From the recording My Dad's Harmonica
I come from a musical family--Mom played the radio, my sister is an operatically-trained soprano, my son Gordy a bassist with a lovely sweet baritone voice; my Aunt Pearl a concert and orchestral violinist (NBC Symphony, Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, Queens Symphony) who is immortalized on vinyl as the violin soloist on the original Shirelles' recording of Goffin/King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow;" my Uncle Henry played French Horn for decades in Broadway pit bands, in the original productions about half of the classic B'way musicals from the late 1940s into the early 1970s; and my cousin Gena was a longtime Madison Ave. jingle-house producer-engineer and is now a professor of music therapy at both Columbia University and the Boston campus of U. Mass. But my dad pursued a different musical path--though he did play violin as a child, he amassed a collection of thousands of classical and folk records and was a self-taught virtuoso on the chromatic harmonica--a 64-reed Hohner Super Chromonica, to be exact. This is a song about that and how it affected my own musical leanings. (A lyrical correction here--after I married and moved away, he still played it for almost another year, until my sister, too, married and moved away. To her, I apologize for the poetic license).
I'm playing and singing everything (two guitars, harmonica and bass) on this except for Kate Early on percussion and Kate and Susan Urban on backing vocals. It was recorded in June 2007 at Steve Yates Recording in Morton Grove, IL
Since there's no chance of this version being commercially released (if I ever do, I have some remixing and remastering to do, as well as editing the length of the intro and perhaps rewriting the harmonica part), I don't think I'm giving away the store if I let you download it. Maybe it'll go viral! (And there's a live SASS! Trio version, with Dan Hazlett on harmonica, recorded at FARM '08 up on YouTube).
MY DAD’S HARMONICA
©2006 by S. Andina
(Capo up 5) INTRO: G C G C
D G D
1.My Dad’s harmonica
Sits in the cabinet
C G D
I haven’t touched it since the day it came.
Since I was three years old
I’d always wanted it
And now it’s here, but simply not the same.
C Em C Em
He would blow in and out and in and out
C Em C
His thumb would work the slide—
Those sharps and flats I never learned to play.
C Em C Em
In and out and in and out—
C Em C
It sang, it laughed, it cried.
And only Dad could make it sound that way.
CH: And every single day
Felt just like Hanukkah
Whenever Dad would play
2 .His old harmonica,
The only instrument
(In our) apartment till I got my first guitar.
There was a rumor that
He’d once played violin
But when I’d ask him,
Well, I never got that far.
He’d shake his head instead and pick it up
And coax another tune
From wood and reed and steel and polished chrome.
A cowboy song, a lullaby
Or even “Clair de Lune.”
Would ornamrnt the air throughout our home.
CH: And even in July
It felt like Hanukkah
When all those melodies would fly
From Dad’s harmonica.
BR: But when I moved away
He never played again—
C Am G
No children left for him to entertain.
He still had all his music left
inside him on the day
We laid him to rest
In that cold Long Island rain.
3. I have a briefcase full
Of blues harmonicas:
A different one for every single key.
So very different now
From Dad’s Chromonica.
Maybe not better, but suited more to me.
Still, I blow in and out and in and out
More simply than my Dad
No trace of elegance or subtlety.
The notes come out, but dance without
The magic that they had
Whenever Daddy’s playing set them free
CH: But when I tap my memory
Each day is Hanukkah
Because my Dad still plays for me
His old harmonica
CODA:Big old harmonica
That sweet harmonica.