2017 SUMMER LYRIC CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Summer 2017 lyric contest
WINNERS
1st Place:  Caterpillar by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, Tx
2nd Place:  Two Choices  by Ross Miller, Newton, MA
3rd Place:  Sunday Town by Martin Robley, Ballarua, Australia

SEMIFINALISTS

Caterpillar by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, Tx
Two Choices  by Ross Miller, Newton, MA
Sunday Town by Martin Robley, Ballarua, Australia
PEACE by Aadi Farook, Pakistan
If I Step onto That Train by Michael RJ Roth, Arlington, VA
Fog of War by Ross Miller, Newton, MA
Sullivan’s Hollow  by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX
My Mirror and I  by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX
My Favorite Old Song by Bill Kapac, Wildwood, NJ

A Single Feather by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX

COMMENTS ON WINNERS by Contest Director Gene  Shillaci
1st Place:  Caterpillar by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, Tx
I never thought I’d be able to see things from a Caterpillar’s point of view but after reading over this lyric a few times, I started to…
Wouldn’t we all like to live “in the moment, free, unbound”?  I believe this song has a lot to say about each of us being a “work in progress”
trying to get a little bit better each day,, which is why I related to this song lyric.  As someone who is occasionally a bit too “tightly wound”, I relate!
Nice work!  I would guess this would be something that children could relate to as well on a more playful level, but with a meaning they can learn from.  

2nd Place:  Two Choices  by Ross Miller, Newton, MA
This is an uplifting lyric, that doesn’t sound preachy or judgmental to me.  I like the message in this one.  It has a couplet in the Chorus that rings very true to me: “It seems to me, you’ve only got two choices, Believe in yourself, or those negative voices”
I like how each verse has something new and different to add to the mix, and the chorus brings it home.  

Two Choices
If you’re tired of livin’, in depression’s black hole
Wrestling shoulds and shouldn’ts, then let ‘em all go
Let go of the lies you were taught as a kid
And forgive yourself for the bad things you did

Chorus:
It seems to me, you’ve only got two choices
Believe in yourself, or those negative voices
You can give up on your life, or give it all you got
I say, what the hell, at least give it a shot

And don’t be afraid, to leave the comforts of home
Think outside the box, and strike out on your own
If you hit a dead end, and you’re feeling broken
Just remember, when one door closes, another will open

So just go with the flow, and know that things take time
Sometimes you gotta wait, for the planets to align
And beware of those choices, that make you feel hollow
If you do what you love, the money will follow

Chorus:
It seems to me, you’ve only got two choices
Believe in yourself, or those negative voices
You can give up on your life, or give it all you got
I say, what the hell, at least give it a shot

Bridge:
Most people finish their lives, beaten and depleted
Life’s not a game, so don’t complain that you’ve been cheated
And blaming the past, is a sad confession
’Cause history repeats, until you learn its lesson

Final Chorus:
It seems to me, you’ve only got two choices
Believe in yourself, or those negative voices
You can give up on your life, or give it all you got
I say, what the hell, at least give it a shot
Yeah, give it a shot.

3rd Place:  Sunday Town by Martin Robley, Ballarua, Australia
I like this one because it just seems to work in every way it needs to.  Each verse has some detail, some specifics.  The “Crow Bar”, The Palace Theatre, Harbor Way all add authenticity to the lyric and keep it from being generic.  Each verse covers different ground as well.  I like the chorus and it seems catchy and well put together.  But I have one question about this song, that I think would be elaborated in a single line of the chorus.  What is a “Sunday Town” and exactly why is this boarded up, past-it’s-prime town a “Sunday Town”? I think one line sorta explaining that would really make this one a gem and make it much more catchy.  

Sunday Town
In days gone by this town was going places
A golden age my old man would say
Bright honkytonks and bars
Dealerships, shining cars
The Palace Theatre lit up Harbor Way

Growing up this town felt like a city
Riding shotgun Dad’s beat up Chevrolet
Too soon the suburbs sprawled
Wal-Mart tore its heart out
And the turnpike took the cars away.

Chorus:
Now it’s a sleepy little Sunday town
Sleepy little Sunday town
Full of souvenirs
Run down five and dimes
Crammed with memories
Of grander times
A sleepy little Sunday
Sleepy little Sunday town

The steel works closed, did no one see it coming?
Twelve thousand jobs, lives poured down the drain
Most left the neighborhood
Got out first chance they could
There’d be no phoenix rising from the flames

Time drags on, these streets once full and busy
Now parking lots, barren strips of grey
I heard ‘The Crow Bar’ closed
Hard times hit my home town
Now it feels like Sunday every day

 

Chorus:
Now it’s a sleepy little Sunday town
Sleepy little Sunday town
Full of souvenirs
Run down five and dimes
Crammed with memories
Of grander times
Full of shattered dreams
Neon vacancy signs
Empty street cafes
No need to stand in line
In a sleepy little Sunday
Sleepy little Sunday town

Bridge:
Now you can park anywhere on Main Street
Cruise the sidewalks lined with broken dreams
Sit back and wait for tumbleweeds
And wonder how it might have been

Chorus:
In this sleepy little Sunday town
Sleepy little Sunday town
Full of souvenirs
Run down five and dimes
Crammed with memories
Of grander times
Full of shattered dreams
Neon vacancy signs
Empty street cafes
No need to stand in line

It’s full of souvenirs
Run down five and dimes
Crammed with memories
Of grander times
Full of shattered dreams
Neon vacancy signs
Empty street cafes
No need to stand in line

Full of souvenirs
Run down five and dimes
Crammed with memories
In this sleepy little Sunday
Sleepy little Sunday town

Honorable Mention — This was a very strong group of song lyrics in this contest, so I want to mention most of the ones that I thought were really good, or had promise.

PEACE by Aadi Farook, Pakistan 
I like the way the verses were laid out in this one, a positive message of unity in a time when we seem as a nation to be very divided.  I like that it is non-political, and every line is well thought out.  I especially liked the lines, “Without unity, there’s no education, without love, there’s no religion”

PEACE
Before we reach a point of no return
We must look at ourselves and learn
It’s so easy to only point fingers
And let chaos continue to linger
It’s at home, charity must begin
The change must come from within
Let your heart be the guiding star
Let life’s journey take you far

Brothers and Sisters, we are one
We are rays of the same sun
All these troubles would cease
If we truly strive for peace

Listen! Don’t ever curse this world
Beware! full of vibes is every word
On the way, light candles of hope
Let all hold onto a single rope
Without unity, there’s no education
Without love, there is no religion
With passion let your spirit ablaze
to rewrite fate on time and space

Brothers and Sisters, we are one
We are rays of the same sun
All these troubles would cease
If we truly strive for peace

Don’t think this is just another song
but an anthem for which we all long
Its not written with ink and pen
But with the blood of many men

Brothers and Sisters, we are one
We are rays of the same sun
All these troubles would cease
If we truly strive for peace!

If I Step onto That Train by Michael RJ Roth, Arlington, VA
What really grabbed me about this song was the first verse, where the writer uses a totally unrelated character to express how he/she feels.  I would substitute “asian” for “oriental” for PC reasons(it’s the Walter Sobchak in me coming out, see the movie “The Big Lebowski” if you have questions).  It also appears to me that the rhyme scheme in verses 1 and 2 are different, and I’m not sure how that translates to the music.  I was also not clear about what happened to the relationship.  Are the two lovers broken up?  How can the singer “find a home with what remains of the love that I believed I had with you” if they are broken up?  Is the singer uncertain of his relationship?  I loved the first verse, but after that I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

If I Step Onto That Train
V1
A cheerless oriental woman steps onto a train
I don’t know where she is going
I don’t know if she is sane
But she acts like she is walking
Through a portal to a time or a dimension
Where they store up all the little things
That I forgot to mention
when we met

Chorus:
And if I step onto that train
Will I become a traveler
Rolling through all time without a clue
Or will I find a home with what remains
Of the love that I believed I had with you
Or wonder if it happened
And if it did
Are you thinking of me too

V2
And suddenly I’m lost without a compass to your heart
Or a magnifying glass to scrutinize
The sighs of discontent
Or unscramble the code of truth and lies
To understand the things you really meant
Or the fabric of the stars that rips apart
With every sunrise since you left

(Chorus)

Fog of War by Ross Miller, Newton, MA

I like this song because it has a good structure to it, seems to be sung from the perspective of those who actually have to fight the wars that politicians pontificate about, and this seems to be heartfelt and not political or grandstanding in any way. 

Fog of War
They said it would last, just a few short weeks
But the weeks, have now become years
And those opening shouts of bravery and hype
Are now just destruction and tears

And the bombs keep bursting all around us
Pushing our backs ‘gainst the wall
This whole thing is senseless. We sit here defenseless
Waiting for the sky to fall

We’re not names, or faces or families
Just bodies, thrown into mass graves
As our lives all shatter, the fat cats grow fatter
‘Cause they treat us, as though we’re slaves

Chorus:
We’re living . . . living in the fog of war
Where you can’t tell right from wrong
Everything looks gray, we’ve all lost our way
Still we long for the day, when the weak become strong
We’ll come out of the ruins, with our heads held high
No longer fearing, to look life in the eye
But for now we’re all living, living in the fog of war

Those damn politicians, never asked our permission
To start this endless war
Now everything’s gone hazy, the whole world’s gone crazy
And nothing makes sense anymore

Chorus:
We’re living . . . living in the fog of war
Where you can’t tell right from wrong
Everything looks gray, we’ve all lost our way
Still we long for the day, when the weak become strong
We’ll come out of the ruins, with our heads held high
No longer fearing, to look life in the eye
But for now we’re all living, living in the fog of war.

Sullivan’s Hollow  by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX
I liked the lyrics in this song enough to include it here, but I was frustrated because I couldn’t really make out what exactly happened.  Kinda like looking down a mountain thru binoculars at two men fighting, but the binoculars aren’t good enough to give you a clear picture of who is winning.  I like the chorus that sums things up very well — there was fear and killing in Mississippi and the crescent of land ten miles square is still healing from it.  But, who is Tom?  Who is Neace?  Was the sheriff killed by Wild Bill or someone else?  I like that the verses each deal with a different aspect of the fight, and that they have some detail to them, but who was on each side and how did it go down?  I like the potential in this one. 

My Mirror and I  by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX
I like this lyric, but it is a little hard to get a handle on it the first time through.  I’d like to know a little more about why the singer thinks “she lies” and why she thinks the singer is a fool?  

My Favorite Old Song by Bill Kapac, Wildwood, NJ 
 A nice song about a song, it is nicely organized so that it moves logically and is understandable.  

MY FAVORITE OLD SONG

V-1 I DON’T KNOW WHO SINGS IT, DOESN’T MATTER NOW
IT FINDS ME WHEN I NEED IT, LIKE MAGIC SOMEHOW
STILL PASSES TOO QUICKLY, LIKE A WARM SUMMER DAY
NO OTHER SONG, MAKES ME FEEL THAT WAY

V-2 THE WORDS TELL A STORY, ABOUT FALLING IN LOVE
SO SWEET THEY ARE, MUST HAVE FELL FROM ABOVE
PRETTY AS A SUNRISE, THE MESSAGE IT SENDS
LIKE A LOVE STORY, THAT NEVER ENDS

CHORUS: MY FAVORITE OLD SONG, I HEAR ALL THE TIME
EVERYBODY LIKES IT, BUT I CONSIDER IT MINE
LIKE A FALLING STAR, IT DOESN’T LAST LONG
EVERY TIME I HEAR IT, IT’S MY FAVORITE OLD SONG

V-3 THE RADIO SINGS IT, STILL SOUNDS THE SAME
AS MUCH AS I LIKE IT, I CAN’T REMEMEMBER THE NAME
SOMETHING ABOUT IT, JUST MAKES ME SMILE
LIKE AN OLD FRIEND, YOU SEE ONCE IN A WHILE

BRIDGE: A REAL GOLDEN OLDIE, SOUND’S BETTER THAN NEW
THE NEXT TIME I HEAR IT, I’LL SHARE IT WITH YOU

CHORUS: MY FAVORITE OLD SONG, I HEAR ALL THE TIME
EVERYBODY LIKES IT, BUT I CONSIDER IT MINE
LIKE A FALLING STAR, IT DOESN’T LAST LONG
EVERY TIME I HEAR IT, IT’S MY FAVORITE OLD SONG

A Single Feather by Alexis Tapp, Wylie, TX
I liked this religious/spiritual song lyric about dying from a unique perspective.