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3. We were lions

Track 3, "We were lions" [listen here], is the title track with the mention of a “journeyman” in the bridge. On most of my albums, I have placed the title track third in the order, and this one fit right in that pattern.

When I kissed you in my mind, it never felt right…

The song was written with a simple fingerpicking pattern that repeats throughout, except for the bridge. The arrangement, by producer Michael Mood who also plays keyboards, fills out the song nicely without overpowering or crowding out the lyrics.

Album cover

What is this song about? It’s difficult to explain. I have taken the other perspective in these lyrics: the “you” being addressed is myself. A companion piece to “Still on the road,” “We were lions” summarizes a relationship that took a sharp turn and needed time and space in order to heal.

No, not quite…

I pay tribute to a couple of my favorite songs here: “Lion Song” by Harrod & Funck and “New Thing Now” by Shawn Colvin. The image of two lions who might normally battle as enemies, finding peace in each other's arms, was so beautiful to me and I love Harrod & Funck's harmonies and guitar interplay. Shawn Colvin's tag of "not quite" at the end of a phrase was a device I just had to try out for myself.

Tuning: DGCFAD, Key of D, with a heap of bm/G.

Keith Hampton: voice, guitar
Michael Mood: keyboards
Todd Thompson: percussion

(c) 2014 Keith Hampton/BMI

WE WERE LIONS   iTunes   Amazon   Spotify   Download from the artist 

i was only one of the many
to have captured your heart
and i was only ever half as ready
to step into that vacant role
and play my part

oh the one you had in mind
so many boundaries ill-defined
and when i kissed you in my mind
it never felt right
no no not quite

long long ago when we were lions
we let our love flow and it roared
now we only growl and spar and snivel
and we scratch each other's aching backs
we're drawing blood more and more

and we are waging senseless wars
we are grasping so unsure
and the dreams come premature
they're never on time

now who will be my Journeyman?
who's gonna understand
what really matters?
i saw you as a best friend
but you wanted something else
now will we shine
or will we shatter?

maybe when i'm back on my feet
i'll be able to bear keeping in touch
these days i'm a soldier in retreat
and i thank God you didn't stay any longer
glad you didn't love me that much

to hang your heart out on this ledge
to hold the heat of all my judgements
'cause when we hurt it makes no sense
it can't be right
no no not quite