About 6 years ago John Schmitt and I wrote our first song. War Without End. We decided to write that song one evening when our wives and kids were off doing other things. We had no intention of starting a writing session that night. The way it started was our conversation led to talking about John's experience at war. John flew Blackhawk's. There were a couple of terrible incidents that happened. John hadn't shared some of those details before that night. Just kept them to himself. I learned a lot that night. I've always had a giant respect for our veterans. But I never knew how gruesome, or maybe the gruesome side never truly showed itself until I was face to face listening to a soldier describe how one day he spent many hours putting body parts back with their respective torsos. Friends of his. The thoughts in his mind at the time where that was his task at hand. Shit that we don't ever really think about. Who would want to regale such stories. Another incident John covered was the story of him losing a dear and close friend and fellow Blackhawk pilot who was brought down by enemy fire. Ben. Ben was an awesome person, obviously I didn't know him but I do know he was epic, because I know what kind of company John keeps. Ben was married to Maggie, Maggie was also a Blackhawk pilot. Maggie is awesome. She is a true badass woman with a giant heart and very in touch with the human spirit. I'm very thankful I've been able to meet and get to know her over the years.
This particular night John and I were doing our best to fight with a bottle of Bulleit Rye. That seemed to really pave the road for honesty and simply letting it all out...
As far as songwriting goes, for this particular situation, I didn't want to have any rules to go by with the song... lets have x amount of verses, a bridge.... any cliche type of arrangement... we weren't holding our selves to anything. We were letting it all out.
The original version of the song was recorded at the first Listen Local. That was the only time I ever played the song live in front of a crowd. It was just a painful song to sing. Singing that song took me back to where we wrote the song that night. It was a beautifully rough as hell evening. It was a therapy session of sorts for John and a real learning experience for me. I did play the song one other time for Maggie, who is featured in the song as she was married to Ben. I sang it for her at my house. Our families were together at the time and Maggie was in town. I'll never forget that experience. I didn't make it thru the song. I noticed Maggie tear up, that got me. It was tough. It was beautiful in some sort of way to share a. special moment like that. Maggie knew about the song and had seen the original YouTube clip with the song... So after that, I put that song on the shelf and kept it there. Didn't play it. The song was so special though. It really did something only John can truly describe as the man behind the lyric. The life event behind the lyric.
Premise of the song or the message really.. is that the war is never over. A soldier comes back different, PTSD being the most popular partying gift from war as it is so readily available. Dealing with demons of the past with their claws dug into the darkest of moments reminding you its still very much there like a parasite that only clings to a already hurt soul. Shedding light on John's story thru a song (which is really no where near close to a tell all of his experience at war) is one of the, if not the most, powerful music experience I've ever been a part of. There it is. It's archived now. An expression that hopefully others can relate to. Most importantly it is a song that happened to lift a giant weight off of John.
Since WWE was such a tough song to sing I decided to redo the music to deliver the same lyric but have it be more palatable. I now play the song more often at certain times where it fits and feel so much more comfortable with it. It had been 5 years.
Since War Without End we have written 14 other songs, but WWE stands to be a project that really cemented our foundation to what we are now and where we are with Listen Local...everything. Therefore, songwriting is something John and I will always do.
FYI, While They Were Sleeping (my new release) has 12 songs on it, 7 of them I co-wrote with John.
Peace always and thanks for stopping by,