Wild Rose

I believe the flowers in the photos above (I took them this morning in Tompkins Square on my way to class) are wild roses. They look very similar to what we called wild roses in the South Mountain in Pennsylvania where I grew up. When it rained they would fold up their petals and when they sun came out they unfolded them again. I think Wild Rose is the first song I ever wrote. I used to call it When I Remember. Songs are not like published books; they are fluid, able to change and move. I think I was in Philadelphia in 1972 when I wrote it, but I could have been somewhere else. There never was music for it and I thought of it more as a poem. Recently I was playing the guitar and a strumming pattern came into my head with the words in it. I’d been listening to Tracy Nelson sing Down So Low, a song I hadn’t heard in maybe 40 years, and that might have had something to do with it.

Looking back, I spent most of my 20s suffering from unrequited love. But what kind of love is unrequited anyway. I fell in love for the first time in East Lansing, Michigan where I lived for awhile with friends who were either going to school there at Michigan State or hanging out enjoying life in a college town. I did a lot of acid, lived off my friend Fred until I finally found a job driving a cab.

Bill was a curly haired adjunct economics professor who also played bass in a local rock band. We pussy-footed around each other for a long time, spending every day together, then walking by the river under the willows one late afternoon, Bill, who was 9 years older, 30 to my 21, suddenly proposed we make love and I (it had been on my lips for days, weeks) took him back to the nearby apartment I shared with my friends, Fred, Don, and Rocco, asking Fred, who I shared a bedroom with, if he would mind spending the night at his girlfriend’s, which Fred, who is always kind and considerate, did. All my three roommates were straight and were totally cool with it.

I was happy and comfortable for the first time in my life. I’d slept with women, had girlfriends, and had sex with men as well, but nothing that was satisfying beyond the act and orgasm. For me all at once for the very first time in my life, it was right, I was fine, it was perfect, and as we kissed we kissed so much that my lips were getting sore as the first rays of morning light appeared to find us still kissing as the birds began to sing outside the window.

The band shared a house together, but after Bill and I started seeing each other, they all freaked out, and Bill moved out. I scoffed mightily at these fake Rock and Rollers! Huh! though honestly for me it was the first time I ever admitted that what I wanted. I’d never come out before because there was nothing to come out for. But here was Bill. Soon I wanted to leave East Lansing and go back East yearning for Philadelphia and eventually New York. When I suggested to Bill that he go with me, he wanted to stay in Michigan. I really didn’t and left utterly depressed. For about a year, I suffered every minute. It would take me years to realize that I was the one who left him.

When I remember how it used to be
I get the taste of dry wine on my tongue
and I wonder what it was went wrong
You were never something I did just for fun
You were never something
that was here and then was gone

Sometimes I get so lonely
I want to feel you going in me deep
Sometimes I get so strung out
I don’t know what to give or what to keep
Then I wish you were a hummingbird
I wish I was where you came to sleep

When I remember how it used to be
It makes me feel so sad
and I wonder what it was went bad
I know you never really needed me
but you were all I had

My love was like a wild rose
closed its petals in the rain
You came like the morning
unfolding me again
I don’t think there’s another one
who can make me feel the same
No, I don’t think there’s another one
who can make me feel the same

The video of me singing is a first take, a work in progress I did the other night after lighting some candles and drinking some wine.

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