SW​:​S Retreat - November 2014

by SongwritingWith:Soldiers

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    Our retreats pair professional songwriters with veterans and active-duty service members to write songs about their experiences of combat and returning home. Jake Ashby, Anni Barrett, Laura Cannon, Joseph Costello, AnGel D. Danzy, Rhonda Liddell, James L. Monk, Adan Jonathan Olid, Rob Spohr, Charles L. Tryon, and Ana Rouse Charman participated in the November 2014 retreat. These songs are their stories.

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released December 31, 2014

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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: A Soldier In The Infantry
A SOLDIER IN THE INFANTRY
Anni Barrett / Mary Gauthier

I was 17 when I first went in
I was called to serve my fellow men
It’s my destiny I was born to be
A soldier in the infantry

I went thru basic then I went to school
To be a chaplain’s assistant they taught me the tools
I was just a girl, with sergeants over me
A soldier in the infantry

I didn’t see it coming
I didn’t say a word
For 30 years I just did my work
I closed my eyes I tried not to see
A soldier in the infantry

I loved a man but he lied to me
He hid a wife and a family
I left him crying back in ‘83
I am a soldier in the infantry

When my mind goes quiet
Ghosts float in
I can’t stop it from happening again
I try to keep moving but I can’t break free
I am still a soldier in the infantry

That’s what I am, it’s what I’ll always be
I’m a soldier in the infantry
Track Name: Holding God’s Hand
HOLDING GOD'S HAND
James Monk / Darden Smith

Blind scared
Over there
Under attack
First combat
I was praying real hard
Like Daniel prayed
Back in those Old Testament days
When the bullets started flying, it was crazy, it was loud
I was doing all I could not to get knocked down

Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Gets me through

There was this kid from Texas
Jose Velez
He was maybe 19
It was a terrible thing
Seemed like he was just getting started in life
He had a dream, he had a wife
He lost it all in that place
But sitting right here I can see his face

Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Gets me through

I’m back home now
And I’m not sure how
I made it through
But I know what’s true
Is that everybody’s lost and everybody’s scared
Everybody’s wondering if anybody cares
I know the reason that I made it through the fight
Love my neighbor and do what’s right

Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Holding God’s hand
Gets me through
Track Name: I Couldn’t See The Sun Shine
I COULDN'T SEE THE SUN SHINE
Adan Olid / Marshall Crenshaw / Darden Smith

I couldn’t see the sun shine
On a sunny day
Couldn’t feel the cool breeze blowing
Coming off the bay
Just a ghost walking
Holding hands with fate
Couldn’t see the sun shine
On the Golden Gate

I was up on the bridge, thinking it was strange
The nation was at Starbucks while we were downrange
Sometimes I feel like the walking dead
Can’t get these thoughts out of my head

I couldn’t see the sun shine
On a sunny day
Couldn’t feel the cool breeze blowing
Coming off the bay
Just a ghost walking
Holding hands with fate
Couldn’t see the sun shine
On the Golden Gate

I never got letters from my family
I wondered if they ever even thought about me
Come back home, didn’t get no parade
Wondering what’s the point of all that I gave

Now I’m in Arlington, finally feel alive
Surrounded by my brothers, they’re all by my side
I can feel their breathing deep inside my soul
I’ll be there for my brothers when they lose control

We’ll all see the sun shine
On a sunny day
We will feel the cool breeze blowing
Coming off the bay
If you are lost out in the darkness
Thinking it’s too late
Come on see the sun shine
On the Golden Gate
Track Name: Monkey Mountain
MONKEY MOUNTAIN
Chuck Tryon / Mary Gauthier

There’s a crack in my armor I don’t know what to do
After all these years something’s pushing through
My mind spins, my thoughts implode
I don’t believe what I was told

I feel guilty just to be alive
I’m still here, but I don’t know why
Monkey Mountain massacre, I see it with my eyes closed
I don’t believe what I was told

I don’t believe what I was told
I don’t believe what I was told

I see the young ones with a thousand yard stare
And I see myself I see me in there
I feel their heart I know their soul
And I don’t believe what I was told

I don’t believe what I was told
I don’t believe what I was told

I gotta stay busy I gotta give it away
Gotta put a smile on another vet’s face
It slows the demons it soothes my soul
I don’t believe what I was told

I don’t believe what I was told
I don’t believe what I was told
Track Name: My Journey
MY JOURNEY
Ana Rouse-Chatman / AnGel Danzy / Margo Ingram / Gary Nicholson

I been on a journey
Through my pain
I know my journey
Is not in vain
I learned to lean on my higher power
To take me through the fight
I have his hand to lead me
On my journey to the light

It’s been a battle
All my life
It’s been a struggle
Day and night
In my time of weakness
He was there for me
I know he’s gonna give me
All the strength I need

On my journey
I am not alone
And I know one day
He’ll lead me home
The loved ones I leave
Will have a journey of their own
They’ll always have the beauty
Of this journey I have known

On my journey
I’ve got a friend
He’s gonna walk beside me
Till the end

On my journey
I’ve got a friend
Jesus gonna walk beside me
Till the end

On my journey
Through my pain
I know my journey is not in vain

On my journey
I’ve got a friend
Jesus gonna walk beside me
Till the end
Track Name: No Medal For Me
NO MEDAL FOR ME
Rhonda Liddell / Marshall Crenshaw / Darden Smith

I served in the desert in the smog and the soot
But my enemy was not on foot
There were oil wells burning and the sky was black
In every breath I took I was attacked
It’s a goddamn fact

If there were a medal for the war I fight
And they placed it on my chest
Where among the others would it rest
Between combat action and a purple heart
Dignity and respect
I’ve got wounds you cannot see
So there will be no medal for me

The things I saw no one should see
But they still live inside of me
Nightmares cold sweats obsessions and the same flashback
PTSD knocked my head off track
It’s a hurting fact

But there’s no medal for the war I fight
Can’t place it on my chest
There among the others it won’t rest
Between feeling I’m alone and I can’t come home
With dignity and respect
I’ve got wounds you cannot see
So there will be no medal for me

The truth is that nothing can make right
The wrong I feel
It’s too damned real

Cause there’s no medal for the war I fight
Can’t place it on my chest
I’m trying to find the part of me that was my best
Cause I’ve got kids to raise and bills to pay
And a whole lot of life to live
With these wounds you cannot see
I guess there’ll be no medal for me
There will be no medal for me
Track Name: Open The Door
OPEN THE DOOR
Laura Cannon / Darden Smith / Gary Nicholson

You don’t know me
Cause I don’t show you
Who I really am
And who I really am
Is a human
I’m a woman
And this woman needs
She needs a friend

Open the door come on in
We’re all looking for one good friend
I got a feeling you might have the key
To take a better look inside of me
So open the door and come on in
Open the door and come on in

I got a good job
I got a nice car
People wonder
How I got this far
But they don’t see
What’s way down deep
And they don’t know
I’m so alone

Open the door come on in
We’re all looking for one good friend
I got a feeling you might have the key
To take a better look inside of me
Open the door and come on in
Open the door and come on in

I don’t know what I’m gonna do
Or how much I can share
All I really need to know
Is that you will be there

Open the door come on in
We’re all looking for one good friend
I got a feeling you might have the key
To take a better look inside of me
Open the door and come on in
Open the door and come on in
Track Name: Reaching Out Reaching In
REACHING OUT REACHING IN
Jake Ashby / Kristy Ashby / Gary Nicholson

I’m still here with you in the world we knew
Trying to make some sense of what we went through
While the world moves on I’m standing still
Still missing you I know I always will

Reaching out reaching in
Breathing out breathing in
Trying my best to start again
Reaching out reaching in

Life goes on after life is lost
While I wonder at the cost
I feel so strange with this pain
Still I know it will come again

Reaching out reaching in
Breathing out breathing in
Trying my best to start again
Reaching out reaching in

Am I diggin' out or being buried under
Can’t find my place and I still wonder
Kicking in a wall we can’t see
Still we give all endlessly

Reaching out reaching in
Breathing out breathing in
Trying our best to start again
Reaching out reaching in

Reaching out reaching in
Breathing our breathing in
Track Name: Rifles And Rosary Beads
RIFLES AND ROSARY BEADS
Joe Costello / Mary Gauthier

Rifles and Rosary Beads
We hold on to what we need
Vicodin morphine dreams
Rifles and Rosary Beads

Howling sunset bombs
In a stranger’s memory
Yellow smoke orange haze
It’s all coming back to me

Rifles and Rosary Beads
We hold on to what we need
Vicodin morphine dreams
Rifles and Rosary Beads

White knuckles wrapped around
Blackness that has no sound
Bombed out schools and homes
Kids crying in streets alone

Rifles and Rosary Beads
We hold on to what we need
Vicodin morphine dreams
Rifles and Rosary Beads

The mirror frightens me
I walk past try not to see
The stranger with blood on his hands
Brother I’m not that man

Rifles and Rosary Beads
We hold on to what we need
Vicodin morphine dreams
Rifles and Rosary Beads
Track Name: Sometimes The Pain Keeps Me Alive
SOMETIMES THE PAIN KEEPS ME ALIVE
Ed McCormick / Marshall Crenshaw / Darden Smith

I’ve got this feeling under my skin
I dream the same dreams again and again
I keep on talking, talking, talking to the wall
For no good reason, no reason at all
I want to tell you, I wish that you could
Just try to hear me, I wish that you would
I don’t want to scare you away
So for now, let me put it this way

Sometimes the pain keeps you alive
Sometimes the pain is what gives you drive

My heart's racing, my mind's in a rage
I'm in a battle, I can't disengage
I've seen too much
I know too much
I've got a darkness you just can't touch
I lived the dream but the dream is gone
These things push me on

Sometimes the pain keeps you alive

Nobody’s chasing me but still I run
I miss my buddies I miss my gun
I miss the target got nowhere to aim
I feel lost in the everyday game
I want to tell you, want to tell the truth
I stand before you the living proof
What happens when men get used
I walk around like a lit fuse

Sometimes the pain keeps you alive
Sometimes the pain is what gives you drive

My heart's racing, my mind's in a rage
I'm in a battle, I can't disengage
I've seen too much
I know too much
I've got a darkness you just can't touch
I lived the dream but the dream is gone
These things push me on

Sometimes the pain keeps you alive
Sometimes the pain keeps you alive
Track Name: Where Would I Be
WHERE WOULD I BE
AnGel Danzy / Margo Ingram / Gary Nicholson

Without his grace
His grace and mercy
Where would I be
Where would I be

Without his care
His care and empathy
Where would I be
Where would I be

I can make it through anything
If I just believe
Without his love
Where would I be

I been through the storm
Time and again
Through it all
I had my friend
He was my shelter
He gave me peace
Without his love
Where would I be

Without my faith in all his glory
Where would I be
Where would I be

Without my trust in all his soldiers
Where would I be
Where would I be

I just want to thank him
He rescued me
Without his love
Where would I be
Track Name: Zero To A Hundred
ZERO TO A HUNDRED
Rob Spohr / Mary Gauthier

I wanted to help that’s where it began
I joined the guard with my 2 best friends
Delta company – we go in first
Bullet catchers we expect the worst

We do route clearance, man we clear the streets
RPGs and IEDs
Door kickers we make some noise
Bullet catchers and bang-bang boys

You’re either asleep or the shit house blows
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes

Hours of nothing but driving around
5 miles an hour in a burned out town
Soft skin Humvees flirting with death
Hillbilly armor tags on our chest

You’re either asleep or the shit house blows
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes

I found a dog in a pile of shit
Shit puppy I taught her how to sit
But my sergeant killed her with a single shot
Order came from up on top

I told myself I was already dead
It was something I agreed to in my own head
Man I just let go, I don’t ask why
When you’re already dead it's easier to die

You’re either asleep or the shit house blows
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes
0 to a 100 that’s how it goes