Category Archives: Lyrics

Story Behind the Story



GORDONVILLE — So first an explanation. My wife was watching a series on Netflix about Humboldt County’s Murder Mountain. She was already halfway through an episode — and halfway through the series — when it caught my ear.

Her brief explanation, while telling me to shut up so she could listen, and my Google search had me in the ballpark.

Meanwhile, the phrases I was picking up from the real-life people on the screen had a lyrical quality to them. At that point, I start putting them into the notepad on my iPhone and had myself a song pretty quickly.

I was sufficiently mocked for getting a song out of something I only skimmed the surface of, but this is how I got through high school and college, so …

The song, for whatever reason, wrote itself. Those are the best ones. And I thought enough of it to enter it in American Songwriter Magazine’s March/April lyric contest (I got Honorable Mention for another song, Gray Christmas, in November/December but the bastards dissed me in January/February).

Yesterday, I get the following email:

Hi Gordon, 

I’m pleased to inform you that your song “Humboldt County” has received honorable mention in the American Songwriter March/April Lyric Contest. Congratulations! 
Your name, hometown, and song title will be printed in the March/April issue of American Songwriter, as well as posted on our website
Congratulations again, and we hope to see  more lyrics from you in the future!

And you will, Annie, despite what my wife says.

To thine own self be true.

And now the song, as inspired by the Netlfix series “Murder Mountain.” I didn’t see it all, but I saw — and heard — enough.

No music yet, but it will be fast-tracked. In my process, the words come first. Expect something in the spirit of Springsteen, Mellencamp and Steve Earle.

Pictured below is the dude whose words got me going …


Humboldt County

Neighbors shoot guns
We don’t even blink
Record is expunged
Let’s have a drink

Come work the land
The land yields grass
Hippies and Rednecks
Who forgot their pasts

Murder Mountain
It stands above the law
Humboldt County
A bridge with no toll

It’s all about the rush
Without going fast
Turned over trucks
Cruise right on past

Up in the Redwoods
Got rain, got snow
Hippies and Rednecks
Forget what they know

Murder Mountain
Let me live my own life
Humboldt County
Don’t violate my rights

Russian roulette
American style
The best you get
High on arrival

Lines in the sand
They kick up dust
Hippies and rednecks
Sucked in, sucked up

Murder Mountain
You keep it dark
Humboldt County
Dogs eat your bark






Until It’s ‘Better Than Today’



GORDONVILLE — I have this song called “Better Than Today.” I rank it high among the hundreds of thousands I have written since the early 1980s – those painful mid-teen years when girls alternated between breaking my heart or not even knowing I existed.

This one, like most since that era, has nothing to with relationships.

In terms of the lyrics, the narrator is a married man who goes wherever the low-wage work takes him, but the drill is wearing thin.

He cashes paychecks and clears as many bills as he can, only to start the process over again. He is willing to eat once a day to ration. He buys a few Christmas gifts but takes no credit, letting them still believe in Santa as he tries to shield them from life’s harsh realities.

The song ends with a “reason to celebrate.” The narrator gets a second job and he’ll be now be working 16 hours a day. Though it’s not necessarily safe, the scenario is still “better than today.”

It wreaks of Bruce Springsteen, maybe as much as any and all previous attempts to reach that Promised Land.

But it was written, sometime in 2015-2016, while cast under the spell of another influence.

That would be Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Yeah, that Bernie Sanders.

That angry old grandpa type spewing the virtues of Democratic Socialism – with “free this” and “free that” – who also talked about American families like those in “Better Than Today” during his campaign.

Sanders’ proposed policies – framed as unrealistic – are already battle-tested in other countries (namely in Northern Europe) that do a lot things better than we do here.

It’s not unpatriotic to say so, either.

It’s blind patriotism, the worst kind there is, to believe it’s better to go into debt because a family member gets seriously ill or because our sons and daughters seek higher education than to admit defeat to Norway or Sweden.

All that doesn’t go away with a bunch flags on Flag Day.

It’s interesting how the first question about Sanders’ proposed policies were about the realistic ways they could be paid for, and yet many of the same people – some turned off by Hillary Clinton, but not necessarily by Sanders – ultimately voted for a candidate who proclaimed that he was going to build a fantastical border wall and have the country on the other side pay for it.

Staunch Democrats tell me to get over it, refusing to let me enumerate the many ways Clinton lost the election and accuse Sanders — an independent who almost always caucuses and votes with the Democrats — of being an interloper who crashed their invitation-only party.

To my eye, Sanders held up a mirror and showed the Democratic party just how un-democratic their flawed process was – with one candidate hand-picked, with super delegates lined up like penguins, to slide through the of 57-primaries/caucuses unchallenged.

Sanders didn’t take a dime of SuperPAC money, instead pushing on with average donations of $27 (I contributed my share, and have the coffee mug and water bottle to show for it). Despite legitimately packed houses, mostly on college campuses, he got almost no coverage of his rallies from the same mainstream media that the current president labels “the enemy of the people.”

The reality is that Clinton, though clearly done dirty by the other side, was not done in by Sanders.

What is easier to believe, and what historians will hopefully acknowledge, is that his challenge should have done anything but make her the weaker candidate she proved to be in the eyes of too many.

Maybe he didn’t campaign for her as vigorously as he could have, but he still left her a GPS route to success.

Example: She should have virtually lived in some the crucial swing states won by Sanders.

Instead, she blew them off.

Polls show Sanders very well might have won the general election, and could be best equipped to do it again in 2020.

While he is not the new “kid” in town anymore, there are other higher hurdles to clear.

While Democratic Socialism really just means capitalism with a few less backs being stabbed and throats getting slit, the word “socialism” is too much of a non-starter in the swayable heartland and bible belt.

I also find it odd that some are lightning quick to point to Sanders’ age (he would be 78 if/when elected) when some of the same people doing the questioning trumpet white-haired Joe Biden, only slightly younger than Sanders but with stale ideas that Generations X, Y and Z are rejecting.

While Sanders is a secular guy, his Jewish heritage probably won’t help much, either (even though it won’t show up in polls, as few will admit it as a primary reason).

Despite the polls, I still see Sanders as a longshot and I am prepared to back the last candidate standing, just like I still backed Hillary Clinton when she limped across the finish line in front of Sanders in 2016.

We still have a lot in common on the left. We couldn’t believe our eyes watching the horror of Charlottesville unfold, and couldn’t believe our ears the way our president responded. We can’t believe we are being governed by Twitter. We can’t believe news time is taken up about payoffs to porn stars.

We can’t believe what tomorrow will bring, other than it will make us more numbed up and dumbed down than the day before, leaving the nation ripe for more of the same.

That just can’t happen.

And the first step is to declare a truce in this Sanders-Clinton spillover effect – the bad blood between moderates and progressives — and see the big picture.

Clinton was the first woman seen as a serious candidate from a major party running for president. She was neck-and-neck with Barack Obama, the first president of color, in the 2007-2008 primaries and lost in 2016 general election (despite taking the popular vote).

Sanders was the first Jewish-American to make a serious bid.

The first female vice presidential candidate was Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. The first Jewish vice presidential candidate was Joe Lieberman in 2000.

Sense a pattern, fellow liberals? All Democrats.

The party of diversity now sees an array of potential candidates from coast to coast and north to south, from fresh-faced to experienced, and from male to female.

The truth is that I’d vote for a gold fish or an amoeba – anything but a Lyme-carrying tick – to bring back sanity.

But nothing has really changed for me in the last few years.

Bernie Sanders still sits at the top my list.

Until further notice.

Until it’s better than today.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Jan. 6.

Lyrics to Better Than Today:

Better Than Today

Finally got my paycheck
Cashed it down at Hank’s
When you live on the fringes
Can’t take it to the bank

Coins for the laundromat
Some candy for the kids
Get straight on the rent
Ration what’s in the fridge

And if we can’t make it stretch
Mister, I’ll just eat once a day
Ain’t thinking about tomorrow
Just pray it’s better than today

Winter just around the bend
I can feel it in my bones
Could find work down south
Family can’t go it alone

And we’re not gonna uproot
Jimmy’s already back a grade
Ain’t thinking about the future
Just pray it’s better than today

Sometimes I hear Anna crying
Or just praying softly to a saint
They put you in so many corners
When the break out the war paint

Finally got my paycheck
Christmas toys for the kids
Real man takes no credit
Says Santa left the gifts

Let’s call for my sister
Takin’ Anna for a date
Been keeping a secret
It’s time to celebrate

Yeah, I just got that second job
High risk but it really pays
Ain’t thinking about dying
Just pray it’s better than today

And I’ll be working 16 hours
Sir, there’s 24 in a day
Ain’t thinking about sleeping
Just pray it’s better than today

Gray Christmas


Gray Christmas

What we need is a gray Christmas
We got too much of black and white
Too much focus on how we’re different
Not enough on wrong and right

What we need is a gray Christmas
Might just keep you from those blues
No worries on sounding irreverent
Play this straight without the booze

Don’t matter how, if or when you pray
Even gray comes in many shades
Think you are wealthy, but you’re poor
Stand up for peace the other 3-6-4

What we need is a gray Christmas
Just forget about green and red
Give in and give us a lasting present
Give with your heart and your head

What we need is a gray Christmas

Honorable Mention

American Songwriter Magazine November/December 2018 Lyric Contest

Mississippi’s Still Burning

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Mississipi’s Still Burning

Taking target practice

At the plaque for Emmitt Till

Making out their lists

Of who they’d like to kill


Still with them four eyes

That still can’t see

Last in high school diplomas

First in teen pregnancy



Ain’t nobody teaching

Ain’t nobody learning

Ain’t nobody dreaming

Ain’t nobody yearning

That history book page

Ain’t nobody turning

Live to die with the hate

Mississippi’s still burning


Out in Greenwood

Assembly line of bibles

They should read one

Every once in a while


Still with them four eyes

That still can’t see

Tops in unemployment

Last in life expectancy




In their Philadelphia

Ain’t no liberty bell

Three civil rights workers

Dead in living hell


Still with them four eyes

That still can’t see

One thing worse than the drivers

The rank of the economy




They refuse to recall

What they long to forget

It didn’t take long

To shed all regret


Still with them four eyes

That still can’t see

Last in all that matters

Except the rate of misery








Cope With No Hope


Cope With No Hope

Another long night, another slain teen

Take a sneak peek, as the dawn bleeds

Splash of cold water, read the tweets

News, views – more prayers for peace

By dusk a vigil, let the cycle repeat

Darkness descends, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets


Up for air, come pastor and the priest

How many of these have they seen?

Hear what you want, not what you need

Sing a song, prayers for peace

From all this, who will take heed?

Maybe one day we all can break free

Until that day comes, hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets


Now it’s less than a week later

Pick up the local newspaper

Story is gone, never to be followed

Back to the zoo and its baby cougars

Those with jobs, head back to work

Once numb, how much can it hurt?

The root cause, never gets learned

On and on and on, the fire just burns


All that is said cannot be believed

Like blaming it all on the police

Is it the poverty or the money?

The money we all think we need

Take it past these prayers for peace

Prayers end when you hear the screams

So go cope with no hope on these streets

So go cope with no hope on these streets

-Gordon Glantz




One For My Baby

People ask why I don’t write a song about Sofia. The answer is that it is complicated. In many ways, I have, but not really. Not directly. Not until now.Bunnypie My lyrics are generally not about one particular person or experience. Additionally, they tend to be from the dark side of my brain – an outlet for my angst and negativity and quest for justice. Sofia represents the polar opposite, a light so blinding that I can’t help but smile in spite of the darkness. That said, long-time readers of my former employer are well-aware that she was a consistent topic in my Sunday columns — so much so that she was probably the most well-known toddler in Central Montgomery County. Sofia just turned 9, going on 19, meaning she is no toddler anymore. They have been the best 9 years of my life and, with me penning lyrics on a nearly daily basis, this is reflected in many songs in an ancillary way. In this song, though, it is more direct. As I patiently wait on the music to be written (hint, partner), let me know what you think.

Song for Sofia (Promise I Will Keep)

I got a bum thumb

From sharpening your pencils

Spend my Father’s Days

At your dance recitals

But what else would I do?

Where else would I be?

No one means more than you

This is what you’ve done to me


We’ll play catch

Till one lands in your glove

Keep getting pets

So you can share all your love

You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That is what you are to me


Drive you to school

Send you off to your world

Watching you grow

Still Daddy’s little girl

What else would I do?

What else could I be?

I do it all for you

You are the world to me


You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That’s what you are to me

Time of Day


Silhouette, group of happy children playing on meadow, sunset, summertime

Time of Day

Old dream wrapped in a new vision

When the path was not a maze

When the vibes formed the emotion

Demons, they wear no known face

When we felt free to run and play

When unaware of the time of the day

Need not know a game is just a game

When unaware of the time of day


Suddenly started feeling pressure

Like the edge of a knife’s blade

Do good, but you gotta do better

Gotta keep on making the grade

Wear an iron mask, inside a cage

Fully aware of the time of day

Million thoughts overload the brain

Fully aware of the time of the day


Freedom was sold at a discount rate

Freedom sold as a day off from the grind

But freedom is old as heaven’s gate

Get it, you got it, time takes care of time


Barely begun, now it’s ended

Sign a paper, turn the page

War horse put out to pasture

Left out on some hill to graze

Always fought another’s battles

The foe was the time of day

Never wrote that great novel

The foe was the time of day


Grandkids forced to visit

Don’t have much to say

Mesmerized by their devices

You pray they will seize the day

And feel free to run and play

Unaware of the time of the day

Before time takes their time away

Take hold of the time of day


Let their games be just a game

Take hold of the time of day

It can all still be OK

Take hold of the time of day

Go run, go run and play

Be not aware of the time of day

Run now, until night becomes day

Until night becomes your day

Words: Gordon Glantz; Music: Terri Camilari




No Room At The Inn

No Room At The Inn

A stampede on Black Friday
My brother got a bruised lip
Put up our decorations
Get chills as the tree is lit
No need to see the priest
I am cool with all my sins
We have our nativity scene
But there’s no room at the inn

Sat up for the late, late show
Saw Voyage of the Damned
That can’t be the truth
Just another Hollywood sham
America was at its best then
Don’t you dare flip the script
Had none of these holiday trees
And there was no room at the inn

Took a bus to Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty too
Give me your tired, your poor
Huddled mass can’t look like you
You better learn to speak English
Like my kinfolk sorta did
It’s somewhere in the scriptures
That there’s no room at the inn

Gonna put it on the line
It’s all about me and mine
They got some strange ways
And that’s all I am gonna say
Maybe I’ve gone blind
Maybe I’ve gone numb
It’s hard to know the facts
So easy to stay dumb

I can’t see my enemy’s face
Just blends in with the crowd
I have the only solution
It’s best just to keep them all out
Well, I ain’t scared of nothing
Just some women and their kids
Get me a new gun for Christmas
There’s no room at the inn

No room at the inn

-Gordon Glantz

A Syrian