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Song of the Month #21 - “The Circle Comes Around Again”

album cover(Track #11 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 "The Circle Comes Around Again."  You can listen to it for free (not available outside the USA).

                                                         *Not being a techie, I use the term “Flash Player” loosely.

 

 

The circle is perhaps the most common of all metaphors.  Birth, growth, maturity, and death are visible wherever we look.  We watch the trees bloom in the spring, and the leaves die in the fall.  In our families, not long after new babies arrive, grandparents inevitably leave us.  Throughout our high school, college, and work years, most of the friendships we develop just naturally fade as a result of life taking us in a new direction.  Nearly all professions have a recurring pattern to them, and of all the careers out there, the one that perhaps best illustrates the cyclical nature of life is teaching.

 

As a teacher of high school English, I lived through the repetitive nature of education for thirty-two years.  Every September I anxiously greeted a new collection of demanding and energetic sophomores.  Each student had his or her story to tell, and all the tales were vastly different.  As the year wore on, we grew together.  Every day, in between literature discussions and composition instruction, I learned a little more about each of their histories, and they got to know mine.  Some students were more revealing than others, but it is safe to say that I found out at least one or two facts about each kid.  Learning these details was extremely important to me because we were a team on a mission, and I had to motivate them to want to be successful.  As I gathered more and more information about each student, I usually discovered English was somewhat enjoyable for a few kids, but for most kids, it was an absolute drag.  Despite the majority having an adverse feeling about English, we struggled along together, and I convinced most of them to do what they needed to do in order to be successful.  Unfortunately, when June rolled around, not all of them reached success, and I always concluded every year with mixed feelings.  I was happy for those who made it, and sad for those who didn’t.  I was happy I had established some new friendships, but I was sad to see them go.  Nevertheless, these mixed emotions of mine gradually faded as I recuperated over the summer, and by the time September rolled around, I was ready to meet a new batch of sophomores and get back into the game once again.

 

In the fall of 1988, I met an incredible group of sophomores, and to this day, I still do not know why they made such an impression on me.  Their personalities and issues were not all that different from the sophomores who came before and after them.  Yet, something was indescribably unusual.  In each of the five classes I had that year, our personalities simply jelled, and we connected on a totally unique level.  Throughout the year, we struggled with the same problems that existed in previous and future years.  Most of them did not like English, and it was difficult to get them to do work.  However, because we had formed such a bond, coping with these dilemmas was much less intense.  Consequently, when June arrived, the mixed emotions I usually experienced at that time of the year were incredibly stronger.  I knew these kids had to go, but I wanted them to stay here for the rest of my career.  The sadness I felt about them having to leave inspired the development of “The Circle Comes Around Again.”

 

At the time of the writing of “The Circle Comes Around Again,” my classroom was at the back of the high school, and it overlooked the student parking lot.  One June afternoon in 1989, I was sitting at the window just as school was letting out for the day.  As I listened to horns honking, stereos blaring, and kids letting out screams of delight, the song came to me.  The narrator, a teacher, reflects on the good and bad times he has had with his students, and he wonders if he has done his best for them.  After raising some questions about the way educational systems evaluate students, he offers his students one final suggestion.  He encourages them to listen to their souls, and he tells them if they do so, their souls will keep them free and lead them to their goals.  Each goal they accomplish will bring them closer to fulfilling their dreams, and when they have accomplished their dreams, they will have reached true happiness.

 

“The Circle Comes Around Again” is pure Americana.  It is a sensitive folk ballad depicting a philosophy you can follow as you move through the stages of your life.  The philosophy is simple.  Whether you are eighteen or eighty, if you listen to your soul, it will keep you free and lead you to true happiness.  John and Joe Dady back me up superbly on this one.  The sensitivity of this song is enhanced with the soft sounds of a mandolin, harmonica, violin, acoustic guitar, bass, and drums.  While it is a song for all, it especially is a song for parents and teachers who, like the narrator, are often put in a position to offer advice to younger people.  Hope you have time to check it out!  I like it, and I hope you do, too.

 

I dedicated this song to Periods 5 and 6 of 1988-89.  Although all my classes that year were terrific, these two were the main inspiration for the song, and although I have not seen most of these students since the last day of school in 1989, many of the experiences we shared together still remain vivid in my mind.  While most of these people are spread around the world now, several of them still live here in Canandaigua, or they come back to town to visit their families during the holidays.  I occasionally run into them in the local bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, and for the most part, although their lives have changed, they are still the same people in many ways.  While some still struggle with motivation and direction, others are quite focused and successful.  Many of them have young families, and when they tell me about their kids, I can see the apple has not fallen very far from the tree.  I can see the circle coming around again, and I only hope some teacher out there is encouraging these new kids to follow their souls as they move through the cyclical nature of their lives.

 

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-Mailed 12/18/08)

 

 

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