Wildwood – the story behind the song

Wildwood

Wildwood is a song of lost love and the illusions of love. The ‘Wildwood’ is a metaphor for that illusion.

When writing this song, I modeled it loosely on the olde English ballads; the Childe Ballads. These told long stories in verse (ballads) with repeated phrases and images. (The band, ‘Fairport Convention’ utilized modern versions of such ballads in their recordings of ‘Crazy Man Michael’, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Renardine’.  A further side-note: ‘Fairport Convention’ and ‘The Incredible String Band’ were dear influences on me in my younger days.)

Once again, this song is based on my personal experience. (I’ll leave the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘whom’ to your imagination.) Most of the song deals in the creation of atmosphere. As such, it references all five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) as well as the sense of danger and trepidation.

‘She said, “I think that you should take a walk with me.”
She said I’d be surprised at what I’d likely see’

The song begins with an invitation by a female suitor to take a walk. She offers the vague promise of a new experience. It is obvious that the woman is taking the lead and has assumed the dominant role in the nascent relationship.

‘…we took a walk across a foreign land’

The sub-text of the invitation is to a likely romantic encounter; the ‘foreign land’ of romance.

‘Silver beetles chiming in the Wildwood

Cotton candy clouds spun ghostly white’

The lighter, friendlier images of ‘silver beetles’ and ‘cotton-candy clouds’ invoke the innocent invitation to ‘take a walk’.

‘A narrow twisted track through Wildwood
that led us on and on…’

As yet, the lover is unaware – perhaps by choice – that the woman is the source of the enchantment. He attributes it to his surroundings; nature.

‘Dusk had darkened to a gloomy twilight
Shadows cast by moon-beans in our way’

As the walk proceeds, night begins to fall; dusk turns to twilight and then to night as the moon shines and the stars appear.

‘The valley disappeared into the twilight’

The known world recedes. It becomes remote, then vanishes.

The southern stars wheeled in mute display’

The world is turned on its head. The familiar stars of the northern sky are supplanted by the ones from the southern sky. (Clearly, our lover is not an ‘antipodean’.) The appearance of the southern stars underscores his having entered a foreign land. Moreover, the stars whirl and wheel overhead, inciting dizziness and disorientation.  

‘Black cicadas chirring in the Wildwood
Night-shade clouds obscured the moon’

With the disorientation and the dissolution of the normal perceptions, the innocent, friendly mood changes to a darker, more ominous one.

‘Her scented presence promised me the Wildwood,
As she led us on and on…’

Though the senses are heightened, they are illusory. The Lover is know aware that the woman is the enchantress as her perfume  – her personal scent – weaves a spell which cannot be resisted.

The wordless middle section is meant to convey the intoxicating illusion; the glamour of love. The transcendent euphoria heightens the senses yet disorients the lover.  The guitar solo conveys a gentle rain shower which builds to a tempest.

‘We came upon a long winding staircase
That ascended steeply in the gloom’

The stair-case symbolizes the rising hopes of the singer for romantic love to result from this walk as well as his euphoric state of mind.

‘She turned and held me face in her weathered hands
And kissed me – oh, so sweetly – in the gloom’

The woman’s ‘weathered hands’ indicates that she is an ‘old hand’ at weaving this illusion. The sweet kiss seems to deliver the promise of romance as the trek through the Wildwood continues.

The repeated word, ‘gloom’, is meant in the older sense of partial darkness yet carries the connotation of despondency and doom of the burgeoning, albeit, flawed love affair.

‘We wandered widely in the Wildwood
Never looking for escape’

Led by the ‘enchantress’, the couple moves through their eerie courtship – the Wildwood – as though through a fantasy which has no ending.

‘Then – she left me in the Wildwood
Where I stumble on and on…’

Abruptly, the enchantment of love ends. The enchantress departs.

‘I’ve wandered blindly in the Wildwood
Always looking for escape’

Left alone, the lover regains a sense of reality but the fantasy is replaced by further disorientation. He strives to regain the illusory promise yet also seeks to re-enter the illusion.

‘Since she left me in the Wildwood

I’ve stumbled on and on
I’ve stumbled on and on…’

Lost between two worlds, reality and illusion, he blunders along, lost in the wilderness of the Wildwood without guide or route for egress. He remains lost between the two worlds, babbling to himself in his madness.

‘Wildwood’ is a love song…
(To quote pioneering saxophonist, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, “I’m not bitter. I’m just bitter-sweet.”)

[ 中文歌詞翻譯 ]

她說, “我覺得你應該和我一起散個步.”
她說我可能會對我看到的東西感到驚訝
所以我讓她用手輕輕地帶領著我
我們在一個不知名的地方散步
銀色的甲蟲在森林裡鳴叫著
像棉花糖似的雲如白色幽靈般的旋轉
一條在森林內狹窄的蜿蜒小路一直指引著我們…

黃昏已經漸漸地變得暗淡
月光在我們路上投射了陰影
山谷也在暮色中不見了
南方的星星似乎也變換位子
黑色的蟬在森林裡鳴叫著
夜幕的雲遮住了月亮
她身上的香氣在森林裡讓我們感覺更加親近,也持續地引領著我們…

我們來到一個彎曲又漫長的樓梯
在黑暗中陡峭地上升
她轉過身來用她飽經風霜的手摸著我的臉
親吻著我, 喔, 如此甜蜜! 在黑暗中
我們漫無目的著在森林裡徘徊
從來沒想過要脫逃出去
然而, 她把我留在森林裡
在哪兒我不斷地蹣跚而行
盲目地在森林中走著
不停地尋找出口
自從她把我留在森林裡
我不斷地蹣跚而行
我不斷地蹣跚而行

[ 備註 ]

重複的短語和單詞(“ on and on”,“ gloom”,“ Wildwood”等)意在喚起早期英語民謠的風格.

[ 此首歌的背景及故事 ]

“The Wildwood” 是一段愛情的隱喻. 敘說一個注定失敗的愛情故事. 而它就像一個未知但美麗又危險的森林. 這首歌回憶起某些特別的時刻,  如初吻的夜晚, 讓你全身每一個感官都涉及到那飄飄然的氣氛. 但也存在了一種令人不安且陰鬱的感覺. 愛情就像一個未知的領域, 可以讓人覺得幸福,  但也可以讓人覺得迷惑. 歌曲中隱敘了愛情剛開始的美好, 正當浪漫與初吻甜美的感覺開始蔓延時,女主角卻就把男主角獨自留在森林裡, 讓他自已在黑暗處獨自迷路和徘徊…

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Small Town Boys – the story behind the song

DC in Nashville studio

“Small Town Boys’


Nota bene: The song is based on personal experiences of more than 50 years ago. Explaining the references therein is approaching a treatise on social anthropology. Sheese!

To understand the story behind this song, one must hearken back to an earlier time before personal computers, before pocket calculators, before cassette tapes, before 8-track tapes, VCRs, cable TV, before personal computers, before digital anything, cell phones, CD players, Netflix… in other words just after the invention of agriculture and written language.

Well, not quite that far back but the song deals with life in the early 1960s; before the Beatles, before Dylan, before Mountain Dew and … oops, there I go again.

Small Town Boys tells the story of well… boys in a small town. To be more precise; teen-age boys in a small Midwestern town where the main weekend activity was driving around for hours on end in a car in a circle. (Think ‘American Graffiti’ but without movie stars, glamour, plot line or character arc.)

‘I’ll never forget those Friday nights’

This very mindless activity was primarily done on Friday nights. Its purpose was to provide the opportunity for teenagers to make contact with other teens doing the same thing in order to set up plans for rendezvous, trysts and assignations for Saturday night. (This was networking in a pre-Instagram world. Sad, really.)

‘Polish your Chevy ‘til it’s shiny bright’

A ‘Chevy’ was the nickname for a car made by the Chevrolet Corporation. A lucky few actually owned their own cars; rich kids and nascent wage slaves. Most teens had to wheedle the use of the family auto from their parents.  

‘Pool gas money and drive the ‘Square’’

‘Pool gas money’ meant that each of the occupants of the car in question would contribute cash to the purchase of gasoline for the automobile. The ‘Square’ was the designated route of this mindless social ritual. In some cases, the route was the four streets that bordered the center of town; the ‘town square’, often the site of the court-house or other government building.

‘We’d get some bum to buy us wine’

As most of the teens were not of legal drinking age (e.g. 21 years old in Illinois at the time of this experiential episode), teens would resort to asking an older person to purchase alcoholic beverages. These agents for alcohol were often homeless men who were derisively called ‘bums’. (Interestingly, the word became a verb, ‘to bum’ which meant ‘to borrow’ without intention to repay.)

‘Break the rules and act a fool
Play it cool, Small Town Boys’

Drinking alcohol as a teenager was illegal and, therefore, a teenager drinking while operating a motor vehicle was a double infraction. This lawlessness was fostered and reveled in; being an outlaw was considered cool. Hence movies such as ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ and ‘The Wild One’ were very popular.  This anti-hero stereotype was further characterized and neutered to the point of comic caricature in the TV show ‘Happy Days’ and the faux-rock musical ‘Grease’. 

‘I remember your sister had an ‘88’
Man, her grille looked really great.

Had a four-barrel carburetor under the hood.
That old Olds ran mighty good’

The ’88 refers to a model of automobile, the Rocket 88,manufactured by Oldsmobile. An Oldsmobile was called an ‘Olds’. The grill was the decorative covering that protected the radiator and allowed air to pass through, cooling the engine. (Here, mention of ‘her grille’ is a salacious allusion to the sister’s mammalian protuberances.) The Olds 88 was designed as a family car which had an eight-cylinder engine capable of high speeds. To increase the horse-power of the engine, an after-market alteration to the family car was the ‘4-barrel carburetor’. The ‘hood’ was the American designation for the ‘bonnet’.  (whew!)

‘In summertime, we had certain ‘perqs’.
That’s when we’d get fireworks’

In the United States, the Fourth of July sits as a summertime center-piece. The Fourth means fireworks; firecrackers (e.g.M-80’s, cherry bombs, Black Cats, lady fingers) sparklers, Roman candles and the like. Such explosives were illegal in Illinois and thus the lawlessness of having such devices was considered very cool. ‘Perq’ is an abbreviation of perquisite; a benefit, tip or bonus.

‘We’d raise a ruckus right round town
Until the police shut us down’

A ‘ruckus’ is a commotion (or ‘row’ – rhymes with ‘now’) usually a noisy one. Firecracker were often lit, and then thrown from open car windows at other cars. The larger ones – M-80s and cherry bombs – were often used to vandalize objects.  The police don’t normally tolerate this kind of ruckus.

Ah, the good ol’ days. (snark)

[ 中文歌詞翻譯 ]

我永遠都不會忘記那些星期五的晚上
把雪佛蘭*打蠟打到全車亮晶晶
大夥投資了油錢然後開車到廣場去
相信我們要去某個繁華的地方
快九點了, 心情覺得很好
我們叫流浪漢幫我們買了酒
快十點時, 我們又做了一次
永遠不要說 “從不”, 永遠不要說 “何時”
耶, 耶, 耶

小鎮男孩們大聲喧嘩製造許多噪音
分享我們的酒, 分享我們的歡樂
小鎮男孩們
我記得你姐姐有一台 ‘88*
老兄,她的(指車子)身形看起來很棒
引擎蓋下有一個四桶化油器
那台舊車應該還是跑得很好
耶, 耶, 耶

小鎮男孩們大聲喧嘩製造許多噪音
分享我們的酒, 分享我們的歡樂
小鎮男孩們
像個傻瓜似的破壞著法規
裝著酷酷的樣子 – 小鎮男孩們
小鎮男孩們

在放暑假時我們總有一些… 特別的好處
那時候我們總會買一些煙火
然後我們會在鎮上激起一些騷動
直到警察來制止我們
耶, 耶, 耶

[ 備註 ]

*Chevy 雪佛蘭 – 車子的名字
*‘88 – 車子的類別

[ 此首歌的背景及故事 ]

在美國許多小鎮, 因為居住的人不多, 所以也沒有很多的娛樂活動, 小鎮的市中心可能只是一個廣場和一些零散的小店而已. 在那個時代, 一台美麗又閃亮的車子, 是許多男孩的夢想. 花很多時間在車子上裝飾點綴, 打蠟等等. 車子是男孩們交談的話題, 更是吸引女孩的最佳工具. 在星期五晚上最常見的活動就是開著汽車, 可能在城鎮廣場周圍亂晃.  年輕的男孩子們一起做一些愚蠢的事, 結交一些新朋友, 即使這個小鎮在外人的眼光看起來極為渺小, 但對他們來說卻是整個世界.

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Thoughts on the Songs

DC At Nomads

Thoughts on the Songs
Each song has a narrative – a story – holding it together and guiding and reflecting the music.

‘Who You Gonna Run to?’ for example, is an older guy giving advice to a younger, married guy. The younger one is considering doing something stupid in his relationship. The older guy is being ‘Socratic’ by asking him these leading questions. His questions are blunt and to the point.  The questions intimate a harsh reality as the consequence of ‘Younger’ fucking up.
Then, there’s the bridge – that is the soothing part of the avuncular advice offered by ‘Older’. It should be almost heard as a lullaby. (There, there, it’s not so bad. Just don’t fuck up.)
The off-kilter melodies; the one that acts as opening riff and the other as the bridge, settle into place at the end, but it seems rather unsure…

‘All I Need’ – is less a soliloquy then a disjointed play-lette. There are three voices, not characters really, but collective voices rather like ‘commedia dell’arte’.
The first voice – a sort of Candide – proclaims that he is happy and satisfied with his life; ‘All I Need I have right now’.
The second voice – the villain – tells him that something is missing (e.g. clear skies, time, a scorecard, the means to obtain it, etc).

Third voice is the voice of Temptation, offering a mountain, a promise of fortune, ‘all you need is waiting there’.

Then the first voice, Candide, rejoins that he has all he needs right now. The second voice ups the ante. The third voice offers the same tired vision.

Wildwood – This is a melodrama based on personal experience and framed by story told in the fantasy series entitled ‘The Kingkiller Chronicles’. I think of it as my own version of a ‘Childe Ballad’ – when tales (i.e. ballads) were told in song. It is a tale of seduction.

The woman leads the Lover through a labyrinth called the Wildwood. His mind and senses are awakened in a dream world; he sees the stars wheel in the sky, watches day pass to night, hears silver beetles, chiming, is enraptured by her scent, etc.

Then, the Temptress leaves our hero to pine and wander endlessly; lost in the Wildwood.

Most of the song is told by the narrator – the Lover-hero.
The bridge is wordless; it’s meant to invoke that dream-like state of being in the enchantment of Love.

Baby, Come Back – is a comedy of errors. I call it a cynical love song. The singer is a schmuck, a cad, a lay-about, a schlemiel, a bounder and a manipulator. The woman, ‘Baby’ was right to leave him. He’s a top-drawer arse.

He cheated on her with her friends. (e.g. Had some babe in their own bed. Uses the ‘C’ word. Uses drugs. Is unemployed. Contributes nothing to the household. Does no chores. He blames his mama for being like he is. He takes no responsibility for anything.

He tries to sweet-talk her and still address the reasons why she left him.  He plays the pity-card ‘You treat me like a dog.’

He also slips in little asides that reveal his true feelings; ‘Most likely I’ll regret this’ ‘You ought to be flattered’, ‘My guitar is still in pawn’, etc.

I honestly hope she’s smart enough to tell him to fuck off.

Bull Toad Blues – is a cautionary tale. It just as easily could be called ‘Arsehole Blues’. That’s what Bull Toad means; arsehole. The story of this song comes from when my former band, BoPoMoFo, played at a certain venue in Taipei. The owner was a piece of work. the ownerl is the Bull Toad – the arsehole. We used to refer to him as ‘the Bull Toad’; he reminded us of a toad and he was a bully, plain and simple. Stories are epic and legendary about what a total douche this guy was. (For instance – he fired the band by text at 2:30am because a guest artist thought he was getting his drinks for free as he was playing without pay. This sent the Bull Toad off the deep end despite the band paying the bar tab as a courtesy. )

All reference n the song are to swamps, croaking, amphibians, warts; ‘Bubba, you can hop on this’. This is a very aggressive song. My buddy, Bill Janssen said in his review of ‘Feeling Fifteen Again’ (on this site under reviews, BTW);  ‘the sinister and vaguely threatening rhythm section who probably wear zoot suits, carry prison shivs and would gladly cut you in some insane monkey knife fight. Want proof? Check out Bull Toad Blues.’

The moral of the tale is that ‘Everybody knows a bull toad (arsehole)’ and it’s best to get them out of your life, although it’s conceded that such separation is not always possible. (‘Might be your boss. Might be your wife!’). We have to deal with arseholes. It’s a fact of life.

Bloodied But Unbowed – The feeling I want to convey is that you must be true to yourself – as Shakespeare states through Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ ;‘To thine own self be true.’ The cost of that philosophy can be dear. The moral is one must stand by one’s convictions and suffer ‘the slings and arrows’.  Stand bloodied but unbowed. So, the chorus of the song must be a joyful and proud statement. “I’m bloodied but unbowed’.

This is one example of a song based on collective life experiences rather exclusively on my own. The ‘Boss-man’ is a compilation of lots of bosses I’ve had. (Even the Bull Toad!) The ‘Preacher’ is lots of religious types I’ve encountered. The ‘Woman’ is a composite of women I’ve known. The ‘miserable people’ can be seen everywhere; misery loves company and those in misery quite often resent those who are happy. They ‘like nothing better than to tear’ other people down.

All four are also drawn from the experiences of other people.
(I’ll let you guess what ‘vertical smile’ means.)

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Older Than I Look – the story behind the song

‘Older Than I Look’ (subtitled ‘Younger Than I Feel’) is one song that is not based on a true story. It’s based on observation and experience distilled into a coherent tele-play narrative.

‘Older’ is a kind of ‘fish-out-of -water’ story. It’s the story of an older ‘fish’ who is slowly realizing that the water has changed and he is expected to change as well.

I presented the story in a series of vignettes which illustrate the quandary that the narrator and his unnamed friend find themselves living in a world of ‘Me, Too’ and gender fluidity.

The first indication that the narrator is out of step with the times is in the opening vignette and his reference to ‘a pretty little thing’. Such archaic, disrespectful terminology is frowned upon as dismissive, dehumanizing and misogynic – as well it should be.  The narrator, a member of an earlier generation, is oblivious to his social faux pas.

According to the decorum of an older generation, however, a polite gentleman was expected to tip his hat and offer greeting to women he encountered. The narrator shows that he is stuck in an earlier time.  Those cordial gestures – once seen as essential courtesies – are misunderstood and even resented by a generation who has never experienced those courtesies. The young woman in question, whom the narrator sees strolling on the street, is taken aback and questions his intentions if not his sanity.

The next episode takes place in a small restaurant (an eatery) where the narrator is a frequent patron. He, once more, is confronted by a member of a younger generation who is working as a wait staff. He greets her with what he considers an appropriate manner ‘Howdy, Hon’, which goes over like a lead balloon with the ‘20-something waitress’ who reacts with a pique the narrator does not expect. She goes on to read him the riot act heaping approbation on his glib, sexist demeanor.

More than a bit exasperated, he explains that he simply wants to place his order and intended no sexual innuendo or untoward implication; ‘I tell you this, I’m older than I look and younger than I feel’. He then gives her his order of the blandest of foods; Farina, broth, dry toast and – in an attempt at wry humor – an  order of  ‘Metamucil’, a dietary supplement used to insure regularity of bowels.

Next, the narrator’s friend joins him for lunch and commiseration. The ‘oldest friend’ whinges about his age and wistfully reminisces about their younger days. The narrator – obviously the wiser of the two –reminds him scoffingly that they had done ‘stupid shit’ in their youth. The friend then, in response, flips the title phrase on its head by saying ‘I’m younger than I look and older than I feel’ implying that he has lots of vim and vigor housed in a rather ravaged exterior.

The old friend then cracks an off-color joke about feeling like an ’18-year-old… maybe two’ – meaning two young sex partners – clearly inferring that he hasn’t yet learned, as an old fish, how to navigate the new social waters.

Older Than I Look, Younger Than I feel
DC Rapier ©2018

So, I’m strolling down the street the other day
A pretty little thing comes walking my way
I tip my hat ‘n’ say ‘Howdee do?’
She eyeballs me as if to say ‘Dad, what’s got into you?’ 

I smile ‘n’ shrug ‘n’ shake it off; I got someplace to be
Gonna meet a friend of mine at a local eatery.
I slide into the corner booth; check the specials of the day
When a 20-something waitress traipses over with her tray

(Here she comes now, traipsing…)

I say ‘Howdy, Hon! You’re new here. Won’tcha tell me what’s your name?’
She puts down her tray, cocks her head ‘n’ sneers “I don’t play that game.
Why, you’re old enough to be my dad. You oughta be ashamed.
I got a good mind to slap your face.” Yeah, she was that inflamed.

I throw up my hands, say “Ho-ho-hold it there. No need to be so rude.
I ain’t trying to make a play. I just wanna get some food.
Since you’re new, you might not know I’ve been coming here for years.
And all that time, I’ve been watching myself grow old in the shaving mirror.

I’ll tell you this: I’m older than I look but I’m younger than I feel.

Right now, I feel like some Farina; a cup of broth; some dry toast, Metamucil…”

Right then, my oldest friend comes in and he’s looking rather glum.
He says, “Y’know what I really miss the most ‘bout being young n dumb?”
I say “Tell me, son; might it be all the stupid shit we done?”
“Well, there is that, my friend, but you gotta admit it was lotsa fun!

But now; I’m younger than I look but I’m older than I feel

Right now, I feel like an 18-year-old; maybe two; one blonde, an’ …
Yeah, I know. Dream on, old man. Dream on…”

 

 

[ 中文歌詞翻譯 ]

前幾天我在街上散步
一位漂亮的小姐迎面走來
我禮貌地向她打了個招呼 “你好!”
她仔細地盯著我看好似在說 ”老爹, 你是怎麼回事?“
我微笑了一下, 聳了聳肩擺脫掉剛剛那份感覺; 我還得趕著去個地方
跟我朋友約好了在當地的餐廳碰面
我坐在靠近角落的位子; 看著今天才有的特餐
一個看起來二十幾歲的女服務生拿著托盤閒蕩
(現在她正往我坐的位子走過來…漫無目的地閒蕩…)

我說 ”你好, 甜心!“ 你是新來的. 你要不要告訴我你的名字啊?
她把托盤放下, 歪著頭並輕蔑地笑著
”我不玩那種遊戲. 為什麼? 因為你年紀大到可以當我的父親. 你應該感到羞恥. 我真想打你一巴掌.“
沒錯, 她生了很大的氣
我舉起了我的雙手, 我說”等一下, 沒有必要這麼粗魯無禮吧“
我沒有要跟你玩任何遊戲, 我只是想點些東西吃
由於你是新來的, 你可能不知道我是這裡的顧客已經有很多年
許久以來, 我一直看著自己在鏡子中慢慢變老. 我可以告訴你:
我看起來比實際的年紀年輕但是我已經感覺慢慢在變老 (x3)
(現在, 我想吃點麥片, 喝點清湯, 再來點麵包跟纖維素…)

那時候我一位老朋友進來了,他看上去有點沮喪
他說, “你知道什麼是我最懷念我們那段年少無知的歲月嗎?”
我說, “告訴我, 老朋友; 該不會是我們一起所做那些愚蠢的事吧?”
嗯, 那是其中之一, 我的朋友啊, 但是你必須承認那是非常有趣的吧!
但是現在, 我看起來比實際的年紀老但是我感覺我還是充滿活力 (x3)
(現在, 我覺得我才18歲; 也許是兩個;一個金髮女郎,一個…
是的, 我知道. 繼續妄想, 老頭. 繼續做夢…)
我看起來可能有點老但是我感覺我還是年輕

[ 此首歌的背景及故事 ]

在小時後, 我們耳濡目染當時社會中的一些禮俗及文化, 但是隨著年齡的增長, 整個風俗文化也跟著有所變化, 而從年輕人變成老年人時, 仍然會根據自已所熟悉的背景, 習俗, 言語用詞等等繼續生活, 即使其中有些情況已不再適用. 而這一首歌的故事, 最主要在表達隨著時代的變遷, 兩代溝通的差異及認知的不同, 而老一代則需要做一些調整來平衡這個落差及適應時事的變化. 而歌詞中的兩位男主角即使年紀差不多, 但因為周遭人事物的影響而造成心境的不同.

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Keep On Rollin’- the story behind the song

All of the songs on the album, ‘Feeling Fifteen Again’ are based on life experience. Some are nearly literal in their retelling of a personal story – ‘Keep on Rollin’ is a prime example. 

When I was young (so many, many years ago) my family was exceptionally poor. During one particularly dire period, my little sister, Sissie, and I would accompany our father to the railroad yards near our house. There, we would scrounge and salvage piles of coal which we could burn in our furnace at home. 

We also gathered up feed corn – meant for live-stock – which we took home to hand grind for corn bread. We always had to be on the alert for railroad security who would have arrested us for pilfering. It was Sissie’s job to keep watch while Dad I did the work. (The railroad ‘dicks’ were notorious for beating the trespassers they caught, mercilessly.) 

On other days we’d walk the vacant lots and fields on the outskirts of town and gather wild greens (e.g. Swiss chard and lamb’s quarter-otherwise known as ‘pig weed’.  My dad never called it that for obvious reasons. (BTW, Queen Anne’s lace is a wildflower in Central Illinois. It’s also called ‘wild carrot’ and is poisonous. )

The St Stan’s refers to St Stanislaus,  the Roman Catholic church in the Polish neighborhood of my hometown, Kankakee, Illinois. One Easter, there was a blizzard and we couldn’t make it to Mass at our normal parish. At my father’s insistence, we trudged through the blizzard to St Stan’s to attend Mass and receive Communion; the Eucharist. 

My dad would set traps and taught me to rig dead-falls and snares to catch rabbits. I remember that he used to go into the fallow field across the road from our house and hunt pheasants with a bow and arrow as you couldn’t discharge firearms in the city limits. We’d feast on rabbit and pheasant when the hunting and trapping was good. Once, a pheasant, flushed from cover, flew into the side of our old Chevy, killing itself and denting the fender. It became our supper that night.

My mother would use the pheasant feathers to cover pill-box hats and such. Although my dad did fashion little slippers for winter, none of us wanted to wear the rabbit pelts.

As I’ve said, my songs are stories of my life. In a manner of speaking, ‘Feeling Fifteen Again’ is a testimony to the kindness of my friends and family. Without their loving assistance in dire times, I might not have survived. No joke. There were several times in my life when I would have been homeless and starving except for those who loved me. 

I dedicated the album to those who ‘gave me life, kept me alive and those who gave me reason to live.’ I should have put that dedication on the fronts-piece of the booklet rather on the end-piece. 

Keep on Rolling
DC Rapier©2018

You gotta keep on rollin’ – Roll past the break of dawn
You gotta keep on rollin’ – Ain’t no moss on this stone
You gotta keep on rollin’ – roll ‘til the rollin’s done
You gotta keep on rollin’ – Can’t nothing slow us down.

Down by the railroad tracks; scrounging in the switch-yard
Gather up the good feed corn that’s fallen from the box-cars
Find some stoker-coal. Take it to warm our home

Chorus

Wading in the Queen Ann’s lace; Picking Swiss chard and lamb’s quarter
Daddy used a guitar string; Caught himself a little brown coney.
Sissie cried and would not eat. All she had was cornbread

Chorus
Trudging through an Easter blizzard, on the way to Mass at St. Stan’s
Gotta take the Eucharist; Or we’re facing sure damnation
Heading home, my daddy told me, ‘Here’s what you’re gonna learn from this.’
Chorus

 

 

 

[ 中文歌詞翻譯 ]

繼續向前邁進 – 直到黎明破曉的那一刻
繼續向前邁進 – 直到石頭上已經沒有青苔
繼續向前邁進 – 直到已經無法再跨下一步
繼續向前邁進 – 直到沒有任何事可以阻止我們

沿著鐵路車軌; 在火車調度廠四處尋找
收集給牲畜的玉米飼料; 那是從棚車掉下來的
找到一些煤炭; 帶它溫暖我們的家

小心翼翼地穿越過安皇后的蕾絲*; 摘了瑞士甜菜和一些野菜*
父親用了吉他弦抓到一隻棕色的兔子
Sissie *在哭也不肯吃東西; 因為她只有玉米麵包

步履艱難地走在復活節的暴風雪中; 在要去聖斯塔尼斯勞斯*的路上
一定要接受聖餐儀式; 否則我們肯定會受到譴責
回家的路上, 父親這樣地告訴我;
這是你將從中學到的東西

[ 備註 ]

*安皇后的蕾絲是伊利諾州中部的一種有毒的野花
*野菜- 例如豬菜,和莧菜或稱之為大家知道的「豬雜菜」
*Sissie – 作詞者/主唱DC的妹妹, 在哭的原因是不願意吃那隻可憐兔子
*聖斯塔尼斯勞斯 – 羅馬天主教堂


[ 此首歌的背景及故事 ]

在我的小時候,我們家境非常不好。那個處境艱難的時期裡,我的小妹Sissie與我,會跟爸爸到我家附近的火車調度廠,乞討跟打撈成堆的煤炭,供家裡的暖爐燃燒。我們也收集給牲畜的玉米飼料,帶回家手磨做成玉米麵包,一邊還得留心鐵路警察逮捕正在偷竊的我們。

父親會自設陷阱、再教我們如何操縱這些致命圈套捕捉兔子。我記得他習慣於到我們家對面休耕的田地用弓箭獵野雞,因為城裡有規定不能用槍火。若是打獵的狀態好、或陷阱設得好,我們就有野兔野雞加菜的盛宴。

聖斯塔尼斯勞斯,是在我家鄉伊利諾州坎卡基市,波蘭人近鄰地區的羅馬天主教堂。有一年的復活節下暴風雪,我們無法順利抵達我們所屬教區舉辦的彌撒。但在父親的堅持下,我們硬是跋涉過這場暴風雪到聖斯塔尼斯勞斯,參加彌撒及接受聖餐儀式。

這首歌最主要在闡述父親藉著生活的困難來教導兒子不管遇到什麼挫折, 都必須去面對它去克服它. 對周遭環境無情的對待, 家人存活的需求. 不管事情有多沒困難, 都應該必須去做他應該做的事, 因為這是他的責任也是他的義務.

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Feeling Fifteen Again – the story behind the song

The questions most often asked about the album ‘Feeling Fifteen Again’ and the title song is ‘Why Fifteen? What so special about 15?’. 

My answer is simple; That’s when I first got hooked on performing music. Being naturally long-winded, here’s further explanation.

When I was 15 years old, I was in a band without a name. We ‘borrowed’ a name from a band we’d read about in the Chicago Tribune Sunday section. That band was called ‘Saturday’s Children’ – which is a great name. We borrowed it to play a show at the Momence Gladiolus Festival in 1965. The Glad Fest was a big deal – especially for a young band who didn’t even have a name to call their own.

The festival organizers were serious; we had to audition, await a call-back and then audition again. Very grueling, I can tell you. For the second audition, we played Bob Dylan’s ‘Rainy Day Women 12 & 35’ from his landmark album, ‘Blonde on Blonde’. (Dylan devotees will know that this album was his ‘electric album’ which the die-hard folkies of the day detested as an abomination; a sell-out to corporate music. Very radical. Quite the controversy.)

The gig itself was before about 1000 people sitting in the grandstand set up for the glorious reviewing of flower-bedecked floats and grand displays of (what else?) gladiolus. The stage was not a stage at all but a tarpaulin stretched across the ground in front of the stands upon which sat all the electrical equipment; amps, drums, mike, PA stuff, etc.
Now, somebody must have thought that the tarpaulin would somehow remove the chance of electrocution. They were wrong.

As soon as we took up our electric guitars we were acting grounding agents and inviting electrical shocks. As the lead singer, singing into the only microphone – a huge cast aluminum, potato-masher of a thing – I got a fist full of shocks. Each time my mouth got within about an inch of the mike, the juice would arc and blast me with a mind-numbing shock.  The first time was when I greeted the crowd and offered thanks.
Blam!
I was sent reeling back-wards several stumbled feet. I fought to come to my senses as my fellow band-mates stood questioning my odd behavior before the gladiolus crowd.

I approached the mike again more cautiously but suffered the shocking blue arc as I grounded the whole system. Another stumble and the drummer counted off the Rolling Stones’ ballad, ‘As Tears Go By’.

Ouch! We made it through the song. Somehow, I managed to remember the words, the arrangement and was able to play the correct chords on my red Kingston faux-Stratocaster.

Maybe it was the electrical jolts that reinforced the imprinted of that day on my brain. It was a real ‘rush’ performing in front of so many people and that experience was burned into my psyche by the faulty electrical set-up.

Feeling Fifteen Again
DC Rapier ©2018

Back when giants roamed the land, there was a battle of the bands
Our band competed with a borrowed name
We were minnows in a pond, but music was our magic wand
and if we waved it, it would bring us fame

Yeah, I’m feeling fifteen again  Wish I had the energy I had back then
But I’m feeling fifteen again  Every time I hit the stage, no matter when
I’m feeling fifteen again

That boy who sang his all, he  grew up big and tall  While the universe made other plans
But flip the power on, a new day starts to dawn That boy of fifteen takes control of the man

I blame John Lennon for my misspent youth  All of his yeah, yeah, yeah and goo-goo-ga-choo
But I wouldn’t trade it for diamonds or gold  Cuz it’s music that’s enriched my soul

Now, I strap on a guitar in a neighborhood bar  When the sunset’s a recent memory
The music strikes a spark; illuminates the dark  A flame burns brightly for all to see

Yeah, I’m feeling fifteen again  Wish I had the energy I had back then
But I’m feeling   fifteen again  Every time I hit the stage, no matter when
I’m feeling fifteen again

*Nota bene: The first line of the song ‘Back when giants roamed the land’ refers to the giants of the music biz when I has a lad; the Beatles, Elvis, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and all the others of that incredible era.

[ 中文歌詞翻譯 ]

在那個巨人們*漫遊這塊土地上的時代
有個比賽叫做樂團之戰
我們的樂團用借來的名字來參加
我們如同在池塘裡的小魚, 但是音樂就像是我們手上的魔杖
好像我們一揮就會讓我們成名

是的, 我覺得我還是十五歲… 再一次
真希望我能擁有那時的活力
但是, 我覺得我還是十五歲
每當我登上舞台, 無論何時
是的, 我覺得我還是十五歲… 再一次

喔, 那個男孩花盡所有的力氣在音樂上, 他長得又高又壯
正當宇宙有其他計畫時
就像電源被打開了; 黎明開始了新的一天
那個十五歲的男孩又再次掌管了那個男人

我責備約翰·藍儂使我浪費了青春
他所有的yeah, yeah, yeah and goo-goo-ga-choo *
但是我不會把這些時間跟鑽石或黃金交換
因為音樂豐富了我的靈魂

現在,我背著吉他在鄰近的酒吧裡
看著夕陽是最近的回憶
音樂引起了火花, 照亮了黑暗
而火焰明亮地燃燒著,讓所有人都可以感受到

是的, 我覺得我還是十五歲… 再一次
真希望我能擁有那時的活力
但是, 我覺得我還是十五歲
每當我登上舞台, 無論何時
是的, 我覺得我還是十五歲… 再一次

[ 備註 ]

*那個時代音樂界的巨人; 披頭四, 貓王, 鮑勃·迪倫, 滾石樂隊以及那個不可思議的時代中的所有其他人.
*yeah, yeah, yeah and goo-goo-ga-choo – 約翰·藍儂歌曲中的歌詞

[ 此首歌的背景及故事 ]

這首歌是關於男主角的樂團第一次參加比賽的心情以及對音樂的熱愛. 當他慢慢成為一個男人時, 因為現實的生活讓他年輕時的夢想沒有繼續實現, 或許是上天注定或許是因緣際會, 那個十五歲的男孩又再一次掌控了這個男人,他現在更熱情地做他的音樂表演並實現他15歲時的夢想,而每次上台他都會想起最初表演時的感覺,彷彿又再次把他帶回到那個時空.

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Brushes with Greatness; Greatness with Brushes

DC and Ronald Bruner Jr

At the urging of Cat Brown, I went to Kamasi Washington’s concert at Legacy. An incredible performance of musicianship and powerful music. True masters, all. Very humbling, to be sure.

Afterwards, Ronald Bruner Jr, one of Mr Washington’s two drummers approached me. “I saw you out there!” he told me with more than usual excitement. I had no idea what had brought me to his enthusiastic attention during what must have been an extremely demanding performance. He was distracted by other matters but returned after about ten minutes to exclaim again, with a playfully wagging finger, “I saw you out there!”

Then he came to the crux of the biscuit when he told me, “I’m going to tell you something that I know you’ll appreciate: I played in a band with George Duke.”

Suddenly it made sense; why he had spotted me in a chock-a-block SRO crowd. I was wearing a Frank Zappa T-shirt. (see photo) As anyone with sufficient ZQ would know, George Duke was the monster Jazz keyboardist who played with Zappa for many years.

Mr Bruner saw Frank’s image on my shirt and determined to interact with me as a Zappa fan.

“Allow me to shake the hand of a man who played with George Duke” I said with sincere graciousness. As we shook, he then said “You’d be surprised who else that hand has played with.” I thought that an unfortunate turn of phrase, but held my tongue.

“I knew that you would be somebody who would appreciate knowing I’d played with George Duke.”

He was dead right, of course. It was an honor to chat with such an esteemed player who had worked with folks I’ve idolized for decades.

We took the obligatory photo and off he went to his next encounter.

Googling his name, I found out who else that hand had played with: Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garrett, Stanley Clarke, Roy Hargrove, Suicidal Tendencies, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Tribal Tech, Lee Ritenour, Michael Landau, Kirk Whalum, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Patrice Rushen, Ron Carter, Melvin Lee Davis, Clark Terry, Dianne Reeves, Johnny Griffin, Raphael Saadiq, Bobby Rodriguez, The Heath Brothers. Horace Tapscott, Tracy Spencer, Black Rice, The Young Jazz Giants, Gerald Albright, J. K. Kleutgens, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Butler, Al Jarreau, Q-Tip from Tribe Called Quest, J*Davey, Rachelle Ferrell, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Jeffrey Osborne, BeBe Winans, James Ingram, Erykah Badu, Alan Holdsworth, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Doug E. Fresh, Tony Grey, Cheryl Lynn, Ray Parker Jr., Prince, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar.

Mutherfeck! I’d shaken the hands of an absolute monster of jazz.
Taiwan been beddy, beddy good to me.

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Life Lessons

I’ve been asked why I’ve troubled myself to record an album of original songs at the age of 68. It’s hardly a time to start a new career after 25 years of teaching English as a foreign language in Taiwan. I should be doting over my grandkids, comfy on my sofa, drinking a beer and watching football on TV.

Why undertake the trouble and expense (!) to self-finance an album?

I can only answer that this is what I was meant to do. I know that sounds airy-fairy and metaphysical but I don’t mean it that way. I have spent years working towards a recognition of my abilities. I know that I can sing. I know that I can act. I know that I can perform and entertain. I know that I can write songs and stories.  What I desire is that those abilities are recognized, appreciated and enjoyed by others. It’s like having more food than you need; you are inclined to share it.

I want to share my experiences. I want to share my observations. I want to share what I have learned.  After being a teacher for most of my adult life, I’m teaching with my songs. ‘If It Ain’t Broke’ epitomizes that notion as does ‘Bloodied But Unbowed’, ‘Wildwood’, ‘Best Laid Plans’, ‘The Best Thing in My Life’, etc.

I’m nearly 70 years old  and have survived episodes which probably would have broken the spirit of most folks. With the loving help of my friends and family, I’ve stayed alive long enough to thrive in Taiwan. The lessons of my life have been hard won and are of inestimable value.  For what it’s worth, I want to share those life lessons.

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