If you’ve been following along for the past few weeks, I’ve undertaken a huge adventure and embarked on a blog tour around the internet to visit the readers of other writers, authors, and music lovers. In addition to the tour, I’ve been inviting guests to write essays on music that I’ve been showcasing here.
Today, I am happy to introduce my readers to Tamara Woods. Tamara is a published author, poet, and vlogger from Hawaii. Please enjoy her story of her father’s musical dreams, and how he continues to inspire and be the driving force behind her writing to this day.
Screaming guitars, smooth bass, pounding drum beat, a banjo’s twang, the soulful wail of a soprano sax; I love it all. I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t playing in my childhood. Everything had a soundtrack. When one of my brothers was going out, he would listen to this one R&B group really loud. When my Mom was feeling mellow, she’d listen to old Motown records. One day, I realized there were some songs I would never hear, but would become a driving force in my life.
When I was a kid, one of my friends told us a song to remember the name of our bus, “Bus 80s, my lady!” Riding home on that bus, mine was always the last stop. One day I made my way to the front seat and settled in as per usual. My driver asked me who my family was. (Typical in Small Town, West Virginia. Everybody knows everybody, and if not, then we know your family.) I told him. Then he asked me a question that forever changed my perceptions.
He asked me if my father used to be the lead singer of this group called the Falcons. He was really excited, talking about going to see them and how good they were. He said they’d all thought they would really go far.
My eyes grew big. My daddy would sing around the house, but he didn’t talk about a band. He loved music. But a band? That couldn’t be right. I asked him if he was sure. He said he was pretty sure. That I looked like the lead singer. (All four of us kids have the Woods forehead. It’s an indisputable stamp of origin.)
I walked home from the bus stop, really confused. I felt like I’d found out a secret about my Dad, something I wasn’t supposed to know. If it wasn’t a secret, then why didn’t I know already? If he didn’t talk about it, then it must be a secret. Being that young, things were pretty black and white.
I hadn’t realized sometimes life gets in the way of dreams.
The next afternoon, after all the other kids were dropped off, I shuffled to the front with the bus driver as usual. He showed me a 45 with my dad’s picture on the cover. He was surrounded by a bunch of men whom I didn’t recognize. They all had instruments and my dad had one of those old time microphones. His smile was blinding.
There was the evidence. I couldn’t back away from this irrefutable proof.
I walked up the hill to my house and my backpack felt heavier than normal. My feet dragged a little while I tried to puzzle it out. I made sure to walk quickly past the house with the mean chow in case he’d escaped from their yard. Again. I wound my way around the bend, up the next small hill and down the driveway. I’d planned out how I was going to bring it up.
When the screen door banged shut behind me, I blurted out, “Dad, was YOU in a BAND?!” I’ve always been bad at waiting for the right moment.
My dad’s smile was the same as the one on the cover, but a little dimmer. A little older. Marvin Gaye was in the background asking what was going on.
He told me an abbreviated version of his band’s origin story. He’d always sang in church, but he wanted to do more. He got together with a group of friends and made the band. They toured around the state. Back in those days, he was able to meet bigger stars, because they stopped in our state more often. They pressed their first and only 45. They were good. They were really good. Before I was born, their first house was lost in a fire and his copies of the record along with it.
The part of the story that I figured out when I was older- my dad had to give up his dream when he became a father. He and mom were barely out of their teens when she found out she was pregnant with my oldest brother. And my dad had to be responsible. He had to be a dad. So, he did what most West Virginia males seemed to do at the time. He joined the coal mines.
As I listened to his frustrated story, I heard what he didn’t way. The dreams he’d had that he’d put on a shelf to be responsible. His smile got a little brighter when I told him how much my bus driver still liked his music.
That’s when I realized no matter what, I didn’t want to have a dream that I didn’t try to fulfill. I didn’t want to sit on my couch looking back on my potential and wondering, “What if?” Now, I’m a paperback writer. I’m pushing through any barriers, I’m making it happen. I refuse to give up.
Tamara Woods was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. Her first poetry collection is available at Sakura Publishing and Amazon. She is currently the Editor of The Reverie Poetry Journal.
She also maintains her poetry/fiction blog PenPaperPad where she is currently publishing a weekly romance serial and writing articles as a full-time freelance writer.
She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician drinking coffee and reading comics. You can like Tamara on Facebook, follower her on Twitter, catch up with her on Google+ and Tumblr, and watch her video series on YouTube.