From the lullabies sung over our infant selves, to the songs bidding farewell to our caskets, music is a part of our lives, even if most of it seems unconscious and random. Music can invoke strong emotions, influence moods, recall memories that may have faded with time. I remember my grandmother at her organ, singing “My Wild Irish Rose”. My aunt singing along with Janette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. The early days of rock-n-roll via my parents’ record collections or my father’s voice (Lady of Spain). A lot of patriotic music could be heard in my house when I was growing up: Sgt Barry Sadler’s Ballad of the Green Berets was one of Dad’s favorites. Country music, some ethnic stuff, the inevitable children’s songs, church songs, holiday songs, top 40s, soft rock… even the big band era and the music of WWII.
Certain songs remind me of one place or person. Others just stir feelings.
And some get stuck on automatic replay in my head when I least expect it.
Dear Sir I write this note to inform you of my plight
And at the time of writing I am not a pretty sight
My body is all black and blue, my face a deathly gray
I write this note to tell why Paddy’s not at work today
While working on the fourteenth floor, some bricks I had to clear
And to throw them down from off the top seemed quite a good idea
But the gaffer wasn’t very pleased, he was an awful sod
He said I had to cart them down the ladder in me hod.
Well clearing all those bricks by hand, it seemed so very slow
So I hoisted up a barrel and secured the rope below
But in my haste to do the job, I was too blind to see
That a barrel full of building bricks is heavier than me.
So when I had untied the rope, the barrel fell like lead
And clinging tightly to the rope I started up instead
I took off like a rocket and to my dismay I found
That half way up I met the bloody barrel coming down.
Well the barrel broke my shoulder as on to the ground it sped
And when I reached the top I banged the pulley with me head
I held on tight, though numb with shock from this almighty blow
And the barrel spilled out half its load fourteen floors below
Now when those building bricks fell from the barrel to the floor
I then outweighed the barrel so I started down once more
I held on tightly to the rope as I flew to the ground
And I landed on those building bricks that were scattered all
Now as I lay there on the deck I thought I’d passed the worst
But when the barrel reached the top, that’s when the bottom burst
A shower of bricks came down on me, I knew I had no hope
In all of this confusion, I let go the bloody rope.
The barrel being heavier, it started down once more
And landed right on top of me as I lay on the floor
It broke three ribs and my left arm, and I can only say
That I hope you’ll understand why Paddy’s not at work today.
The Clancy Brothers recorded this song. I never had a professional copy of it. My friend Paul taught it to me when we were in college, and I have him singing it on tape. Good times at Paul Smiths College! Also tied to my memories of my college days: Loverboy’s WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND, Cindy Lauper’s GIRL’S JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN and James Taylor’s YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND. Hall and Oats ISLAND GIRL takes me back to middle school dances in the auditorium. Sometimes, I get Mark Chestnut’s BUBBA SHOT THE JUKEBOX stuck in my head… when I’ve either binged on old IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT episodes, or I’ve witnessed an incredibly cute guy pull an incredibly stupid stunt.
My eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have fired all the teachers and we broke the Golden Rule
We broke into the office and we tickled the principal
Our troops go marching on!
Glory glory hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
Knocked on the bean with a rotten tangerine
Our troops go marching on
My eyes have seen the glory of the end of PTA
Now my mom can see my dad again, she doesn’t have to say
“I’m sorry, there’s a meeting, dear. I won’t be home today.”
Our Troops go marching on.
My eyes have seen the glory of a great big long vacation
It will help us make the boys and girls the leaders of the nation
We’ll perform an operation on the Board of Education
Our troops go marching on!
I remember having that one on a 45. Thinking about the lyrics as I learned them…. kinda speaks to the current joke of a presidential election, and Common Core curriculum.
Bay City Roller concerts with my cousin Susan. Loverboy in Lake Placid with the crew I hung with at Paul Smiths. The Monkees Reunion tour with my friend Donna. My friend Karen and I at Alabama.
Singing “They Call The Wind Marya” to my daughter when she was little. And “Winnie the Pooh”.
And…. she just informed me she can’t get Toby Keith’s “BEER FOR MY HORSES” out of her head. Seventeen years changes a kid’s musical tastes!
Think I’ll go listen to some STYX.