Willie

Bluer cover art
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Audio excerpt: Verse 2 going into bridge
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Lyrics & notes

6/73

willie is the name of a love
that I'm aching to know
I've never known you
but I miss you so
and why do you always
have to go?
why can't you ever
stay?

willie is the sweet simple smile
that my heart can't forget
at least I know it hasn't yet
and you might be the only chance I'll get
to give myself away

when I was young
I watched the clouds form
castles in the sky
but then as now
the things I'd dream
would somehow pass me by

willie is the name of a dream
that will never come true
after all, how could I
expect it to?
and I would love to spend
my life with you
but what would people say?
someday I think I'm gonna
run away

℗ © Creative Measures (ASCAP) (originally Trinity Sound Corporation, 1973, 1974, 1975)

1975 Notes:

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth putting my life on the line. But then I wonder if anyone even knows I'm doing just that.

John 11:35

2005 Notes:

After concerts I used to feel about like a wet dish rag. Totally drained. Like I had gone out there, put myself on the line, let everyone know how totally human and vulnerable I am, and come back completely spent and empty. It's never easy to tell people how you feel. Especially people who know you well.

If “Life is Like” was the most requested song from Bluer, “Willie” was the most often asked-about song. In fact, it's still happening. The end of last summer, I was up on a ladder installing siding on our front porch when I got a call from a Kansan who I'd known many years ago. When David handed the phone up to me, guess what the person had called to ask? Was “Willie” about human love or divine love? I must have sounded flustered as I said “human love.” I was tired, and not in the best situation to be carrying on a long phone conversation. He sounded disappointed at my quick answer. Afterwards, I wished I'd talked with him a little longer and come down from the stupid ladder long enough to find out something about him.

It's strange when people you don't know very well want to talk to you about very intimate things. It used to happen after concerts all the time. Now it happens a lot less often, usually through e-mail or a note scribbled on a record order, or a random phone call. But it's still odd, and I don't always feel like opening up and telling everyone every personal detail. I'm sure you can understand.

But anyway, my caller friend, here's a better, more thoughtful answer, and I'm sorry if I was bit abrupt with you on the phone. Please forgive me and give me another chance.

I've already spoken a lot about this human-love-versus-divine-love thing in previous notes, and there's a lot of those same principles operating here. When I told you “Willie” was about human love, I was being a bit dismissive and a bit rebellious. Maybe I was trying to say: What's wrong with human love, anyway? Is that somehow less divine than divine love? Doesn't it all come from the same place anyway? It would have been kinder and more accurate to say both. It's about both kinds of love.

Willie's someone I had seen—not even someone I knew—in truth, a character in a movie. A character that seemed like someone I needed. Or someone I had lost. Maybe a part of me so deeply hidden I couldn't find it. Or maybe some combination of all three. Anyway, seeing that character roused such longing in me and such disappointment, and such hope against hope... The result was this song, and it's my favorite one on the album.