He ain’t heavy

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - COL­UMN Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

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

My Im­per­fect

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.

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