Share Me Some Shoulder

Share Me Some Shoulder – Live (@GigSpace; Ottawa 2012)

 

The Song

The catalyst for Share Me Some Shoulder came from a place that had little do with the songwriting process when it began.

I am a high school teacher in Ottawa, Canada.  For the length of my career I’ve been conflicted by the messaging that is so much a part of our Remembrance Day assemblies.  Said bluntly, these assemblies function on the premise of blind patriotism; an understanding of history that precludes the nay sayer, that holds a truth that is without critique.  These assemblies are dogmatic rather than reflective.  These assemblies remind me that I work in an institution whose purpose is described as citizenship, but is very much a process in producing the next brick in the wall.  

I entered the Remembrance Day assembly of 2011 with the this tangent in mind.  I wanted to write a song that captured my critique of an institutional commitment to blind patriotism.

And while my notes began with this tack, one image took my attention and my songwriting in a new direction.

The photograph showed a father and daughter hugging.  The father was a soldier.  The daughter seemingly the same age as my daughter.  The photo was taken from a distance and did not include detail.  However, the body language in this hug was unmistakable: neither wanted to let go because they understood that this might be the last moment they shared. 

Empathy has a serendipitous quality as one navigates parenthood.  It is an understanding that comes at birth and only grows.  It is a feeling, an attachment that one can only have as a parent.  It is a shared quality between parents. And this photo had that effect on me.  I imagined, almost immediately, hugging my daughter for the last time as I embarked on a journey, not of my own design, but my responsibility nonetheless. I imagined how the definition of duty must change in that moment.  How staying alive becomes an imperative like never before.  A selfless act now, fulfilling the unspoken duty to your child to be there. To be here.  The powerlessness of not being able to fulfill that commitment. 

This became the song that I needed to write.  It was a concept that needed a voice, and a notion that, while not entirely germane to the original intent, was more important to write.

After all, I understood something that I hadn’t understood until now.

The Recording

In December 2012 I released Streetcar Curtsy 0002 at Ottawa’s GigSpace. The venue includes a 46-seat listening room  with a grand piano.  With an acoustically perfect setting and a beautiful instrument I had to take advantage even if it meant baring vulnerability and playing an instrument that is not totally under my control.

Playing Share Me Some Shoulder to an audience was a departure from the safety of my previous performances.

Recorded using house microphones, the recording is subject to the room.  And while my sustain foot is heavy, the piano resounds with the power the song requires.

Stage panorama 2013

Lyrics

Share me some shoulder,
share me some pain.
March we together, 
casket flag draped. 
Casket heavy, 
casket weight to bear;
Share me some shoulder, 
rain me some tear. 
 
My boots are heavy; (x3)
I’ll carry that weight
 
Share me lonely, 
share me kiss goodbye.
Share me job description
in action me die. 
Casket heavy, 
casket weight to bear. 
Share me some shoulder, 
rain me some tear.
 
My boots are muddy; (x3)
I’ll carry that weight
 
March me two steps, 
march me lullaby; 
march me my child, 
march me to her eyes. 
March me forgiveness, 
march me embrace, 
march me the fuck
out of this place. 
 
My heart is heavy.
My heart is muddy. 
My heart is heavy. 
I’ll carry that weight. 
 
Share me some shoulder, 
share me some pain.
March we together, 
casket flag draped.

 

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