Headwaters Wordsmithing

Writing for the actor, singer, and reader.

Birthed in the Northwoods of Wisconsin,  Headwaters Wordsmithing creates screenplays, lyrics, and books with an emphasis on faith in God...and a minor emphasis on coffee.  Make yourself at home.

I've found I can more or less make Musical Mannequins.  Bare melodies and naked lyrics awaiting someone's instrumental and vocal touch to clothe and transform them into something greater.

Perhaps even something beautiful.

The lyrics come fairly easily - like dipping a small net into a fast-moving stream, snagging the words, and then moving them around until they fit.

The melodies are more difficult - like towing an iceberg out of the North Atlantic.

During storm season.

With a rowboat.

The reason for the difficulty could be that I played the clarinet for eight years.  Notes I know. Chords I don't. (Ever try to play three clarinets at once to get a major chord?  I rest my case.)

Each song comes with the story of its origin and the "sound" of the artist I hear playing.  If the funding comes in and TechnoBoy can insert the recordings, the Mannequins will someday be presented in all their auditory and literary splendor, stylishly clothed by actual studio musicians.

But, uh, not right now.

When the Tall Trees Fall

We moved my dad, Grandpa D, up here for hospice.  When he died, I walked outside and stood around awhile.  Looking up, I noticed I was standing under a couple of towering red pines.  That’s how it began.

(Sideline:  TechnoBoy was only 8 but he helped with the song’s melody.  He loved his Grandpa D.)

The sound:  Toby Keith, Randy Travis


When the Tall Trees Fall


All those lost little boys / In that big crowd of knees

They can’t see a thing / Looking up they say “please”

Then big hands reach down / And, with love, lift ‘em high

Up onto strong shoulders / As their heads scrape the sky

And they see the world…



Those tall trees, they stand / So strong in their place

They shelter these small trees / For years by God’s grace

Then God in His wisdom / Picks the time and the place

When the tall trees fall

When the tall trees fall


Now those young boys are men / Stoppin’ by every day

To look in on dads / Makin’ sure they’re okay

Those shoulders once strong / Are now brittle with age

Their story’s ‘bout done / It’s on the last page

And those boy-men remember…


(repeat Chorus)


So whether we’re grown / Or whether we’re small

There’s a daddy-sized hole in our souls / When the tall trees fall…


(repeat Chorus)

Kiss the Rain

I have always been impressed with Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”.  It was the #1 song in the USA of the ‘70s, back when I was in college and knew everything.  

I liked the idea of a song that could be accepted at face value but could also have a deeper meaning.   These lyrics are very loosely based on Hebrews 4:13-16.  Jesus Christ has been there.  And He's here - right now.

The sound:  Barbara Striesand, Vickie Lawrence


 Kiss the Rain


The hurt pours from your broken heart / It burns your soul, tearing you apart

There’s nothing to be gained / By saying there’s no pain

So, kiss the rain


Your life is moving oh so slow / Through a numbness dead as winter snow

Each feeling has been drained / Life can barely be maintained

So, kiss the rain



Kiss the rain and feel the pain / Flow away as teardrops mingle

Into a world in which a single drop of rain will come again

As a rainbow, cloud, or blossom / You know the power of Love is awesome

And I am here to help you smile again

So, kiss the rain


It hurts so bad, it did for me / But soon the pain will go, you’ll see

It’ll be okay, you’ll make it through / It’s part of life and I am here with you

So kiss the rain


(repeat Chorus)

Chasing After Rubies, Watching Diamonds Go By


The seed was planted driving back from school one night on a crowded section of interstate.  Three decades and a few thousand gallons of coffee later, the seed sprouted into this “Lament of Success”.

I hear a country waltz - a nice reason to hold someone you care about just a little closer.


The sound:  George Strait, Brad Paisley


Chasing After Rubies, Watching Diamonds Go By



Chasin’ after rubies / Watchin’ diamonds go by

Missin’ all those golden moments / With you – why can’t I

Better use these precious days / As they quickly fly by

Instead of chasin’ after rubies / Watchin’ diamonds go by


It’s the freeway and me / At a quarter past ten

The job and its games / Keep me out late again

All those taillights before me / Form a ruby red line

And all those diamonds / Drivin’ past me

Are just headlights that blind




You’re the one that I love / But do you know that I care

Can you feel my love’s real / It’s so rare that I’m there

I’m just a voice on your phone / As my work hours fly

Because I’m chasin’ after rubies / Watchin’ diamonds go by



Little Yellow Plane

I was in kindergarten when the news broke worldwide that 5 missionaries - Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian – were speared to death by the Auca Indians.  Their bodies were found on a river sand bar near the little yellow airplane they had been using to drop gifts to the Aucas.

Years later, Mom let me stay up to watch Jack Paar (I think it was him, I was pretty sleepy) interview Elizabeth Elliot, Jim’s widow, and the Auca Indian that had actually killed her husband.  It made an impression.

Then about 8 years ago, the DVD movie, “End of the Spear”, played in our living room.  And all those memories melded with the movie, morphing into “Little Yellow ‘Plane”.

It's a little lengthy, reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Edmund Fitzgerald", but that's the inherent problem with ballads.  Stories are longer than thoughts. Stories that make a point are longer yet.  So you might wanna get a refill on that coffee.


The sound:  originally, Jimmy Buffet/Island sound;   now, Sammy Davis, Jr. with a full orchestra


Little Yellow ‘Plane


God’s love burned deep within their hearts / By faith they chose to make a start

The world thought them insane / Would they know joy or pain

While flyin’ / Their little yellow ‘plane


Families started far from home / There were days together and nights alone

In the heat and the pouring rain / But slow to doubt or to complain

While flyin’ / Their little yellow ‘plane


(Chorus 1)

To grasp / The dream / Of what God would have them do

To trust / In Him / For the grace to see it through

So if there’s good times or bad / Whether happiness or pain

They chose to fly / Their little yellow ‘plane


They prayed and did all they could do / It seemed like God was breakin’ through

Then the silence of the rain / Screamed that hope had just been slain

Lyin’ near / Their little yellow ‘plane


Like Golgotha on that Friday / How could a lovin’ God let it end this way

But God’s love was in their pain / They chose to start again

And bravely fly / Their little yellow ‘plane


They met the killers face-to-face / Ignored justice and shared God’s grace

Now there’s a people forever changed / As God’s mercy was explained

By flyin’ / Their little yellow ‘plane


(Key Change)


So where’s the dream that God gave me / Using my heart it’s plain to see

And I know that as I pray / God will show me what to do today

To fly / My little yellow ‘plane


(Chorus 2)

And to grasp / The dream / Of what God would have me do

To trust / In Him / For the strength to see it through

So if there’s good times or bad / Whether happiness or pain

I choose to fly / My little yellow ‘plane


There is more than what we see / There is so much more that we can be

God gives us all a dream, that’s true / But the question now I must put to you

Will you fly / Your little…yellow…’plane?

Let There Be

Pastor Kevin was talking about creation one Sunday morning.  He kept using the phrase “God said – and it was”.  It stuck with me, but there are a limited number of words that rhyme with “was” and a whole lot that rhyme with “be”.  Guess which way I went?


The sound:  Neil Diamond 

 Let There Be


God speaks the special words / That never have been heard

So night and day go their separate ways / To begin our history

And God says -

“Let there be”


The Garden is complete / And the snake is so discreet

As the couple sins, the world begins / To groan in agony

And God says –

“Let there be”



Let there be forgiveness and there is joy / Let there be acceptance and there is peace

Let there be hope and grace / And this special place

Where you can be with Me

And God says –

“Let there be”


Not even all our sin / Fills this emptiness within

Our shattered souls need to be made whole / By God’s Word at Calvary

And God says –



The Son, He is the Light / So there’s no fear of night

God’s Word came here / To make it clear

Enough so we can see

And God says –



The Wind Rustlin' Through the Leaves

When I was little, the Sunday hymnal held a gold mine of incredible Celtic thought. Sitting on those wooden pews, the congregation would begin a 4-part harmony excavation, digging up deep words and majestic music. Those Celtic hymns were tucked away as were the contemporary Celtic sounds and imagery of songs like, “There Were Roses”.

A couple of years ago, I heard the Annie Moses Band’s rendition of “What Wondrous Love Is This”.  Shortly after that, a collision of the old and the new occurred on a dark winter’s morning, fueled by too much caffeine.  This song is the result of that crash.

It really wasn't intentional, but this song came out as a performance piece.  It's designed for a lead singer and a group.  (Like Diana Ross and the Supremes - who, in my mind, are honorary Celts.)  I’ve noted the parts where the group is pre-eminent.   The rest of the song goes to the lead.


The sound:  Annie Moses Band, 2nd Chapter of Acts


 The Wind Rustlin’ Through the Leaves


Like the wind / Rustlin’ through the leaves

Lord, may Your Spirit move through me

Help me give You all my heart / For it’s there that I must start

Oh, break these chains / Cause my release

Make my rebellion / Die and cease

So that Your love flows freely out of me

Just like the wind / Ever rustlin’ through the leaves


Like the wind / Rustlin’ through the leaves

Lord, may Your Spirit move through me

Ignite my passion for Your Word / And to obey that which I’ve heard

Oh let my eyes  / See every face

Through the vision / Of Your grace

So that Your love flows freely out of me

Just like the wind / Ever rustlin’ through the leaves



Oh let Your Spirit move through us / We awaken at Your touch

Our world needs Your reality / Lord, move through us

Lord, move –


(Lead only)

-  through me

So that my world / Sees Your love instead of me

Just like the wind / Ever rustlin’ through the leaves



So that Your love / Flows through us wild and free

Just like the wind / Ever rustlin’ through the leaves


Andrew's Song

This song was initially started with the idea of giving it to a local organization that works with the families of cancer patients.  But it just wasn’t working.  I felt a gentle “stop” to the process.  When it comes to hearing from the Lord, you wanna stop the first time He tells you.  He’s got a really good reason why you should.

Then I heard of Andrew, the brother of my niece’s husband.  I’m sure I meet him at the wedding but I can’t truly say I remember.  Andrew ended up with Ewing sarcoma and passed away at 19.  But his life impacted, and is still impacting, a lotta folks with the message of Jesus Christ.

When I heard Andrew’s story, things finally fell into place.  This is his song.


The sound:   George Strait, Brad Paisley


Andrew’s Song

(“God’s Arm Is Around My Shoulder”)


There are those times when times are good

And life goes by like I think life should

But the times they sometimes change

And life can get so strange

Then the road gets kinda rough / And I don’t know if I’m tough enough



When things go bad and life gets sad

And the wind starts blowin’ colder

It’s nice to know as down this road I go

That God’s arm is around my shoulder

Yeah, God’s arm’s around my shoulder / When I let Jesus Christ be Lord


The clouds turn dark and come rollin’ through

To try to hide the joy that I once knew

Yet even in this storm

God’s love burns bright and warm

And as the night turns bitter cold / I know I’m not alone walking down this road





I thank you, my Lord, for being here

As this storm hits hard and life’s not fair

Your gentle grace and steel-strong love

Help me hold on instead of givin’ up




Repeat last line of Chorus to close

When Praise Begins

About eight years ago I waded tentatively into the songwriting pond and the great people at Christian Songwriting Organization provided good feedback and support.  While perusing the site I came across a post by Mark Krueger.  His piano music (www.restorativeworship.com) was available for lyrics if anyone was so inclined.  I listened to “When Praise Begins”... and it more or less wrote itself.


The sound:  Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett


When Praise Begins


When praise begins / I enter in / Through doors of grace into that place

Where You Lord dwell / That’s how I tell

When praise begins


When praise begins / Your Spirit’s wind / Moves through my heart as worship starts

Your Presence here / Becomes so clear

When praise begins



I know that these words I say / Won’t make Your Presence known

I know that I must obey / And kneel humbly before Your throne

I pray that my broken heart / Will beat in perfect time with Yours

So we can walk together / Through the Garden / Just like before


When praise begins / The sin within / I will confess so You may bless

Your grace and peace / Bring me release

When praise begins


(repeat Chorus)


When praise begins / The fear will end / Nothing can stand against Your Plan

It’s then I see / Your victory

When praise begins



When you become my all-in-all / That’s when the walls begin to fall

And all my mountains grow so small

When praise begins

YOU   (That 60's Worship)

I really like some of the British Invasion of the '60s.  The sound, the blend - yep, it just floats my boat.

Peter & Gordon.  Chad & Jeremy.  Gerry & the Pacemakers.  Herman & the Hermits.

I really enjoy that sound.

A few years ago I had just gotten off an hour-long Internet excursion where I visited those artists and their  incredible songs.  A cup of coffee later I was mulling the idea of a '60s song that would tell the Good News in an "Invasion"-type of sound.

Half-a-pot later, I heard the Invasion return, complete with tight harmonies and orchestral flourishes which I do not know how to write.


The sound:  Gerry & the Pacemakers,  Peter & Gordon,  (? the Beach Boys?)


YOU (That '60s Worship)

(verse 1)

You / Are the God of Everything

And now to You we bring / Our praise and gladly sing    (because of)

You / We are free from guilt and shame

Through Your blood and by Your Name / We will never be the same



You came to die and rose again / So we-ee-ee-

Could know You now and through eternity

We give our lives to You / You give us so much more

Your love for us existed long before  (we)


(verse 2)

Knew / You are the only Way and Truth

The Holy Spirit gives us proof / That we're being made brand new  (It's due to)

You / And Your Word that makes us grow

Showing us the way to go / So that the whole, wide world will see and know

The way to You-oo-oo


(repeat Chorus)


(repeat verse 2)



The Way to You / The Truth of You

The Life / That's / You




All content copyrighted by Dennis R. Doud. Website designed by Isaac Doud.