Story

 

 

This album is available for download on iTunes and Bandcamp.  

 

 

This is the new "Here I Am" album.  This album is the culmination of over 10 years of songwriting inspired by changes in the way I see the world.  My hope is that this album challenges listeners to examine their preconceptions about the world and think for themselves.  I sing each song, and every song is backed by instruments, often played by some well-known Nashville musicians.  (scroll down for song files, stories behind the songs, and lyrics)

 

09/01/2000
Ben Travis

Story

This was the first song I wrote as I was going through a process of questioning many of the things I had been taught about the world since early on in my life. Even now, some 13 years later, it reminds me not to become complacent about the way I see things. The moment we accept that things are "this way" or "that way" because we've been taught that or because we have just always believed it, we lose an opportunity to discover something new about the universe. This song was written at the beginning of a long process of reevaluating things and then forming new conclusions about how the universe works. The main conclusion that I have come to is that I simply don't know a lot of the answers to the hard questions... is there an afterlife? If so, what is it like? How much should I trust any figures in authority, from spiritual teachers to scientists?

I tend to think that science has a better method for discovering truth about the universe, because there is a method for proving an idea wrong. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean there aren't things beyond the reach of science or things that science just hasn't figured out yet. Life is a mystery, but a wonderful mystery. As I say in this song, "I had life in a box." I used to think I had all the answers to just about every question. Now I think I have very few, but I find that to be a much more honest and rewarding way to live. I find so much wonder inside me as I look up at the stars, wondering what might be out there waiting to be discovered.

I have found that once I became comfortable with not having or even needing to have "answers," my life has been a lot more interesting. I find it easier to accept people for who they are, regardless of what they believe about the world and whether or not it matches up with what I believe. I find that we are all humans, all hoping to find happiness and peace, and I hope for a day when we will focus more on what we have in common than on our differences.

Special thanks to Sam Kallaos on drums and Andrew Henderson on guitar.

 

 Ben Travis

Lyrics

 

Lyrics

 

Here I Am

Ben Travis © 2000

 

I had life in a box

I kept it in the palm of my hand

Nobody could tell me anything

I didn’t already understand

 

But now my little box has grown

Can’t even fit it in my room

To tell the truth, it’s not a box anymore

It’s more like a big, expanding balloon

 

(chorus)

Here I am… don’t even know what I used to know

Staring at the stars and scratching my head

Can’t even sleep when I’m in my bed

Here I am… throwing off the mask of certainty

Smiling at the kid I used to be

And wondering what the future holds for a man like me

 

Milk and cookies by the stairs

Waiting for the man in red to appear

Down the chimney any minute now

Sure hope I’ve been a good boy this year

 

But now my Santa Claus has gone

So tell me what am I to do?

If all those presents weren’t from him

Maybe what they told me just isn’t true

(to chorus)

 

“Just close your eyes and believe

That feeling of wonder goes away”

But if it’s okay with you

I think I’m gonna just let it stay

(to chorus)

05/07/2012
Ben Travis

Story

I wrote this song more recently. As I participate in society's structure of going to a job 40 or more hours a week, I sometimes feel like we work so hard just to we can get up and work hard again the next day. I try to reframe this in my mind and find the pure joy of every moment, but that's easier said than done sometimes, and I find that I get this feeling fairly often. It's an honest song that I think many people will identify with.

Special thanks to Roy Vogt on the bass and Sam Kallaos rocking the Latin vibe on the drums.

 Roy Vogt

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

The Story of Our Lives

©May 7, 2012 Ben Travis

 

(verse 1)

Every night I lie in bed

and I wonder what’s the point of it all

We work so hard to learn and grow

but everything we do just seems so small

 

(chorus)

And so we work and slave to get the bills paid

then we fall into bed at night

And then as fast as we can we do it again

and that’s the story of our lives

 

(verse 2)

Every day we drive far away

where we’re needed desperately

We go through the motions and fit in our place

but inside we’re longing to be free

                                [to chorus]

(final chorus)

And so we work and slave till our hair turns grey

but it ain’t so black and white

We run and we run to get it all done

and that’s the story of our lives

10/01/2000
Ben Travis

Story

I wrote this song for a friend who seemed to really be struggling. She, like me, had a framework for life that supposedly held all the answers for her, but it just wasn't working out. She was consistently making choices that didn't really benefit her, and her life was becoming obstacle after obstacle. I realized after writing this that the song is probably applicable to most if not all of us. We all go through life in some sense crying out for more freedom. We feel trapped at times, we suffer, and we survive. But there's a part of us that wants to soar.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

Crying to Be Free

© 2000 Ben Travis

 

(verse 1)

Sometimes life is funny

Sometimes life is sad

Sometimes life can break your heart

or make you mad

Sometimes life is lonely

No one understands

Sometimes you look up to the sky

and wring your hands

 

Sometimes you are helpless

Sometimes you are strong

Sometimes you don't know right from left

or right from wrong

Sometimes you look in the mirror

You like what you see

But sometimes the person looking back at you

is crying to be free... Crying to be free... Crying to be free

 

(verse 2)

You used to like roller coasters

When you were a kid

But sometimes life makes you more queasy

than they ever did

Spinning 'round in circles

All day long today

You hear some preacher preachin'

about a better way

 

When did you arrive here?

It's not the life you planned

You always thought you'd end up

in the Promised Land

Yesterday you locked your heart up

Now you can't find the key

All the while something inside you

is crying to be free... crying to be free... crying to be free

 

Sometimes life is funny

Sometimes life is sad

Sometimes life can break your heart

or make you mad

11/01/2000
Ben Travis

Story

One thing that helps me become more understanding of people who are different than I am is to imagine life from their perspective. In this case, I was studying Australia, and I wondered what it would be like to live as an Australian Aboriginee. I pictured myself in that lifestyle and a song started to flow.

The first thing you hear... the odd thing, I suppose, is the sound of the didjeridoo. My understanding is that this is an instrument that they often play, as it can be created from bamboo or other materials on hand out in the wilderness. I also learned that part of their religion is to worship a being called "The Rainbow Serpent." This was obviously very foreign to me, but I tried to imagine how it would feel to be as connected to this "Rainbow Serpent" as I had been to my own religion. This is really a song of worship... just not the type of worship most of us would be familiar with. It's not so hard to imagine, though, sitting under the dark, Australian sky, playing the didjeridoo, not worrying about mortages, bills, or other obligations.

Special thanks to Lee Walker, who toiled and labored over this song in the recording phase, helping me refine it and make it better. Also special thanks to Svargo Freitag at didjshop.com for allowing me to use Dennis and Trevor's didgeridoo recordings.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

The Rainbow Serpent

© 2000 Ben Travis

 

When I look across the plains

I see a thousand stars

Every time I close my eyes

I know I'm where I belong

 

'Cause I hear my friend the kookabura call

And I hear the wind tonight

It's singing me a song

 

(chorus)

And the Rainbow Serpent comes

To call my name

And the earth my mother

Brings a smile

And the way I feel tonight

With this bamboo on my lips

Must be the reason I am here at all

 

When I look into the trees

I see a thousand eyes

Every one I call my friend

They share the same land as I

 

Sometimes I call my tribe

To join me in a song

But sometimes I climb the hills

And play my songs alone

[to chorus]

 

I can't remember ever needing

More than what I carry with me

Now inside my pack

Placed here upon my back

[to chorus]

12/01/2000
Travis/Davis

Story

I find that it helps me a lot to put myself in someone else's shoes, and this song is written from the perspective of a homeless man. This is the longest song on the album, and you can blame sax player Chris Gregg for that, because he did so much amazing improvising at the end that I couldn't bring myself to cut it out. We really had a great flow in the studio, just playing back and forth with the electric piano and his sax. He took the time to get to know the song, and he told me that he was really picturing a homeless man playing sax on the corner, hoping to get a little spare change from passers-by.

Special thanks to Chris Gregg for his amazing saxophone work.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

Funny Feelin’

© 2000 Travis/Davis

 

Can't hardly sleep at night

I think my bed is made of stone

And in the daytime, I hold a cardboard sign

And stand beneath the bridge I call my home

I watch the passing cars I've learned to count the hours

'till darkness brings the bitter cold

 

(bridge)

I can see them waiting for the light to turn green

Trying not to let me catch their eye

I know that as they drive away

They will do their level best

To forget that I'm alive

 

(chorus)

It's a funny feelin'

Knowing no one in the world

Would trade places with you if they could

It's a funny feelin'

Being awake is just like dreamin'

'Cause the nightmare never ends, It just goes on...

And you're always alone

 

(verse 2)

When I left for the war

I thought I'd be a hero

But when I got back, they gave me no awards

In fact, they gave me no respect at all

Truth be known, this city is much worse

Than any jungle I ever saw

 

(bridge 2)

I can hear them saying I should just get a job

Telling me what they think I should do

I wonder as they drive away

What they think that I should say

When I'm in my interview

With tattered clothes and homemade shoes

                                      [to chorus]

People come along and hand me Bibles

They tell me Jesus loves me

And forgives me of my sin

But for me there's something more important than my soul's revival

I'm wondering when this cold front's gonna end

                                         [to chorus]

09/15/2000
Ben Travis

Story

This song is very special to me. It was one of the only songs I've ever written as a poem, then gone back and put music to it. I usually write music and lyrics simultaneously. I remember it was when I was back at Belmont University working on an education degree, and I sat outside the music building on a beautiful fall day. As I watched the wind blow through the trees, I penned those words. I truly think that we underestimate just how much of the way we see the world comes from what we are taught and what we experience when we are young. Those things stay with us and become our preconceptions through which we view all of life. They make it almost impossible for us to see reality, and so we have to work to get past them as much as possible.

Special thanks to Sam Kallaos for the drums on this one. He really rocked them out.

  

Sam Kallaos

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

Preconceptions

© 2000 Ben Travis

 

(verse 1)

We are all fed our beliefs from the womb

like mashed carrots on a spoon

Though we defend them valiantly

sometimes they fall like scales

around us and lie useless at our feet

 

Still we find our preconceptions

grinning at us from dark corners

Clawing at our hearts

Envying our freedom

 

(chorus)

And we learn to dance to the rhythm we hear

as the wind shakes the trees and our shadows grow longer

We tip our hats to the past that has shaped us

and poke our canes into the blackness ahead

 

(verse 2)

Though we are satisfied with questions

the voices around us cry for certainty

Strangely enough, they often find it

yet we remain unconvinced and this is unacceptable

 

There are times when we'd trade

our souls for some black and white

But we trudge on silently

Through the endless sea of grays

                                    [to chorus]

Like pieces of a puzzle that has no solution

the fragments of truth that we see wink at us knowingly

                                    [to chorus]

05/01/2012
Ben Travis

Story

This song is fun to listen to, but also brutally honest. My wife and I have been together for 10 years, we have a 3 year old daughter, and we both have demanding full-time jobs. I often feel that I have to be "on" at work, but then when I get home, I naturally let my guard down. Thinking about this led me to the sad realization that my family often gets the worst of me even though they are the most important people in my life. I suspect some of you can identify with this sentiment. It's not a romantic song, I don't suppose, but it's an honest song.

Special thanks to Roy Vogt for playing some amazing bass tracks, Andrew Henderson for electric guitar, and Sam Kallaos for rocking the drums.

 Andrew Henderson

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

You Get the Worst of Me

©May 1, 2012 Ben Travis

 

(verse 1)

All day long I gotta be

who they expect me to be

I gotta play the role… maintain control

and do it gracefully

 

but when I come home

and we’re all alone

and there is no one else that I’m supposed to be

baby, I apologize but I fear so many times

you get the worst of me

 

(verse 2)

Every time… I start it fine

as I go out the door

but later on… when the day is long

I just can’t give any more

 

but when I walk in and my day’s at an end

and even though it’s the first time I can be free

baby, I apologize but it seems so many times

you get the worst of me

                                                     [to chorus]

 

There are times when I am so sure that I’m only

running on a treadmill through my life

but then I look into your eyes

 

when I come home and we’re all alone

and there is no one else that I’m supposed to be

baby, I apologize but I know so many times

you get the worst of me

baby, I apologize but I know it’s no surprise

you get the worst of me

05/01/2005
Travis/Ifrine

Story

When I was teaching fifth grade, I had a student named Mohammed Ifrine. One day, he handed me some lyrics that he had written on a little beat-up piece of paper. I'll admit I filed them away for a while without paying that much attention to them. Teaching gets a little busy like that. But one day, I came across them, and a melody immediately came into my mind. I reworked some of the lyrics a little and added a second verse, but the chorus is almost exactly the words he wrote. I'm not sure where he is these days, but I hope he gets a chance to hear this song. If you find this, Mohammed, email me and I'll get you a free download of it. Thanks for sharing those lyrics with me. This song is one of my favorites, and I know reflects not only how we all feel at times, but particularly how people tend to feel as they go through school.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

I Stand Alone

(c)2005 Ben Travis/Mohammed Ifrine

 

I know the sound of each rock and stone

Only the lights of me are welcome here

Everything breathes, and I know each breath

I keep myself protected from pain

I don't entertain a moment's fear

I feel the rain, and ignore the rest

 

(chorus)

Don't come any closer, don't even rise

I've felt all the pain, and heard all the lies

In my world, there's no compromise

 

I watch the Sun dance in the sky

I hear the wind whisper my name

Emptiness calls, but I turn away

Moving along without a sound

playing a cruel, but honest game

Searching the sky, I see only gray

 

(chorus 2)

Don't come any closer, don't even rise

I've felt all the pain, and heard all the lies

In my world, there's no compromise

Like every tree stands on its own

reaching for the sky, I stand alone

I share my world with no one else

All by myself, I stand alone

03/11/2010
Ben Travis

Story

This song was written from the perspective of my grandmother as she was nearing the end of her life, living in a nursing home. She had been a part of my life for almost 40 years, so I had observed her slow decline into old age. I had also heard many stories from her younger life, and it made me ponder the way we all grow old if we live long enough. As I grew up, I tended to view elderly people as "old people" who had just sort of always been that way. The closer I get, though, the more I realize that every person was once a young person with hopes, dreams, and fears much like my own. This song follows her life from when she was young all the way to when she was very old.

The title of the song is "Thirty-nine." This has a layer of meanings in my mind. It is one of the ages she discusses in the song, but more importantly, it was always the age she jokingly told people she was. I remember when my dad turned 40 and Granny was still "39," and I did the math and realized something wasn't quite adding up. But of course, this was a joke that she used throughout her older years, and seemed an appropriate title to the song. I was also 39 myself when I was putting the finishing touches on this album.

I hope I have done justice to what she was feeling as she passed through the final stage of her life. And I know it shed some light for me on why people often become more angry and frustrated as they reach their final years.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

Thirty-nine

© March 11, 2010 Ben Travis (for Granny)  

 

(verse)

I’m sick, I’m tired I’m uninspired

I never pictured life this way

I’m far from home and all alone

and all my friends have gone away

 

My mind is weak and cloudy now

it hasn’t always been this way

I once was known for wit and style

and not the bitter way I feel today

 

(chorus)

and if you’d asked me when I was twenty-five

I might have told you that I felt so alive

but now it’s hard to find a reason

to wear this fool’s disguise

 

(verse 2)

There was a time when life was kind

and every breath was fresh and new

My heart was full of dreams and obligations

the fantasies of youth

 

(chorus 2)

and if you’d asked me when I was thirty-nine

I might have told you that life was so divine

but now it’s hard to see a reason

to wear this fool’s disguise

 

(verse 3)

And all those times I told myself

that I would never end this way

but there’s no exit sign, or finish line

no final words to say

 

(chorus 3)

and if you ask me now that I am ninety-three

if I can tell you the way things used to be

you’ll forgive me if I ask you

to go and let me be

10/11/2000
Ben Travis

Story

This song is how I feel when I'm in a darker moment, I suppose. The incredible amount of suffering that the majority of the human race goes through is really just unimaginable to me. Sure, as Americans, many of us don't have the abject suffering that goes on other places, but if you chose a person at random and could really see every part of their life, I suspect you would see a good amount of suffering. I can comprehend a certain amount of suffering, as I could see it might help others have opportunities to develop important qualities such as compassion and kindness. But when I really look at the world, it seems like the suffering is just increasing, and I can't picture any way that it could turn around.

But those are my weaker moments. I do believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, and I believe we must look toward the future with hope, and act where we can, even if it seems small and insignificant to us. The "rain" represents the neverending suffering that falls on us all. Who knows, maybe someday the rain will finally end. Until then, though, this song connects me to how I sometimes feel, and I hope you may be able to identify with it as well.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

The Rain Falls

© 2000 Ben Travis

 

I think the world is a lonely place

We all look for ways to make it more like home

We put pictures on the wall

But it doesn't help at all

Still the rain falls

 

So much hunger, so much war

Yet so little I can do

So I sit on my couch at home

Grab the remote control

See what's on

While the rain falls...

 

A little girl hears her father say,

"I wish you'd never been born at all"

And as she walks back to her room

Well, she wishes it too

Still the rain falls...

 

A woman comes to work

with bruises on her face

She says, "I fell down again."

And as the pieces fall apart

I know the bruises on her face

match the ones on her heart

while the rain falls... The rain falls... The rain falls...

 

Can you hear the rain fall? Can you hear the rain fall?

It’s falling on the ones who have no one to love

It’s falling on the starving children

It’s falling on the ones, the ones who have no hope

The ones who suffer at the hands of others

The ones who feel afraid at night

And it’s falling on the ones

The ones who think they’ve got it all right

12/13/2000
Ben Travis

Story

This was an interesting songwriting experience. I found a sound on my keyboard that I liked, and just started experimenting with it, and the lyrics and melody just sort of came out of me. Because of the organic way it happened, I intentionally never went back and tried to improve the lyrics. They came out of me from a really inspired moment, and I wanted to keep that feeling. I'm sure it won't win any poetry awards, but songs are so much more than perfectly crafted poetry with perfectly crafted music. Some of my favorite songs aren't well-crafted at all, but they make me feel something. Maybe this one will be that for you.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

When I come to the end of my rope

© 2000 Ben Travis

 

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anything to hold onto?

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anyone to hold onto?

 

When I come to the end of my travels

Will there be anyone to come home to?

When I come to the end of my travels

Will there be anyone to belong to?

 

When I find myself, you'll be the first to know

When I know myself, you'll be the first one I find

 

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anyone to protect me?

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anyone who can save me?

 

When I find myself on the edge of the horizon

When I find myself in the footsteps of mankind

 

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anyone to hold onto?

When I come to the end of my rope

Will there be anyone to belong to?

04/09/2010
Ben Travis

Story

This is a very special song, and a very inspiring note to end the album on. After my daughter was born, we stayed at the hospital for three days. The day we got home, I held her and sat at the piano, and this song just flowed out of me. She loves to hear this song nowadays. When we ride in the car, she says, "I want to hear my song." It's very sweet. And sometimes, she'll just sing the song herself when she's playing. It's a very beautiful thing, and I'm happy to be able to give her something that she can listen to throughout her life and know how much her daddy loved her.

This song also represents hope for the future. This album explores many themes, some of which are kind of depressing, and I'm glad to end it on this theme of new life and deep, unconditional love.

May every child and human being know the love that my daughter has in her life.

Lyrics

 

Lyrics:

 

Song for Maia
© 2010 Ben Travis
I can’t believe my eyes
you were just a dream, and now you’re real
I know you won’t remember this day
but I will
your tiny hands and tiny feet
your eyes looking up at me
this old piano I play
now for you
(chorus)
it’s a song for Maia
and I hope you like it
‘cause this is the first song I’ve played for you
it’s a song for Maia
to tell you that I love you
to let you know I’ll be there
this song is just for you
and now to my surprise
you have helped me see a brighter day
a world so often cold has now been warmed
by your smile
and I am humbled here
that you could find some comfort in my arms
that you could find delight in my eyes
mystifies me

Song for Maia

© 2010 Ben Travis

 

(verse 1)

I can’t believe my eyes

you were just a dream, and now you’re real

I know you won’t remember this day

but I will

your tiny hands and tiny feet

your eyes looking up at me

this old piano I playnow for you


(chorus)

it’s a song for Maia

and I hope you like it

‘cause this is the first song I’ve played for you

it’s a song for Maia

to tell you that I love you

to let you know I’ll be there

this song is just for you

 

(verse 2)

and now to my surprise

you have helped me see a brighter day

a world so often cold has now been warmed

by your smile

and I am humbled here

that you could find some comfort in my arms

that you could find delight in my eyes

mystifies me