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NORTHWORDS LYRICS

NorthWords
Wild Mountain Music
For several years I was single and playing fiddle for a lot of dances. As a romantic, I felt that since people always seemed to be falling in love to the sweet tunes of the band, surely someone on the dance floor would fall in love with the fiddler of those sweet tunes… Actually, what happened eventually is I sang this on stage in Palmer, Alaska, and Bill Frey heard this song. He felt it was aimed at him and it turns out it was. Written in August, ’84.

Fiddler’s Heartdance
Shonti Elder Copyright 1987

Another night out on the town
Fiddling all the dancers ‘round
Playing music filled with love and charm
Tickle their feet and touch their fancy
Each young Tommy has his Nancy
Loving the other turning on their arms.

Chor: Is there anybody here
           To give my heart a chance?
           I’m playing the music out to you
           Can’t you hear the sound of sweet romance?
           Is there anybody here
           To give my heart a chance?
           Who will make this fiddler’s heart dance?

The waltzes come out sweet and slow
Heart to heart, around they go
Holding to each other so warm
Another reel, they start to bounce
Every single moment counts
The music is their shelter from the storm.

The caller’s kind, she understands,
She says, “Take your choice, or kiss the band!”
She knows how lonely center stage can be.
The crowd goes wild, runs around
Kissing each other, love abounds
They have each other.
What else do they need?

Chorus

The band keeps playing cheerful tunes
The evening will be over soon
The dancers turn around in their embrace
Soon they’ll leave, arm in arm
I’ll pack it in, go home alone
Leaving the dance floor empty with no trace.


This song is based on several true stories. My advice is that if ever a romance gets this painful, RUN don’t walk to a counselor, or just leave. The communication will not improve without outside help. This song is about denial; for the abuser that these actions are their responsibility, and for the victim that the situation will improve.

My Fault
Shonti Elder Copyright 1987


Chor: He said it’s my fault, my fault,
           That he had to get so angry
           My fault, my fault,
           That he hit me when he did
           My fault, my fault, and I just
           Had to learn my lesson
           For making him so angry
           That he had to treat me bad.

I never understood what I did to make him hate me
I never understood how to keep his temper calm
We had such good times in between his anger
Even though the calm was just before another storm.
He hit me on the back so nobody else would see it
He hit me on my head so the bruise would not be seen
One time on the street, he knocked me down and started pounding
And the cars just kept driving by, no one seemed to see

Chorus:

He always said, “I’m sorry, I won’t ever treat you badly
Again, why do you make me blow up this way?”
The quiet times between the storms came fewer in between
The reasons for exploding just made less sense every day.

I don’t know what kept me from telling friends about it
I always hoped that love would find a way to calm him down
I knew my friends would say, “Don’t be a fool, why don’t you leave him?”
And I didn’t know how to explain I needed him around.

Chorus:

I knew I couldn’t raise my children with this man of violence
I knew I loved him underneath but still I couldn’t stay
The hardest thing I did was leave the man I loved behind
But I knew that the cost was worth the price to pay

Chor: ‘Cause it was his fault, his fault
           That he always got so angry
           His fault, his fault,
           That he chose to act that way
           His fault, his fault,
           It was always his decision
           To use his fists instead of words,
           There was nothing I could say
           To use his fists instead of words,
           There was nothing I could say.


Don Stiff was a fine fiddler, a musical delight, and a tall handsome fellow completely unaware of the fact that almost every woman who met him fell in love with him a little. I met Don in the summer of ’84 when Elsa and I were touring Southeast Alaska. One week, the Ketchikan musicians rallied at Diane Langelier’s house for all-night music sessions every other night. Ken, Maggie and Elsa who play on this tune, were all there. Don traded tunes, jokes and pillow fights with us. The next day, he’s work at heavy physical labor commercial fishing, while Elsa and I went to her parents’ home to sleep all day. Will met Don it Petersburg in 1981 and was similarly inspired by his personality and musicianship.

Then, one night about a year after these sessions, Don and his love were vacationing in Hawaii when he was shot and killed. This song celebrates his life, which I’m sure Don would rather be remembered for. Maggie wrote the words, suggesting that I might find a tune for them. This song is for everyone left behind by a friend who dies too soon.

Song for Don
Lyrics by Maggie McQuaid
Music by Shonti Elder Copyright 1987


It was early in the morning when the news came through
I sat there drinking coffee all day long
And as the evening settled, I still thought of you
So I found a pen and I wrote down this song

Chor: I’ll sing it for the life
           That you were living
           I’ll sing it for the love
           That you hoped you’d find
           I’ll sing it for all the gifts you’d given
           I’ll sing it for the friends
           You left behind

I think of all the evenings that we spent with you
In a town and a time that’s now passed by
Of how time and laughter and the music flew
Until the summer sun rose in the sky

Chorus:

I’ll see your face in faces of the friends I love
Your tunes will roll through music that I play
I’ll see your smile shining in the clouds above
And maybe then you won’t seem far away

Chor: And thank you for the life
           That you were living
           Thank you for the joy that
           You helped us find
           Thanks for all the gifts you’d given
           Here’s love from all the friends
           You left behind.

 
Many women grow up expecting to follow a life script of going to school, getting married and having children while pursuing a career. This song came to me on January 26, 1985 on an especially cold and dark night when I was missing the children that I expected to have by then.

Where Are You Children?
Shonti Elder Copyright 1987


Chor: Oh where are you children,
           I’ll hold you so tight
           I’ll dry your tears
           And comfort your fright
           Share in your happiness,
           Laugh with delight
           Oh my children,
           Where are you tonight?

I once loved a man
Who I thought would grow old in my arms
And we’d laugh at the passing of time
We’d raise a few kids,
They’d play music and dance in a circle
And laugh as we traveled in time

Chor:

So often I’d see them, my children
The boy would have colors of gold
In his hair and his eyes
My daughter would be
A dancer with raven hair
Flying in circles as she danced to the sky

Chor:

Well, everything changes,
I still have no children
I left for their sake
From an angry sad home
One time I heard voices from somewhere unknown
Saying, “It’s o.k. mama, we’re still coming home…”

Chor:

I wrote this for Will in July of 1983. He told me his heart had been broken three years ago and he didn’t know if he could open up to trust again. This song is for anyone afraid of trying again. It’s frightening at times, but taking chances are the only path to a new and happier life.

Choose To Win
Shonti Elder Copyright 1987


You tell me your heart was broken
Your love left you out the open door
You’re afraid to trust again
I can match your pain and sorrow
But they’re not in my tomorrow
I’m prepared for good times
That’s what my life is for

Chor: You can choose to lose
           You can choose to win
           You can run away,
           Feel sorry for yourself
           Or reach out and try again
           Why hang on to sorrow,
           How’s your heart gonna ever mend?
           Don’t choose to lose, choose to win!

You say you thought you’d forgotten her
Moved your life on down the road
And then you saw her again
All those feelings came back flying
Opened the wound and left you crying
Heartache and sorrow
Showed up like long-lost friends

Chor:

I believe we all have choices
Love and friendship are the voices
Calling us, along this common trail
Life just wants to see you happy
And the only way you can be
Is trust the gentle harbor
Let’s jump onboard and sail

Chorus (twice)


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Shonti Elder - fiddler, singer, teacher, and recording artist from Wasilla, Alaska

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