Category Archives: songwriting

2017 Year-in-Review Addendum

I don’t only work on music during the year.  So here’s some other highlights of my 2017:

 
New great songwriter discovered in 2017:
Rachel Sermanni

Movies I enjoyed in 2017:
Eyes on the Prize:  America’s Civil Rights Years (documentary)
Maggie’s Plan
The Cotton Club
The Train
Bird
Merchant’s of Doubt (documentary)
A Most Wanted Man
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Jimmy’s Hall
Carnage
I am Sam
Muscle Shoals
The Lady in the Van
Steve Jobs:  The Man in the Machine (documentary)

Books I enjoyed in 2017:
Chrissie Hynde, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender
Johnny Marr, Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography
John Lydon, Anger is an Energy:  My Life Uncensored
Ryan White, Jimmy Buffett:  A Good Life all the Way
Willie Nelson, Willie:  An Autobiography
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity
John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
Charles Gati, Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt
Gary Webb, Dark Alliance: Movie Tie-In Edition: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion
Fred Halstead, Out Now; A Participant’s Account of the American Movement Against the Vietnam War
Howard Weir III, A Paradise of Blood: The Creek War of 1813–14
James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape
Andres Duany et al, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream 

Also I made some new friends, rediscovered an old friend from college, and further developed my friendship with people I met in 2016 or earlier.  I didn’t realize what a good year it was until I typed this up!

 

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What Are We Losing? (new song)

This is a song I wrote about what’s been going on in my neighborhood in south Denver the past couple of years. Developers are buying up the old one-story houses, tearing them down, scraping the lot, and building big, ugly 3-story triplexes with 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, and 3 living rooms.

The demo has some guitar mistakes in the solos but I put it up anyway. I banged this out pretty fast.

The Neighborhood (What Are We Losing?)
by Rob Roper 2nd Draft May 30, 2014

A small house is sold
A small house is torn down
What the hell’s going on
on my side of town?

Blue collar out
Suit and tie in
The swingset is gone
and so are the grandkids

This house was built
in 1953
when 1000 square feet
was all you’d need

They were paying rent
for all these years
Now they have 30 days
to pack up and leave

Chorus:
What are we losing?
We’re losing the neighborhood.

A big ugly box
goes up in its place
4000 square feet
multiplied by 3

That takes a lot to heat
and a lot of A/C
So you burn more coal
put a bigger hole in the ozone

A 3-car garage
where’s the oak tree?
How much room
does a lawyer need?

Soon the robins
will have nowhere to nest
And a gang of pigeons
will be all that’s left

(Chorus)

Builders on the make
Politicians on the take
history and memories
raped and scraped

They only care about money
and making it fast
Historic Preservation
that’s a thing of the past

(Chorus)

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Filed under "Rob Roper", new song, politics, songwriting, songwriting blog

I Didn’t Believe (new song)

by Rob Roper  2nd Draft  July 31, 2014

It was a beautiful day
not a cloud in sight
when a guy with a cellphone
ran a redlight

Everything went black
and then it went white
I saw the gates of heaven
coming into sight

The angels came to get me
and led me through the gate
I was scared to death
of what would be my fate

I walked the streets of gold
up in the cloud
and there He stood
tall and proud

(break)

As soon as I saw Him
I fell down on my knees
I said, “Lord, have mercy
I didn’t believe.”

He said, “Don’t worry, son
It’s the believers who are screwed
they way they behave
I’d be an atheist, too.”

“Killing in my name
waging bloody wars
and all their church services
are such a bloody bore”

“You’ll see your fellow atheists
up here as well
while all the true believers
are burning down in hell.”

(break)

I asked, “What about your son
that you sent down to earth?
The one called Jesus
he of virgin birth?”

He said, “that’s the worst thing about
the Christians’ game
They ignore his teachings
but worship his name.”

“They think that they’re saved
just ’cause they believe
and that gives them the right to do
anything they please”

“But all their worship
that’s just kissing ass
It ain’t what you say
It’s how you act.”

(break)

He said, “I’ll see you later
here comes another crew
I’ve got to damn ten Christians
Three Muslims and a Jew.”

“So grab a harp
and have a glass of wine
you can jam with the angels
until the end of time.”

I stood there in wonder
at this glorious scene
and thanked the good Lord
I didn’t believe

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Filed under Atheism, poem, poems, poetry, political satire, politics, Religion, satire, singer-songwriter, songwriting

Disconnected (new song)

Disconnected
© Rob Roper  2014

I went for a walk
just to sort things out
but the trees weren’t talking
and the robins wouldn’t sing
Feeling disconnected
memories washed away
There’s nothing left here
I got no reason to stay.

They say dreams are for fools
so pour me a dream
There’s a strange feeling
crawling up my skin
Like a lake in a desert
I’m probably chasing a mirage
But I won’t let them put a ceiling
A ceiling on my thoughts.

Walking the edge between
destitute and free
Let the consequences
be what they be

Get in the basket
cut the rope on the balloon
and I’ll meet you on
meet you on
the southside of the moon.

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Writing fictional songs with genuine emotion

One of the things I haven’t been able to do is to write songs that are entirely fictional; that is, songs with fictional characters and fictional plots. Or to be more precise, good songs with fictional characters and stories. I’ve written some but they’re no good. You won’t hear them. They lack genuine emotion; they seem phony. Well, they are phony; afterall, they’re fictional.

But how does Bruce Springsteen write songs like “The River” or “Youngstown” that have fictional characters, but have such great emotion? How did Harry Chapin write “Taxi”, which I assume is a fictional story with fictional characters, but brings tears to my eyes? How do you do that?

Any songwriters out there have suggestions?

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