Keys native’s song a finalist

Colville’s ‘End of War.’
Colville’s ‘End of War.’

Gloucester, Mass., singer-songwriter and guitarist Eric Colville’s anti-war ballad “End of War” has scored a spot as finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.

The song, which evokes the era of the 1960s folk anthems and has been embraced by various peace groups, represents the top 2 percent of the more than 16,000 entries in the contest. The judging is done by a panel of celebrity and music industry judges. Winners will be announced this month.

The entry from Colville, a Florida Keys native, is in the folk/singer-songwriter category.

Colville grew up in the Keys without a television, a deliberate decision by his parents. As a result, he immersed himself in the music of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Motown, among many others.

“Much of the radio I got was from Havana, so I did hear quite a bit of Cuban music growing up as well. You could often get a better signal from Havana than Miami,” he recalled.

Colville later moved to Miami, where he earned a degree in engineering from the University of Miami, although he hung out with the music students there. He moved to Massachusetts decades ago.

“End of War” isn’t one of Colville’s newer songs. He wrote it after reading Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” and feeling like it should have ended more hopefully. It also dovetailed with his watching of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “The War,” which he says underscored “the senselessness of so many lost lives.”

He hoped the song, performed to acoustic guitar, would help him explain war in the past tense to his then-young son.

It ended up being a first prize winner in the lyrics category and second overall winner in the 14th USA Songwriting Competition in 2009.

The song pays tribute to John Lennon in the second verse and offers echoes to the Beatles legend’s hit “Imagine.” That reference was not lost on Mike Pinder, a founding member of the Moody Blues and a judge in the 2009 competition, who told Colville in an email, “I knew John Lennon and he would have liked this song.”

Colville said though he is a rocker, he also can be a coffeehouse crooner, entertaining the crowd with lyrics that can be introspective, provocative and “occasionally campy.” His song titles are colorful, like “Doer’s Lament” and “12-Step Program,” about how a 12-step program is needed to help mend a broken heart.