Meyer & McGuire
Song of the Month #11 - “Home Town”
(Track #6 on the Home Town CD)
Lyrics: If your web browser does not support the Flash Player* included with the Lyrics, or you are uncomfortable allowing/downloading the plug-in/add-on, you can still listen to this song while you read. Just go to our Downloads Page and click on the link, “Buy Home Town Songs from Napster”. Then, click on "Home Town." You can listen to it for free (not available outside the USA).
*Not being a techie, I use the term “Flash Player” loosely.
When I came to Canandaigua, New York, in 1974 to teach English at the local high school, I only planned to be here for one year. I filled in for a teacher who had taken a leave of absence. When he decided not to return in the fall of 1975, Canandaigua offered me the position, and since I had nowhere to go, I chose to stay on for another year. Well, it is now 2008, and I am still here. In fact, I only live about two miles from where I first lived in 1974.
Throughout the 1970s, I taught during the week and played in the local taverns on the weekends. Like most singer/songwriters in their twenties, I, too, had that faint dream of scoring it big in the music industry. Realizing, however, that this would never happen became more and more apparent as the years slipped away. Surprisingly, the fading of this aspiration did not evoke any sadness. Instead, it gave way to a very satisfying comfort, contentment, and happiness, which only can be attributed to Canandaigua and all of the great people I met here.
As the 1980s emerged, the Canandaigua scene got even sweeter for me. Along with teaching and playing music, I met Siobhan, and we started living together in 1982. In 1986 we bought a little home over on Gorham Street. Everyone thought it was a great little “starter home.” Well, we are still here, and now it is a great little “retirement home.” There are many reasons why we never moved from this home, and one of the main ones is our next-door neighbors, the Crudeles, Lou, Gladys, Dick, and Karen. During the twenty-two years we have lived next to them, we have shared an unbelievable amount of good times. Many of those good times occurred at the annual Crudele Fish Bake. Lou and Dick Crudele use to fish all season, freeze their catch, and throw an enormous party every September for just about the whole town. The song, “Home Town,” was born after the first party we attended in the late 1980s.
The party was pretty typical of most parties. It started in the afternoon, a crisp fall September day. Lou and Dick cooked up all the fish they caught. People brought dishes to pass. There was plenty of beer and pop to drink. Folks sat around eating and drinking, visiting with each other, playing cards or other games, and watching football. Siobhan and I love playing euchre, and so whenever a spot opened at one of the tables, we jumped right in. As the afternoon turned into evening and the alcohol did its usual job of loosening everyone up, several folks bugged me to go get my guitar, so we could have a “sing-along.” I have forgotten most of the “sing-alongs” I have led over the years, but the memory of the evening of my first Crudele Fish Bake still remains vivid in my mind.
Later that evening after the party was over, I sat in our living room unwinding from the elating experience of the “sing-along.” As I reflected on the party, I thought of other happenings in Canandaigua that were similar to it in nature. The Otto Family Picnic and Captain Taeschner’s Euchre Party were two events that jumped right out at me immediately. The common denominators of these get-togethers were talking, laughing, and venting. As I thought about these concepts, the chorus of “Home Town” came out of nowhere. I try to be a disciplined songwriter, but it never seems to work for me. I have to wait for my songs to mystically appear. When they arrive, they come quickly, and I do not revise them very much.
Once the chorus was in place, the verses came right along with them. They reflect the spirit that is inherent in the hearts of people whose home towns have shaped their identities. These people intrinsically share, care, understand, motivate, give, and love. These qualities appear in the verses of “Home Town.”
So far, I have been very fortunate to have two home towns throughout my life, Canandaigua, New York, and Saugerties, New York. While “Home Town” gives tribute to Canandaigua, the town where I currently live and work, my song “The Good House Is Built Upon a Rock” pays homage to Saugerties, the town where I spent my childhood and teenage years. If you have not already read the history of “The Good House Is Built Upon a Rock,” check it out. These towns have introduced me to people whose hearts and souls have shaped me into the person I am today. Wherever you are, folks, I thank you!
“Home Town” is pure Americana. It is an upbeat country folk song that gets your toes tapping and hands clapping. With a guitar, banjo, bass, and drums John and Joe Dady back me up with some exhilarating guitar and banjo picking. Many people view it as my “This Land Is Your Land,” “Alice’s Restaurant,” or “Like a Rolling Stone.” Although it does not even come close to being in the same league as the signature songs of Woody and Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan, when I play it on stage at The Commons, the location of the summer concert series in Canandaigua, it gives me a kick that I am sure is comparable to the thrill any national or international star would experience. Hope you have time to check it out! I like it, and I hope you do, too.
I dedicated this song to all those who produce and attend the Otto Family Picnic, Crudele Fish Bake, and Captain Taeschner’s Euchre Party. Since you already know the details of the Crudele Fish Bake, here is a brief scoop on the other two events.
The Otto Family Picnic emerged as a local version of the Willie Nelson Family Picnic, a party and concert held in Texas by Willie throughout the 1980s. Joe and Lorraine Otto, friends of ours from Farmbrook, a little community north of Canandaigua, held the picnic at their home. We all played cards, ate, drank, and culminated the day with a music jam. Many of these music sessions were simply unforgettable.
Captain Taeschner’s Euchre Party, another event of the 1980s, was a euchre party held on a small tour boat on Canandaigua Lake. Paul Taeschner, a close friend and former teaching colleague, is the captain of a tour boat during Canandaigua’s summer season. Back in the ‘80s, when we were all much younger, Paul would borrow the boat, and a bunch of teachers would go out on it and drift around the lake eating, drinking, and playing euchre well into the evening. What great times we had!
Like everything else, nothing last forever, and these events are now part of my history in Canandaigua. However, as I walk its streets wondering what lies around the bend in this superb little community, I find an ineffable joy when my memory returns to the events that stimulated the development of “Home Town!”
I recorded this song in 1993 at The Garage, a little studio in Rochester, New York. The Garage, as I have told you before, is owned and operated by John and Joe Dady, two quintessential musicians. When you record with them, you can always count on great coffee, good stories, and an aching stomach from laughing. I highly recommend John and Joe if you are interested in recording. Also, The Dady Brothers, John and Joe’s group, have many recordings of their own, and they tour the United States and Ireland. Check them out on the web at www.dadybros.com.
Well, there you have it. I’ll have another song of the month for you next month. If you have any comments or suggestions, please pass them on to me. This is a work in progress, and I am always looking for new ways to improve it.
E-mail us at McRiley@Frontiernet.net