"Who Will She Be"

© 1977 Lee Ruth

Composed 8/9/1977

MP3
Thom & Sarah Howard
Thom Howard - Vocal, Classical Guitar, & Mandolin
Sarah Howard - Vocal
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
Who Will She Be
adapted by Thom Howard

If you, Who are the heart of me
The part of me that's free, Will not my lover be
Who will he be, who will he be
Who will he be, who will he be

If you, Who live inside my skin,
Who I breathe out and in, The bread and breath of life
Are not my natural wife
Who will she be, who will she be
Who will she be, who will she be

She (He), Who I cannot see
If she is not thee (If he is not thee)
Who will she be
The blood is boiling in my veins, And not a cell remains
Outside her fire, outside her fire
Untouched by you, untouched by you

If we, Who live each other's lives, Beneath the common skies
Will not lay us down - in joy, Upon the common ground - in joy
And bring it back around
What will we be, what will we do
Who'll be with me, who'll be with you

If you, who are the heart of me
The part of me that's free
As far as I can see
Will not my lover be

Who will she be?
Who will she be?
Who will she be?
Who will she be?

If you, who live inside my skin
Who I breathe out and in
The bread and breath of life
Are not my natural wife

Who will she be?
Who will she be?
Who will she be?
Who will she be?

She who I cannot see
If she is not thee
Who will she be
The blood is boiling in my veins
And not a cell remains

Outside the fire
Outside the fire
Untouched by you
Untouched by you

If we, who live each other's lives
Beneath the common skies
Will not lay us down, in joy
Upon the common ground, in joy
And bring it back around

What will we be?
What will we do?
Who'll be with me?
Who'll be with you?

Artists on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
We considered a few songs, but "Who Will She Be?" caught our attention
above the others. Most often we perform children's music, so we wanted
to do a more serious song for this CD, and a duet love song was just the thing. This song lent itself nicely to being worked into a duet, and it was subtle and creative, both benchmarks of Lee's writing. (Songwriters take note: some of the best love songs never use the word itself!) We wrangled it into 3/4 time (Lee's original is in 4/4) and it took on something of the feel of an English madrigal, which sounded nice with our instrumentation, classical guitar and mandolin.

I can't remember much about the writing of this song. The date on the page in the old notebook I wrote it in is 8/5/77, which tells me I was in Crested Butte, Colorado. The two-hundred-year calendar programmed into the memory of my thirteen-year-old VCR tells me that date was a Friday, which means it was the weekend of the Crested Butte Summer Festival of the Arts. Some of it is coming back to me now. I had been there around three weeks, Townes Van Zandt had arrived just a few days earlier, and sometime during that day Mike Cochran pulled into town. The next day another Missouri friend, Guy Pollard, rolled in. What with the busyness of preparations for the festival, figuring out what I was going to play for my festival sets, hanging out and playing music with Colorado, Texas, and Missouri friends, where and when did I find a quiet moment to sit down and write this song? (The date could be wrong, but probably isn't.) Perhaps the song doesn't even exist, since it hardly seems possible I could have written it then--unless it was late the night before. Perhaps I started it that day and finished it later.

"Who Will She Be" is a musical meditation on feeling and being in a state of total oneness with someone else, except for the absence of a reciprocal state of feeling and being on the part of he or she. Yet it feels so real and so right--how could it not be so? Just is. Just isn't. Life goes on. Write the love song. Let the chips fall…

Artists on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artists:

Shortly after we moved to town, Thom began teaching at Crazy Music and
that was where we first met Lee Ruth. This modest gentleman would quietly greet a student to his studio, the door would close, and soon some very pretty, lively, and sophisticated guitar or mandolin music would escape into the hall.

We particularly remember a workshop at the Big Muddy festival in Boonville. The topic of the session was folk guitar accompaniment styles. Both Lee and Thom were attending, while Sarah listened from the sidelines. At one point the leaders of the workshop had everyone play "Wildwood Flower," in order to try out what they had been teaching, and at the same time we passed solos around the room. There were a lot of flatpickers punching it out on big loud dreadnaughts, and generally the overall sound stayed the same. But when Lee took a finger-picked solo on that great little Martin he plays, the volume of the whole room dropped down a notch. Everyone wanted to hear what he played. True to form, it was complex but subtle, lively but eminently tasteful. We sort of took it as a bonus lesson on the value of appropriate over aggressive playing.

Must have been around 1988 or '89 when Thom started teaching guitar at Crazy Music in the studio directly across the hall from mine. Though he didn't teach there very long we did get acquainted, and I had a chance to hear him play some very nice guitar music--sort of a classical/jazz fusion a la Charlie Byrd or Bill Harris. In the years since he came to town, he's parleyed his musical expertise into a wide variety of musical endeavors, not the least of which is playing music with his wife, Sarah. Though I had seen them together on occasion, I really didn't find an opportunity to become more acquainted with her until some years back when she organized a low-key but very nice concert series at the public library in Columbia and I started attending some of the concerts. The recording session for this song was my first opportunity to hear them make music together, and I look forward to hearing more. The madrigal quality they found in the song was a surprise to me, and I think it works well as a male/female duet.

Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
Thom and Sarah mostly play music for children, so "Who Will She Be?" was a bit of a departure for them. As the musically youngest of three husband-and-wife duos on the CD, I think they turned this written-for-a-solo-voice tune into a sweet duet. Thom's precise guitar work is only a scratch on the surface of his talent. In between recording the basic tracks, a session cut short by a large thunderstorm, and the session to do vocal tracking, Thom went off to Kansas to win that state's 2003 guitar finger-picking championship. I've heard from Sarah that since recording "Who Will She Be?" she and Thom have added a few more not-just-for-kids songs to their repertoire.

Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Dates: 7/9/03 and 9/10/03

Mixed: 1/14/2004

Mixed by Pete Szkolka and Steve Donofrio


 

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