Lyrics for other Composers, Songwriting, Writing, Writing Process
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Dear Lord (Happy Birthday, John Coltrane)

imageI arrived back from Italy on Monday night; I was totally exhausted, and literally bruised, from traveling back with luggage that was far heavier than what I had brought with me. Yes, I was unwise and brought back groceries for my daughter that turned out to be very heavy. I am not sorry I packed them, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken a taxi to the train instead of pulling my bags from San Lorenzo to Termini. I tell this part of the story to set the stage for the wonderful piece of music that was waiting for me in an instant message.

You see, when I arrived home I felt totally numb creatively, but then I turned my telephone back on and John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” was waiting for me. A jazz friend “across the pond” sent it to me while I was traveling and my phone was in airplane mode.

I listened and immediately in my mind I heard the opening line in words–always a wonderful surprise. I wrote them down. I felt my energy return and a flood of emotion–so grateful for the music that surrounds me now, that keeps my heart light and my life worth living.

I wrote a couple more lines for the following phrases, turned off my phone, and drifted off to sleep. The next day I listened again, pausing after each phrase to wait for the words to come to me, for the prayer/story to unfold. So, by Tuesday evening I had about half of the words and I was already very grateful.

I tried to have it all finished by Friday, the anniversary of Coltrane’s birthday, September 23rd, but the words for the final phrases did not emerge until today, the 24th. I can sing it, but it is not an especially good key for me; I will need to transpose and practice my ass off to get it correct. (His phrasing and timing are so lovely on this song.)


Here are the lyrics and a link to the specific YouTube video I listened to this week.

(I dedicate my words to everyone I love, everyone I want to keep safe, and everyone who has gone on to an adventure where I cannot follow, yet.)

Dear Lord,
Keep him safe from all harm,
bring him back here to my arms.
(Please Lord, keep him safe)

He’s dear to my heart!
And I need him,
oh, you know Lord, that I need him so.

He’s my soul!
And, there has never been another for me; No.
Oh, you know how I much I love him.
(Dear Lord, I’m begging you now please to save him)

What can I do?
How I need him! I need him, I know it’s so true.

He’s the world to me!
And I’m nothing without him but an empty shell.
(Yes, I beg you, Lord)

And if I’m left all on my own now.
(I don’t know what I will do without him in my life; I can’t breathe)

My heart cannot bear it!
(Oh, please Lord, my heart pleads now, am I through? )

I’m so afraid!
There is nothing that I wouldn’t do.
(Yes, it’s true)

I am cryin’ inside, oh, I miss him so
(Is there hope? I don’t know, Lord)

What is left now for me, Lord?
Can I get through tomorrow,
knowing that he will no longer be there?

Please answer my prayer,
I beg you, Lord.
Tell me, what is love? dear Lord.

[Love is all that matters now to me, dear Lord]

copyright 2016, Laurie Early

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