Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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A Wareham Druids Freshman Tabor Musical Contest

Blue Flowers

 

I’m thinking of a song.

This is a song that reminds me of my hometown of Wareham, Massachusetts, in the US of A. I’ve been thinking about my hometown more than usual this week and posted in this Blog Tuesday about the good old days and some of the bad new ones. That post received quite a bit of attention and a number of comments, one of which, from Thom Laine, was musical in nature.

I replied to his comment and in my response mentioned that I had been for a brief period in time a member of a musical group in Wareham. We called ourselves The Druids (I don’t remember why) and consisted of Billy Fisher on guitar, Wayne Lavallee on drums, and a summer kid from Hyde Park (in Boston) named Roy (last name lost in the cobwebs of my mind), who played bass or rhythm guitar (again, the brain cell thing) and lived summers with his family in Swifts Beach – one of Wareham’s many and distinct and wondrously enchanting beach communities. Oh, I was the singer. Billy was a couple of years older than me and actually was on active duty in the Navy, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. Wayne was a year older. Roy was around my age and had a brother and I hung out in their summer house. We held practices in Wayne’s garage, poured concrete floor and all, which – I believe – officially makes me a member of a garage band. Cool.

 

April Flowers

 

We got to play in public, at least two places I remember were a Wareham High School freshman dance (and my memory here in crystal clear of screams and wails from the female members in attendance, just like with The Beatles) and in a battle of the bands in next town over Marion at Tabor Academy (along with Wareham’s Table Scraps), said Academy so many years later serving as the slightly unreal Tabler Academy in my first book, “Ring Around The Rosy”.

We sang cover songs. Other groups’ songs. One of which I’m thinking of right now. And in the spirit of fond remembrances of days past, I’m offering a contest. This is it — correctly guess which song we covered – one guess only – and in my mind today and be the first to post your answer on the Blog itself or my Facebook page and you will win one of these three paintings I have recently created, your choice. Each is painted on 11 x 15 watercolor paper in acrylic, and will be packaged as safely as I can get it and mailed out tomorrow. I might even throw in a Wareham-related surprise.

 

Duck

 

The rules are simple: Guess the song (remember, one guess per person) and reply on the Blog or my FB page. And be the first with the correct guess. Of course, as there are probably 127, 555 songs in my mind from which I might be listening I’m going to give you three hints. I’m hesitant to do so in fear it will be way too easy. Heck, I’d only need one of these hints to make the correct guess. But in the spirit of fairness I feel obligated to help out. So, here they are.

  1. The song was originally released between 1962 and 1969. (Which you probably could of figured from the years of and around my high school life. Duh)
  2. The song was released on Capital Records. (Hmm, could this be any easier….Beach Boys, Beatles, Bobbie Gentry, The Lettermen, The Righteous Brothers, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Helen Reddy, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Don Yute….a few others. Heck, I might as well just tell you.)
  3. This would have been a great song blasting in a convertible roaring down Route 66. (Sorry Helen Reddy.)

Okay, I’m sure I’ve given it away. Thank you Billy and Wayne and Roy and especially Wareham for the memories. Swifts Beach and Tabor and The Table Scraps and The Revolutionaries and  The Monday Club and summer crushes Roberta Magarian (Lexington) and Pattie Parent (Wakefield) and Elaine Flinkstrom (Easton) and Parkwood and High Street and  Royal’s front yard and Main Street and Onset Beach and plain old Route 6 – thank you too.

I bet you get the picture.

Call me. We’ll have lunch.

(Contest ends tonight, 7/13/17, at midnight.)

 


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Back In My Little Town

 

cropped-random-0151.jpg

Once upon a time, far away and long ago, I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts named Wareham. Hard by the Buzzards Bay inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, and no doubt a clone of sorts from Wareham, England, itself hard by Poole Harbour and its larger Atlantic mother. The “Gateway to Cape Cod”, that’s what it was called at times, that’s what the sign said out on Route 28 by the Chamber of Commerce. Situated just before the Bourne Bridge crossing over to The Cape, at the confluence of the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay.

I was lucky to have grown up there, for many reasons. It was a gentle place, mostly, dotted with beach communities and summer homes and summer days, Cape Verdean enclaves and culture, pine forests, and luscious ponds carved out by retreating ice-age glaciers. In the winter we skated those ponds, pushed against the sparkling frosty air, sometimes with a stick and a puck at our feet. In the spring, summers, and fall we fished, especially me and Donnie Sisson, usually Mill Pond – both sides of 28 – but others as well – Tihonet, the horseshoe mill, in West Wareham. Donnie had a hand-made net contraption thing, and we would wet it and rub damp Sunbeam white bread into the bottom and throw it in the Wareham River in back of Franconia Oil, just over the railroad tracks, and come back an hour later and haul it up, usually loaded with chubs and shiners, and these we would put in buckets of water and on our bikes create amazing acts of balance with buckets and fishing poles and tackle boxes and cruise to the spot of the day. In fact the Wareham River is, to this day, never far away for me, though I’m away 3000 and more miles as the red-winged blackbird flies. The River remains always in my mind and heart, I bet it’s in the blood that pumps and gravities through my body. Yes. I painted my feeling about it a few years ago. That green and gray thing up there.

Little Harbor Beach was another place of childhood summer days, with the folks and sisters and picnic lunch, blanket on the hot sand, and horse shoe crabs in the endless low tide wading and splashes, later on as a place to drink beer and park at night as the sun went down. With summer girls if we were lucky. I painted that too, actually a view away from the harbor and its Buzzards Bay supplier. This.

Little Harbor Lookaway

I write about my hometown today because yesterday on Facebook were links to a Wareham story of death threats against children and a militarized response and endless hours of parent and child anguish. Simon and Garfunkle sang about My Little Town. They also sang of a Mother and Child reunion. Here’s a link to a story about it all from a local news site.

 wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/p/wareham-students-evacuated-from-schools-following-pretty-specific-threat-of-shooting/1667706#.WWPKzCgT5ns.facebook

Reading the words, looking at the pictures, here in the Pacific Northwest, tears fell from my eyes. I couldn’t help it. They just fell. More water, like the Wareham River, like Little Harbor, like Buzzards Bay. More water, like my childhood.

Mary Hopkins sang a song back in my growing up time – “Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.” The Kinks sang a song then too – “We had our good times pal, we thought they’d last forever. But nothing lasts forever.”

When I crawled into bed last night my wife Susan, still awake, asked me, because of the way I am these days, if I had lost all my hope for the planet. My answer was “Most of it.”

Forget all the miles. It’s a long way from flying down Lincoln Hill on our bikes, hanging at Jay’s and Minnicks, dreaming of summer girls on Parkwood Beach, working at the record store, growing up with friends – it’s a long way from there to here. Today. For me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, to look through those childhood eyes again.

 


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The Three Most Important Songs In My Life – Hmmm – Writing 101

Today’s  #writing101 assignment, writing about the three most important songs in my life. And do it the way Natalie Goldberg suggested, pen never leaving the paper, writing without editing. I’ll try it, hands on the keyboard, pecking away with two fingers as i do. The challenge for me is thinking of which three songs qualify. Okay, 15 minutes.

Okay. I took a few moments to allow my mind to open to the songs that have meant more to me than all the other wonderful, amazing songs I love, for the longest time. These three showed up, and I believe they are the right ones: “Surfer Girl” by The Beach Boys; “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now” by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose; and “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen. Yes, that is correct. Good job mind.

If anyone reads this brief musical entry and looks further down my lists of posts they won’t have far to look before coming to one titles “Surfin'” I wrote that not so long ago, about a life-long regret that I have never climbed up on a surfboard and caught a wave, sat on top of the world, hung ten, or any of those dreamy things. I used some Beach Boy songs in my blog, to create a milieu of Southern California dreaming, and “Surfer Girl” was one. While I could sit here and say that maybe it is really “Girls On the Beach” or “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” or “The Warmth Of the Sun”, in the end it always was, and will be, “Surfer Girl”. I grew up in Massachusetts, graduated high school in 1967, and was probably a sophomore when this song arrived. The music is so beautiful, the harmonies, the images, and the simplicity. Do you love me, do you surfer girl? We could ride the surf together. The guitars, the drums, the bass introduction. It’s perfect!! I must confess that I have it on YouTube as I write this. Yay. I did move to Southern California in a drunken, drugged out haze in the mid seventies, but never got up on a board. Oh well, I’m still a kid. I can always sing this to myself: “In my woodie i will take you everywhere I go.”

I believe it was the year i graduated high school, or maybe the next, when “It’s too Late…” came out. The quick little drum intro, never more than two seconds to know what was coming. I believe it is a song about joy, I have always felt that way about it, even though it seems like some cautionary tale. If you scroll further down my blog posts you will come to one called “Take A Leap”. That’s what this is about. “It’s too late to turn back now”. Yes sir. I love this song, I used to sing it in the rear bed of a pick-up truck when i was working for the Park Department on my home town for a couple of summers, running lawnmowers, endlessly back and forth round and around. I grew up in a small town that had about 2/3s white population and 1/3 black. I always considered myself very fortunate, early on getting to be around other people, other ways, other habits, other loves. There was a lot of Motown in my home town. This isn’t Motown, per se, but it’s got soul.  “And there’s nothing that I can do.”

And then, of course, I mean is this song not on everyone’s list of the three most important songs in the world, there is “Louie, Louie”. I won’t bother quoting any of the lyrics here, mostly because I can’t. When I was a kid, a young man in the company of other young men, we would sings what we thought were the lyrics. But this song has been done so many times by so many groups – including The Beach Boys – with lyrics other than the ones we heard, that in the end, the lyrics don’t matter, never did. You know what matters. Come on, you can say it. “Da, dum dum dum, da da, dum dum dum, da da. Does all rock and roll music eminate from that chord structure, that most simple 1-4-5? I guess Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly and Fats Domino and a bunch of other folks would say no. But, really, we all know the truth. Before The Beatles, or The Isley Brothers, singing “Twist and Shout”, before the Stones and “Satisfaction, way, way before Led Zeppelin and The Who and The Bay City Rollers, it was all about those chords, and those drums.  Too Much. Way too much. I bet if they were here The Ramones would shake their heads in a singular agreement. Name one of the most important songs ever.  Louie, Louie.

That’s my list and I am sticking to it.