Submitted by Glen Aaron on January 21, 2013

I have observed that good songwriters, both of lyric and music, somehow touch the emotional beat of life, both in word and note, both in joy and sorrow. Harry Nutter is such a creator.

Born in Big Lake, Texas, raised in Midland, Harry bought his first guitar about the third grade with earnings from mowing lawns. It turned out he had an ear for music. Interestingly, he never took formal music lessons but never left the guitar. When he comes in to play for a group, today, I observe that he touches his guitar with a certain respect, and I suspect it is the same respect he had for his first instrument in the third grade.

At Lee High School in Midland, he gravitated to the literary magazine, as he already had a love for reading, and began participating in drama, poetry interpretation, extemporaneous speaking competition, and one-act plays. Words fascinated him, as if they could be touched and felt. Soon, he was writing poetry, generally with a philosophical bent towards nature, but also about relationships as he began dating.

For many years, Harry played other people’s music, by ear, which was his talent. But about seven or eight years ago, he decided to go down to Kerrville  to the Kerrville Folk Festival with some friends and sign up for its three-day songwriting workshop. He had never written a song but had one stirring for some time in the back of his mind, a surfacing muse goddess, as it were. It dawned on him on the way down to Kerrville that, “Oh my God, these people are going to get around to me at some point and say ‘play your song.’” He had worked on a few lyrics and quickly worked on them some more, then, traveling in the car, he worked out a bridge to get between the verses. He had his first song.

Harry can’t say enough good things about the Kerrville songwriter workshop. That first workshop was so fascinating, he has been back three or four times. He says the instructors are talented, helpful, and affirming. They don’t really focus on formulated mechanics but more on the creative process, those intangibles of creativity.

That first song was “Everybody Is somebody’s Fool.” Harry found that not only this first song but those that followed would come out of his playing with notes and chords first, or a melody line that in some way satisfied him. “Everybody Is Somebody’s Fool” was first an instrumental he had worked out, but: “The music would come to have an emotional texture to me — then it would suggest a word or a phrase or a theme from which I would begin to build the lyrics — sometime out of the blue.”

He went on to say, “At times, I rework a song, even after I have published it.” When he wrote, “I Kiss You ‘Night,” it was originally for a close uncle in Hospice, and he called it “David’s Jig.” It was a fast instrumental that his uncle liked, but later, Harry noticed that when he played it slow, it became a lullaby. He began putting lyrics to it as if from the perspective of a child being put to bed rather than the view of the adult putting the child to bed.

The child is with its favorite stuffed toy. As the title line ends each verse (“When I Kiss You ‘Night”), it’s the child actually kissing the toy. That is the first verse lyrics. Then, Harry thought of how lovers end a day at night, in bed, finally with some time together, kiss — “When I Kiss You ‘Night.” That’s the second verse. Then, he drew on recent experiences, such as an aging Alzheimer’s situation, his father before he passed away; but, just as poignant, the sharing of such a struggle by a friend — how she conveyed to him the frustration her mother was facing as constant caregiver of her father. Harry could feel and see how it was. The Alzheimer partner in a distant stare. The wife not knowing what’s going on in his mind but hoping that, wherever he is, it’s a happy place, as she kisses him ‘night.

When I Kiss You ‘Night {C}

Chuckles/my pal; Whistles just like me; One eye/ fell out; Sister put it back; I’ll read us a funny story; Then they’ll tuck us in; Off to sleep; We’ll dream sweet; Cuddled in a hug so deep — When I kiss you ‘night {C}

You grin/[that grin/come hear]; Finally alone; [Feelings/Our words]/candlelit; All I want is you; We have time and love to share; And we will do it [well/right]; Hands to clutch; Lips to touch; Always in love so much; — When I kiss you ‘night {C}

So weak/ so thin; Eat a little more; Each day/ Seems so long; Strength I barely find; All your anger and confusion; You’re still my first love; Lost in a stare; I know not where; I so hope it’s happy there — When I kiss you ‘night. {C}

This is the sentient, sensitive, talented songwriter, Harry Nutter, and these lyrics are only a sample of his creativity. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him play, you will feel the specialness of the moment.

Harry Nutter lives in Midland, Texas, and is a landman for Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd. All lyrics in this interview are copyrighted by Harry T. Nutter, who reserves all rights to such lyrics. They appear here solely for the limited purpose of this interview.

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