Saturday, February 26, 2005

Stacey's Song

My wife Marie, who is a wonderful writer, and who makes her living writing, among other things, has a splendid Henry David Thoreau quote on the bulletin board in her office, which reads: “How vain it is to sit down to write, when you have not stood up to live.” The first time I read that quote, I almost felt ashamed for all the writing I have done over the years, especially songwriting, which, whether I want to admit it or not, was, at it’s best, naive and immature. Don’t get me started. I have, however, kept a copy of almost everything I have ever written, so I can take it out from time to time if I am in a good masochistic mood. Hey you, yeah you with the artist’s heart, I’m talkin’ t’you, and bless you.

Can’t help it. These thoughts, and melodies, come down, into my brain, and fall out my fingertips. Truth is, though, along the way, before I knew dick, the motor was already runnin’. Yep, I did write songs titled “Doom Teka Tek”, “You’re My Best Friend, Girl”, and “Eggplant Ratatouille Pie”, which even came with a recipe! Cringe. They all seemed like a good idea at the time. Those songs were bad, but at least, they provide me with the memory of where I was at during a certain time in my life. I thank those of you who know these songs, for not shooting me when you had the chance.

But now and then, something with a bit of lasting value would come along, as is the case, I think, with a little tune I call “Stacey’s Song”, written when I was 20 or 21.

I was so in love with my daughter Stacey. When she was a baby, when she was one, and then two, three, four, man. Though Stacey was born in Salem, Oregon, we moved to Seattle shortly thereafter, for about seven years. Since I was in a band, and didn’ t work days, I was home with Stacey a lot. I would put her on my back and cart her around the Seattle Public Market, in the early 70’s, or take her to band practice, or walk her up to the K-Mart for bread and milk. She was a wonderful child, and has grown up to be a wonderful adult, who still amazes and astounds her loyal and melancholy Dad at every turn. Of course, I can say these same things about my daughter Amy, who was born a few years after Stace.

When Stacey was one or two, I think, “Stacey’s Song” came through, from an especially deep place. Just to give you a little taste, the first verse goes:

“She’s a girl and a definite eyeful
She’s the one I love to touch
She may cry and give me trouble
But I’m alive cuz I love her so much!
She’s mine!”

I am certain you can see, at least, that these are the words of a devoted and adoring father.

Then, Stace grew up. Just like that. Whoosh. Grade School, High School, College, Marriage, 4 Children of her own. Lord.

But at Stacey’s wedding reception, I am happy to report that, when dad and daughter stepped out to dance, it was to the music of Stacey’s Song, which had been requested by the bride. Stace would have preferred the original version, but I insisted on a new recording, which she kindly granted me. That was one groovy fox trot.

Some years later, I was called to hear the news that Stacey had left for the hospital to give birth to her second child. When I had spoken to Stacey earlier in the week, she had said, “Dad, Joe (child #1) loves “Stacey’s Song”....would you bring your guitar up to the hospital when I’m there, and sing it to him?” I agreed, of course, with much pleasure.

I went guitarless to Seattle, but after Colin was born, my buddy Larry Sieber, an old friend who was also in love with Stacey when she was a baby, went with me to buy a new guitar. After finding and buying a new Martin in Seattle, we headed back to the hospital the next afternoon.

When the time came to sing the song, I was seated at the head of Stacey’s bed, with my grandson by my side, who was ready to be entertained. Stacey, who had just given birth to my second grandchild, was holding her new son, as I began to strum. Others were in attendance, Stacey’s mother, my daughter Amy, my friend Larry, husbands. I still can’t believe I made it through the whole thing without cryin’. Well, let’s just say I made it through without breaking down. The tears were there. I got the words out, but in the bridge, which goes.......

“And when I’m tired....
She takes away my pain
C’mon daddy, get on up....
You gotta play my brand new game....

I almost lost it. But It was a supreme moment, singing the song that I had written for Stacey as a baby, 30 years earlier, to Joe, and to Stacey, once again, as she cuddled her own new baby, and one beautiful reason why I am grateful that I have let the creative juices flow in my life. Many of the songs in the archives are pictures of me wrestling with love and some of the more sour moments of life. But Stacey’s Song, that’s one sweet number.

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Pacific Beach, Washington, United States