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Monday, March 20, 2017

Theme Reveal - April A to Z Challenge

Lines of Inspiration

“A word that’s soft and gentle makes it easier to bear…”

While contemplating the upcoming A to Z challenge, a myriad of inspirational sources came to mind; the heady smell of fresh-cut grass, the waving sigh of a windswept forest, the startling cold spray of white water rapids, or midnight tides that smooth a trampled beach. I didn’t know how I could choose… so I gave up and turned up the radio – and there it was. Music! Whether richly melodic or downright caustic, the sound of music does indeed inspire. And I’m a nut about lyrics! I actually cringe when someone gets the lyrics wrong, though even I can’t always tell what the singer is saying. But it seems there’s always that one line that tugs my mind off to where all good memoirs, books, poems, and blogs are born.  And because I feel the same way about memorable maxims, I may just throw in a few of those as well, as I participate in this year’s April – A to Z – Challenge!

Songwriter Spotlight:  Harry M. Woods

After a childhood piano recital, his sister once said “You’d think he had twenty fingers,” which was striking, considering Harry Woods was born with only five. Undeterred, Harry became adept at working harmony with his left wrist, as his perfectly good right hand strummed the melodies of his own agreeably upbeat compositions in recitals which supported him through college (Harvard). Harry cultivated his lyricist leanings while farming in Cape Cod before he was drafted during WWI. Not long after his return (New York City), he became a highly notable piano-playing songwriter on Tin Pan Alley, penning such enduring songs as “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover” and “When the Red, Red Robin…”, made all the more famous by the voice of Al Jolson.
In contrast to his cheerful songs, Harry was also known for a tendency to engage in barroom brawls. As police led him away after one such incident, a woman reportedly whispered “Who is that horrible man?” to which Harry’s friend replied “Oh, that’s Harry Woods. He wrote ‘Try a Little Tenderness’”.

Sometime in the mid-forties, Harry retired from Tin Pan Alley life and settled in Glendale, Arizona for a good thirty years before being struck by a car, right outside his home.

Are you easily inspired? What inspires you most? Had you heard of Harry Woods?


  1. Hi Dierdre - he must have been inspirational to many as well as the two of you. Poor chap to die that way ... but I see he was an alcoholic, so that may account for his demise.

    Still a great theme to choose - I'll be there ... cheers Hilary

  2. Hi, diedre!

    If music is your A to Z theme this year then Shirley you know that I will be interested, a pupil who shows up for class eager to learn something new. You already whet my appetite with your Songwriter Spotlight on Tin Pan Alley songwriter and pianist Harry M. Woods. I was not familiar with him. Ed Wood is more my speed (Shady smiles) along with the prolific songwriters and composers of the mid twentieth century who were responsible for the Brill Building's golden era. It's interesting to learn that Woods co-wrote "Try a Little Tenderness," a song that was successfully recorded by two great artists of my g-g-generation - Otis Redding and Three Dog Night. It is fascinating to learn that Woods, a man capable of spreading cheer with kind and gentle songs like "Tenderness," “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover” and “When the Red, Red Robin…” was a notorious barroom brawler.

    I've got my seat belt fastened and the dunce cap firmly situated atop my noggin. I am eager to report to class April first confident that I will gain an education during the course of your series and emerge at the end of the month with a more complete knowledge of composers, lyrics and song origins.

    Thank you, dear friend diedre, and have a fantastic week!

    1. Hi Shady!

      I do declare that your sensational comments should be added to my extensive list of creative inspirations!
      I did not know that Three Dog Night did "Try a Little Tenderness" but it sure makes sense ;-)
      I also never knew that the Who mentioned Tin Pan Alley in their song "Who Are You?" Did you?
      Thanks for the vote of confidence, my friend ;-) It's always good when you stop by.
      Have a harmonious week!

  3. Another music theme! Looking forward to it, diedre. ☺ I didn't about know Harry Woods but the songs are familiar. How ironic, considering he was such a brawler in real life. Sad ending. Happy A to Z-ing! I'll be doing something musical as well.
    Debbie @The Doglady's Den

    1. Hi Debbie!

      You're doing something musical? You know I'll be hanging around your blogs!

      As paradoxical as he was, I bet Harry Woods did a lot of living in 73 years ;-)

      "Turn it up", my friend - I'll see you there!

  4. Howdy, dIEDRE ~

    >>... Are you easily inspired?

    Actually, I would say that I am. Inspiration comes in passionate flashes. The problem is that often before I can produce something based on that inspiration, something new has already presented itself to me and I'm reacting to the second inspirational thing before I've even had time to act on the first.

    And sometimes I don't even get to the second idea either because it's overtaken by a third, just that fast.

    >>... What inspires you most?

    Oh, gosh. I don't know. Spirituality inspires me tremendously, and the most, I would say. Politics inspires me a lot too, but that's totally logical because politics is really just an outgrowth from spiritual truths and falsehoods. Most people don't know it, but politics cannot really be divorced from spirituality because political ideas are manifestations of spiritual concepts.

    Now aren't you sorry you asked?

    >>... Had you heard of Harry Woods?

    I don't think I knew the name Harry Woods, but I am certainly well aware of every one of the songs he wrote which you mentioned here.

    I hope you have fun with 'A To Z'.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Howdy Reno!

      Not a bit sorry I asked! "passionate flashes", "spiritual truths and falsehoods"? Publishers are watching, you know. Save me a place when you get there, would ya? Write on!

  5. Great theme choice! I did not know Harry Woods, but I certainly know the songs you mentioned.
    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead #AtoZChallenge

    1. Hi Barbara!

      Good to see you! I only discovered Harry Woods through researching songwriters - plus he had that irresistible Arizona connection ;-)
      Can't wait to see your theme!

  6. This is a fascinating account, Deidre. I recognize the songs, but not the writer.

    Thanks, Myke

    1. Hi Myke!

      Glad you stopped by! I hope to spotlight a few more songwriters in April. If not as a bio, then at least with inspirational lines of their work ;-)

  7. I had not heard of Harry Woods. I always learn so much from your blog. Well I best come back and learn the rest of the story this next month.

    1. Hi Ann!

      I hope you do stop back by, you never know what a single line of a song might inspire ;-)

  8. Lovely theme! I tend to get lyrics wrong a lot, because listening to music in another language if often difficult... but at least the results are funny. :D

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

    1. Hi Zalka!

      Parodies can be so much fun it doesn't matter what the 'right' words are ;-) And sometimes the words we come up with are even better!

  9. Didn't recall the name Harry Woods, but I sure know the songs you mentioned. And name-dropping one of my favorite entertainers, Al Jolson caught my attention. I always like the music themes. You've picked a unique one that I'm sure you'll make interesting.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out Theme Reveal: It's About Time

    1. Hi Arlee!

      Al Jolson made more than a few songwriters a comfortable living ;-)
      I tried to insert a link to Jolson singing 'Try a Little Tenderness', but it just wouldn't take. Guess I'll leave that kind of thing up to experts like you!
      Thanks for the vote of confidence - I aim to try ;-)

  10. I can honestly say I'd never heard of him before this. Sounds like an interesting topic!

    1. Hi Stephanie!

      I added a spotlight this time - and perhaps a few more times, depending on the Line of Inspiration and the songwriter.
      I'll swing by your blog again soon!

  11. I like your theme very much. I hadn't heard of Harry Woods but am going to listen to some of his music right away.

  12. Hi Kalpanaa!

    Thank you - I look forward to your visits ;-) Most of Harry's music will truly lend a smile.
    Finding my way to your place next!

  13. Stopping by to check out your A to Z Challenge reveal post. That Harry Woods sounds like quite a guy!

    Good luck with the challenge.

    Cait @ Click's Clan

    1. Hi Cait,

      Good luck to you as well ;-) I stopped by your theme reveal and am quite sure you'll have a ton of followers!


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