Six months have passed since I retired from teaching, giving me the necessary distance to look back on my long career with some humor and nostalgia rather than pain and dismay. Below are some limericks I wrote as examples for my students when I assigned limerick-writing. I hope you get a kick out of them.
On a Scary Office Aide
When the office aide comes on his stroll
In an effort to pick up my roll,
His tattoos ear to ear
And his permanent sneer
Make me sure he’s just out on parole.
On Chaperoning Dances
At Saturday night’s Backwards Dance
I will look at the dancing askance.
I truly am hoping
I’ll witness no groping
And that all the boys keep on their pants.
On Senior Ditch Day
On the day when the seniors all ditch
I debate how to punish their itch
By assignments we take up
With no chance of make up,
And I end up becoming a bitch.
On a Bald Principal
A principal named Joe Kolmel
Whose hair didn’t cover too well
Combed it over from here
Till it reached to his ear,
And he kept it in place with some gel.
So, how did a middle-aged, city slicker ex-English teacher raised on rock and roll come to write country songs? In the summer of 2009 while we were on vacation, my younger daughter had a brief romance with a cowboy who introduced her (and me) to country music. The songs were witty and had an appealing sweetness and simplicity. I thought, “I could write those.” Of course, the more I learned about song structure, prosody, and country culture, the more challenging country songs became.
I spent hours on the “Just Plain Folks” forums, getting both encouragement and discouragement. I read songwriting books by Sheila Davis, Pat and Pete Luboff, and Andrea Stolpe. I got one-on-one tutoring from award-winning songwriter Diane Waters. My songs have become more commercial and less satirical, especially about country music itself (see “That’s How Country Music Rolls”).
As a native Californian who has never visited the south and has lived within fifty miles of Los Angeles most of her life, I am an outsider looking in to the world of country music. I am trying to assimilate the country mind set enough to color my songs without being too cliche. I wanted to write a song in praise of southern women, so I read What Southern Women Know by Ronda Rich. I will post the song her book inspired soon.
Another inspiration has been “Country at the Merc” and The Ranch Rockers, Temecula’s own weekly country music show held in the Mercantile Building in Old Town (“one at seven and one at nine”). Gwyn, Sandi and the band perform covers of hot country songs from the current charts, and their show is one of the best kept secrets in town. Their love of music and the audience is infectious. Give them a chance, and they will make a country-music lover of you, too. You can see my husband Don’s video of the Ranch Rockers <HERE>