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New tune: "Juan Romero's Blues (Todo Va a Estar Bien)"

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Whipped out the J-35 and came up with a new one. If you're of a certain age, you probably remember the iconic Boris Yaro (LATimes) photo of a mortally wounded Bobby Kennedy, splayed on the floor in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, with a busboy cradling his head. The busboy has a look of shock and disbelief on his face.

The busboy was Juan Romero, 17. Born in Mexico, his family moved to the U.S. when he was 10. By day, he went to high school and at night, he worked at the Ambassador Hotel. He'd met Kennedy the day before, delivering food to his room. He later recalled that while most guests took busboys for granted and rarely engaged them, Kennedy looked at him and spoke to him as though he mattered. As though he was actually human.

The next night, after Kennedy ended his victory speech after winning the California and South Dakota primaries, he was being escorted through the kitchen and saw Romero and stopped to shake his hand. That's when he was shot. Romero would later say he carried around guilt for many years, thinking if Kennedy hadn't stopped to shake his hand, maybe the gunman would've missed. He eventually got over it, but it took years.

Romero left California, got married and raised a family. He worked various blue-collar jobs. Then he moved back to California. He died in 2018.

This is the second of two versions of this song. The other is strummed and perhaps more rhythmic. But I decided to slow it down a bit and play it fingerstyle, The J-35 really lends itself to this arrangement, I think.

 

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Hey, I like the change of style! The mix between the more spoken verses and the sung chorus works great too. I like the effect it creates. There were a couple of instances when I felt the phrasing didn't flow naturally, but it appears as if you are reading your lyrics. So once you get the lyrics remembered, I bet you get those spots sorted out. Great stuff as usual!

Lars

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16 hours ago, Lars68 said:

Hey, I like the change of style! The mix between the more spoken verses and the sung chorus works great too. I like the effect it creates. There were a couple of instances when I felt the phrasing didn't flow naturally, but it appears as if you are reading your lyrics. So once you get the lyrics remembered, I bet you get those spots sorted out. Great stuff as usual!

Lars

 

Thanks. Yeah, I was reading the lyrics. Still learning the song, but I need to edit it first. I want to cut two verses so it is VCVCVVC. I've got the first verse down to four lines, but I'm having difficulty getting the second verse down to that; there's a lot of information that has to be packed in.

My desire to edit it down is that it needs to be a song, not a history lesson.

The current version:

 

Edited by dhanners623
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Wow! That really does change the whole feeling. Given the subject matter, I am inclined to suggest the first one was better. Musically, let's say I had no understanding of the lyrics, the second one really does well. The subject matter, though. Yeah, first version does it nice.

Another consideration is that the message of the chorus suits the song better while the first handles the untold "secondary" human tragedy that was the lasting impact on this young man.

Another good one, David!

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16 hours ago, PatriotsBiker said:

Wow! That really does change the whole feeling. Given the subject matter, I am inclined to suggest the first one was better. Musically, let's say I had no understanding of the lyrics, the second one really does well. The subject matter, though. Yeah, first version does it nice.

Another consideration is that the message of the chorus suits the song better while the first handles the untold "secondary" human tragedy that was the lasting impact on this young man.

Another good one, David!

Thanks! I appreciate it. The song is still trying to find itself, I think. In some ways, I like the longer version and in some ways, I like the shorter one.

The song may need to sit for awhile to sort itself out....

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Sorry to be a little late to this, David.  I really like the lyrics.  Great rendition of a tragic and historic event.  Both versions are good, but I think the second grabs my attention more.  While the fingerpicking version is sweet and very folksy, I think the second version adds a tenseness, despair, and seriousness to the event.....Just my view, but imagine Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” being fingerpicked instead of the Doomsday background in the recording.  The lyrics are the same, but the atmosphere created by the musical accompaniment gives a different feeling to the song.  I like your mostly strummed version.  For me, it adds to the seriousness of an already tragic event.

Edited by MissouriPicker

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19 hours ago, MissouriPicker said:

Sorry to be a little late to this, David.  I really like the lyrics.  Great rendition of a tragic and historic event.  Both versions are good, but I think the second grabs my attention more.  While the fingerpicking version is sweet and very folksy, I think the second version adds a tenseness, despair, and seriousness to the event.....Just my view, but imagine Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” being fingerpicked instead of the Doomsday background in the recording.  The lyrics are the same, but the atmosphere created by the musical accompaniment gives a different feeling to the song.  I like your mostly strummed version.  For me, it adds to the seriousness of an already tragic event.

Thanks for those insights. I think you're right in that the strummed version creates more tension.

When I boil down my concerns about the song, it comes down to my fear I'm trying to pack too much into the second verse in the second version. We've got troubled times, California giving us hope, RFK claiming  victory and saying, "On to Chicago," a madman shooting him, RFK falling, Romero kneeling to comfort him. That is a lot to pack into four lines.

I'm at the point in my writing where if I can say something in one verse instead of two, that's the route I'll go. Brevity can bring out a certain energy. (It also keeps the listener from getting bored. I'm no Gordon Lightfoot telling about a sunken ship....)

I think I just need to lose a thought or two from the verse. The song will get there eventually. I appreciate your thoughts and they do help. Were I in the U.S., I could workshop the song at an open mic or two and figure out what works of what doesn't pretty quickly. Nicosia has a grand total of one monthly open mic, but it is shared with spoken-word folks and they haven't held it in months because of the pandemic. Plus, if you did get a spot, you got only 5 minutes.

Edited by dhanners623

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I can completely identify with trying to put too much detail in a song.  I think when we have experienced and/or know a lot of details about a particular event we want to express it all when we write about it, because we feel it’s important.  That’s fine if we’re writing a novel, but not if we’re writing a song.  I think in a song we have to let the listener use their imagination and fill-in some blanks.  Otherwise we have a very long song.  I know Dylan and occasionally Lightfoot write some really long tunes, but even then the song can lose the listener.

If the second verse is the one about Kennedy heading to Chicago, that verse does sound to be just a little bit rushed.  In my view, I don’t think the part about Chicago is relevant to the song’s theme and importance.  Anyways, I really like this kind of music.

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