Andy’s Notes ♪♪♪ – Earliest to Most Recent

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This page is a collection of all Andy’s Notes ♪♪♪, in the order in which Andy wrote them. The subject-matter skips around, chronologically speaking, depending upon when Andy was inspired to write on a particular topic. And the topics are wide-ranging – from biographical blurbs, to philosophical musings, to his report on a recent show, to music history tidbits – it’s all fair game. Check back every so often to see what Andy’s thinking about now!!

  • Stone Soup – A Folktale Retold

    ©Words: Lauren LeCroy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    In support of the song Stone Soup from Hard Times on the CD Room for Roots, I retold the “Stone Soup” story my way for those who didn’t already know the tale. Andy included his reading of my version of the tale as a bonus track on the CD. – LM

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    Credits:

    Andy May: Vocal 

    Lyrics

    Stone Soup – A Folktale Retold
    ©Lauren LeCroy May (Swift River Music, BMI)

    The young man with the pack on his back had been a soldier in the long, long war. It was over at last, and though he had no money and no food for the journey back to his distant home, he was happy to be on his way. He had walked for several weeks, living almost entirely on what he was able to scavenge from the woods and the fallow fields. He found few who would feed him, for winter was upon the land, and the people were war-weary– and wary of strangers.

    One day, the young man came to a tiny village. This village was no more than a few huts clustered around a rough commons and a well, and it seemed to him to be as tired and ragged as he was himself. Finding no one who would take him in, the young man took himself to the well on the commons. There, he busied himself building a fire. When it was blazing cheerfully, he pulled a large black pot from his pack, filled it with water from the well, and hung it over the fire. Then he sat down, watching his pot and waiting.

    One by one, bubbles appeared in the water, and one by one the village children gathered to watch the young man watch his pot. After a time, he got up, rummaged in his pack and drew out stone the size and shape of a small turnip. He polished it lovingly with his kerchief, and – to the children’s astonishment – dropped it in the pot. Word of this odd behavior quickly spread, and, by the time the water was boiling, every child in the village was there, watching and waiting. For, though their parents were war-weary — and wary of strangers, the children were curious.

    After a while, the boldest child among them called out, “What are you doing, Mister?” The young man started, as though he had not known anyone was there, watching and waiting. “Why, making soup for my dinner, of course,” said the young man, recovering himself.

    “But,” asked the wisest child, “why did you put a stone in the pot?”

    “Well,” he replied, “it wouldn’t be much like soup if it had nothing in it but water. You need a soup stone to make stone soup!” The children looked at each other in amazement. “Soup from a stone,” they said. “Fancy that!” More curious than ever, they moved closer to watch and wait.

    After a time, the young man drew a large spoon from his pack, stirred the soup, and tasted it. The children crowded around him, peering in the pot then looking to him for his verdict. “It’s coming along,” said he. “But,” he added wistfully, “it would be so much better with a little salt.”

    Everyone sat down again to watch and wait – except the kindest child, who ran off. When he returned a few minutes later, he brought with him a packet of salt and his mother, who said, “We have no food to spare, but I doubt we’ll miss a little salt.” The young man thanked them politely and stirred the salt into the soup. Then, they all sat down again to watch and wait.

    “Soup from a stone,” said the kindest child’s mother to all the children. “Fancy that!”

    By and by, the young man got up and stirred and tasted the soup again, with the children crowding around the pot. This time he said, “It’s much better, but it would benefit greatly from some onions.” They all sat down once more to watch and wait – except the shyest child, who ran off. She returned a short time later with a bunch of onions and her father, who said, “We have no food to spare, but we had a good crop of onions this year, and I doubt we’ll miss a few.” The young man thanked them politely, chopped up the onions, and stirred them into the soup. Then, they all sat down again to watch and wait.

    “Soup from a stone,” said the shyest child’s father to them all. “Fancy that!”

    And so it went. Child by child and parent by parent, they brought carrots, cabbage and kale; potatoes, parsnips, and peas; barley, beets, and bunches of herbs. Each time the young man thanked them politely for their contribution and added it to his big black pot. By evening, the air was filled with the wonderful aroma of soup and the equally wonderful sound of laughter. Everyone in the village was there, watching and waiting and warming themselves by the young man’s fire. And, they forgot they were war-weary — and wary of strangers.

    At last, the young man declared the soup ready to eat, and he invited the villagers to join him for dinner. “Soup from a stone,” they said to him as he filled their bowls one by one. “Fancy that!”

    That night, everyone in the tiny village went to bed well-fed and warmed by stone soup. The young man was invited to sleep in the finest barn in the village. Nestled deep in the clean straw, and more comfortable than he had been in a very long time, he smiled to himself as he drifted off to sleep. “Soup from a stone,” he murmured. “Fancy that!”

    Discography

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  • The Harvest

    ©Lauren LeCroy MayAndy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Lauren: This lyric is one of the very few that more-or-less presented itself to me, fully-formed. I wrote it in an afternoon, but the story had been percolating for a while. In the fall of 1984, I returned to the U.S. from 2 years in Burkina Faso, West Africa, with the Peace Corps. The Midwest, breadbasket of the nation, was still reeling from the effects of the 1983 drought, the worst in decades, and I had been reading a lot about that. Family farms were going bankrupt right and left, land that had been in many families for generations was being sold off, and the impact on peoples’ lives struck me deeply. With imagery of thirsty land still fresh in my mind from dry-season African savannah, it took one final magazine article to galvanize the idea into a lyric.

    Several years later when I started co-writing with Andy, this lyric was one of the first he chose to score.

    Andy: Lauren’s lyric for “The Harvest” is really a short story, and this song was one of our first collaborations. I produced a recording of Rick Lee singing it back in the early 1990’s, but at that time, I found the lyric very difficult to sing myself because of its strong emotional content. When I did begin performing the song a few years later, it took on even deeper meaning for me as I became the teller of this tale and experienced the strong effect it had on my audience.

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    Lyrics

    The Harvest
    ©Lauren LeCroy MayAndy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Well that was one mighty poor summer
    The sun, hell-bent, takin’ its toll
    ‘Til nothin’ was growin’ but sorrow
    And Daddy was sure lookin’ old
    When Mama said, “Pride don’t feed children”
    Daddy told her, “Dreams die on the dole —
    A few more beans in a boy’s belly
    Ain’t no kinda trade for his soul.”

    And me, I would pray I was dreamin’
    ‘Til I fell asleep dreamin’ of rain
    And each mornin’ that demon sun beamin’
    Reached in and woke me again

    With each blazin’ day dawnin’ bluer
    There was that much less green on the land
    Come July, and a fire swept the valley –
    It seemed the whole county was damned
    No one had an answer for Daddy
    When he’d say he could not understand
    If the Lord had found cause to forsake us
    Why he’d also forsake this good land

    ‘Cause nothin’ was bloomin’ but sorrow
    And the harvest time nearer each day
    No one spoke much of tomorrow
    Nobody knew just what to say

    Now it’s ten years I’m workin’ for wages 
    Woulda killed Daddy, livin’ this way
    Buildin’ other men’s dreams in the city
    Gettin’ nothin’ but greenbacks for pay
    And the folks here get stacked up like cord-wood
    For feedin’ that fast, hungry flame
    That burns day and night in this hard land
    That don’t come alive in the rain

    Daddy, sometimes it feels like I’m dreamin’
    I could never have left that old farm
    Close my eyes and I still hear larks singin’
    And smell the new hay in the barn

    But that was one mighty poor summer…

    Discography

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  • Helen’s Eyes

    ©Andy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Andy: On my desk sits a favorite photograph taken and sent to me by a favorite person.

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    Lyrics

    Helen’s Eyes
    ©Andy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Every day I see myself through Helen’s eyes
    Standing in a photograph by the meadow side
    The river of life goes flowing by, there’s an eagle nest up the hill
    There’s ancient wisdom in the air, a cup is being filled

    And I smile as I see myself through Helen’s eyes

    Every day I see my world through Helen’s eyes
    And every day I look up in wonder and surprise
    As I see the beginning of the life that I now live
    The loosing and the winning, the take and the give

    And I smile as I see myself through Helen’s eyes

    Every day I see myself through Helen’s eyes
    And every day I give thanks for the earth and for the skies
    For the people and for the mystery, for the work and for the rest
    For the love and the shared history, for the chance to do our best

    And I smile as I see myself through Helen’s eyes

    Every day I see myself through Helen’s eyes
    Standing in a photograph by the meadow side
    The river of life goes flowing by, there’s an eagle nest up the hill
    There’s ancient wisdom in the air, a cup is being filled

    And I smile as I see myself through Helen’s eyes
    I smile as I see myself through Helen’s eyes

    Discography

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  • Tending the Flame

    ©Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Andy: You can treat real issues in a very direct way in a country song. – Duet with Brittany Allyn.

    Lauren: (Coming soon)

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     Lyrics

    Tending the Flame
    ©Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May (Swift River Music/BMI)

    There’s no denying our love is dying
    Heaven knows, it’s a crying shame
    We believed in forever, planned to reach it together
    But no one’s been Tending the Flame

    We’ve been so busy working and hiding the hurting
    Constantly skirting the pain
    This chill that we’re feeling is just our hearts revealing
    That no one’s been Tending the Flame

    Bridge:
    We thought it would burn on and on
    Now all but an ember is gone

    Darlin’, we can revive it, somehow we’ll survive this
    We’ve been too long divided, it’s plain
    Let’s rekindle the magic, toss out the tragic
    And take time for Tending the Flame

    Let’s light the matches, sweep off the ashes
    And take time for Tending the Flame

    Discography

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  • The Woman in the Wings

    ©Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May, James Heffernan (Swift River Music/BMI)

    Behind the Song

    Andy: Many folks ask me if this song is about my mom. As I started to write it, I surely was inspired by her example. Then, Lauren LeCroy May added her wise touch to the lyric, and Jim Heffernan brought some good insight, as well. When the song was complete, I felt like we had created something that not only honored my mom but also made a statement about all people who encourage good things in the lives of those around them. Their encouragement lives on long after it is given.

    We were writing songs for a lot of  different artists that I was producing when we moved to the Nashville area in 1996. The great American songwriter, Tom Paxton, had advised us to, “keep writing for the family,” when we got to Music City. We always try to follow that advice.

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    Credits:

    Andy May: Vocal and Guitar

    Lyrics

    The Woman in the Wings
    ©1999 Andy May, Lauren LeCroy May, Jim Heffernan

    He was such a quiet kid, shy as anything
    When he was all by himself, he sure loved to sing
    She was amazed he signed up for the third grade talent show
    But when the big day finally came, he was afraid to go

    She whispered, “You can do it,” as she knelt backstage by his side
    “Your gift is like a candle, Son, it’s time to let it shine”
    Something in her words and the way that they were said
    Caused a shy boy’s fear to disappear, and made him brave instead
    He walked out on the stage and it was such a simple thing
    To throw his head back and just sing for The Woman in the Wings
    The Woman in the Wings

    Even after he was grown, she’d come to hear him sing
    He was reaching for his dream while she watched him from the wings
    She saw him through thick and thin, praying he’d succeed
    But when the world came to his door, she wasn’t there to see

    It was all within his grasp , but his courage seemed to fade
    The applause could never warm him like the smile upon her face
    Then one night in the spotlight, he saw an angel by his side
    She said, “Your gift is like a candle, Son, don’t forget to let it shine”

    Something in her words and the way that they were said
    Gave a broken man the strength to stand, and live his life instead
    Though you may never see her, to him she’s not a dream
    She stands beside him and he sings for The Woman in the Wings
    The Woman in the Wings
    The Woman in the Wings
    For The Woman in the Wings

    Discography

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