Thursday, January 13, 2011
Triple Service was the second song I ever wrote, so it's got that traditional country thing going on, which is okay. What's wrong with that?
When I first began writing, I was heavily into capturing snapshots of my life, and Triple Service is a true story. You can read about it here.
I do also have something to say about being the Keeper of the Stories, but I'll save that for another post.
The first song I wrote was a tribute to my best friend from childhood, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I had never even contemplated writing a song before I wrote that one, and though I had been urged by my husband, I was never inspired...until I got that phone call. Then it all came pouring out.
Anyway, I've talked about that before. My point now is, I think I AM the keeper of the stories, which is a valuable thing. If I don't do it, who will?
If you don't want to read the true story of Triple Service, in a nutshell, it was a place that could never exist today. Because that time is gone and will never return. We're all too jaded now.
It was a time of jukeboxes and three songs for a quarter, and small towns, where everybody knew everybody. And they all got together on a Saturday night to brush off the dust from the fields and kick back with their neighbors, have a beer, and listen to a three-piece country band.
My uncle Howard ran that place, with the help of my mom (Millie) and my aunt Barbara. And my cousins and I lived it, and endured the scorn of the nuns who ran the Catholic school that we attended by day.
I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I was lucky.
So, being thoroughly dissatisfied with the original video I came up with for this song, I finally hit on the right theme, I think. "Everybody knows and everybody goes".
Here, thence (?) is Triple Service:
I was strict with myself when creating this one ~ all the pictures had to be authentic North Dakota pics. There are two photos that are generic, only because I needed them to match the storyline. The rest are from North Dakota.
Yes, North Dakota does seem to revel in kitschy monuments scattered across its prairies, but that just adds to its charm.
You should visit one day. It's not all blizzards and floods, you know.
Here is Let's Go To Town:
Friday, August 10, 2007
(originally posted 12-28-06)
Click on picture to listen.
No, not Christmas. Let the masses celebrate Christmas as their favorite all-time-mass-consumption holiday. Let’s face it; not too many people think of Christmas as anything but visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. I mean, really.
I’m talking about New Year’s Eve.
I like New Year’s Eve, and not because I go out “celebrating”. Heavens no. I like it because it’s a time of reflection; a little pause before the new year kicks in and everything just picks up where it left off; the only change being that you have to get used to writing a different number.
More people should become friends with New Year’s Eve. Of course, it’s not a commercial holiday, unless you are a bar-owner, so it probably won’t catch on like Halloween or Christmas. My feeling, though, is that while Christmas has lost its spiritual meaning, New Year’s Eve has taken up the slack…….well, for me anyway. And it can for you, too.
Let’s face it; Christmas is depressing for most people, for a variety of reasons. Oh, c’mon, you know it is. Maybe you don’t want to admit it, but it’s true.
New Year’s Eve, however, gives one permission to be sad and wistful and sentimental. You don’t have to feel guilty for feeling that way.
You can think about people you don’t see anymore, for whatever reason. People who were important in your life for a moment, or for a lifetime. You can have a glass of wine and put on a song that reminds you of a memory that you shared with that person. You can play Perry Como, singing “Catch A Falling Star”, and remember your dad singing that song to you when you were just a tyke (as an example). And maybe you’ll shed a tear, but you’ll smile, too. You can play a song from 1973, and remember feeling carefree and independent, and singing along to the car radio at the top of your lungs with your best friend.
You can celebrate any moment that you darn well choose to celebrate. There are no expectations, no obligations that you have to meet. You can be alone with your thoughts.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think people don’t have enough “quiet time” anymore. Everything is “have to’s”. I have to do this; I need to get this done. Just stop for one day out of the year. Take some time and think about what really matters to you. I mean what truly matters. Set aside one day from the meaningless tasks. Isn’t there enough of that going on every day? How much do you really do in your life that matters one way or the other? Seriously.
When all is said and done, there are a finite number of people who make our lives worth living. Maybe it’s your dad, maybe your mom, your kids, your spouse, your best friend.
So, give it a try. Stay home on New Year’s Eve. If you feel the need to dance, put on a song that really makes you WANT to dance. I don’t care if it’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” or if it’s some stupid song that you’d only play in the privacy of your own home, like “Achy Breaky Heart”. (Oh you know you’ve got one of those songs; admit it.) But try to dance to one that brings back fond memories, and just dance and be stupid
Trust me; you’ll feel better for having done it. Make a sentimental toast to those people who maybe can only hear you from heaven. They’ll enjoy your dancing. They’re no fools. They know what matters.
(originally posted 11-18-06)
Click Picture To Listen
Red River aficionados are familiar with our song, Triple Service.
Well, Triple Service is an autobiographical song, and it is (was) a real place.
In 1964, my Uncle Howard (everyone called him Uncle Howard, even people who were unrelated to him; I’m not sure why) bought a place in Lisbon, North Dakota (a tiny town in the southeast corner of the state) that consisted of a bar, a restaurant, and a service station; thus, Triple Service.
Being only one person, he couldn’t simultaneously run all three parts of the business by himself. He didn’t have a wife, so he needed a good cook to run the restaurant part. This is where my mom and my Aunt Barbara came in. My mom and Aunt Barbara were both farm wives and both excellent cooks, so an arrangement was made with them to alternate weeks running the restaurant for my uncle. Logistically, this required some arrangements to be made. Aunt Barbara only had two kids, Paul and Karen, but my mom still had two tiny ones at home (Jay and Lissa), so my older sister was commissioned to take care of the toddlers, while Paul, Karen, and I moved to Lisbon for the school year.
Well, what could be more of an adventure for a kid? Overall, the setup was great. Uncle Howard’s bar had a dance floor and live music, so the three of us would hide in the liquor room at night and watch the goings-on. My cousin Paul, being the adventurous sort, let a frog lose on the dance floor one night. We watched in fascination as it hopped toward the dancers. Needless to say, it did not turn out well. Being the intellectuals that we were, we also slid ice cubes across the dance floor. Not a real bright idea, in hindsight.
In the restaurant area, either Mom or Aunt Barbara was doing the cooking, depending on the week, and Karen and I were commissioned to wait tables on Saturday nights, when it got very, very busy. I found out quickly that waitressing was not one of my talents. “I’ll have a pepperoni pizza.” “What would you like on that?” “Uh, pepperoni.” “Okay”. (slinking away in embarrassment).
Triple Service had its name in big red wooden letters on the roof over the service station area. Karen and I thought we were very clever and cute, climbing up on the roof and suddenly serenading unsuspecting customers who just wanted to fill their tank and get the hell out of there, as they eyed us suspiciously. (“Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” was our big rooftop number.)
Well, it was a great experience……..except……….THE SCHOOL. I was a public school girl, but here I was, suddenly attending a Catholic school, St. Aloysius (and by the way, it should sound like it’s spelled, so I decided I would call it St. Allo-SI-us.) Paul and Karen came from a Catholic school background, so the nuns LOVED them. They HATED, HATED me. Apparently, I was a down-fallen woman at the age of 9, and I was most certainly going to hell. Overall, their attitude didn’t bother me. Cuz if hell was Triple Service, then all was good. Every time one of them would speak to me, they’d say, “Oh, that’s right. You live at THE PLACE.” Well, Uncle Howard had a sign posted in his bar that said, “There’s no place anywhere near this place, just like this place, so this must be THE PLACE.” Every time I read that sign, I’d laugh and think of the St. Allo-SI-us nuns.
Academically, I did well….well enough that they wanted me to skip a grade. Well, I was having none of that. First of all, I knew that I would be going back to my real school eventually, and I wanted to be in the same grade as my friends. Secondly, the stupid school was way behind. No wonder I seemed so smart. I’d already learned all the stuff they were teaching. My mom thought it was some kind of big honor to skip a grade, but I put my foot down about that.
But, aside from SCHOOL, it was a fun time. I remember at night when we’d sit in the dark, watching Lloyd Thaxton on TV. I can’t believe I actually recall the name of that guy. That’s where I remember seeing Roy Orbison with his sunglasses, singing “Oh, Pretty Woman”. I also remember Manfred Mann for some reason. The rest is a blank.
Then there was the MONEY. We made HUGE amounts of money (for kids). See, we had our little trio…..Paul on accordion, Karen on guitar, and me on drum. I don’t know how I got assigned the drum, cuz I could play accordion, too (all three of us took lessons together). So, I stood behind my drum with my brushes, and Karen and I sang our repertoire, which pretty much consisted of “Bye Bye Love”. We made the drunken patrons swoon with that song. We’d set up just outside the bar, where the customers would have to pass as they were leaving. They threw money at us like crazy. We had our black skirts with white fringe, the boots, the western shirts and the hats. Oh, we were a hit, but very jaded. We loved scooping up the money, sticking it in our piggy banks, and heading off to Woolworth’s the next day to buy all manner of shiny objects. (In addition to bars, we also played nursing homes, and we killed there…..probably not a good choice of words.)
Additionally, Karen and I decided that we’d write an illustrated book of music. The premise was, what artists would say when they got old. We spent hours on that. I think I pretty much did the majority of the work, now that I think back. I did all the drawings and the funny sayings. I’m sure she must have contributed something. This was all good practice for my current occupation as a fool. Uncle Howard’s tippling friends all wanted to buy our book – again, money! It wasn’t exactly easy reproducing it by hand, however. I don’t think we came out ahead on that venture.
My dad would come down on some weekends, and he enjoyed himself immensely in Uncle Howard’s bar. But I also remember watching my mom and dad out on the dance floor once in a great while, which was an extremely foreign site to me.
Eventually, the good times ended and we all went back to our real lives. Uncle Howard owned a lot of bars throughout his life, but none of them ever compared to Triple Service.
I thought maybe it’d be a good idea to put my memories down on paper, before they were gone, like Triple Service is gone now. Like Mom, Dad, Uncle Howard, and Aunt Barbara are gone now. I haven’t seen Paul and Karen in years. I wonder if they ever think about Triple Service.
(originally posted 09-23-06)
Click On Picture To Listen
So, I flipped my calendar over before I left work today, and noticed that Monday is September 25th. That’s Alice’s birthday.
Alice would have been 51 on Monday. Wow, a lot of time has passed!
I met Alice when I was 11. Our family had just moved from the farm in Minnesota, since my mom and dad had decided to get the hell out of farming and buy a business. At first I was excited to move, until I realized that I was leaving behind all my friends, and would be thrust into a new school situation, where I would be the “new kid”. Yikes! Bad age for that, too. You’re all self-conscious about yourself anyway at that age.
It was creepy that first day - and of course, it was in the middle of the school year, so all the friendship ties, if they weren’t already established years ago, were at least established by the time I got there in December. It was sixth grade, so we still had recess. So, I sort of tagged along behind some people who seemed semi-friendly, but it was really excruciating, especially for a shy girl like me. That kind of went on for a couple of weeks, and it didn’t get any better. I just sort of hung around on the perimeter of whatever group would let me stand there with them, while they gossiped about people I didn’t know.
As I became a bit more comfortable in my class, or at least at the point where I felt like people weren’t staring at me when I walked in, I noticed this girl who seemed to react to stupid things the teacher said with the same sense of amusement that I did. It was sort of like Jim and Pam on “The Office”, where no one else got it, except for the two of us. And I guess she noticed that, too. So, we struck up a conversation, and she was really nice and really funny. We both shared that observational type of humor that was a little bit off-kilter, so we’d always be cracking each other up, pointing out other people’s actions or things that they said and sharing an inside joke about it.
I soon found out that she was really out of the mainstream as far as music was concerned (for our peer group, that is.) She told me in no uncertain terms that she liked country music, and in fact, she was in a band with her brother and her uncle. Well, that was cool! I liked music and singing and stuff like that. I was still listening to The Rascals and The Monkees, etc., etc., but there had been a time in my life when I’d listened to the music that my mom and dad liked - which was country. So at least I didn’t come across as a complete moron when she talked about music (and one did NOT want to be a moron at age 11.) So, I quickly switched my loyalties to country music - ha ha. You know the song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”? Well, it was NOT cool to like country music at that time! But I had a friend!! So there!
So, things quickly became better for me. We entered junior high together, and continued on our merry way. I would go over to her house a lot, and I liked watching band practice. I liked her family, too. They always had lots of people over and there would always be lots of music and fun. So, I decided I would save up my money and buy a guitar. I cajoled her into teaching me some chords, and she’d come over every Saturday for awhile and show me stuff, and I practiced a lot, ’til I got to where I could play along with the songs on my…….oh, I guess they were “albums” then.
And yea, this part from “To Talk To You Today” is totally autobiographical:
1967 you taught me how to play
All those Merle Haggard songs
Man, he had a way
And the intro to “Detroit City”
I remember it today
Well, we went through junior high together, then high school, and we had a blast. We laughed a lot in the school library, and got a few dirty looks. We were supposed to be studying or researching or something, but it was all too boring, so we just had fun.
On Friday nights in our little town, all anyone did was “drag Main”. There really wasn’t anything else for a teenager to do, so we’d put a dollar’s worth of gas in her car and drive up and down Main Street, me smoking, her tolerating it. And we’d meet up with people in the Big Boy parking lot, sometimes jump in their cars and drive up and down Main again, get out, get back in Alice’s car and repeat the same procedure over and over.
We didn’t even care, because we were out of our parents’ houses and off on our own. We met some boys, had some dates (usually double dates). Usually, either I’d like the one I was with and she hated her date, or vice versa, so it never really worked out too well - ha ha.
We sang along with “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray, and I’d laugh whenever an extra person joined us in the car, because I’d always end up in the middle, and whenever “Stuck In The Middle With You” came on the radio, I’d get to sing, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right; here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
When we graduated, we thought, oh, time for an adventure. So, the best place we could come up with was Winnipeg, Canada. What a lousy trip that turned out to be - ha ha. We had very little money, so we drove up there, found a real fleabag motel, got some Molson Beer, and basically just drank and watched TV, because we were in a seedy part of town and were too afraid to go out after dark. We found this diner nearby that was frequented by bums and other undesirables, and we ate really, really fast. It was so pathetic, I’m laughing about it now. So, that was our big GRADUATION TRIP. The part I remember the best, though, was just driving down the highway and singing along with the radio and laughing, having a good time.
After that last summer, things started to change. We got jobs and I ended up getting engaged, so our lives went in different directions. She continued singing with the band, so her weekends were full. Once I was married and had my first child, we really were on different life paths. So, we never really reconnected after that.
We’d go out to see her band once in awhile, and we’d talk a bit, but it wasn’t like the old times.
So, a big part of my life ended really, and a whole new chapter began.
Flash forward to a phone call I got in December of 2002. Alice had suddenly taken ill and had died.
Hmmm……….tough even thinking about that now.
So, I just wanted to write something about her, but I didn’t want to make it maudlin. I wanted to remember all the fun we had.
My husband says if it wasn’t for Alice, I wouldn’t even be doing music now. I’m not sure. But “To Talk To You Today” was the first song I ever wrote, in December of 2002. It’s still my sentimental favorite. We recorded that song on September 25, by the way.
She was a really cool person, and she really got a kick out of life. It’s nice to say I had a friend like her.