Tuesday, May 7, 2013

More Lyrical Phrases by Andy Scheer

If you want to write powerfully but don't feel up to poetry, draw your inspiration from some well-crafted lyrics.

Last week I wrote how the opening line of W. C. Handy's “St. Louis Blues” made me wish that more writers would craft evocative phrases. But such figures of speech aren't limited to those who sing the blues. Even cowboys can be powerful wordsmiths.

A few years back I heard a concert by music historians Mark Gardner and Rex Rideout of songs that genuine cowboys would have sung in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Among the most memorable was a 1911 song by James Grafton Rogers called “The Santa Fe Trail.”


The singer is searching for a girl he glimpsed on a wagon train. Specifically:

A tow-headed gal on a pony,

A-janglin' for old Santa Fe.



Need more specifics?

I seen her ride down the arroyos,

Way back in the Arkansas sand,
With a smile like an acre of sunflowers ...
And how she did ride:

She straddled the pinto so airy,
And rode like she carried the mail ...
And those eyes:

And her eyes near set fire to the prairie,
'Long side of the Santa Fe Trail.

I hope he found her. But I wish he had written more.