Keith Sanford logo

SanfordSpace.com

Music by

Keith Sanford

logo

Original music by Keith Sanford: Songs with lyrics that have weight


Hope and Tears

A song about the Trail of Tears in the winter of 1838


Lyrics

X

Hope and Tears

by Keith Sanford

On the trail I hear them weeping.
On the frozen ground they sleep.
From the stockades to Oklahoma,
Wind is cold and snow is deep.

But, I hope in a song to be sung like a savior that says:
When the shadows fall, a light shines out a call
for compassion and sorrow.
Maybe we can be the people with hope for tomorrow.

Heavy bags upon her shoulders.
There're no shoes upon her feet.
There is a baby dying in her arms.
Nothing more for them to eat.

But, I hope in a song to be sung like a savior that says:
When the shadows fall, a light shines out a call
for compassion and sorrow.
Maybe we can be the people with hope for tomorrow.

Like a glimmer in the darkness,
Like a whisper in the night,
It's not too late to hear the calling,
Not too late to make it right.

And, I hope in a song to be sung like a savior that says:
When the shadows fall, a light shines out a call
for compassion and sorrow.
Maybe we can be the people with hope for tomorrow.

The people of the Cherokee Nation made many concessions to keep peace with the United States, and they were viewed as one of the Five Civilized Tribes. But, a previous treaty had placed them on land in present day Georgia that turned out to be valuable farmland. So, the old treaty was nullified, and the Cherokee were moved to detention camps and then forced to march to Oklahoma. Due to harsh conditions, several thousand people died along the way.


Stories

A song celebrating human diversity


Lyrics

X

Stories

by Keith Sanford

I want to hear the heartbeat pushing life into the earth
I want to see the prism that gives all people worth
A chance to taste the bread and eat another meal
With people who are talking and sharing something real

I want to know the stories that lay behind the eyes
of people everywhere that share the earth and skies

I heard about a teacher who descended from the steep
And looked upon a city and then began to weep
For those who do not know the things that make for peace
Could bring a sad destruction if hate will never cease

I want to know the stories that lay behind the eyes
of people everywhere that share the earth and skies

I want to find a table and a place for drink and bread
With people telling stories, I want to hear what’s said
And then, I want to know, I want to understand
So many types of people with many different hands

I want to know the stories that lay behind the eyes
of people everywhere that share the earth and skies

In the news and in events throughout history, there are many situations where one group of people acts with prejudice against another group. It appears that it is natural for people to be drawn toward ways of thinking that affirm their own superiority and that cast judgment on others who seem different. This raises a question. How can we better embrace human diversity, and can we do this in a way that is positive, and not merely casting judgment on others for being judgmental? Maybe, we can do this, in part, by drawing from a wonderful human capability. That is, we have the capability to learn about other people and to understand their stories, their experiences, and the reasons why they do what they do.


We Bought It

A song about the history of the Panama Canal


Lyrics

X

We Bought It

by Keith Sanford

Traveling down from Panama to a giant ditch
A man fell into robbers, who just wanted to get rich
They stripped his flag and beat him,
  and left him there for dead
And from the north a priest looked down
  and this is what he said

We bought it and we built it. Now it belongs to us
With power to proclaim now what is just

Then there was malaria all across the land
As steam from iron shovels, pounding,
  building something grand
This ditch is something “bully,” we will not give away
When riots flare in Panama, now hear just what we say

We bought it and we built it. Now it belongs to us
With power to proclaim now what is just

Some may want to justify, and they want to know
Who is my battered neighbor, and just how much do I owe?
So cross the road and travel, down on the other side
To keep the voices far away, and muffle what they cry

We bought it and we built it. Now it belongs to us
With power to proclaim now what is just

When talking about the Panama Canal, a famous politician said many years ago: “We bought it, we paid for it, we built it, and we intend to keep it.” Because this statement is packed with poetic punch, and because it seems to epitomize a kind of sanctimonious, self-serving claim about what defines fairness and justice, I decided that it needed to be used in a song. So, I wrote this song about the history of the Panama Canal.



Who Will Weep?

A lament for refugees aboard the St. Louis fleeing Germany in 1939


Lyrics

X

Who Will Weep?

by Keith Sanford

Beyond a night of broken glass
The ship, St. Louis, sought to pass
A cargo fleeing certain doom
Nine-hundred souls, there is no room

Now children beg in a market place
They sing a dirge,
and who will weep for grace

A quota-system law that stands
It keeps the strangers off the land
The captain pleaded, night and day
Still the cursed ship was turned away

Now children beg in a market place
They sing a dirge,
and who will weep for grace

Now, hear the sounds of refugees
Their songs upon the waves at sea
Just like the little children cry
To market crowds with no reply

Now children beg in a market place
They sing a dirge,
and who will weep for grace

In 1939, the ocean liner St. Louis sailed a few miles off the coast of Florida with more than 900 Jewish refugees on board fleeing from Germany. Due to a recently enacted quota system, the United states strictly limited the number of refugees it would accept, and eventually, the ship was forced to return to Europe. Many passengers later perished in the Holocaust. (“We sang a dirge and you did not weep.”)



Can't be Named

A song inspired by 1962 Supreme Court ruling about prayers in schools


Lyrics

X

Can't be Named

by Keith Sanford

For moral and for spiritual, for training in the schools
The New York Board of Regents, they had set of rules
Take an idol for a god, and put it in a prayer
And give it to the children, for blessing everywhere

But, something wonderful is dancing just like a flame.
It can’t be owned or fully known. It can’t be named.

Some want an inquisition, and others want to shun
Some claim a special knowledge, to be the only one
They can excommunicate, and with a simple note
They claim a mighty power, for naming sheep and goats

But, something wonderful is dancing just like a flame.
It can’t be owned or fully known. It can’t be named.

I heard about a still small voice that whispered in the wind
Then I thought of galaxies that seemed to have no end
Splendor I could not explain, I heard it in a song
And always I remember, I’m always partly wrong

And, something wonderful is dancing just like a flame.
It can’t be owned or fully known. It can’t be named.

In the early Fifties, the New York Board of Regents issued a statement on “Moral and Spiritual Training in the Schools,” and they composed a short prayer for children to recite at the beginning of each school day. Within religious communities, some may have thought the regents acted with divine authority, correctly discerning the ways in which children should pray. Others may have viewed the prescribed prayer as a biased and authoritative claim to truth that ignored the beauty, diversity, and mystery of religious experience. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of this prayer in the public-school system was unconstitutional, and subsequently, there have been many decades of political debate regarding prayers in schools. This song is one that I wrote drawing several images from this story.



Kaleidoscope

A song about and finding things that are beautiful


Lyrics

X

Kaleidoscope

by Keith Sanford

Forests and rivers, glaciers and oceans
Particles and neurons, human emotion
Swirls a kaleidoscope of beauty so wide
Sometimes I pause and tremble inside
May I understand what I clasp in my hand
A planet in need with people who bleed
Flowers today could wither away
Now I am living, so I will pray

All of my senses, all my emotion
May they bring me closer, put me in motion
To a kaleidoscope of beauty so wide
Sometimes I pause and tremble inside
May I feel the joy, may I hope may I grieve
Give me compassion, let me believe
Even my sadness, anger and fear
Drawing me closer, drawing me near

Sometimes a fire, sometimes a light
Sometimes living water, like stars in the night
Swirls a kaleidoscope of all that’s inside me
Feelings that swell like waves on the sea
May my arms embrace, may I feel in my face
Laughter and tears and a love that is near
Beauty so vast and beauty so wide
Sometimes I pause and tremble inside

One of my favorite questions to ponder is how we determine when things are good or beautiful. Is something beautiful merely because people think it is so? If this is the case, then any act of hate or violence would have the potential to be labeled “beautiful” if people perceive it that way. Surely, this would make the world seem cruel and cold (and maybe it is). Or, maybe, just maybe, there is another type of beauty, something that would be good and beautiful regardless of what humans say or think. This is a type of beauty that cannot be defined using scientific method, although it is often revealed in scientific discovery. It is a type of beauty that we can seek and perceive, but that will not disappear or change even if we fail to notice it or fail to understand it.



Visit the Facebook page.
Leave a comment.