The Path You Chose – A Song by Tony Burt

tony burtThere’s a bit of a story about this song as it resulted from a songwriting technique I learned from Christine Collister in 2013 at Moniack Mhor near Loch Ness.

I was attending my first ever songwriting workshop and Steve Tilston and Christine were our guides. Steve concentrated on the musical side of things and Christine provided lots of ideas and resources for generating lyrics and ideas for songs.

One of the things she fed us was the idea that the most mysterious and poetic of lyrics come from the sub-conscious mind and that it can be helpful to push the conscious mind out of the way so the sub-conscious can work uninhibited.

(This book by Natalie Goldberg will reveal much more on this.)

One exercise involved taking a simple statement – “I see” or “we feel” or in the case of this song “I didn’t hear”. You then write continuously for exactly ten minutes as fast as you can. You start with the chosen phrase (“I didn’t hear”) and scribble down whatever comes into your head. When you dry up you just go back to the phrase and start again.

At the end of 10 minutes you will end up with about 4 sides of A5 notes containing a fair bit of nonsense but spattered here and there some great ideas and images. You then lift out the gems, tweak them a bit and put them into some kind of order. Of course some conscious composition takes place too at this stage but the sparks of creativity and uniqueness largely come from the stream of consciousness writing.

So what is this song about? Is it about anything or it just random words? To me it’s quite a mixture. There are some ideas that I can easily link to real concerns I know I had at the time. Verse 3 for example reflects my ongoing fear that we will keep expanding our activity on this planet till we burst. Other parts are more personal and I can see where they came from even though they surprised me.

It is probably worth mentioning that although the initial scribble took place in 2013 it just lay neglected in my notebook until late 2014 when I turned it into the this song. This recording was done by Woody at the Old Smithy Studio in Kempsey in early 2015. My wife describes it as one of my “angry old man” songs!

Anyway, here it is:

The Path You Chose by Tony Burt  
©Copyright Tony Burt 2013-2017 All Rights Reserved

I didn’t hear my name, on the lips of those around me
I didn’t hear you calling, though I knew that you were there
I don’t know if you tried, but you really could have found me
I made myself available, hoping that you’d care

The hardened surface of conceit, the pride and the deception
The taunting voice with haunting breath that fails to dominate
It separates our thinking from the joys of introspection
And masks our truest feelings from the rabble at the gate

I didn’t hear instructions, commandments or solutions
Complexities of living within a finite shell
Quenching our obsession with infinite expansion
Growing and exploding, till there’s nothing left to sell

I didn’t hear my own voice, in the groaning or the weeping
The silence just gets louder, the longer that it lasts
No congratulation, it wouldn’t be in keeping
It wanes as we lose patience, rose tinted in the past

I didn’t hear you say goodbye although the room was empty
I didn’t hear you close the door or step outside the gate
I didn’t hear a second chance, I wasn’t really listening
I didn’t hear you sliding down the path you chose to take

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