We continue our second day with the exploration of my short, sweet Irish flavored ballad called "The Lass". Different than "History" in that this song doesn't have a chorus (you know the part in History that goes "stay in side with me....yada yada") but instead has a refrain.
A refrain is like a chorus but instead of being it's own section is more of a connection with the end of the verse. In this song the refrain is "Nothing could ever put our her fire" you'll see what I mean when you get there. Anyways, enjoy and I welcome you to go all the way to stage 3 listening with this one, the story behind this is down below with a little scrolling. Let's continue the journey.
Behind the weathered wood and stone
And shards of broken glass
A child born without a dime
Would grow up all to fast
With hair of silk, a voice of gold
she’d make her parents proud
She’d sing the world her songs of hope
And buy this dying town
Late at night when cold rushed in
She lay hungry and tired
But nothing would ever put out her fire
Sweet as wine she left
The world drank her by the sip
Growing warm inside they all heard money
Dancing from her lips
Fame and fortune’s leaky ship
Saw waters rising higher
But nothing would ever put out her fire
She’d been bought and sold like aged merlot
The world had drank it’s fill
Years had passed, this aging lass eventually grew ill
But her spark had set a blaze that stayed
When her hear beat had expired
But nothing will ever put out her fire
That's her, circa 1940
When I was a little kid in the early 1990’s, my family would travel from our home in Maryland all the way up to MA (where I would eventually attend college in my 20’s) to visit my dad’s side of the family. We called our grandma “Nana” so our great-grandmother was “Great-Nana”. We would visit great Nana in a tiny little apartment near a dark green overpass. Her apartment was filled with porcelain trinkets and books and all kinds of strange antique things that kids are mysteriously intrigued by. She would call us “lovey” and always have a tray of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven for us when we came. Little did I know, that 50 years prior, she was a touring musician, just like me, who went by the name of “Milly Melody”. She had a similar sound to the legendary Patsy Cline and was “quite the looker” as our family remembers said. (that's old-fashion talk for she was very pretty). She also was fairly successful, she toured frequently and had a pretty sizable following.
In the 1940’s women weren’t supposed to be particularly independent. A confident, young, one-woman show chock full of singing and playing guitar seemed to ruffle a lot of feathers to certain audiences. So Milly Melody carried a one-shot pistol in the event that one of the male audience members tried to accost her after the show. Pretty wild to think that my Great Nana, who I only ever knew as really old, used to be a heart-breaking, guitar slinging woman who was ready to turn into Clint Eastwood if someone tried something funny. Our family history is so interesting, isn't it?
Fast forward to 2007. I’m sitting in a songwriting class at Berklee and we have to write a song that tells a story. I think maybe Great Nana’s story somehow was in my subconscious because when I wrote “The Lass” there were some pretty striking similarities between the lyrics of the song and her young life as a touring performer but I wasn’t consciously aware of her history at the time I wrote this song. Milly’s real name was Mildred Pendelton. She spent her golden years in a small apartment in Lynn, MA nested under a rusted green overpass where she lovingly waited for her family to visit. She loved God, giving her grandkids gifts and music. She worked hard and didn’t have a whole lot when she left this world on Aug 3, 2002, but she made sure we all knew she loved us. "The Lass" has since become an ode to honor her. May nothing put out her fire.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."