He ain’t heavy
My little brother, Snowden, has recorded a CD. For frig sake, I didn’t realize he could sing.
“Harry, my prevaricating honey,” says Dearest Duck before the ink is dry — so to speak — on my first two lines, “that’s not true for you.”
“Correct, my Duck,” say I, “but I didn’t realize he could really sing. Not like a … well, like a singer.”
Anyway, my little brother has recorded a CD and I boldly claim some of the credit because the earliest voice that embedded songs in his head was mine. Truly. In a different time, in a different bay, when Snowden was my bayboy baby brother and I a callow lad of ten or 11, I sang him to sleep — or, in retrospect, into feigned sleep p’raps.
Among the songs I sang, among the words and rhythms I imprinted on his brain, was Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear” — you know, “Running Bear loved little White Dove … diddly-diddlydah.”
I sang every night at bedtime until Mammy folded me in arms of unconditional love and — patting my back all the while — said, “Harry, my love, you’ve nary a note in your noggin.”
But, b’ys, I used to sing with gusto.
“Harry, that’s another lie for you,” says Dearest Duck. “Your mother didn’t say that. Did she?”
“My Duck,” say I, “truly words to that effect.”
Said CD, sporting a picture of a big brute of a gull on the jacket, is called “Migration Songs” and, as Woody Guthrie on his deathbed said to brash young Bobby Dylan, “It’s a good ‘un.”
Sure, Dearest Duck is memorizing the lyrics.
There are ten songs on the CD. “The Contractor Song [Fish ‘n Chips]” is a rambling, kinda talking blues account of the singer’s peregrinations criss-crossing North America as an itinerant contractor searching for work. It
Slant goes something like this: “Hey, Jim, life is grim…diddly-diddlydah.”
Ask Dearest Duck. She’s learning the words.
“Old Irish Wake” is a tribute to Dermot O’Reilly, essentially a paean to O’Reilly’s “West Country Lady”. It goes, “Diddly-diddlydah,” but with an Irish lilt.
Dearest Duck loves the snippet of Snowden’s children singing a line of “West Country Lady” at the song’s end. “That’s some cute,” she says.
The CD ends with “Leaving the Lovely Young Ladies”, a driving, diddly-diddly-dah, crescendo of music and lyrics honouring soldiers, Blue Puttees in particular.
Dearest Duck says, “I like that one.”
My favourite is “Flatrock in the Rain”. Now that’s a song. If Jimmy Buffett ever heard this song, he’d wish he’d written it. He might be so envious that he’d drag-arse back to Margaretville, chug-a-lug a jug or two of said eponymous drink and wind up with another puzzling tattoo.
The song’s refrain [or bridge, remember musically I’m stund as a stump] goes like this: “Diddly-diddly-dah, Flatrock in the rain.”
The song’s story is of a restless young woman from … well, you know, who leaves home — as restless young women are wont to do — and disappears into the realm of myths to become the quintessential evocative mystery woman.
La Femme Mystique is just outlaw enough to be edgy. She leaves Flatrock on a Sunday, soaked to the skin in pathetic fallacy as the rain rains down. Airport bound, she grabs a cab “on Adelaide”, maxes out her MasterCard on a ticket to “Somewhere” and before you can say “skeedaddle” flies off into “the Wild Blue Yonder”, off to become a gone-girl myth.
Speculative stories abound. She lives in Portugal. Or Spain. Or p’raps she dances exotically [?] in Paris. Or Amsterdam.
But Brud knows that idden true: “She came from Flatrock diddly-diddly-dah in the rain.”
She comes home once when her mother dies only to realize — I s’pose — like ol’ Tommy Wolfe that you can’t go back home, or p’raps even want to.
She meets an old friend — lover? — shares drinks and yarns and come dawn winds up “drinking coffee at YYT.”
An aside: That last bit is the only time I’ve ever seen YYT cast as a trysting place. Best phrase in the song … … except for many others… What? Oh yes, aside ended.
When all is said and done, Missy departs YYT [!] leaving only a scent like an aura — her lingering perfume — and flies back into the Wild Blue Yonder … where myths are born.
I’ve listened to “Flatrock in the Rain” more than ten times and each time it reeves its hand down my throat, latches on to my heart and pulls it apart like a sticky-bun. Truly. “I like that honky-tonk song better,” says Dearest Duck, abruptly leaving, humming, “Diddly-diddly-dah.”
Visit Mr. Google and root around in his files. Key-in www.randomsoundstudio.com, follow the bouncing ball you’ll find “Migration Songs.”
If you order a CD — hinthint — you’ll recognize some of the folks who influenced Little Brother — Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan, The Who, Jethro Tull…
…but you know what? There’s not a hint, not a note, not a chord, not diddly-diddly-dah of “Running Bear.” For frig sake! Thank you for reading.
If Jimmy Buffett ever heard this song, he’d wish he’d written it. He might be so envious that he’d drag-arse back to Margaretville, chug-a-lug a jug or two of said eponymous drink and wind up with another puzzling tattoo.