In 7th grade at Hugh B. Bain Jr. High School, we had a class called “Oral English”. It was a course on public speaking and Mrs. Durigan was the teacher. She came across as a very serious and intimidating teacher. She scared us. The class was daunting. We had to give speeches in front of our fellow students and then they would critique us. WTF!!
One of my speeches was about guitar playing. CSNY’s 4 Way Street had just come out and I was drawn to David Crosby’s two acoustic songs, ”Triad” and “The Lee Shore,” I learned them both but had no clue what they were really about. They confused a 7th grade boy. What the hell is a “sister lover” or a “water brother “?
Lyrics like, “Your mother’s ghost stands at your shoulder/Got a face like ice just a little colder,” were scary stuff.
But I knew those songs were beautiful. I played “Triad” for my 7th grade class along with Neil’s “Cowgirl in the Sand”, and then gave a little presentation. After my presentation, the student’s critiqued me. I think it was Karen Anderson who suggested that I should have put my guitar down when I spoke. Mrs. Durigan rose to my defense and asked something like, “Is that all you got out of this?”
She actually enjoyed my presentation. I came to find out that she and her husband were patrons of the arts and had a soft spot for kids who played and sang and performed.
Thank you David Crosby for getting me through a tough little time in junior high school and for writing songs that are beautiful and still confuse the hell out me.
Mark Cutler is a singer/songwriter/bandleader and social activist whose latest album is called Side Effects. For more about that, go here: https://markcutlerri.bandcamp.com/album/side-effects
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