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Book 2. And Book 4. “Surrender To The Sun”

March 24, 2010 2 comments

Book 2. And Book 4. “SURRENDER TO THE SUN”

I wrote todays post recently, on the day of the vocal session for the new recording of “Surrender To The Sun” here’s the song and the  lyric.

“Surrender To The Sun”            (by Scott Fagan and Susan Minsky)

Go down by the sea, surrender to the sun, find the one you used to be, forget what time has done.

Go down by the sea and heal your heart, too many memories, are tearing you apart

Your eyes show, your tired so of love of lose or win, old friends know, you’ve got to go, and let your heart begin again

Istrumental..

Your eyes show, your tired so of love of lose or win, old friends know, you’ve got to go, and let your heart begin again

Go down by the sea, surrender to the sun, find the one you used to be, forget what time has done.

Go down by the sea and heal your heart, too many memories, are tearing you apart, their’re tearing you apart…

 It’s a simple, surprisingly beautiful lyric that I wrote while visiting Patty and The Bix in their pad overlooking Hull Bay, in St. Thomas in 1976    We recorded it not long after as the “Theme Song” for a Canadian Film called “Recommendation For Mercy” (The film was about a young Canadian teenage boy, who had been accused and convicted of Murdering his sweetheart, lots of folks felt very strongly that he was innocent and had been railroaded by the authorities. I am happy to report that his conviction was recently set aside, he was declared innocent and released from prison. 

 (You can find the original recording on youtube or at http://www.lilfishrecords.com) Warren Schatz produced and arranged it, and it was released by RCA as a single with “Many Sunny Places” on the other side.

 “Surrender To The Sun” went to become #1 on what was then the #1 station in New York City, however it was never distributed beyond New York, so no one outside of New York ever heard it. It was a beautiful record, and led Sid Bernstien to the verge of singing me to a management deal. Had he done so things might heve been very different. Why no distribution? I don’t know. Why no signing? Yo no se…

Nevertheless the recording did bring about quite a positive change with at least one neighbor of mine, I lived on the NE corner of 76th and West End in those days and there was a fellow living at 76 and Broadway, who had a powerful resentment towards me, having to do with fire hydrants and curbing dogs (his dogs) and other city silliness. I couldn’t walk up 76 street at night ‘cause when I did, inevitably a baggie full of doggie nitro, would come flying down from his 10th floor window, I had some mighty close calls. When “Surrender To The Sun” was #1, he confronted me on the sidewalk one day wanting to know if I was the Scott Fagan on the record. Expecting God knows what, I confessed that I was. He stepped forward and stuck out his hand and said “My name is Bob Brown, and I think that your performance on “Surrender To The Sun” is the first perfect vocal that I’ve ever heard.

I was mighty relieved, Bob turned out to be a great piano player with his own state of the art eight track studio. We did a number of recordings together including the original sessions for “Sandy The Bluenosed Reindeer” (song and story) and a demo (the only recording anywhere) of “Sure Has Been Good Loving You Baby” which you can find here…

Bob Brown was a great and mighty piano player, singer and personality, I hope his is alive and well and rolling in the clover. Hiya Bob!

In any case “Surrender To The Sun” is one of a number of songs that I have written that I don’t believe have had a fair shot at finding their audience, (including “Sure Has Been Good” which I wrote with my partner “The Great Cocacola” Joe Kookoolis. In the 60’s) I have recorded a few of them more than once, in an effort to find their audience.

We recorded “Surrender To The Sun” for “Dreams Should Never Die” (The V.I. Songs Vol ll) as an interesting Latin Calypso arrangement, with a beautiful guitar solo by Jeff Medina. (Worlds champeen guitar from Trinidad by way of St. Thomas) When I wrote the Musical “The Virgin Islands Songs” I realized I wanted to reprise more of  what we had captured in the original recording. Interestingly, Jeff Medina and I have been working together on and off since I recorded the original, and put a band together called “ting”(as in Scott Fagan and Ting which has meaning in the islands) because Sid Bernstein was going to sign me and we thought that we would be going on the road to promote the record. Yo no se! 

In any case, life, fate, destiny, happenstance, persistence, determination, luck, irony, serendipity, Warren Schatz and God’s good Grace has allowed me another whack at the tune, another chance to record this beautiful song with this beautiful arrangement (and with what I have learned over these long years in spite of my self)

I will give it the very best of my heart and soul for once and for all.           I hope to make it one for the ages. Or as they say at the old Sixto Escobar stadium “Un Bataso Largo”

Ok now, the session is over and I have done my vocal, I was in good voice, I sang it with all my heart, it is a beautiful song, beautifully arranged, beautifully played, beautifully produced, and beautifully recorded..now we shall see once again if we can get it to the people, and if we can, if they will embrace it.

I’m fully charged, it was done in one take. We did another as a “safety”  and now I feel ready to do at least four, four hour sets for forty thousand people..or carry on from here ‘til dawn.

There is always the question of what to do to come down. This (post performance time) is a dangerous time for singers and musicians, as we have such an intense level of energy, begging to be burned. It used to go to the wenches, but tonight I think I’ll walk it off. I’ll go down by the sea at Lindbergh, and surrender to the cool night breeze and sing to my self up and down the beach until the energy is back to manageable.

We sent the track with the vocals oback to Warren via “You Send” (an online company that allows for the transfer of large music files, fairly quickly) so that he can do the mix. I am anxious to see what he thinks of the work that we have done.

I have a long history with the Wonderschatz, whereas Derrick recorded my voice for the first (but hopefully not the last) time yesterday, Warren has been recording my voice for forty five years. Consequently he is familiar with the instrument and how to mike it (which microphones to use, at what volume, what the bass, mid range and treble concerns and settings ought to be and so on) He started as a recording engineer at Associated Studios on 7th Avenue (above the Metropole) between 48th and 49th streets in New York City, just after I came to New York and started doing demos there in 1964. Many young singers (my self among them) got their early recording experience in demo sessions, doing the vocals for the “latest and greatest” new song from this, that or the next writing team or publishing company. Demo sessions were often stressful and certainly hard work.

You would show up, and there would be a song or two or three that you had never heard before in your life. A collection of professional studio musicians and other, often female, background singers (each one more beautiful and exciting than the next..and all very very good). And you. Often the youngest, and in the beginning at least, certainly the greenest. And above all (yes pun intended) there was the omnipresent tick tock “every moment is money” clock on the wall.

Demo sessions were scheduled for one to two hours at the most. The expectation was that without question, the tracks and vocals were all going to get done within the time allotted. No ifs ands or buhbuhbuhbut’s about it and boy, you don’t want to be the one who is gumming up the works. It was like a crazy musical version of “The Weakest Link”.

“Dear Lord don’t let me forget how this odd melodic change goes in the second release, and have to go back to the islands to explain to one and all why the singin’ fool of a white boy from dung de road is a big fat failure already,”..Or “Dear God don’t let me have to go back and tell Doc that he was wrong about me, that I am just a goofy teenager (with a fondness for drink) from the Islands, who ought to be learning how to whittle coconut trees into toothpicks or free dive Queen Conch sixty at a time, a hundred feet down off hammerhead point” . or “Dear Lord God, what about me poor Mudder”

These and many other things were banging around in my head as I would step into the vocal booth to sing the lead and “make this song a hit!” but I have to confess that there was no more powerful consideration or, immeadiate, heart pounding inspiration for me, than to be singing with the “oh so ultra divine Angeles of the ‘OU WAA”. The background singer girls. I loved them then and I love them now.

Good God awmighty, I just love those girls.

Any way, Warren was the engineer on many of those sessions, and he, like all the rest of us was subject to the tyranny of the tick tock and the idea of the instant elimination of he that faltered. In short, he learned to get it right, quick! (And has been getting it right for forty five years). Those demo sessions were, all things considered, heady, exciting, great fun and above all intensely educational. (Did I mention the beautiful background singer girls?)

Will the Wonderschatz listen and say, “oh poor Scotty, his future is way behind him. They were right, he left his best performance echoing through the catacombs beneath the Pilgrimage Theater in Los Angeles, thirty seven years ago, or, unfortunately I left his best performance in the trash bin, on twenty feet of edited eight track in 1976”. Or might he say “Hmm, the boy has finally learned how to sing a little, s’bout time” or “Too bad he’s finally learned how to sing, but now his instrument’s gone all wavery and quavery all over the place”.

At least I have a comeback prepared for the last possibility. It goes like this, “Oh Yeah? Well If you were sixty four and you tried to sing a song like that, I bet you’d sound all wavery and quavery all over the place too!”  The fact is, if all I can do is waver and quaver all over the place, even I would acknowledge that perhaps I really ought to reconsider “whittling as a way of life”.

Ah well, I do hope he likes it, I just have to wait and see…I’ll be looking for his email today And here it is, and..here is what Warren had to say.. “I LOVE this vocal! So heartfelt and special. Boy!!! You still got it son!”

Sheesh!! What a relief! God bless the Wonderschatz. And now the work begins. We have to accomplish something that we have never been able to do before, and that is to get a Scott Fagan recording to its audience. How to do it? How to do it? We will have to work on that next.

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Book 1. Isla Grande…

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1. Isla Grande…

Fleeing like banditos from “Bills” (not Wild Bill Hickock or Billy The Kid nor a gang of other such Billy bad boys, which would have made much more sense to me,) we got into what seemed  like a paper Mache “Piper” plane, and skeedaddled bouncily down the runway to rise shakily up up ah..down up down down up up down up into the air. (Good Godawmighty, just thinking about it, I get the leapin’ skeebewillers), Between skeebees and willers, I thought “what the heck are we doing” “what the heck are they thinking?”, this is crazy…

 We were leaving St. Thomas, Howard’s home, and a place that Gale and Mud and I loved, to go to Puerto Rico, because we “couldn’t pay our bills?” what kind of crazy craziness is that?

 If Mud had only known…

We were leaping one and all, body and soul, out of the frying pan and into the fuego, to make a new start. What were they thinking…

In retrospect, but only because in addition to being  a pretty good screechist and yowlist, I am a UCLA trained and certified Drug and Alcoholism Counselor, (I got that training in order to design and implement a recovery program for the music business, but that’s another story) I understand fairly well what they were thinking.

Howard (Mud’s fourth Husband) was seeking what is known as a “geographical cure”, that is when an alcoholic or drug addict thinks/hopes/imagines that changing his or her geographical location will solve their problems, not realizing that their problem/s is their addiction to alcohol or their drug/drugs, and the predictable symptoms and side-effects of that addiction, across all the life areas. Capeche?

More than likely, Mud was “feeling”, more than thinking, and what she was feeling, more than likely, goes something like this…her father had committed suicide when she and her twin sister were nine, “if only she and her sister and her mother had done more, had tried harder”…Howard was her fourth attempt at marriage and she was only twenty nine years old, He was a charming, cultured, fun and educated twenty eight year old, she was determined to be a good wife. She was determined to save both her husband and her marriage, if humanly possible.

 Of course they had absolutely no real insight into or understanding of  their ever progressing alcoholism, other than the propaganda that the alcohol industry had successfully brainwashed everyone into beliving, which was that “drinking too much” (addiction to alcohol or alcoholism), while a bad habit, was essentially a question of will power, of strength of character. (If you had no strength of character, or will power, well… thats on you)

So off we went, the blind leading the blind, deeper into the darkening night.

The Piper was being piloted by “Mr. Gray” Mud’s boss at V.I. Corp (The Virgin Islands Corporation – a government funded development and management company) Mr. Gray was (in those days) “an American Negro”, nowadays, an “African American” meaning, he was a person of color, from the states, as opposed to being an “I-lan Man”, or more contemporarily, an  “Afro Caribbean American” or “Afro Decendent Person”. Whatever the descriptor, he was a kind and accomplished, fairly young man. Mr. or “Major” Gray was also a Jet Pilot in the National Guard.

It was 1954, Mr. Gray was thoroughly interesting and was seen as a real  star on the rise. Tragically, a few years later, long before reaching his full potential, he would disappear while on a National Guard training flight, crashing with his jet,  into the sea off Puerto Rico.

Our bumpity little flight that day, over the same waters, still remains my least favorite flight ever. The capper was when we were descending over San Juan harbor down towards the runway at “Isla Grande” and the engine seemed to cut off (in reality, Mr. Gray had simply “throttled back”) and I (more of those blasted words with a mind of their own) involuntarily (but at volume) squeaked to my everlasting humiliation, a pinched but heart felt “He.. He… HELP!” right over his shoulder and into the microphone and the ears of the air traffic controllers down below…Ah well.  

It’s a lonesome thing to think that one is the only surviving member of our crowded little crew in that crowded little piper cabin that day, and perhaps odd too, that even after all these years, one would still be so embarrassed at the outburst.

We went directly from Isla Grande (the airport) to a very charming old world style hotel in Old San Juan called “The Plaza” where we stayed for approximately one week. Gale and I had the greatest fun running around exploring the streets of Old San Juan together. Old San Juan, is an extraordinarily beautiful, colorful, charming and picturesque little city of narrow cobblestone streets built in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, with the architecture, and ambiance of Old Espana herself.

Add to that “La Forteleza” the grand and beautiful stone and rubble masonry Spanish Fort built to protect the city from the likes of “El Draco” (Sir Francis Drake…of the recently referenced Drakes Passage in the Virgin Islands) and other English, Dutch or French military invaders and Privateers, along with the predations of the “barbarous brotherhood of the boucan” the cockamie collection of Irish, African, English Dutch Scotch German, Welsh and everyone else, ner-do-wells known as “Los Hijos de La Gran P*tas, los Pirates! Ay con**yo!

 Needless to say, with the charm of the old hotel, and the past and the present, always present, Gale and I loved living in old San Juan.   

We thought we were in heaven.

Unfortunately, it only lasted a week. Our next move put us in the closest possible proximity to what was then the biggest swampiest, stinkiest, most disease riddled slum, in Latin America, “El Fangito”. We were now domiciled at “Parada Vente Cinco, y Aveneda de Fernandez Juncos”in Santurce. and all of the grace and charm of old San Juan vanished like the dark when you flip on the bathroom light. Ay con**yo!

 For the first time in our lives, Gale and I saw children feeding them selves out of garbage cans.  Wandering the streets with  filthy dirty faces, and open running sores. Girls and boys, no socks, no shoes, often no clothing, just a raggedy shirt, pinned at the bottom or nothing at all, and feeding themselves, hand to mouth, out of the stinking, filthy, maggot riven garbage cans, up and down the avenue.

 To say that we were shocked and disturbed would be a serious understatement. It was incomprehensible to us that people would allow this, we couldn’t understand it. My first conscious thought was “If the people in America knew about this, they’d stop it right away, they’d help these children and their families, and then, I thought, they must not know, or they’d never let it go on, and then…I’ve got to tell them about it, And then… I don’t know what to do. Within days I had started trying to write my first song hoping and believing that somehow, it would make a difference.

Gale and I had missed many a meal our selves, gone to bed and gotten up hungry many times over the past two year or three years. We knew what it was to be hungry, and to do without. In addition, we had been up close to extreme poverty in places like Barracks Yard and Buck Hole in St. Thomas, but that was no where near this intensity, this severity and this scale. Our pad was on the second floor, immediately next to and over looking El Fangito, the chaotic ramshackle tin and cardboard shacks went on and on as far as the eye could see. Soweto had nothing on El Fangito, except perhaps Soweto had less all consuming, everpresent, stinking, sucking, … mud.

While I was grateful that we were not smack-dab in the middle of it, I also realized that now, the only thing keeping us out of there, was Mother’s series of always iffy secretarial jobs.

 Howard was “sick in bed” with a recurrence of Malaria or, a Mala-Alco combo condition, the only cure for which seemed to be shots of Don Q. For a while, it was sort of my job to stay with and look after him. Gale had started back to school, Mother was at work and I was doing my part.

I was a “good boy” and I felt as if I was doing something important and helpful for him and the family, nevertheless, it was scary and unnerving as Howard slid easily in and out of delirium and it wasn’t always clear to me when he was in and when he was out.

 At the same time I suspect Howard felt some responsibility for instructing and engaging the lad (me) in which ever ways he could, and so in his malarial delirium, sitting in the physical and psychological “stink cloud” that hung over “El Fangito”, he took it upon himself to teach me the game of Chess.

God Bless Howard, I think he meant well with the Chess and the effort to engage, but I quickly discovered that I was not temperamentally suited to a game in which one sits for hours on end staring at a Chess board projecting ones opponents next move, and then thinking about ones own next move and then… and, to tell you the truth, I don’t know that Howard was either.

The games consisted of stretches of the longest, craziest, hot humid tedium imaginable, interrupted now and then by a seemingly nonsensical flurry of activity, that would almost always arrive at Howard staring across the board at me with his burning electric fevered yellow eyes, and shouting excitedly, Ok Ok Ok! You got me, then with the most grandiloquent sweeping flourishes knocking his King over and exclaiming, I Concede, I Concede! And then…Ok, Ok, Ok, you win, but gimme a chance to get even, set ‘im up and let’s play again.

 It’s just a good thing that Howard never offered to share his rum with me during Chess, or I surely would have started drinking alcoholically at eight, rather than at thirteen.

During one such “Malariac” relapse we were outside the kitchen on a sort of rooftop patio when I decided to go climbing over the side and down to a “boxed in” concrete alley below, I was a good climber and clambered around until I got to the deepest part of the down below, and there I seemed stuck. Even the lowest concrete walls down there were now too high for me to pull my self back up on, it seemed there was no way out.

 Howard suggested tieing some sheets together, and lowering them down for me to grab onto, the idea was that he would grab the other end and pull me two stories up, back to the patio. I looked at the concrete all around me, the fifty feet wall up to where Howard stood, and thought about his trembling walk and his shaky, shaky hands and fevered condition, and declined to do it.

It was the first time that I had overruled the direction or instruction of an adult, particularly a parent, and I felt very ashamed of my self. I was giving him the impression that I was afraid, and that  I didn’t trust him to do his part, but the truth is I was, and I didn’t.

The thought that I would be dragged up against the rough concrete wall for ten, twenty, thirty or even forty feet and then have to let go, or be dropped to the concrete below, seemed horrible and extremely likely to me. And while I could see that he was hurt and disappointed and I felt terrible about it, I felt even worse about the prospect of being foolish enough to try it and then coming back down that wall at speed.

The truth is I don’t think he had the strength to do it and I’ve never really regretted not going forward with it, I only regretted that he had made an offer that I had refused.

I was eventually able to scramble up and out on my own, but I think it came between us. Another situation from which I came away feeling the deepest shame occurred one night when Mud, Gale, Howard and I were  at the dinner table, Howard was up and out of bed and seemed to be getting better, we were talking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I was going to be a cowboy. Howard said “that’s great, I’ll come with you and we can be cowboys together”, and before thinking, I said “but you can’t Cha Cha Man, (our nickname for him) “there aren’t any colored cowboys”. It was like I had shot him, and I felt instantly that I had said something unforgivable, that I had hurt him terribly, I hadn’t meant to, and I had no idea what to do or say next.. So I said I’m sorry Howard, I’m sorry, he caught him self and laughed it off saying “that’s all right, I’ll be your cook” which made it even worse.

Had we known he might have said “Oh Yeah? What about Bill Dogget?” or The Buffalo Soldiers? or any number of others”, but because it was 1954 and whites  had written the history of the west, we didn’t know. I felt so very bad for him, and I was so ashamed… Continued…

 

 

Book 4. Words Are Music…

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Words Are Music…

 I am more than a little careful (or try to be) with my words. Apparently, far more careful with my words  than I am with what I use my words to actually say. Sort of like a painter whose little “pointillios” (what ever the heck that word means,-I’m making believe it refers to little pointed daubs of paint, that all together make up a little part, maybe a very little part of a pitchure ah..picture) In my example the pointillios are perfect, but the picture it’s self may be vulgar, ill-advised or estupido in the extreme.

And so, because I’ve been told (more than once)  that I’m capable of that, and I suspect that it may be true that I am capable of that, I have to be careful of that.

Aside from the fact that I think that words are music, they also have meaning  and beyond that, sometimes maybe even, a mind of their own.  I don’t know about your words, but from time to time, one or more of my words,  have (in spite of locked lips and a screeching no, no, fer God’s sake no!  from the brain), have slid down the nostril slide and out on to the upper lip or moustache, and then leapt from there, out into the air, Sounding for all the world to hear, exactly as if they had been intentionally spoken.

Those are words with a “mind of their own”, but just try to explain that to someone who my “self-directed” provocative words have just stimulated to the verge of imminent and  eye popping violence.

In addition, I s’pose I  ought to let you know that I’ve already had the shocking experience of kicking my own bottom, butt or bum, with my own boot, thereby stimulating that timeless question “jeeze-ka-weezel, wot’ n why th’ heck, did I do that? In other words, I’ve had the opportunity to inventory by own actions to the point that, well  you’d think I’d know better by now.

But, but, but…

I do get off-balance (unbalanced?) when the meanings of a word or words are misconstrangled, or words are used to mislead intentionally or even (as often happens,) unintentionally.

Now you might think that I’m about to launch into a rant about the lying “rat wings” of our established, corporate sponsored so-called political parties and their polluted propaganda and propagandists, and perhaps I ought to be doing just that, except I believe that less of that sort of thing, would be more of a better thing, all around.

My concern is more personal, and has to do with one of the unfortunate and unexpected side effects of being a singer, which is that one is then subject to all sorts of stupid jive from all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

For example, here are some excerpted things  about yours truly, (me)that a writer in Toronto recently presented in an article about my son Stephin Merritt.

 “Fagan was a folksinger in the ’60s folk revival, then a singer-songwriter with enough cachet that Jasper Johns did a painting of one of his records, then wrote an anti-music-industry rock musical in 1970-71 and, he claims, was blacklisted from the biz. He then retreated home to the Virgin Islands, where he had grown up, and has stayed there doing music in a sort of Jimmy Buffet vein ever since

The writer goes on to say “He (meaning me) and his mom were abandoned by his own musician father.

 And “You can debate the legitimacy/ickiness of Fagan’s blue-eyed-Caribbean style as much as you like”, He (meaning me again) “is this sorta white-rasta guy who sings in dialect”, “and who (me again) happened to leave you (meaning Stephin) and your hippie mom to fend for yourselves”

Friends, so much of that is so far from truth, that it is pure (well not pure, more like toxic) fiction and it hurts my feelings. Why? Because the idea that someone would present information as factual with out caring to check the truth of it, is disheartening, depressing, and upsetting Why? Because we all work long and hard at becoming who we are, and, at not becoming who and what we are not. To be so easily misrepresented leaves one with the feeling that our hard work, behavior and ethical choices didn’t and don’t matter a whit.

 When someone presents themselves as knowledgeable enough about me to write about me, I think the  first question ought to be “when and where did they meet” and “how long have they known each other?” other wise I think the writer  ought to begin by saying “Hey, I don’t really know Scaddy Waddy Doodles, or anything about him, I’m just going to pretend I do, so my editor and readers will think that I’m important and worldly and hoop, hup, hap, hup ahh…hep hoop, ah..well, anyway, know stuff.

I’m just going to be building on second or third hand (or worse) information, and extrapolate jive crap across cultures that I don’t know or understand.

That way, us naive “true believers” will know right off the bat that the writer is making it up, in fact, maybe even making it up on top of  the making it up that someone else did before, and we will know not to take it seriously, not to believe a word that is said (unless of course they claim to be sorry, but working with words with a mind of their own, in which case I for one will understand perfectly).

It’s sort of like when (oh oh here we go) someone presents them selves as sufficiently knowledgeable about music and the music business, to present themselves as an “expert” a knowledgeable and reliable insider. I think the first questions then ought to be “when can we hear your music?” How many tunes have you written? How many publishers have there been,  How many tunes have been recorded? How many record deals have you had, How many producers have you worked with?. Or, how many decades have you been in the business, at exactly what positions, when where what, and so forth

Because with out their own honest to God experience inside the music business, the writers knowledge is most likely consumer level misinformation, and not to be taken seriously. (You do know that we are talking about “show “:business, and that folks that are not really part of the gritty backstage world are seeing a show, right? And that while music critics, disc jockeys (and DJ’s) and other so called “in” crowd people may get a “Backstage Pass” to make them “feel” important, they aren’t really privy to what is really going on behind the scenes, right? You do know that right?)

It’s like a tourist sailing through the Islands on the Disney Princess and then presenting them selves as expert on West Indian culture and race relations. Or a guy in Toronto assuming that the confused political correctness of contemporary Canada, is reflected in the  cultural realities, racial identies, and racial and musical melting pot of the Caribbean.  It’s obviously silly, never the less, it can be  upsetting.

What are the real requirements to be a knowledgeable and expert writer about the clash and conflict between art and the crassest commerce? Between artists and those who are in the business of exploiting them and their art?.

You know something? I think I’m just realizing for the first time, that that is exactly what these “critics” and self important self proclaimed expert music business writers are doing. They aren’t in the business of creating music, they are in the business of exploiting music, and the people that make music.. They don’t have to know a blasted thing about artists or the music business really, they just have to convince an editor that they do, or in the case of blogs, they just have to convince themselves that they do.

I am naïve, and the small example, is just a small example. But what  does one do if the self proclaimed are spreading misinformation about one, and one is the one in question?, (that is one good question) Perhaps one ought to consult an astrologer or self proclaimed expert on public relations on this, but then what are the requirements, or the qualifications to be an astrologer or expert on relations with the self proclaimed experts on anything?

I confess that from while time to time I may have a slippy grip on the silken strand (or is it a rubber band) of consensual reality,  never the less, I am still four square in the game.  I guess that’s just another reason why there’s no business like show business!

PS. If we are able, we sing a Spanish song in Spanish,  a French song in French,  we sing a song that’s in English, in English, and we sing a Calypso song in Calypso, if we are able.

 

 

BOOK 1. The House at #1 Hole…

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

BOOK 1. The House at #1 Hole…

 I went to a small public information event being produced by COAST, the local affiliate of the “National Council On Alcoholism and Drug Addiction”. The event was being held on the old “Judge Herman E. Moore” golf course. I am very familiar with this particular golf course and just about every foot of fairway in it, as I started working here, caddying, when I was eight years old.

 At the time we were living in the old pre WW ll, Pan American passenger terminal. (Mud ALWAYS found interesting, atmospheric and unusual places for us to live) This one was a quaint wooden building with an open air waiting room, where gents in Panama suits once waited to swing aboard shiny new silver clippers heading to Rio and Buenos Aries and Ladies wrapped in foxes and Chanel #5 stepped off and into the torrid tropics for torrid romantic liaisons.

The waiting room was our (Gale and my) bedroom, the benches that the mythicals once sat upon in clouds of perfume, romance, espionage and dust devils, were part of the bedroom furnishings for Gale and I. It was bright and breezy, and even though it felt like we were living outside in a movie, we liked it just fine.

200 feet to the west was a Second World War military hanger, painted a  fading brown and green camophlage, and filled with genuine honest to God machine gun chattering, dive bombing, loopdelooping “outta the sun” dog fighting glass  canopied fighter planes, left over from “anti sub” patrol squadrons, parked here like some secret mission or lost patrol.

I see myself standing before and beneath them in the dusty old hanger, the rays of the sun slanting in through wire glass windows high above, lighting the scene. I’m straddling my broomstick pony, looking up at them, completely swept away in double dreamland, part cowboy, part pilot, part pirate (add singer, donwha? and Dada, and that’s the story of my life)

The hanger and these war planes were part of the US Navy presence that reshaped the Island and most particularly, this part of the Island, during the first and second World Wars. The reshaping (in general) included paving all of the main roads, providing plumbing and running water to all the public schools, upgrading the Hospital and public health infrastructure along with huge water catchments on hillsides all over the Island, and (what looked like) thousand foot radio towers judiciously placed (in duos and trios) here and there, (one of which, I would climb as a teenager, along with two certifiable lunatics. (no not Tuts, he had too much good sense for that)

On this part of the Island, the Navy built a genuine submarine base with six major piers or docks, gun emplacements, administrative buildings, a power plant, ten huge Barracks for enlisted men, two military hospitals, numerous administrative and support facilities, (including a little “look out house” on the very top of Hay Piece Hill- (where we also lived, but that’s another story) ammo dumps and emergency food caches, dug into the hill sides, (rations which we the “downtheroadboys” would discover and consume ravenously around 1959. (mostly long green cans of spam, and Lucky Strikes by the carton) along with a solid concrete bomb proof PX, cavalry stables, a recreational center called “The Arena” complete with ceilings over a hundred feet high and a stage where the Calypso King competitions were held during the fifties, a seaplane ramp, an entire airport (runway and hanger) known during the war as “Bournefield” (named for a Maj. Bourne who completed the first solo flight from Washington D.C. to Nicaragua, who knows when. or why)

In addition, they built Officers Quarters, consisting of large individual two story homes on the beautiful breezy hill now occupied by The University of The Virgin Islands, and forty smaller one and two family homes for enlisted men their wives and children down on the flats (known after the war as “low cost housing” or Bournefield”, as in “Scott considers himself a Bournefield Boy”) And last but not least, a wonderful Beach Club facility (changing rooms with a large snack and libation bar) and a stationary “raft” complete with diving boards, at Lindbergh Bay. (Named for Charles Lindbergh who landed right about where my little house was around 1927, after a nonstop hop from Venezuela, on his way back to the states after scoping out prospective routes for Pan American throughout Central and South America)  Lindbergh Bay and its facilities were a wonderful beach destination for local folks for many years after the military had moved on.

Beginning with the purchase and transfer (1917) of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States, the Islands were under US Navy administration, and an entire insulated, semi-socially segregated world existed in this “dounderoad” part of the Island. A world that left many wonderful physical things. Buildings and beach clubs, airports and such, but no record or history of the people, their lives, the stories of the individuals and families that worked and lived here.

I often wondered about those folks, how it was for them, I see them in a sort of semi sepia photo, framed by hand colored palm trees and a bright blue sea, with  Frangipani, Flamboyant or Hibiscus, stuck behind the ear or in the hair of  young Navy wives and waves from Kansas or Nebraska and handsome and strong young military men.  A Caribbeanized, West Indianized, South Pacific with far more intense racial storylines. Storylines that reflect the crazy explosions that occur when hicks and slicksters of every race, class and culture under the sun are mortar and pestled together, with a liberal dollop of raw rum, a double dash of cayenne, a dose of voodoo (or Obeah) the intoxicating effects of tropics and trade winds and full moon nights… how I wished that Mitchner (or someone) had written their stories…I’ve always known exactly what those songs and that score or soundtrack would sound like. We shall see.

 The little house was here through all of that and was sitting here when they built what would become the Judge Herman E. Moore golf course, the little house found it’s self occupying a little corner of the fairway, severity five feet to the north of the #1 green (which was, like all the othergreens, heavily oiled sand) and fifty feet to the west of the # 2 Tee. Consequently every golfer that wanted to play more than one hole was obligated to all but come in for coffee or rum and Coca-Cola. It was interesting.

Mud had married Howard Lindqvist, a young man from what had (just one generation ago), been the most powerful and well respected local family in St. John, (a family, that after arriving in St. Thomas would, within two generations, drink and squander it all away) Howard was a well educated Howard University graduate with a degree in civil engineering, but an increasingly drunken and foolish wastrel, married to a white woman, who (inexplicably in the eyes of those that knew Howard) was foolish enough to marry him.

Many of the folks that played golf were pretentious and judgmental types (including Howard’s own father Mahlon) and would have preferred not to become so intimately involved in “The little House of Dynamics” every time they got to the first hole, but…that was life in de Islands mon…

Pretty soon the ones that would let me caddy for them began insisting that I actually meet them at the club house rather than waiting ‘til they swung by on the way to the second tee, to pick up the golf bag, and I was officially introduced to the blasted inarguable inconvenience of work.

I was eight, and it was great. Inconvenient, but great. Not the  the walking for what seemed like ten to twenty (or however long nine or eighteen holes used to be) blasted miles in the burning hot sun, dragging a bag that weighed every bit as much and was every bit as tall as “The little caddy that could” wasn’t the great part, that’s the part that made you starvin’ hungry and gave you the money to fill your pockets, mouth and belly with Tootsie Rolls. That was the part that was great. Tootsie Roll heaven in the afternoon.

 Also, there was the further confirmation of a kind of belonging from the older caddies, the “big” boys, all older “rough and tough” young gents of color, that “Skah-ty, de likkle white boy from Nisky School, de likkle white boy, from doun de road, is one a we” That acceptance, and Tootsie Roll heaven in the afternoon, that was the part that was great. That and being surrounded by the artifacts of war, the vanished lives,  the romance, the joys and tragedies, me and my broomstick pony, cantered  up, around, under, over, and through, a whole conjured up swirling universe of sight, sound, smell and emotion. That was the part that was great…the whole frigging thing.

 Later that year (Easter, 1954) Mud and Howard and Gale and I (along with a few suitcases) piled onto a one engine piper, and, fled to Puerto Rico, to escape “bills”,

 PS It would be many years (well a few) before we would see the little house again, we got back (after time in Puerto Rico and New York) to St. Thomas in 1958 and spent another six months in  “The House at #1 Hole” in 1959, but those are all other stories.

 PPS Yes, I do know Kelsey Grammar. In those days, his father Alan (in addition to being a great musician and a friend of my mother and her twin sister), ran a lunch counter in the airport hanger, which was just a hop skip and a jump across the runway (which was how we got to the airport and Lindbergh beach, just hop skip and jump across the runway) from the little house referenced above. Alan and his wife appeared one day with a little arm waving, foot kicking, red faced thing with a remarkable noggin, and proudly introduced it as “our little Kelsey”. I remember being afraid for the pitiful looking little thing and silently wishing it”good luck” yep!

 

 

Book 4. Continued…A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke.

March 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. …Continued, A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

The sea breeze is extraordinary; it’s coming down through (Sir Francis) Drake’s Passage and across Pillsbury sound bringing the coolest freshest air imaginable. Its way too easy to forget how good it feels head to toe, body and soul, to sail these waters and to sip this sweet sweet breeze…

Tuts is talking like he’s having a flashback to the swim in which he became the first native Virgin Islander in known history to swim from St. Thomas to St John.

“Look, look” he says, there’s the two poles on St. Thomas that I saw from the tip top of the giant wave, and there is the undersea cables that I told you about! And Look, look how the current is trying to sweep everything southwest; out of the sound and into the sea, “Next stop out dey is New Orleans m’boy, Wha? Not me again meson, not me again!” “But Tuts,” somebody says, “I heah you “fraid!,  an das why yu ain’ gon do it a gain, Yu ‘fraid man, yu ‘fraid! 

“Oy Fraid?” he says indignantly, “Fraid? Who ain’ fraid a out dey, schipid in dey ass! Das right, ah ‘fraid. Me-son, yu don know dey have Shak out here big as de Bismark? Meson, dem shak so big yu cou walk on dey head, yu don know das how I mek it to Sain John?

 Off to the left are the beautiful gold and green islands of Thatch Key, then Congo Key and Louango. We see the remains of the old great house of the plantation on Louango, where the white overseer was killed by the slaves he bossed in the first moments of the St. John uprising of 1733.

Beyond the keys, to the North East is Jos Van Dyke An Island  named after a Dutch Pirate Captain but settled by the Quakers and part of the British Virgins. When the English renounced slavery in 1833,  the land on Jos’ was given to the very people that had been enslaved there.

The Danes abolished slavery in 1849 consequently slaves in St. John were always trying to find their way to Jos Van Dyke and Tortola and freedom.  In fact there is a huge iron sugar cane boiling kettle on the sand in Jos’ that a St. John slave was able put his wife and children into, and  sail (or row) them all to Jos Van Dyke and freedom. The iron kettle was still on the beach, when I first saw it in the sixties.

We slide up to a new concrete wharf and head for the old wooden customs office only,  now it’s a new concrete customs office, where we discover that the gentle portly gentleman who had manned the post since salt met water, had been called away to sing with the angel chorus.

As Delia and the current customs gent negotiated our entrée, I spotted our friend Ruben Chinnery sitting at a table under the trees in front of a little beach side café, We have all known Ruben for at least forty five years, and Tuts and I for closer to fifty, back then,  Tuts and Ruben and I had a little “Band” together, that knocked the living hell out of “Perfidia” I was the Sax man, Tuts played the Trumpet and Ruben strangled the guitar til’ it squeaked for mercy. Good lord we loved to play that song. And nothing but that song.

We have jammed together at Foxy’s many times since then, and we are here today to see about setting up a gig in which Ruben, Nicky, (Mighty Whitey) and I would be playing together all day long (maybe three sets each and one or two super long jams)

After speaking with Tessa and The Fox, it’s on. We will decide on the date at a future time. That done, we socialize… hug and smooch and then…we head back down the sound (Pillsbury Sound).

Between little St. James and the entrance to the Lagoon, Timmy (the Captain of the little ship) cuts the engine and announces that we aren’t going any further until he hears a few specific tunes. The mighty fine fellow hands me my guitar and says “The first one is “Mademoiselle”. 

 The boat is rocking like crazy and I am sitting on the roof of the cabin, so I jam a foot against a stanchion and the other against the life lines and, once properly “jammed”, I sing my friggin’ heart out. It isn’t everyday that tough, and weathered, beaten but not bowed, hombres honor me in this way. I am really touched that my lifelong tough guy compadres feel this way about my music, and I will fall overboard and drown, guitar and all before I will disappoint them. 

Mademoiselle

When will I see your garden mademoiselle?

The garden we spoke of that I love so well

Orchids and roses, my favorite smell

Take me you told me you promised,

and I’ll never tell

Take me and show me your garden, Mademoiselle

I know there are kings and princes, they line at your gate

But I love you more than they, let them wait

Orchids and roses, would ease all my hate

Take me you told me you promised,

Before it’s too late

Take me and show me your garden, Mademoiselle

And now we must stop pretending, Mademoiselle

Your garden is choking, your blossoms all fell

Orchids and roses are a funeral smell

Your rouge and your perfumes too heavy,

like the stories I tell

They’re ringing the bells and I’m sorry, Mademoiselle

We’ve got nothing to sell and I’m sorry Mademoiselle…

“Ok, Now, South Atlantic Blues” says the Captain

South Atlantic Blues

 You know the Islands are the perfect place for going away

Life’s so easy there you live from day to day to day to day

 The father of missions, he once walked proud and tall

He must had seen too many Christians, cause now he’s very small

The poor man’s got no Gods at all

Not counting alcohol, not counting alcohol

 You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

 She lives in the alley, the hope gone from her eyes

Her dress is torn and dirty, loving lips are cracked and dried

She sits and cries, my life’s a lie

Her children think she’s died, her children think she’s died

You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

 She stands by the seaside, my love, she waits for me

And I can’t help her as she wonders, how long will it be

I told her once, we would be free, from Charlotte Amalie

Charlotte Amalie, Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie

 You say that’s dues, I’ve got news for you

It’s South Atlantic Blues, South Atlantic Blues

You know the Islands are the perfect place for going away

Life’s so easy there you live from day to day to day to day

day to day to day to day…

Then Mighty Whitey asks me to play “Where My Lover Has Gone” his dear departed Mudder dear’s favorite song,

Where My Lover Has Gone

 

Morning comes down very heavy on me

Nothing at all like a new day should be

This morning saves its glory, for someone in another story

Somewhere a song, where my lover has gone

 There’s no glad surprise for these sad eyes to see

No trace of the grace that her face had for me

These grey skies have no rainbow, cause rainbows are where ever she goes

Somewhere a song where my lover has gone

 Somewhere the sun is shining, good old time silver lining

Somewhere a song, where my lover has gone

 Morning comes down very heavy on me

Nothing at all like a new day should be

This morning saves its glory, for someone in another story

Somewhere a song, where my lover has gone

Where my lover has gone, where my lover has gone…

 Now, says the Captain, Now lets have Captain Creole!

CAPTAIN CREOLE

The word spread through The Virgins, the Old Creole was dead

He died in the night of the full moon light, in a swordfight, in his bed

Some say he was crazy, he had a rum dream in his head

But I will tell you, in his words, what Captain Creole said…

 He said “Old Pirates never die dry your eyes we don’t ever die

Old Pirates never die, they just sail away”

The Dancing Senioritas, the Ghosts of Buried Gold

The German and The African, that battled in his soul

The Jolly Jolly Rodger, The Treasure Ships of Spain

Called out to him and bid him come… back to The Spanish Main

Because “Old Pirates never die, dry your eyes they don’t ever die

Old Pirates never die, they just sail away”

 The word spread through The Virgins, Like the ringing of an old ships bell

The Preacher turned to Heaven, most folks bet on Hell

The Old Creole was sinking, the Old Creole was gone

And we cried in the light of the full moon night, Whispering his song

 He said “Old Pirates never die, dry your eyes we don’t ever die

Old Pirates never die, they just sail away”

 Old Pirates never die; dry your eyes we don’t ever die

Old Pirates never die, they just sail away”

  “Ok Thank” you says Captain Timmy as he starts the engine, “now take us home with La Beiga/Tuts

La Beiga Carousel/ Tutsie

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night,

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel?

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night,

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel

Come go home come go home Cecebelle,

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel

Come go home come go home Cecebelle,

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel

And a skinny little fellow looks a little bit like me,

Lives on an Island in the Caribbean sea

And he drinks straight cane rum from an old calabash

And with those Island girls, lord he really is a smash

And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease,

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will.

An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night,

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night,

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel

 And he spends all his days cooling out in Trader Dan’s,

There’s no time for working in my friend Tutsie’s plans

He wears a pretty flower tucked up in an old straw hat

But if you should try to fight him, he’d show you where it’s at.

 And he lives off the tourists with the greatest of ease,

Why I’ve even seen him selling bags of cool Island breeze

He lives high on a mountain in an old sugar mill

He wants to be a Pirate, I know someday he will.

 An’ I’ll walk and drink rum whole night,

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel

Man I’ll walk and drink rum whole night,

before me go ride on Labeiga Carousel

 And I wish I were like Tutsie and could do as I please,

then I’d be barefoot at the Foxes’ Tamarindo

And I’d drink straight cane rum from an old calabash

And with those Island girls, lord, I’d really be a smash

 And I’d live off the tourists with the greatest of ease,

And have fun selling bags of cool Island breeze

I’d live high on a mountain in an old sugar mill

And someday I’d be a Pirate, you know someday I will.

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night,

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel

Man I would walk and drink rum de whole night,

before me go ride on La Beiga Carousel

Come go home come go home Cecebelle,

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel

Come go home come go home Cecebelle,

tonight we’ain gon ride on La Beiga Carousel

We all knew the song (in fact Nicky (Mighty Whitey) is in the chorus of the recording posted here) and we all  sang one rousing chorus after another of it, until we reached the dock.

 What a time we had. Not riotous or raucus or excessivly rambunctious (as was out wont in the past), but one filled with laughter and honest strong emotion, in the most beautiful settings in the world, Drakes Passage, Pillsbury Sound and the warm embrace of a small circle of friends.

 All Words and Music Scott Fagan, Copyright, Scott Fagan Music ASCAP

Book 2 and 4. Sessions, and Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

March 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 2. and 4. Sessions and Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke

 Warren Schatz (the producer of my RCA Album “Many Sunny Places” and Vicki Sue’s “Turn The Beat Around”) has sent me a most beautiful new track for my song “Surrender To The Sun” for inclusion in “The Virgin Islands Songs” I am to add my vocal and send it back to him for mixing.;

I am very deeply excited to do this vocal, I’m thinking this is a once in a life time opportunity. It is a beautiful track of a beautiful song calling for a big and beautiful vocal. And while I know beyond any doubt that I could have “killed” this performance once upon a time,, the truth is that I’m afraid that I’ll discover that I can’t sing like that any more. We shall see, I will do my absolute best to prepare myself to deliver the ultra good goods. I certainly am not lacking in inspiration or motivation. This one is the ultra it! And I will give it my ultra all.

I’m concerned that the heart and soul and mind and spirit are willing but the body may be too worn out. We shall see.. (I will post the recording, here,  perhaps you would be kind enough to send along a comment indicating your response, once you’ve heard it. Thank you in advance)

 It’s interesting, I recall being less nervous for my first ever anywhere recording session, and it was at Columbia Records.

Wes Farrel was the producer, Doc and he had gotten together and written two tunes “You Weren’t Made To Be True” and I don’t remember the other. Wes had come by the Forrest Hotel, to find the right keys and teach me the songs. He decided on keys and then went in and cut the tracks at another studio somewhere, and now we were in the hallowed Studio A at Columbia Records to do the vocals.

 On my way to Studio “A” I walked past Arthur Godfrey in the hallway, and though I was long used to getting disapproving stares and glares from “adults” (generally because of my long hair and bare feet) he gave me the biggest warmest smile and thumbs up “git ‘im” sign. It was very surprising, very encouraging and very much appreciated.

As I sang for all I was worth in the cavernous Columbia studio (where they would record “Like A Rolling Stone” a few years later), Nancy Ames (another “adult” that I only “knew” from seeing her on TV) was at the control room window rooting me on in the most enthusiastic way.

I thought that it was very kind of her and I never saw her again to thank her…so…Thank you Nancy Ames for your kindness to a young boy on his first day at bat in “the big leagues”.

 Wes was a very good looking fellow very sharply dressed who would soon have a big hit with “Hang On Sloopy” and go on to marry Frank Sinatra’s daughter Tina.  

Wes looked like he came from moola and he did. He was (or seemed) supremely confident (I think you would have to be, to marry Franks daughter) He was like a perpetual motion machine, the fact that I had mentioned in rehearsal that I thought the keys were low elicited a raised eyebrow and nothing more, so we did the tunes towards the bottom of my range rather than the top (where the good screechin’ and yowling takes place) and I learned lesson number one.

No matter how experienced and confident or preoccupied the producer seems to be, and no matter how new or much of a novice you are, you have to make damn sure that you have found the right key before any body cuts any part of any track

 Never the less, Al Stanton was the President of Columbia at that time, and has maintained a positive regard for my ability as a singer from that time to this. In fact he is the one that signed “Many Sunny Places” (the record was originally paid for by Love Records in Helsinki Finland, because we couldn’t find a deal anywhere in the states) to RCA Victor, and released it here in the states.

 I was at the Columbia Studios alone that day because my Manager, the great Doc Pomus (who suffered from childhood Polio and was on crutches or in a wheelchair) was (at that time) finding it too painful and difficult to get around.

Doc’s writing partner and pertner in the production company that I was signed to (Pomshu Productions)  Mort Shuman, was living it up in London with Andrew Oldham and The Rolling Stones, and would be back in the Spring.

 It was intensly interesting; but some level I was really “just a teenager” from the Islands, albeit an oddly and unusually experienced one, but never the less, I would have given anything to have had some of my teenage friends there with me. 

 I was and am such a mix of emotional ages. even now.

However, I have learned to do my very best regardless, as I will for this coming session.

 My early days as a young singer in New York were fraught with lessons (which is not to say I was learning them all) real and big and important things to be examined and understood and applied. Unfortunately all too often they were delivered in a cultural context and referential language that seemed foreign to me.

Many many times through the years, it has been suggested to me that I ought to have sailed east rather than west from Charlotte Amalie.

 Though I’m born in New York, the unspoken but assumed cultural inferences and subjective cultural preferences embedded in the language of the States, the City and perhaps most especially, the music business, were not a comfortable fit for me, frankly in retrospect, I’m surprised that I got along in the milieu as well as I did, for as long as I did. With the exception of those time in which I was a part of making music, I felt very much like a stranger in a strange land. To be continued..

 Book 4. A Little Trip To Jos Van Dyke…

We have been planning a trip to see our friend Philiciano Callwood aka “The Fox” aka Foxy. He has a beach front bar in Jos Van Dyke, that has become quite popular over the years. We are going up to see him about scheduling a concert. Tuts and Timmy and Nicky and I have each and all known him for many years. Tuts and I have known him the longest, in fact since we were all boys living in Bournefield in the 1950’s.. Philiciano (or Phillie as he was known then} was brought down to St. Thomas by his mother, who worked as a house keeper for Mrs. Creque and the three naughty Creque daughters.

They all lived in the huge pink Creque Mansion on the “Hidaway Road”. A Mansion large enough to contain both Heaven and Hell in equal measure, and it certainly did.

That any of them survived the Creque Mansion is the kindest kind of miracle, and Foxy’s subsequent success may be proof positive that the long sufferin’ can earn and redeem good karma points. Knowing the Creque girls as we do, Tuts and I can “vouchify and attest” that he earned ‘em, every one.

These many years later, we (and they) are all very happy for his good fortune. That good fortune includes falling in with the Lady Tessa, late of wild Australia, who turned out to be his Ms,  his match and and his mate.

 Our little group of travelers has now expanded by one, to include a lady who is also a legend in her own time, “Miss Delia” of St, Thomas, Harlem, Height Ashbury and Tortola. Our little crew are all miraculous survivors.

We have been “adults” since childhood, which means our childhood lives were shot thorough with adult concerns and behaviors like “where are my cigarettes and where is my rum” and our adult lives shot through with the  behaviors and of concerns of childhood, like ”where are my cigarettes and where is my rum” (While Tuts and I got clean and sober long ago or we would be long gone, recovery doesn’t change the past or the depth and longevity of the connection between and among kindred spirits)

 We are intending to sail up to “The Foxes Tamarind” on Timmy’s 28 foot sail boat “The Star Gazer” Timmy (I should call him “Captain Timmy,” he’s had his Captain’s papers since he was 18) has been sailing these waters since he was a child. First on his family’s beautiful 48 foot, black hulled Ketch “The Shellback “and then on the mighty “Maverick” certainly one of the most beautiful awe and dream inspiring sailing ships to ever grace the harbor at Charlotte Amalia.

One of my earliest songs was about the Maverick.

Maverick Sailing On the tide

Maverick where are you bound tonight

With new born child below, blow ye winds oh blow

Keep them safe from rock and wave and blow ye winds oh blow

 Maverick, take me for a ride

Maverick, I need a place to hide

From things I should not know, Blow ye winds oh blow

Keep us safe from rock and wave, and take us where we want to go.

 We are all children of “Trader Dan’s” a St. Thomas, waterfront bar that drew and welcomed one and all, (including school children in our two tone uniforms and empty book straps).

There was no minimum drinking age in the Islands in those days (I had been buying rum on credit at the local shops for my mother and stepfathers, since I was six) and those of us with a predilection, or as the recovery materials put it “a predisposition to alcoholism” were blindly (no pun, I mean it) demonstrating what early onset familial (genetic) alcoholism looks and sounds (and feels) like. We were having the time of our lives.

 As I’ve said, that any one of us survived (many, maybe most, didn’t) is really quite unexpected, but here we are sailing out of the lagoon, and east to Jos Van Dyke. We have all made this trip in many a vessel over the years.

 One trip found Tim and Tuts and I in an ocean racing Donzi with my little twins Lelia and Archie, and their beautiful Mother Annie. We stopped at Sandy Cay” on the way up that day, and had to swim ashore with the little ones. Archie rode on Tut’s back like the Ginger bread man, and Twinkle rode on mine (yes, yes, they were wearing their little life vests) still it was so exciting for them that they have never forgotten, (their Mother has likely never forgotten either), What a beautiful and exciting windblown day that was, and what a beautiful and calming day this is, as we sail on little “Star Gazer”. Continued…