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BOOK 4. One year into the Memwa?

August 24, 2010 3 comments

BOOK 4. One year into the  Memwa?

I started writing the Memwa? Ten days before my sixty-fourth Birthday (Aug 16th and Aug 26) now it’s Aug 24th, two days before my sixty-fifth. I began in St. Thomas where I was recording  (or attempting to record), my new Musical “The Virgin Islands Songs”.   I’m now in the states performing my concert version of “The Virgin Islands Songs” and working with a collection of musicians from the MAAC collective as “Scott Fagan and The MAAC Island Band”.

 I started out by committing to 1000 words a day for ninety days and was able to maintain that schedule through the commitment. Since then, (or more accurately, most recently) it’s become catch as catch can. In part because of the requirements of gigging, earning my little fazools, and my commitment to the collective… I have had great fun and lots of laughs writing the Memwa? Still though, it is far from finished, and it is clear that I will need to create and sustain a  more productive Memwa? schedule.

My eyesight has gone from great to glasses to fuzzy grey all over the place; I have to do something about that also. I have much , much more work (writing and singing and other things) to do, but I am feeling oddly spooky about turning sixty-five. I am generally completely unconcerned about the chronological tick-tock but at the moment, I am becoming afraid that I won’t be able to get it done.

Part of it, a large part of it is of course, is finding my success (or my audience as we like to put it these days) and having my work recognized as having had some value and creative quality.

This particular  life area is a mishmash of emotions which I usually deal with my unusually well-developed skill at  denial, however, even I am becoming concerned that, not only will I be going too quietly into that dark night, but I will be gone without raising enough ruckus or, God help us “blowing my own horn loud enough”, to leave any thing of tangible  value for my beautiful and long, long-suffering little ones.

If I only knew  which massive boulder to roll up Everest, or which 12 foot grizzly I had to wrassel mano a mano, or what heretofore impossible cosmo-mathological equation I needed to smite and solve… but I’ve been made dumb by that question since I’m six years old. And now I’m feeling that my time is running out. And let me tell you something, call me confused or a liar, or in pre-limino flagrento dementia, but I am certain that time goes faster and faster the older you get.

 I could easily pretend that that’s all I know about getting older, but the fact is, this Peter Pan has accidentally accumulated a small treasure box of shocking and completely unexpected information (and experiential knowing) about this grey ah…I mean great and mysterious stage of life.

Possibly first and foremost in importance, is the fact that chicks don’t look at you the same. And if you’re a chick, Cats (no not kitty cats, Hip Cats) don’t look at you the same either.

(Kitty cats however, do have a whole new appreciation of older chicks and  ex Hep, now no pep, Cats. I‘ve been told that felines consider old dears in their dotage to be a special gift just for them from “Super Cat” creator of the catmos.

 Why one wonders? Have you ever heard of young people braving the elements at all hours of the day or night to set out cat food in the darkest alleys and vacant lots of this or that Urban hell? Or living in pads (house or apt) over run by kitty critters?

 Well…now that I mention it, I have. My wild Annie the Artist Girl and I once lived in a basement apartment on west 84th street, with something like eight dogs and thirty two cats, all at once. Each and every one named something or other bean. Like You Bean and New Bean and Two Bean and Who Bean and Who-You Bean and You-Hoo Bean, all the way up past thirty two Bean to forty. 

However, while we were quite young in those days, we were also smote by chemistry that looked and felt like dotage, so possibly we cornfuseled (one of Annie’s favorite words in those days) ourselves and each other and cornfuseled the critters by extension.

Another thing about getting older, is you don’t look at the chicks the same either; there seems to be a much greater awareness that they are human beans, with feelings and hearts, disappointments and dreams and deserving of consideration and human kindness. One of the realities of lusty young men is that well…while we may have heard tell that chicks had feelings…other “mating” imperatives forced their way to the fore, not blacking, but “redding” out more subtle and sensitive considerations.

Ah my Lord, it was all I… ah… I mean a lusty young man could do to keep his eyeballs from exploding out of his pounding head, and his arms from s’muffling and crushing her, and his lips from slobber-jabbering love lies and perfidiac promises ( every utterance as deeply felt as  Gospel truth, in the heat of the moment).

It was all a lusty lad could ever do and all the time too. But now? God has dashed, decreed and made it so, that the heat madness be splashed by the ice water realization that “My God, she could be my Grand Daughter” or “My God, she is my Grand Daughter!” Ah yes…

 From time to time (when I sit with old birds on a park bench like lizards in the sun), one or another will suggest that the “golden elder belles” see young men somewhat differently as well (Unless the old chick is stuck in panting mode).   I’m told that they see ‘im remarkably similarly to the young lusty “lunk noggin” that I described earlier.

I’m not surprised to hear it; I always suspected that the Grand Mamere’s had my number.

 There are a number of age-o-alities that it seems no one bothered to mention, (or if they did, it was in geriatric jargon perhaps in a treatment setting, about old, or rather, aging 60’s psychedelic casualties and how to break the news that they were what they were, to them.)

I will write what I can about all of that at another time, perhaps even exhaustively until it (and we) are exhausted. But, for the moment, the real shocker is that chicks look at you differently. (They most certainly are not seeing and responding to your beautiful, color phasing iridescent inside)

How interesting to wonder if and when there ever was a time or even a moment, in life when one’s outside was an accurate representation of who and how one really was inside.

All of that being whatever it may be, here’s what the wind whispers to me.

 “Sing for your life” and leave the rest to the Great Artist who first imagined us all.

And…Boy, stay ready for the ever-so-much more important   second set, which will be called for when you are tired to the center of your soul, and least expecting it…

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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