Sing Me a Story

So I’m plowing through the junk email on the old AOL account……..

What? America Online? Is that what you’re talking about gramps??

Oh, hell yes I keep the old AOL account active.
It is my firm belief after the inevitable apocalypse we will all be reduced to handwritten letters, smoke signals and AOL instant messages as the only means of communication.
Like Myspace, AOL will prove the surviving cockroach of tech media.
As our new AI overlords whip us down in the crypto mines, we will make whispered plans to meet later in a private chat room to map our rebellion.

Let’s see: there’s the usual scams asking me to log into my banking account to ensure its safety.
(I’m not falling for that one a fourth time, brother.)
A Nigerian prince offers me millions in exchange for a few Amazon gift cards, which, really, seems like a sweet deal.
Here’s some bottled water from Camp Lejeune, a nifty Christmas gift!
And, of course, enough dick enlargement offers to give me a minor complex.

But there, a vaguely familiar missive from the SIng Me a Story Foundation.
I open the email and reconnect.
Then I am reminded of a little project we did a while ago with these fine folks, and I click the link.
And I’m off, down a rabbit hole of screen time usually reserved for Youtube videos of squeezed blackheads and talking dogs.

The Sing Me a Story Foundation is a very cool and worthy cause.
The company line:
Sing Me a Story gives children in hospitals, children’s homes and hospice organizations the opportunity to write/illustrate stories about anything they want. We distribute those stories to songwriters who turn them into songs and send them back to the kids.

They first sent us an email some five years ago before a gig at Dante’s up in silly chilly Portland.
They work with the bands at several key venues, and wondered if we might like to record a song for the site.
After paging through their website, it checks out.
The Dwarves, BadCop/BadCop, Less Than Jake, a grip of other great bands.
They all lent their talents, so we’d be in fine company.

After soundcheck we gathered in the club’s damp basement green room and broke out the acoustic guitars.
I showed the lads a few chords, we ran through the tune a couple times.
There is a brief thought that we go back upstairs and record the song with blazing Ramones downstrokes, but we decide to keep it simple.

I was instantly charmed by a story by Keyiala, then age 8.
It was submitted through Chicago Hopes for Kids, an organization that provides educational support for kids living in homeless shelters.

I didn’t know anything about her situation, but just try to imagine living through a brutal Chicago winter without a home.
The awful clang of the streets, the endless worry for safety and warmth.
And I just know my eyes would be shut, frozen tears of self pity blinding me from the harsh reality of another night to come.

But kids, damn.
They’re fucking tough, yeah?
And I can imagine Keyiala with nothing but a few colored markers and some blank paper before her.

She takes up the green marker, thinks better of it, and grabs for the blue instead.
And then, despite where she sits or what she had for breakfast, she puts pen to page and nothing else matters.
And then she writes the words, she draws the pictures, and she tells us about Miss Spider:
Click here to listen.

Interesting, I thought, that we are introduced to Miss Spider as an egg!
But it’s a striking image, lone egg upon leaf, the miracle of birth upon us.
The artwork is spare.
The sky merely inferred in bold blue strokes of motion.

There once lay an egg, on a leaf in a tree
A jewel undiscovered, like a pearl below the sea
But no mother was around, and no sisters shared the leaf
What creature would come out to greet this world eventually?
Will there be four legs or six? Horns or stripes or wings?
The mystery of life inside an egg, of all things

But Oh, Miss Spider there you are, there you are
With legs of double four, and one courageous heart
 And Oh, Miss Spider, the wonder you will see
The Earth and all its treasure, every possibility

And then, with the economy of Hemingway and the pacing of Tarantino, Keyiala pulls us deep into Act One.
Mom is gone, then this Big Head Spider character appears.
And what’s this about a rogue bird nest? I’m in!

Miss Spider left her egg  and then she looked around
But even with her many eyes she couldn’t find her Mom
She cried her many tears until a big head Spider said,
This birdie nest is where you were born to lay your head

But then she heard a voice  So soft and sweet and mild
Like a chime from a bell, a Mother calling for her child

Oh Miss Spider, there you are, there you are
I’ve waited for this day when I could hold you in 8 arms
And Oh, Miss Spider, the wonder you will see
The Earth and all its treasures, every possibility

Mom returns!

It is the ending we’d hoped for, though I assume there are some unmentioned trials that Miss Spider has endured before the reunion.
Better that way, I think.
And are we gonna talk about the glorious eyelashes the spiders have?
And with a Netflix worthy cliffhanger, Keyiala boldly goes to title card splashing Chapter Two!

.And there’s a  chapter two, in this life there always is
When we become the grownups though we still just feel like kids
Miss Spider grew up beautiful and then she said, “I Do”
She married Mr Spider on a leaf, beneath the moon

We are introduced to Mr. Spider!
And though I think it is a tad cheeky to propose marriage so soon, I think we can all take a lesson on how to move a story along, am I right?

He said, “will you be my bride?” Miss Spider said, “yes.”
They had the wedding write (!!) now and kiss the bride.


Calling, Oh Mrs Spider, there you are, there you are
I’ve waited for this day when I could hold you in 8 arms
And Oh, Mrs Spider, the wonder you will see
The Earth and all its treasures, every possibility

And then she had her own egg, and then she had another
And as she waited for her kids she thought she heard her Mother

In a nice little callback, we are back at the egg!
The circle of life, marriage and motherhood, the story has it all.
And then she leaves us with another spider set to brave the wild world.

I listen to the song and I am back there in that cold room, my breath visible as I sing the words, the guitars struggling to hold tune in the damp.
In three hours we will be back upstairs, humbucked guitars attached to screaming tube powered amps.
We’ll play 40 year old thrashers, tell dick jokes between songs.
But for now, we play gratefully, aiming for the webs cobbing the dark corners of a basement room.
A house of filament, that a courageous spider calls a home.

Please click on the link and donate to this great cause:
SIng Me a Story

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