The Story of The Lass
This story begins in 1910. Frank Carlton was doing his usual daily routine at his quaint barbershop in Maine. A traveling publisher who was on vacation, Tell Taylor, strolled into his shop to get a haircut. As Frank trimmed away he began humming a song.
Tell asked the barber “Hey that tune….where did you hear that? That’s a great tune”.
Frank replied “I wrote it”.
Tell said “oh yeah? Would you ever sell it?”
Frank said “I don’t know….”
“How about 60 bucks?”
“What? Really!? SOLD”.
That song would later be known as one of the classic American standards “Down by the Old Mill Stream” which Frank wrote as a love song for his wife. In it’s first year of publishing it made $8,000 and continues to make money to this day. In 1910, the $60 he sold it for would be about $1,500 today. The $8000 it made in it’s first year would be about $192,000. So let’s just say he was kicking himself for a few decades for selling it.
Ten years later on July 11, 1920, Frank Carlton said hello to his first granddaughter, Mildred Neil. Mildred herself learned to play guitar and sing, proving that the music gene was going to be in the family for a long time. She was an attractive and brazen performer who played in local music venues around Maine throughout the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her stage name was “Milly Melody”. She was compared to country western greats like “Patsy Kline” and Patty Paige. During this time, it was still taboo for women to be too independent and many men didn’t like the idea of a woman being on stage, so as a precaution, she would always keep a one-shot derringer pistol close by because of the real world threat of being assaulted for being an independent woman.
Half a century later, Mildred’s great grandson, Dylan, wrote a song for a school project while attending Berklee College of Music. The song is about a young Irish girl with a beautiful singing voice who grows up in a poor town and aspires to bring good things to her old town and her poor family. She is discovered at an early age and travels the world, and sings her heart out to huge audiences all over the world. Despite the attempts to exploit her talents by money hungry businessmen, she never lets them get to her and keeps her art first and her fans close. In her old age, she’s afflicted by illness and eventually passes away. The purity of her love of music outlives her and people for generations remember her with a smile.
Milly, or Great Nana as we called her, passed away on aug 3, 2002. I knew her as the short, little grandma who made cookies and called me and my brother “lovey”. Only after she had passed did I ever learn she was a musician, just like me. And I was pretty interested to hear my great, great, great grandfather wrote “Down by the Old Mill Stream” and had he not sold it for $60 we’d all be millionaires!
I was so struck by the similarity of this song with parts of her life that I had never known I wanted to dedicate this song “The Lass” to her. When I approached the local brewery in solomons, The Ruddy Duck, we all know and love, to turn my song into a beer, brewers Cameron Gainer and Matt Glass were more than happy to oblige. Matt gave me a rundown of all the styles and histories of different beers and I decided to do a mint chocolate stout, sweet and hearty, just like Milly.
So this is my tribute to my Great Nana, Mildred Neil, aka, Milly Melody.
Thank you for listening to my song, may nothing put out her fire.
by Dylan Galvin
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
I really appreciate you making it this far, trying the beer, hearing the song and reading the story. Just know that you taking your time to read this is truly what keeps me going day after day, so thank you.
Join my emailing list and you’ll get a free track and a discount on my album that has this song!