So, folksy singer/songwriter songs are not generally what get posted up here, but I wanted to share this one. It's not a "worship" tune, but it was God speaking to and through me in a real situation...

 I've been writing a song a week as a part of a challenge, and will have completed 52 songs by year's end... This was song number nine for the year. The challenge phrase that I was given to base the song around was "Cardboard Sign..." So I pulled from experience. Let me know what you think!

Man With a Cardboard Sign

https://soundcloud.com/scott-ivey-2/man-with-a-cardboard-sign

I pass him nearly everyday
When merging towards the interstate
But never have I had more than a glance

I’ve got places that I need to be
And I don’t even have time for me
Let alone someone looking for a chance

He probably just wants to ease his pain
While sitting out there in the rain
By drowning out his sorrows all alone

Or maybe he doesn’t like to work
And he sits there on the curb
Collecting what he can before heading home

Whatever this man’s story could be
It has nothing to do with me
So I looked at him and gave a friendly grin

But tears began to fill my eyes
When I read his torn up cardboard sign
That said “Jesus loves you, so let him in”

God began to speak clearly
Saying “do this for him, and you’ve done it for me…
For he’s my child just as much as you”

So I put the car in park and got out some change
Rolled the window down despite the rain
And reached my hand out to give him just a few

He took the money in his fist
And he said “you may not know this,
But I pray for you as you drive by each day”

I smiled and told him that meant a lot
And that this money was all I got
But we’ll do this again tomorrow, what do you say?

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Scott this is a very real song. So good.

So thank you for prefacing this with "not a worship song."  Saves me having to explain all that :-) ...and I can move on to reviewing it as a performance song.

I like that you vary the melody (and to some degree the chords) and it's not just ten verses to the same tune.  I didn't feel bored, musically, with it by the time it got to the end.  You told a story without getting off onto a lot of tangents, and after a single listen, I knew what the story was, what the song was about.  Hooray!

A few nitpicks, just because I always have to find a few nitpicks:

The first part of the story is in present tense, like it's happening "right now as I'm singing it," but then as we move on through, it shifts to past tense (along about "So I put the car in park..") and I'd like it to be consistent.  You could continue in present tense - "get out some change" / "roll down the window" / "reach out my hand" etc. or you could go back to the top and put that in past tense; I think it would be effective to make it all present tense, "I smile and tell him that means a lot, right now this money's all I've got..."

Slowing down on the "Jesus loves you..." line struck me as a little hokey.  It might work better to do a ritard on the "he's my child" line than on the "Jesus loves you..." line, the "he's my child..." line is the one where the singer stops and thinks and the story turns a corner.

At the end of the song, it just felt like I wanted something from earlier in the song to come around again.  Maybe a variation on that "whatever this man's story..." verse, but altered to show what the singer has learned... "now I know what it means to me", again to emphasize that the singer is changed.

All of which is, as I said, pretty nitpicky.  It's a well written song as is, these were just things that, if I was writing this one myself, I'd be thinking about.

Beautiful song!! I like the way the story is visualized. Very well done.

Thank you!



Des Sharp said:

Scott this is a very real song. So good.

Charles...

Man, I really appreciate the time you took for the critique. I agree with some of it. The tenses (present and past) were intentional though. The song was intended to be as if I were telling a story to someone. If I were with someone, I would say "so, I pass this guy everyday when driving towards the interstate...." I would then go on to tell them about what happened one of those times. That's all it is.

I agree with the hokey(ness) of the pause in the song though. I had just written it 15 minutes earlier, and recorded it as a one-off on my iPhone... Were I to take this to a studio, it would get a good polishing in those areas.

I don't know... It's just a matter of opinion I guess, but I wanted this song to lack closure. I think it creates some intended tension when the person listening has to figure out what happened, and can even imagine for themselves a relationship between the characters as "life" goes on. I felt it was a good way to end the song, but I'm weird that way.

Again, I really appreciate your comments sir! You know what you're talking about :).

Scott

Charles Wolff said:

So thank you for prefacing this with "not a worship song."  Saves me having to explain all that :-) ...and I can move on to reviewing it as a performance song.

I like that you vary the melody (and to some degree the chords) and it's not just ten verses to the same tune.  I didn't feel bored, musically, with it by the time it got to the end.  You told a story without getting off onto a lot of tangents, and after a single listen, I knew what the story was, what the song was about.  Hooray!

A few nitpicks, just because I always have to find a few nitpicks:

The first part of the story is in present tense, like it's happening "right now as I'm singing it," but then as we move on through, it shifts to past tense (along about "So I put the car in park..") and I'd like it to be consistent.  You could continue in present tense - "get out some change" / "roll down the window" / "reach out my hand" etc. or you could go back to the top and put that in past tense; I think it would be effective to make it all present tense, "I smile and tell him that means a lot, right now this money's all I've got..."

Slowing down on the "Jesus loves you..." line struck me as a little hokey.  It might work better to do a ritard on the "he's my child" line than on the "Jesus loves you..." line, the "he's my child..." line is the one where the singer stops and thinks and the story turns a corner.

At the end of the song, it just felt like I wanted something from earlier in the song to come around again.  Maybe a variation on that "whatever this man's story..." verse, but altered to show what the singer has learned... "now I know what it means to me", again to emphasize that the singer is changed.

All of which is, as I said, pretty nitpicky.  It's a well written song as is, these were just things that, if I was writing this one myself, I'd be thinking about.


Thank you sir!


Edwin Hoogwerf said:

Beautiful song!! I like the way the story is visualized. Very well done.

Very nice, has definite shades of Big Tent Revival :) 

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