The first couple of sections of the unfolding story of Vanishing Pirates are edging towards their initial revisions. The Sailmakers have been given a peek at one and will get a chance to see the second towards the end of the month but in the meantime one of the characters came forward with a song and we thought we’d share an early demo with you.
David is, in one way, a minor character yet in another he is extremely important to the story. He is, or will be, the father of the Four Louis*. Growing up in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania he enjoyed a stable childhood but his home town did not share in the burst of economic activity as the country emerged from World War II. It was dying. Coal mining was closing down and so were the garment factories that helped sustain families when miners got laid off. The town which had peaked at around 25,000 residents in 1910 was, by 1950 shortly after this song popped into David’s head, reduced to 15,000. In the next ten years another 5,000 would walk away.
Every day of his high school career David walked past the Dorsey house just off the corner of Coal and Jardin. Jimmy and Tommy, early jazz greats and band leaders who had moved off and moved on, offered just one example of what could be achieved in the big wide world while, for a young person anyway, staying put would probably mean a life feeding off scraps at best. One day he sat down with his best friend Pete, a budding saxophone player, and sketched out this tune. It started in, for David, the present but then he projected it into the future based on what he’d seen happen to his grandparents. For such a generally cheery fellow it’s pretty stark but the future can look like that when life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness aren’t on offer. It’s also pretty simple but, be fair, it’s his first crack at songwriting: