in the sparkle of her eyes
And that’s why I love Maria
Track Name: Iraq
IRAQ
Brandy Davidson / Mary Gauthier

An army mechanic I worked with the boys
I worked on my back 5 tons and below
Torque wrenches and ratchets, multi-meters and scales
Grease on my hands grease in my hair grease on my clothes

It was so hard to see until it attacked
But my enemy wasn’t Iraq

Soldiers bartered and traded that’s the way our world worked
Trading favors for favors in the dark and the dirt
To get what I needed I had to pay
What I wouldn’t give they tried to take

It was so hard to see until it attacked
But my enemy wasn’t Iraq

I stood my ground I didn’t give in
I drew a line again and again
When fences were falling
When the wind kicked up dust
I looked to the sky and asked the Lord why I had no one to trust

It was so hard to see until it attacked
But my enemy wasn’t Iraq
A salute and a smile
A pat on the back
My enemy wasn’t Iraq
Track Name: Prodigal Child
PRODIGAL CHILD
Winni Smith / Darden Smith

I remember cornbread from scratch
With fatback and collard greens
I remember little rocks underneath the streetlight
Summertime like a dream
Prodigal Child
They called me the Prodigal Child

I remember 18, first child, life changed
I went far away
I saw other women living their dreams
My grandma always used to scream
You’re the Prodigal Child
Prodigal Child

Momma was a runner, I’ve always been a runner
Running from who I am
I had to go far, far, far away
To finally understand
That I’m the Prodigal Child
I’m the Prodigal Child

Now I’ve come home, I’ve filled my home
With all the places I have been
I know the only place that I am safe
Is deep within
The Prodigal Child
The Prodigal Child

I remember cornbread from scratch
With fatback and collard greens
I remember little rocks underneath the streetlight
Summertime like a dream
Prodigal Child
They called me the Prodigal Child
Track Name: Nobody Knows
NOBODY KNOWS
Sheila Sherman Blake / Ashley Cleveland / Darden Smith

Nobody knows you like I do
Nobody knows the real man
Nobody knows how you really feel
Nobody understands
What makes you laugh
What makes you cry
What keeps you up
In the middle of the night
Nobody knows but I do
Nobody knows you the way that I do
And nobody knows

Nobody knows the rhythm of my life
Nobody knows my ups and my downs
Nobody knows what goes on in my mind
When I can’t make a sound
What makes me worry
What brings me peace
What gives me comfort
The sweetest relief
Nobody knows but you
Nobody knows me the way that you do
And nobody knows

More than a lover more than a friend
From here to heaven and back again
Where will our story end
Nobody knows
Nobody knows me the way that you do
And nobody knows you like I do
So nobody knows
Track Name: My Secret
MY SECRET
Winni Smith

Shhhhhh…...
I have a secret
Twenty-two years of military service
Signed in 1974
“Too young,” my Granny cried
“You know what they do to females?
You’re a hard-headed child, you’ll learn”
I had to escape…remembering my dreams I pushed forward
Looking back at midnight sessions drinking and cussing
While bright streetlights captured my suffering
But, instead of singing the blues, I transfused Army into Air Force

Shhhhh…..
I have a secret
My military frat Sista
Blew her brains out with a .45 and bottle of Jack Daniels
Posed between her legs
My other military frat Sista
Went to sleep with an exhaust hose, while clouds of smoke
Eluded her mind
I remember cornbread from scratch with fatback and collard greens
Then as music drifted through speaker box
Marvin Gaye in background singing, “Let’s Get It On” with love

So why was I landing into a Hot Spot in Turkey
With my three babies, they wasn’t supposed to be here
That wasn’t on the paper I signed
So what the Hell am I doing here?
I asked my Commander, he said: “Need to know”
I found my American dream with my invisible husband
Uncle Sam
He always finds me in my dreams

Shhhhh…..
That’s my secret
I can’t visualize in this haze, that hollow part of my chest hung up and empty
My secret
Track Name: I Choose Love
I CHOOSE LOVE
Darden Smith & Group

Maybe love
Maybe pain
Maybe truth
Maybe shame
Through it all
I choose love

When I was lost
Running kept me running
Till I found
That brick wall
Commitment
Loss kept me losing
Till there was nothing left to lose at all

When I was found
It was like I was awakened
I could see just what I needed
I was relieved
Secure in my heart
Now I can fly and be free