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Song of the Month #32 - “Cool Hand Tuite”

(Track #10 on The Road Less Traveled CD)


RLT Album Cover                               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 The Road Less Traveled Songs from Napster”.  Then, click on "Cool Hand Tuite."  You can listen to it for free (not available outside the USA).

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


As a songwriter, I try to vary my songs in many ways.  I do this because I like a wide range of music, and I like CDs and playlists that fluctuate from song to song.  As a result, when an idea comes to me, I am always looking for different things to do regarding the tempo, style, tone, etc.  If the message is serious, I use techniques that reflect its solemn nature; consequently, if there is no message or it is light in temperament, I employ methods that echo its lightheartedness.  “Cool Hand Tuite,” aka Shakin’ the Bush, is one of my more frivolous songs, and here is how it developed.


Nestled between the city of Rochester, New York, and the shore of Lake Ontario sets the community of Irondequoit.  For several years now, Siobhan and I have traveled to this suburban town to play at Shamrock Jack’s, a great little Irish pub owned by the Petzing family.  We started working for the Petzings in the early 2000s, and it’s been fun getting to know them and their patrons.  Mike Petzing, one of the owners, triggered the writing of the song with a greeting he would often use when I asked him how he was doing.  He would always answer my question by saying, “just shakin’ the bush.”


One night after one of our gigs, Mike and I were sipping some Jack Daniels, and I asked him about the significance of “Just shakin’ the bush.”  He didn’t remember.  It was an expression his Uncle Jimmy always used whenever he was asked how he was doing.  Mike liked the phrase, and he began to use it.  When we returned to Shamrock Jack’s for our next gig, Mike told me the line came from one of his Uncle Jimmy’s favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke.


For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, Cool Hand Luke is a film about a prisoner who refuses to conform to life on the chain gang.  Luke, played by Paul Newman, escapes from the prison several times.  On one of his escapes, he asks the boss of the chain gang if he can go and relieve himself behind one of the bushes along the road.  The boss insists Luke keep shaking the bush while he is standing behind it.  He periodically calls out to Luke while Luke is relieving himself, and Luke repeatedly says, “just shakin’ the bush, Boss.”  Luke eventually escapes by tying a long string to the bush.  He keeps shaking the bush with the string as he slowly crawls away to his freedom.


After I found out the origin of the term “shakin’ the bush,” not much happened until one night during a performance.  We were screwing around on the stage, and someone shouted out “shakin’ the bush.”  I spontaneously broke into what is now the chorus of the song.  I gave it a somewhat reggae Caribbean sound because Mike likes reggae music.  Needless to say, it was an instant hit thanks to Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, and their friends.  I don’t know if Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” or “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw” got their start this way, but I’ll bet there is a good chance they did.


After that night, “Shakin’ the Bush” quite often became a request after the alcohol kicked into the bloodstreams of the patrons.  Since I only had the chorus to the song, I was compelled to put some verses together in order to prolong it.  I decided to include Jimmy Tuite, Mike’s uncle, in the song because he was the inspiration for it.  Since Jimmy, a retired police officer from the Rochester Police Department, was intrigued by a line from a convict in a film, I thought it would be fun to illustrate this irony by having Luke, the convict, be the contrasting character.  After I constructed a verse about each character, I brought the two characters together in the final verse to illustrate the universal nature of “Shakin’ the Bush.”  Is this a great song?  Not really.  Is it a fun song?  Absolutely!


“Cool Hand Tuite” is an upbeat song that somewhat reflects the reggae sound that dominates the Caribbean Islands.  It’s one of those songs that should be played at the end of the party for the conga line that forms after the booze kicks in.  By the request of many, Siobhan and I recorded this song without the help of any studio musicians.  In addition to our basic sound of the guitar, harmonica, vocals, and bass, I gave the recording some depth by dubbing in some additional harmonies, an electric guitar, and blending harmonicas.  While this recording is a much simpler one, it reflects more accurately how Meyer and McGuire sound when they perform.  Pop this one into your CD player when the alcohol has taken over the party.  It will definitely help to keep it going!  The song is perfect for a beach party or a wedding reception that has gone over the edge.  It contains the nonsensical nature of Buffett’s “Margaritaville” or “Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw.”  I like it, and I hope you do, too.


I dedicated this song to Mike Petzing, Jimmy Tuite, and the rest of the Petzings and Tuites at Shamrock Jack’s.  These two families come together to run an absolutely terrific mom and pop operation, the kind of venue Siobhan and I place highest on our priority list of places to play.  Shamrock Jack’s, like so many small family businesses we support, works hard to bring people together to enjoy great food and camaraderie.  This is not an easy job, and it gets more and more difficult as the chain restaurants continue to establish a stronger foothold in the small towns throughout America.  I commend the Petzings for the great job they are doing, and I thank them for letting Siobhan and me play a small role in their success.  Check out Shamrock Jack’s if you live in the Rochester area!  If you don’t live in the area, make it a point to patronize a mom and pop operation in your vicinity!  You can learn more about Shamrock Jack’s at http://www.shamrockjack.com.


This song was inspired by Mike Petzing and Jack Daniels.  Mike, the youngest of the owners of Shamrock Jack’s, and I have spent several evenings sipping Jack Daniels together at the end of our gigs.  Over the past several years, I have watched Mike mature into a talented restaurant owner, and I am sure he will continue to get better and better as he gains more experience.  I thank him for triggering the writing of “Cool Hand Tuite,” and I can only hope another song will emerge somewhere in one of our future conversations!  Thanks, Mike, for getting this one off the ground!


We recorded this song in 2008 at Rich Cooley Studios, a little studio in Canandaigua, New York.  Rich Cooley Studios is owned and operated by Rich Cooley, an excellent singer/songwriter, music teacher, and recording engineer.  When you record with Rich, you can always count on him for a relaxed recording session with a genuine and sincere effort to produce the best recording possible.  I highly recommend Rich if you are interested in doing some recording on a small scale level.  Rich is most comfortable when he is recording a solo artist or a duo.  Check him out if this is what you need!


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 12/18/09)





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