• Dave Monterey

Exploring Male-Female Borders in Song Expressions

Songwriting is a very personal art. It causes the writer to pull from experience and to view the world through a unique lens. The songwriters of Heartwood Crossing are fortunate to be able to weave their individual works together in performance. That both male and female writers are engaged in this group offers a beautiful diversity of song expressions to listeners.


It's the dual hemisphere of female and male thinking and feeling, and other aspects, that contributes to such a rich tapestry of repertoire with this band.


If there are, in fact, differences in the ways men and women tend to be gender representative in their songwriting - it would be interesting to take a brief look at some trends. It wasn't James Taylor but rather Carole King who wrote "You've Got a Friend," and the female writer paints a gentle portrait, a soft edge of compassion.


In a similar vein, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" offers poignant lament for a missed, much deeper connection with another:

The scars of your love

They leave me breathless

I can't help feeling

We could have had it all

Rolling in the deep

You had my heart inside your hand

And you played it, you played it,

You played it to the beat

(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)


Floral notes of other, more tart lyric varietal are surely found in songs from women songwriters - yet for this simplified review, suffice to say that the female heart in song is often portrayed as open and receptive.


For a moment, consider contrarily the headspace that delivered Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," conjuring up a nomad's venture out on a limitless highway. In the arena of love and love songs it is not unusual for the male to take little responsibility for love's end story. For example, "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak plays the 'solitary man' card one more time:

What a wicked game you played

To make me feel this way

What a wicked thing to do

To let me dream of you

And I don't want to fall in love

(This girl is gonna break your heart)

With you

Nobody loves no one


Yes, there are examples of soft sensitives in male writing, but I submit there are many more of the rugged, independent variety. A predilection for the solo gambit.


I employ these brief examples as preface to compare notes about some beautifully different lyrical compositions form Heartwood Crossing's talented songwriting crew.


Coming at last to on-deck production for HWC performance is Tim's "Borderline." His lyric somehow evinces a bit of an endless western horizon:

I don't lay claim, got no intention

Won't be long 'till I'm leaving it all behind

I might steal some of your redemption

But when day is done this coat I wear is mine

I'm gonna ride to the end of the line

Just another running man, running out of time

There's no reason I can find

Blind, I'm drawn to the borderline


The subtle magic of Tim's songwriting here shines a light on resolute independence and pragmatism - confessions of a man's soul.


Then, by contrast, Emily's new tune "Second Chance" captures a very different orientation than Tim's writing. She relates the quest for a magnetic 'pulling together:'

Counting hours, holding on

Heads in the clouds, clear thoughts gone

When lightning strikes the same place twice

Turns worlds from fire to ice

Head over heels this avalanche, offerin' up an olive branch

When love at first sight gets a second chance

A second chance that comes along, a second chance to right old wrongs

From burning hot passing flames that treated love as a game -

When love at first sight gets a second chance


Emily's intimate poetry suggests a peace offering to a binding hope, in spite of what may be unknown in the present - an aperitif, perhaps, from the feminine chalice.


Building upon all of this, what symbolism might lay in the choice of a band name such as Heartwood Crossing? Surely, the answer to this question must include the bridging of themes borne of both male and female hearts.


Songwriting clearly pulls on perspectives from deep within us. In this regard, I'm reminded of the deep red color at the core of a mature coast redwood. And I find resolution in believing that where HWC can inspire a listener's understanding of what it feels and means to be human, then we succeed in our desire to make a spiral stairway.


Thanks for listening!

Dave Monterey

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