Sometimes, I just don’t know what to write, so in order to get the creative juices flowing, I tried something different. I don’t know where this idea came from, but I thought I’d give it a go. I chose a music playlist, it was comprised of 308 songs, and I typed out the first line of each song in the playlist. I arranged the first lines into a story. Of the 308 first lines, I used 113. I did have a few rules to abide by: I could only use songs on the original playlist regardless of the fact that there are songs not on the playlist that work better because it would take forever to finish the story otherwise; I removed all the “na-na-nas,” “doo-wops,” and “oh, babys”; I could not alter the first line at all. To help you identify the first lines they are in italics.
In the back of my mind, I hear Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake singing the story. It’s a bit hokey, but have fun with it! It is what it is…
I’ve lived a long life and now I’m looking back, even though my Mama always said, “Don’t you dare look back.” I’ll tell you a story that happened to me. I’ve got picture perfect memories.
I’ve been down the broken road, now been through that fire, and thought times it seems like I’m coming undone, life’s like the road that you travel on – no one knows what’s waiting where you go, but after all is said and done, I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day, for the power of love is a curious thing.
My Daddy was a preacher, but my Daddy left home when I was three. I remember the day. When my Mama saw my Daddy rushin’ home down that long dirt drive she whispered, “There’s a cold feelin’.”
Daddy burst in the kitchen and said, “It’s not the way that I intended this. You remember, my Maria – they used to call me lightnin’ I was always quick to strike. Well, Big Bart done hurt young Janie for the last time. When I hit him he never got up again, and I thought, ‘I’m a dead man walking here, but that’s the least of all my fears.’ Maybe I’m right and maybe I’m wrong, but I’m trading punches with the heart of darkness.”
My Mama and Daddy hugged and kissed like there was no tomorrow. Daddy said, “Never know how much I love you.” Mama said, “How sweet it is to be loved by you.” Daddy looked at us kids and said, “Children behave, the world today can be a scary place.” And he was gone.
Not long after daddy left, we saw the Marshall comin’ down our drive. Mama met him on the porch.
“Maria,” he said.
“Marshall,” she replied.
“You know why I’m here?” He asked.
“Yes, sir, I do,” she said.
I bet you never heard old Marshall Dylan say, “You pass on a message for me? You tell him you can run on for a long time. I know your life on earth was troubled, but I see your fingerprints, so you just turn around and turn yourself in.”
Mama tried to stop the Marshall as he left, “Hangman, hangman, hold a little while.” But the Marshall just kept on his way.
Mama slumped down on the porch. It’s a heartache. Even so young, I thought, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” I never saw daddy again.
I don’t know how she’d done it, but Mama kept the farm. Life on the farm is kinda laid back. When I was five we’d get up at four and get the chores done. We were poor, but I was satisfied. I got a little education and my brothers and sisters, well, we all looked out for ma and for one another.
I even had a sweetheart. At my sixteen years of age I thought I knew it all, and I said to myself, “Wanda is a woman.” My feet was wantin’ to go down roads they ain’t been down before and I thought it be nice to have her by my side.
Wise men say only fools rush in. I said, “Wanda, girl, you really got me now and I’m goin’ exploring. Meet me in the morning and we’ll go see the world.” So we planned I’d pick her up down past her daddy’s barn at midnight.
All day I was thinkin’ night would never come. I could never get anything past Mama, though. I was toting my pack sneaking out the back and there was Ma with a bag of biscuits and some jerky and tears sneaking down her face.
I said, “Well, that’s all right now Mama.” She hugged me and kissed me, and though I never saw her again, I knowed she prayed for me ev’ry day….I’m finding myself at a loss for words.
I had a hand me down ride painted rattle can red and I started her up. I got to the wood a little early, and I was a bundle of nerves. Midnight, getting’ uptight. Where are you? Wanda never showed. I thought it would do me good to shout, shout let it all out, “Fare thee well my own true love! I’ll think of thee night and day.”
I don’t wanna go home, though, and it’s now or never, so I said, “Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye I’m doin this tonight.” Ridin’ down the road in my pickup truck, I was a highwayman. I was out in the country past the city limit sign and no idea which way to head, so I says, “Greenspond is a pretty place, so is Venture’s Island.”
I got a homesick heart but a long ways left to go. All that time I was searching. I found my truck heading for the city, and well, New York, New York isn’t everything they say with hot summer streets. So I skedaddled out of there.
I drove and drove until I’s sittin’ in a bar boozin’ losin’ next to my friend the communist. It’s easy come, easy go. After too many rounds, I said, “Whiskey, whiskey, Nancy, whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, Nancy-O.”
Nancy don’t take that from no one. She said, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.” And the next thing I know I’m in the back of a black and white. Well, luck would have it, that night the warden threw a party in the county jail and my cellmate said, “I always heard that his herb was top shelf.” He was right.
Next mornin’ two recruiting sergeants came to the jail. The soldiers didn’t want me so they passed me on to the sailors. Ships may come and ships may go as long as the sea does roll, and we set sail at half past one. The next few years were spent in and out of ports, but I never was so glad to hear, “The boys are back!” as I was when we returned home.
Discharge papers in hand, next day lonely like a sailor, I moved on. The streets were crowded but I spotted her. On the other side of the street, I knew it was my sister. She saw me, too, and she done stop me on the corner and cried, “Brother, o brother, is there any news today?”
I said, “Little sister, don’t you cry. Tell me of Ma and home.” That’s when I heard Ma was gone on to a better place, and that the boys were toilin’ hard in the hot sun beatin down to keep the farm afloat. I am a troubled mind, I am a calloused heart. But we had a good long talk and we hatched a plan. I’m not about to give up, so I’m heading home. I put some greenbacks in an envelope, and I gave a letter to the postman. He put it in his sack.
So it’s farewell to the whiskey, tobacco and smoke. All my bags are packed I’m ready to go. I put on my blue suede shoes and I boarded the plane. As I traveled, I got to thinking about life. Since I can remember guess I been a problem, but I’m a hard workin’ man, and every day is so wonderful. We were born to embrace it not accept it. It’s a long life, this I do believe, but honey, I’m good, and I’m gonna give me something brighter.
I was just off the two lane where the school bus used to stop, when I saw a pretty woman, walkin’ down the street. She was just seventeen, but oh, her eyes, her eyes. I knowed she could wash away my trouble, wash away my pain. My heart beats fast, and slowly came these words to me, simple and plain and true, “I’ve been walkin the same old road for miles and miles, and since the moment I spotted you I can’t hide the way I feel about you anymore. I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy.”
She, to my great surprise, said, “A little less conversation, please, I can feel the magic floating in the air. Love is a burnin’ thing, and what I want, you’ve got. I’m not afraid.”
I said, “Your melody is like a love letter. Let the good times roll!”
There’s a wedding in the chapel. We got married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout. Now, I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine. My kin said, “Welcome to the family.”
In all my adventures and learnin’ my only advice is don’t let the old man in. Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you.
This is the end.