Sandy Blakeley’s “Worried Man”

Eric sent in this video of Sandy Blakeley performing his song Worried Man at the September TSA meeting. Sandy wrote this song when he was a member of Sea Elephants in the 80s and early 90s.

He says, “I do like to play this one still. Not quite sure why, but it seems to resonate with me.  It is about somebody who makes it back home during an intense storm and has no choice but to sit there and watch it. At the same time he worries about someone he is waiting for who is supposed to already have arrived. He wants to go back out to look for them but instead has to sit and reflect on what is going on.”

Paul Tarvydas — Haunt Me in the Night

Paul Tarvydas, TSA member, is currently participating in Pat Pattison’s online songwriting course. Paul recently published this fascinating account of a previous Pat Pattison experience on his own blog,
There was a question about “perspective”.  I have direct experience with this subject — I presented one of my songs in a Pattison seminar and it sent him off on long lecture about perspective (he left me on stage during the lecture and kept gesturing at me).

I’ve included the before-and-after lyric, below.  Pat only saw the “before”.

From the perspective of perspective, one can see that the old lyric wanders all over the place. Verse one is framed as “we / us / ours”.  The singer and everyone listening is included.

The chorus is framed as “you”.  The singer has switched perspective and is pointing fingers at the listeners.

Verse three is framed in the “I” perspective – the singer is talking about himself.

Verse four goes back to the “us” perspective.

That was what Pattison refers to as Swampy — the creature who emerges from the lagoon and throws up a bunch of disconnected ideas onto the beach.  It looks like the Professor didn’t show up that day…

Haunt You in the Night (old)

There was this girl in Viet Nam
We snapped her picture as she ran
She was running from her home
It was burning with napalm
She told us that this war
Was ours to lose

How do you sleep
Knowing that it’s real?
Close both your eyes
Keep watching all those lies
Don’t you think that
They’ll come back and
Haunt you in the the night?

Don’t you think that
They’ll haunt you in the night?

I listen daily to the news
I know they want to change my views.
I see heartache and pain —
They tell me “it’s OK”
But something in me tells me
That we’re damned


Go back to sleep, and dream
Go back to sleep, don’t hear the screams

There was this guy in Abu Ghraib
Hooded, wired, ready for his grave
He stood up on a box
He told us that we’d lost
He told us that our morals
Have gone astray

Amazingly, I left the lecture and didn’t throw the song out.

I sat down and tried to adopt a single perspective throughout the whole song. It was incredibly difficulty!  Try it — see if you can rewrite the above lines to all have a “you” perspective…

I finally stumbled onto something that snapped the intent of the song into focus — the “I” perspective (the “royal I”?). I rewrote the lyric as if I was the main participant and I’m describing what I lived through to the listener. In reality, listeners don’t care about me (the songwriter / singer) — they only care about themselves and how they feel. Which makes the “I” perspective even more powerful here — the listener pins all of this on him/herself.  There’s a sense of immediacy.

Haunt Me in the Night

There was this girl in Viet Nam
I snapped her picture as she ran
She was running from her home
It was burning with napalm
She told me
This war was mine to lose

I listen daily to the news
I know they want to shape my views
I see heartache and pain
They tell me it’s OK
Now I know
That peace is war these days

How can I sleep
Knowing this is real?
Close both my eyes
I keep seeing through the lies
And I know those dreams
They’ll haunt me
In the night
I know those dreams
They’ll haunt me
In the night

I go back to sleep and I dream
I go back to sleep so I won’t hear them scream

There was this guy in Abu Ghraib
He was hooded, he was wired, he was ready for his grave
He stood up on a box
He told me that I’d lost
He’s coming back to be my ghost some day

It’s an interesting illustration of how revisiting and changing the perspective of a song can raise it to a different level. I’m going to use this technique again.

Robin Peacocke —TSA Featured Songwriter

Robin Peacocke

Robin Peacocke

Robin Peacocke, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, has been bringing her songs to Toronto Songwriters Association meetings since 2007.

Robin first came into contact with the TSA through fellow songwriter and TSA member Carmen Schreyer. “I work with Carmen and we discovered one day that we had a mutual interest in music and songwriting. I went with her to the TSA Christmas party in 2007. I’ve been a part of the group ever since.”

Robin released her folk-pop flavoured debut CD, Free to Fly, in May, 2010. Recorded at Hannah Road Studios and produced by Mike Elmer, a TSA member himself, the CD is available at CD Baby, iTunes, SoundCloud, and

Robin’s interest in music and songwriting began in her early teens, when she taught herself to play guitar “by listening to John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.” Later on she joined a community music group and started performing at local events. “It was around that time that I wrote my first song,” she recalls. “It was about my father, who passed away when I was fifteen. I needed to get some feelings out. I had been listening to a lot of country music at that time, and the story-telling aspect of country music is partly what inspired me to start writing.”

Robin Peacocke Wildwood Flowers

Wildwood Flowers

In the early 90s, Robin got together with a songwriter friend and formed the duo Wildwood Flowers. “I started writing more at that time in order to add my original songs to our shows, and I guess that’s when I truly started feeling like a songwriter.”

Since coming into contact with the TSA, Robin’s songwriting has been evolving from a mainly instinctive approach towards a more conscious practice of her craft. “I’ve learned a lot about songwriting by attending TSA meetings, both from comments on my songs and from listening to other people’s songs and critiques. Now when I write, I try to keep in mind the suggestions I’ve been given and I analyze more as I go along.”

Robin Peacocke

Robin Peacocke at The Only Café, Nov. 24, 2012

She explains that a challenge for her now is to integrate this new, conscious approach without losing the spontaneous, joyful side of songwriting. “I have trouble with lyrics, especially now that I’m thinking more about the craft instead of just being happy to have strung some words together that rhyme.”

Robin Peacocke CBC

Visit Robin at CBC Music!

Another change for Robin is that song ideas are now coming from different sources. She says that her method used to be “to noodle around on the guitar until I found a chord progression or rhythm that appealed to me, and the feel of the music would direct where the song went lyrically.” Nowadays she finds herself getting song ideas from reading a line in a book or overhearing a comment, which then “percolate in my subconcious, and eventually when I have enough of an idea to work with, I’ll sit down with my guitar or the piano and see what I can come up with.”

For a taste of what Robin has been coming up with so far, enjoy listening to these songs from her debut CD Free to Fly.