Notes on Song writing

Chords with Lyric
O Soul of Mine
The coil of the mortal
I thee unwind
The body
Well I'm on the line
For the very last time

O Soul of Mine
If you're half way to heaven
And making time
Making good time
Throw me a line
A very long line

Will you whisper, say that you'll never leave me,
Say that you'll always be mine?
Because I love you like, I love a brother
Soul of mine

O Soul of Mine
It's your equal sum
But I'm deaf, dumb and blind
Just a no body
Along for the ride
For the very last ride


O Soul of Mine
Its Judas body
Is it time for the real end?
Well I'm on the line
For the very last time



Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional events that helped inspire 'O Soul of Mine'.
For the second time in my life, and the first time in over thirty years, a song came to me in a dream. While I was dreaming of the birth of a song, and the tragic automobile death of a little boy, I could vividly hear the music, but I didn't know the victim was about to be a real person. With O Soul of Mine, the line where the dream ends and the song starts is a difficult thing for me to find. It's blurred and it freaks me a little to think how it came about.

In the early hours of an August morn in 2004, I woke up in tears. In the dream, I was driving a car along a street when I felt myself slow down to witness a traffic accident or a roadside memorial service. I glanced over my shoulder to witness more. I could see a grief stricken family about to declare a small boy dead. A song began to play in my head. It was the most beautiful and sad piece of music I ever heard. It's beauty and sadness began to deeply move me. Something in the song was telling me that the inevitable moment when this little man dies was upon us. I had to help! Another verse of the song, another slow ride around the block would keep this song going and this little man alive. But when the minor key chorus hit, I could see in my slow motion drive-by the look of absolute anguish on the face of the mother as she held his limp body, and the look of deep pain on the face of the older brother trying to comfort her. I knew it was over. The song ended, my car stopped. Unable to help them, I stared at them and cried too. And then I woke up. That was the end...I thought.

Still shaken by the dream and the beautiful song that was already beginning to fade, I tried to write a new song in that direction and hoped I could recall the powerful sound that moved me. By November 2004 I happened on a hidden chord progression while strumming my guitar in an alternate guitar tuning, and proceeded to try to draw some melody and lyric out of it, thinking this might be the music I heard in the dream. This was very difficult. If you imagine trying to paint a picture of a dream, you see the super-imposed images in a very murky detail. But as the song started to show itself, I purposely tried to steer the lyric to tell a story of the dying boy pleading with his soul to not be abandoned. Wherever that soul was going, the dying boy needed to go too. I say 'purposely' but I had no clear cut idea of what to say, I just kept focusing on the image in the dream. Trying hard to recall. Trying to keep that car moving so that life would go on...This will be a song about a body being abandoned by it's soul. The soul looks back and throws a line. Then you hold on for dear life.
No. wait. What is this song really about? As powerful as this dream was, by now that was months ago. This is not about the dying boy, the car, that was just a dream. I need to write about a real thing, not a dream. Perhaps I must be writing about my own near death encounter a year earlier I thought. Yes that's it! I started to shift the song meaning, images and direction to fit my own recent life and death battle with colon cancer. The dream was just that. A dream. That tragedy never happened. I continued on...and as I wrote, lyric such as; 'if you're half way to heaven', 'love you like a brother', 'soul of mine' and 'along for the very last ride' started to fall into place. The churchy quality of the suspended chords and alternate guitar tuning seemed to echo the roadside memorial. I could feel the same deep feelings of heartbreak and mournful pleading in the chorus. But by now, I was convinced the song was about me. I am allowed one near death experience song I reasoned. Then I'll move on. 'Write about something you know' is advice I've heard many times. I know this subject I reassured myself. No one can blame me for recalling such a personal tale. I won't get maudlin or over-sad. I started to imagine myself laying near death in the hospital and looking out the window at the stars and seeing a ghost of a soul moving slowly toward the heavens. I am reaching my hand out to grab a hold of the line.
As Christmas and the New Year approached I was polishing up this little number that now was seemingly telling my own body to soul encounter. I was feeling pretty good about it. It was almost done! Excitement was flowing through my improving but still medically ravaged body. And then the unthinkable happened;

My brother Dennis was killed suddenly in an automobile accident.

In those horrible moments in the hospital where we went to identify his battered body I saw the same expressions on the face of our family as I saw in my dream. I heard the same cries and wails. I was living the song. Only this was not a dream. It was all very real. Now the references to 'brother' 'last ride' and the pleading for help...It all made sense. Dennis was the little boy.

Dennis and I owned almost identical Gibson made vintage guitars. We bought them together new in 1968, Mine was soon totaled by a bad repair job. Dennis' guitar was with him until his dying day. Dennis' wife and daughter gave me his guitar after his death. The moment I played O Soul of Mine on his guitar is the moment I realized the meaning of the dream, and the meaning of the song. This is Dennis' song.

I miss Dennis every day. O Soul of Mine is respectfully dedicated to his memory.

  B7sus4    E                          Cmaj7     Am6    E                        Cmaj7  Am6
       O        Soul of Mine, the coil of the mortal I thee unwind the body --    Well
E                                   B7sus4               E                               Cmaj7         Am6
I'm on the line, for the very last time. O Soul of Mine if your halfway to heaven and
E                                 Cmaj7    Am6          E                              B7sus4         
making time, making good time       -----     Throw me a line.   A very long line--- And will you
C#m7           D13                                     C#m7                                      B7sus4   B7
whisper, say that you'll never leave me? Say that you will always be mine.         Because I
C#m7          D13                                         B7sus4       
Love you, I love you like I love a brother, Soul of Mine   O
E                      Cmaj7          Am6           E                                          Cmaj7    Am6
Soul of Mine, it's your equal sum, but I'm deaf dumb and blind, just a nobody, a-
E                                     B7sus4         
long for the ride, for the very last ride.
Repeat Chorus
E                              Cmaj7  Am6      E                        Cmaj7  Am6
O Soul of Mine, it's Judas body ----     Is it time for the real end?     Well
E                                  B7sus4
I'm on the line, for the very last time.  
Repeat Chorus

E            Cmaj7   B7sus4     E     Cmaj7   B7sus4
Soul of Mine                      O Soul of Mine
E            Cmaj7   B7sus4      E     Cmaj7    B7sus4   E
Soul of Mine                      O Soul of Mine

The Blue Ox Band Hits collection Guitar Workshop The Gang of 15 Rocket 88 Totally Live Rocket 88 Blues Life Hot Guitars from Buffalo Lead Guitar Compilation The Thirds Anthology St. Teresa's Choir Poacher of Love/The Slump The Thirds Songs from the City Line Pass it On/Are you Still? The Stone Bridge Band
©2020 Charlie O’Neill