Pierce Turner Ensemble at Legends On Sunday April 23rd 5pm-at 6 W33rd St bet 6th and 7th Avenue.
“Yesterday I took the C train up to West 96th Street”
Pierce Turner (c)2017
As apathy and other forms of distraction take a hold on the majority of my already meagre size audience, I wonder if am I doomed to fade into oblivion with the usual trappings, babysitters and T.V addicts, fearful agoraphobiacs.
Still inspired and bursting with ideas, I try to convince myself that it doesn’t matter what size my audience is, just get on with it! something will give, somehow, some way, new freshly inspired lovers will find me and mingle with the still lively ones. Some of us have many more lives to live.
Yesterday I took the C train up to West 96th Street. My friend Jeff MacCulloch invited me to talk with his class of (I think he said 8th Graders?) kids seemingly around fourteen year olds. There was about 16 kids there, two thirds Girls, most of them were African American.
When I arrived at the School (in the nick of time at 2pm) the security guard pulled over the nearest kid and instructed him to bring me to Mr Mac’s class. Mr Mac? I was just about to correct her and say that it was Jeff MacCulloch when it dawned on me that Jeff was Mr Mac.
Jeff had primed his writing class for this event by having them study 2 of my songs “3 Minute World” and “Orange Colored Sun” He also had them read my short story “The Permist” – But I hadn’t really thought about what he had told me.
The event started with one of the young Ladies reading out a short Biography of who I am, and then the questions began. A lot of hands shot into the air, Jeff chose one, it took me a while to realize that I could pick too.
“In 3 Minute World, what did you mean when you said you were stuck in the shop suspended by a heartfelt song?”
I was flabbergasted! these Urban New York kids knew the lyrics to that song? Jeff wasn’t kidding. I mean, it is such a Wexford song. The question came from a cute impish black Girl with a massive head of hair pulled back and tightly tied with a blue velvet band. She had sparkling eyes and a mischievous smile.
“On Saturday evening when all my friends were strolling up and down the Main Street and my girlfriend was probably flirting with them, I felt trapped in the Record Shop listening to broken hearted love songs”
“were you in love with her?”
“It felt like love, I was definitely heart sick in her absence”
She kind of crumbled into a heap, covering her eyes with her fingers.
A young shy boy puts his hand up and Jeff pulls him out of the sea.
“When you say ‘Anywhere is happening better than this God Know’s and wherever you are is where I wanna be’ what’s that?”
Again – shocked at the notion that these black kids are asking me about such an extremely personal song, from what I would’ve thought to be a kind of alien culture – I delighted in digging up the meaning of those words from my memory bank.
” Let me see, I can’t really remember the words to this song” The tall black boy to my left hands me the lyric sheet that Jeff had printed out.
“Oh thank you”
“OK, I’m kind of saying saying, even if I was on a rock out in the middle of a windy ocean, I’d be happy if she was there”
“Oh that’s soooooo sweet!!!!” the little black girl chuckled and all the girls melted into a romantic union of giggling. I was delighted with myself, it took 30 years offa me, my heart was flying, I was at one with these kids, there was no ageist wall between us, I was speaking their language and feeding off their liveliness. And what I was saying resonated with the world they inhabited.
The tall black boy to my left asked a question about “The Permist”
” Were you in love with that girl who danced with your finger?”
“No, but I was infatuated, she had me wrapped around her little finger, she was 19, I was 15 and a half. Girls are more mature than boys anyhow” The girls laughed out loud.
“In Orange Colored Sun, I thought of a warm sun down by the ocean, is that what you wanted us to think?” Asks the the tall friendly girl with the glasses and the headscarf.
I explained that both songs were based on the memory of my first girlfriend whom I realize now was only about fourteen, while I was barely sixteen. And that heat was very much the emotion I wanted to convey.
“I wake up every morning to the heat of your heartbeat, is a strong way of connecting that present (when I wrote the song) to the past, when I was with her in that orange colored sun”
“So are you married to her now?”
“No, but we are very good friends, ironically my wife re-connected us by finding her through Facebook” This brought the house down.
“It’s imperative for an artist to partner with people who are open minded to what we write about, my wife puts up with me writing about all kinds of personal things, I think that I’m disguising stuff, but she knows what I’m at. I lost contact with most of my peers when I emigrated to America, my wife understood the importance of me connecting with my first girlfriend again, we are all good friends now”
Thanks Jeff (Mr Mac) for this great day, and thanks you sweet young students of life, for your curiosity and interest. Maybe one day I will see you out in the audience, maybe I can grow old surrou
nded by the likes of you? and anyone else who feels the same.