By Kelly Delaney
months ago I was on a writers round at the Broken Spoke, which as
I've mentioned before, is one of Nashvilles premier songwriter
showcase forums (that translates into just about the best place
on the planet to hear songwriters perform their songs).
One of the writers on the round, Zack Van
Arsdale, played a song that absolutely left me in awe "Crazy
Horse. For starters, I particularly enjoy historically-based
songs. Throw in the fact that it is about one of my personal heroes
and you have the reason I was so blown away.
Of course, I instantly asked Zack for a copy of the tune once we
left the stage. Hence the reason it is this issues featured
Creating an historically accurate lyric
is no simple task: it requires doing your homework. Once you've
done that, the real creative work begins boiling down all
that information into a poignant and succinct capsulation which
recounts the story in such a way that its lyrical
emotional impact, combined with melody, contains all the information
that must, by time constraints, be left out.
Volumes have been written about Crazy Horse.
I know because Ive read many of them. He was one of the most
enigmatic and mystical figures in history. So, the problem becomes
one of what to leave out more than what to include.
In this lyric, the writer not only captures the essence or a truly
great man, but he brings us full circle to Crazy Horses legacy.
His spirit lives on in the present-day Lakota Sioux.
Aside from its accuracy, what I really appreciate
in this lyric is its ethical and moral message. Crazy Horse saw
something that was terribly wrong and was willing to die trying
to right it. Isnt that also the message of Christ?
Im not equating the two; Im simply stating that when mortal
men give the sweat of their souls for the Truth, their spirits become
immortal. Just because something is impossible doesnt mean you
dont do it. Surely Crazy Horse realized that.|
story is told in five verses and a short, emphatic chorus placed between
them. The first verse serves as an introduction which leads into the
chorus. It, and the last verse, have an A-A-A-A rhyme pattern. However,
they are not exact rhymes thus avoiding the sing-song, moon-June-tune-croon
syndrome, which can be the proverbial kiss or death to a lyric.
In the middle three verses, the writer tells
the story concisely. Really, I dont think this lyric could be
impacted any more than it is. Arguably one could choose alternate
facts to install in these three verses but a lyricist must go where
the spirit wills. I believe Crazy Horse himself could have written
these words. The lyric is certainly emotionally-charged as evidenced
by a slight digression from history to the present in the third verse.
The last verse fairly
boils with rage for the wrongs that have been delivered upon our Native
American brothers, and while we cant be held accountable for
the sins of our fathers, we do have a moral and spiritual obligation
to see that the residuals of those wrongs are corrected. We cant
change history but we can change the future.
Zack Van Arsdale
Ultimately, this song asks us to walk into the sun of enlightenment,
not out of guilt, but out of compassion. No. Crazy Horse did not die
in vain. He died for us as much as he did for his beloved Lakota people.
|Kelly Delaney is a
native of the "Little Montana" region of Pennsylvania.
His songs have been featured in a dozen films. Presently he records
for Reptile Records, an independent U.S./European label specializing
in eclectic music.