Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mar* Songs: Rosie Flores Came to Town (Mar 1914)

The Honeydogs: Rosie Flores Came to Town (Mar 1914)

Sometimes, I like to pull the screen back and let you see what goes on in my mind when I choose what to write about. For me, when a theme is posted (or when I choose the theme), it immediately prompts me to think of a song and a personal story that ties to the song. Those are my favorite types of pieces. On other occasions, the theme leads me to a song, but I have no story, so I end up writing about the song, or the band. Those are fun, too, but less compelling. Then, you have themes, like this one, which prompt neither a song nor a story, and I’m reduced to scrolling through my iTunes library hoping for inspiration to hit. Those can be interesting, because this type of piece often pushes me to learn about a song or a band that I’m not all that familiar with. That’s what you are getting today.

Part of the problem is that in some ways, this is a repeat theme. Back in March, 2013, we did a “March” theme that was not particularly popular with our writers. Only four posts were written, two of which were by me. One was about my love for Monty Python, whose theme song was “The Liberty Bell March,” and the other was about Robert Randolph’s song “The March.” So, those were really the two songs that were foremost in my consciousness for “March,” interestingly neither of which related to the month.

Searching my library for ‘mar” led me ultimately to this song, “Rosie Flores Came to Town (Mar 1914)” from The Honeydogs. I know very little about this band, and the Internet is actually pretty stingy with information. I became aware of them initially because their original drummer, Noah Levy, played on Golden Smog’s Down By The Old Mainstream album (credited as Leonardson Saratoga). They were an alt-country band who arose from the same Twin Cities scene as The Jayhawks, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and others. Led by Noah’s brother Adam, The Honeydogs released albums, often with critical praise, every few years since 1995, but with very little commercial success.

I’m not 100% sure what this song is about, though. It appeared on an album of unreleased tracks called Island of Misfits (released on September 11, 2001, maybe not the best day to have been putting out new music).  To be honest, it sounds enough like “Gentle On My Mind” that the lawyer in me started wondering if there was a plagiarism claim available. In part, it seems to tie a missing child incident to a show by Rosie Flores, the great rockabilly singer and guitarist. But it is hard to say. I can’t find any lyrics online, it is hard to understand all of them from listening to the song, and I can’t find any articles about any such incident tied to an appearance by Flores. Nor can I figure out what the reference to March 1914 is, since Flores was born in 1950. Maybe it isn’t about that Rosie Flores at all. So, you’ll have to just enjoy the song, without much analysis. By the way, Noah Levy played drums on Flores’ 2013 album, Working Girl’s Guitar, more than a decade after he left The Honeydogs. Also, this is the second time I’ve discussed a song about when a musician “came to town.” But a very different musician.

As I said above, sometimes posts like this are interesting because they push me to find out more about a band that I don’t know much about. It turns out, that happened here, and it even ties into something tangentially semi-personal. In trying to find out more about the band, and specifically the featured song, I found out that Adam Levy’s son Daniel committed suicide in 2012. Daniel was essentially the same age as my son, and Daniel’s mother Jennifer Delton is a history professor at Skidmore College (and a Princeton Ph.D.), where my son and future daughter-in-law attended. Daniel, an artist, started college at the Minnesota College of Art and Design, but left after a year and a half, returning to Saratoga Springs, where he took classes at Skidmore. His suicide happened in Saratoga Springs, between semesters, just after my son finished taking Professor Delton’s class. However, neither my son, nor his fiancée, recall anything about this incident.

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