Love in the Time of War (a demo)

Here’s how the song “Love in the Time of War” came to be:

   Several years back, Melissa and I scoured Pennsylvania’s courthouses and graveyards looking for her ancestors. We visited the Pond Eddy Bridge, a two-span, one-lane steel structure crossing the Delaware River between the hamlet of Pond Eddy in Lumberland, New York, and Shohola Township, Penn.

    We were looking for Melissa’s great, great grandmother, Katherine Dunbar.

    Shohola once had a quarry, which furnished the bluestone for New York’s sidewalks during the later part of the 19th century.

    This time frame and the setting was the basis for our story/song.

    I picked the Civil War period to place our first lovers.

    To my surprise when I looked up the wars between the Civil War and the First World War, I discovered that we truly are a nation of warriors, as the U.S. military fought 38 wars during that time. Most were with the Indian tribes we systematically removed from their lands. Others were with our neighbors south – Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua. Still others were overseas (Philippines. Samoa, Brazil, China).

    This gave me the plot line: These wars, as most are, were fought by generations of working-class Americans.

    Once upon a time, it was assumed most young men and women didn’t consummate their love until they were properly married, and if the young man was going off to war, often marriages were hastily arranged so that the couple could have conjugal relations without scandalizing the families.

    Hence the title:  Love in the Time of War.

    The story and its tie to American history make this song the closest thing I’ve come to traditional folk.

    Full disclosure requires that I confess that this isn’t the song Melissa had in mind when she “commissioned” it, though she does allow that it’s a pretty good song. Also, it took forever for this story to reveal itself. Close to 10 years by my reckoning.

 

The above is just me and my guitar.

 

Love in the Time of War

I work a quarry in Shohola
sun never shines that far down.
all day long I cut bluestone rock
bound for New York sidewalks.

some day I’m gonna take Katherine away,
we’ll cross that Pond Eddy Bridge
in the meantime I’ll fight for a cause
I don’t even know what it is.

(chorus):
Please marry me
I need your loving
Don’t know how much
longer i have.
You may be
a widow next month
but marry me now
for the time we have.

I told my father it was time to leave
and he said tell your momma
I told my mother I had to go
she said you’ll break Katherine’s heart

(chorus)

I’m back at work in Shohola
While Katherine raises our four children.
all day long I cut bluestone rock
Bound for New York sidewalks.

Now our eldest says he is ready
To marry and do his duty
No matter how much we beg him
I can almost hear him say:

(chorus)

He works the quarry in Shohola
sun never shines that far down…

 

5 comments for “Love in the Time of War (a demo)

  1. Robert Willis
    December 3, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Haunting ,usic and story Thomas! I can see the guy in desperation before he has to go. Great word painting Sir!

    • Thomas
      December 15, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks, Robert.
      Always a special compiment when such an accomplished songwriter as yourself likes my work.

  2. judi
    November 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    as always I enjoy your music and I really liked the information you gave on the background for the lyrics – as you know I love to hear a little history I’ve not known about to come along –

  3. Peter Polites
    November 20, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Very good song Thomas/ like the description remarks /like the folk sound and the folk story.
    Very engaging.

    Thanks for sending.

    • Thomas
      November 20, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      thanks. i appreciate your comments.

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