Viewing: Songs - View all posts

Keep On 

In 2021, approximately 9 percent of high school students in the US attempted suicide. A heart-breaking number of them succeeded. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people.

That’s what my co-writer, Jay Bryant-Wimp and I were talking about when we sat down to write the song that eventually became Keep On. This was an issue that had touched both of us.

How could music, with its incredible ability to turn pain into beauty and inspiration – how could music transmute that kind of darkness into light? That was our challenge. The result was Keep On, an uplifting song of hope that starts with a simple acoustic guitar and builds to a tumultuous climax backed by a gospel choir.

 A few interesting musical facts about the song: it features an “outro”, which is, as you might imagine, the opposite of an intro, a musical section that closes out the song after the last chorus. (Think of the piano part at the end of classic song, Layla, as a great example of an outro.) The outro also contains an example of “word-painting”, which is a songwriting technique that conveys some portion of the lyrics in a more literal way. An obvious example is a melody that goes up when the lyric says “high” or goes down when the lyrics says “low”. (Friends In Low Places, for example!) For the outro, I wrote a melody that extends the word “on” into a whole musical phrase. The word “on” kept on! Which turned into a pretty melody and a nice way to wordpaint the concept of keeping on. 

And then when we were working out the background vocal/choral parts, which I did with Michael B. Hicks, a super talented keyboard player, musician, singer and arranger, I suggested that we turn that musical phrase into a “round”. (A round is when a musical phrase repeats in an overlapping fashion.) I sang the idea I had in mind. Mike and all the singers sat in the studio control room and looped through the section over and over, gradually building up the part until it became the very cool arrangement we ended up with.

You can see those singers, as well as the rest of the band, in action in this video which we shot while recording the song at the Backstage Studio in Nashville. 

Keep on! ❤️

Bullets And Blood 

The song “Bullets And Blood” was inspired by a true love story. It’s a song about a 30+ year relationship that persevered despite prejudice, bigotry, rejection and violence, and ultimately it’s a song about the triumph of love over hatred. It’s the story of Nelson and Keith, two men who met and fell in love in the South during the 1980’s. 

My co-writer on this song, Angela, is good friends with Nelson and Keith and had long wanted to write a song about their inspiring love affair. She had the title and the hook line: “Bullets and blood are not enough to stop this love”, but that’s about as far as she had gotten. We’d been writing another song together and as I often do with songs I’m co-writing, I went off on my own into my little studio to work on it by myself for a while. But it was hard slogging on that particular song; I was trying so hard, too hard perhaps, to find the right lines, the right melody, and I’d been working on it for a couple of days when I decided to take a mental break, shift gears and play with something else. Angela had told me pieces of the story previously and before I knew it I had a couple of verses and a chorus. I recorded a quick voice memo on my phone and texted it to Angela. Almost before she got back to me a few minutes later, I had another verse, and then another. 

Every once in a while (a very long while, for me) a song will come easily like that. (Townes Van Zandt called these songs “sky songs” because it seems like they just come out of nowhere and are delivered to their writers. For example, Don McLean reportedly wrote all eight minutes of “American Pie” in about an hour. ) That other song Angela and I were working on never really came to much, but I do think that all the time I spent on it paved the way somehow. I was warmed up, I was open to the creative flow, and when I focused on something important, something that matters, it became the catalyst for this beautiful song. 

Here’s what Alan from the UK blog The Rocking Magpie and to say about the song: “The bravest song I’ve heard in years: Bullets and Blood. The first night I heard it I couldn’t believe my ears and had to take it back to the beginning and listen intently! Phew! The melody is as Country as Country gets but the lyrics will set your average redneck’s hair on end. I applaud Brock Davis for having the chutzpah to not just write this song but release it too…and for that it’s my favourite song here.”

The world has changed a lot since the 1980's and we've made a lot of progress. I wish I could say that some of the challenges described in this song are completely in the past, but I can't, at least not yet. One day, I hope, one day…. ❤️

Listen to Bullets And Blood on Spotify.


Bullets And Blood

I met my love at college in my junior year
But when I brought him home it was worse than I feared
“You ain’t no son of mine”, my Daddy made it clear
And that was that
Never going back

Caught in a parking lot, late one August night
Four good ole boys with baseball bats didn’t think our love was right
If it wasn’t for the cop car cruising by
We’d have been alone
With more than broken bones

Bullets and blood
Can’t stop this love
Bullets and blood
Are not enough
To stop this love

They did their best to run us out of town
Gave us a welcome that was worthy of the South
Three bullet holes through the kitchen door remind me how
We have to hide
Or pay the price

[Repeat Chorus]

Then one cold winter, he woke up and couldn’t breathe
Raced him to emergency for some surgery
Wouldn’t let me visit him in his time of need
They told me
You’re not family

We got married when the laws began to change
Couldn’t do it here, had to travel out of state
After twenty years, I could finally take his hand and say
Please be mine
For all time

[Repeat Chorus]


I Get It Now 

I wrote “I Get It Now” with my friend Les Hauge. Les lives in Sarasota, Florida and I was in Santa Cruz, California, so like many songwriters during the pandemic, we were trying to write a song over Zoom. For some reason I got talking about how as a parent myself now, I had so much more appreciation for the people who had tried to teach me and help me as a young man. “Man, I just didn’t get it then, but I get it now”, I said. And then I think we both thought at the same time - that could be a great idea for a song! 

The first lines for the chorus came almost immediately: “I was young, I was dumb, and I knew everything”. Was that too harsh an indictment, I asked? No, Les replied, that’s pretty much on the money for most of us, and we were off. 

As we started talking more about the story it became clear to me that I really wanted to write about the person who had been the biggest influence during my teenage years, my high school basketball coach, Mr. Jim Dudley. Or as we all affectionately called him, Mr. D. 

Mr D. was a big man, 6 foot 5, at least 275 pounds, incredibly strong, and as quick as a snake on the basketball court. He had a huge laugh, an outsized personality, and a big curly red beard. He had been MVP on his high school team, most inspirational player in college, and he ended up teaching and coaching in my hometown of Maple Ridge, BC, a small, blue-collar mill town along the Fraser River. He was a competitor and hated to lose. I only beat him at one on one a few times, and I remember how he fouled me like crazy when he realized he might lose.

I have a lot of memories of his kindnesses but I'll just mention one. My basketball shoes had been stolen from the locker room during gym class. And I think he knew how hard up my family was. So as a birthday present, he bought me a new pair and had everyone on the team sign the birthday card. (I still have that card.)

Around the time we were finishing mixing the record I heard that Mr. D. had passed away. He was such an incredible force of nature it’s hard for me to imagine him gone. 

Perhaps my favorite line in the whole song is, “You saw the good in me that no one else could find.” It’s one of those lines that just came out of my mouth while I was singing without any conscious thought. But it rings true in such a deep way for me. That was his super power. He cared about people, he saw the good in them, their potential. He gave his time, love and support. And he tried to guide me. I didn’t always get it then, oh but how… 

I get it now.


I Get It Now 

I was shooting hoops with my boy last night in the driveway 
When I caught myself saying what you’d always say
Coaching the team down at the high school gym 
And I thought, I sound just like you did  

Coach, your lesson was waiting there 
Till I could finally hear      

I was young, I was dumb, and I knew everything 
Though you tried, I had my mistakes to make 
Like rain on the windshield those words washed away 
If I’d listened then lord knows what heartache I coulda saved 
I didn’t get it then 
Oh but how 
I get it now 

I had a chip on my shoulder almost all the time 
But you saw the good in me no one else could find 
You said, if you run with those Johnson boys, there’ll be hell to pay 
Then we crashed that car and I was lucky to walk away 

You were there for me that night 
Now I see you changed my life 

[Repeat Chorus] 

This life is a mystery - we see pieces of the plan 
Hope I’ll always be learnin’ and sayin’ when I look back 
I didn’t get it then 
Oh but how 
I get it now 

Oh I get it now 
Yeah I get it now

A Song Waiting To Be Sung 

(Listen to "A Song Waiting To Be Sung")

Jan 22, 2006 was a stormy, blustery night in Vancouver, Canada. I remember it vividly, as it was the night my son, Keith, was born. The rain was bucketing down and the night couldn’t have been blacker as we made our way to the hospital at 2 AM. 

As a first-time father, I was so overjoyed and transformed by the arrival of this beautiful baby boy that over the next week, I wrote “A Song Waiting To Be Sung” to try and capture some of that magical feeling of love and connection.

Then I blinked and 15 years had gone by.  

For many years I had been focused on playing music and writing songs. But now, with a new baby, family and other things in life took center stage. “Just for now”, I thought to myself. But this song stuck with me, kept resurfacing, demanding my attention, wanting to be sung. And thus it became one of the catalysts that eventually brought me back to songwriting a decade later. 

Now, over the past couple of years, I’ve written a lot of new songs. Some of which I love so much I wanted to record them so I could share them with the world. A selection of them make up the rest of the tracks on the new album. But it was “A Song Waiting To Be Sung” that provided the original impetus and so I decided it would only be appropriate to use that as the album title as well.

The song is structured as Verse, Verse, Verse, Verse, with a repeated refrain line at the end of every verse: “You’re a song that’s waiting to be sung”. That’s a traditional form used a lot in folk music and one that Bob Dylan used so often in his songs like “Tangled Up in Blue”, “A Simple Twist of Fate”, and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. I always wanted to write a song using that form, and it seemed appropriate for this song, with its somewhat artsy lyrics.

We recorded it in Ocean Way studio in Nashville. The musicians were Evan Hutchings (drums), Brian Allen (bass), Pat McGrath (acoustic guitar), Justin Ostrander (electric guitar), Russ Pahl (pedal steel), Dane Bryant (piano and B3), Matt Dame (background vocals) with Zach Allen engineering and producing. 

This is a song of love. It has been waiting for 15 years to be sung, and after all that time, I’m so happy to finally share it with you all. 

(To the right is a picture of Keith today. At the top, is a picture of what he looked like at a few weeks old when this song was written.)


A Song Waiting To Be Sung

You’re an empty canvas ready for the paint 
A breath away from what is and what ain’t 
And we wait, through the longest night for you to come 
Take the stage, and turn up the lights, the first act’s begun 
A perfect creation 
You’re a song that’s waiting to be sung 

The cry of life is a holy cry of pain 
Beauty born from a deep and endless ache 
We never leave our searching for the place where we came from 
I finally see the reason for everything I’ve done 
A wondrous undertaking 
You’re a song that’s waiting to be sung 

The dawn is breaking, I’m the world’s most lucky man 
I’ve heard the secret and now I understand 
I watch you breathe, your quiet dreaming of happy days to come 
I wanna be a better man than I’ve become 
A lesson in the making 
You’re a song that’s waiting to be sung 

These old hands have played a song or two 
I look at yours and wonder what they’ll do 
My simple dream is lying in my arms – a tiny son 
The bigger scheme enfolds us in the mystery that has come 
A circle culminating 
You’re a song that’s waiting to be sung