This song starts my "The Fisherman" album. It's the story of my life. In 13 songs I recount my youth and younger years. This site is the "Interactive Adventure" providing a musical experience no other recording artist offers on the Internet. And 'interactive' means you can be and are a part of it. So, dig in, enjoy and don't be afraid to participate.
The Story of Mulligan's Memories
"Mulligan's Memories" begins my saga. I began writing this song long ago. It took me many years of my early songwriting to put all the pieces together. And I didn't finish until I was well entrenched in Nashville's music industry. I started singing professionally when I was 13 at my Dad's "Rough & Ready Room" Bar in the town of Meyers, on the south end of Lake Tahoe, just below Echo Summit in California. When I was 18, I came back from a summer in France where I studied cooking and French. I sang in my high school Chorus and a wonderful Madrigal Group and we won a championship against all the colleges in the West, and that's how I ended up in France. My music teacher took our Madrigal Group to Paris to perform. And I was in several Rock 'n' Roll bands during high school, and I made a whole lot of money doing those gigs, more than the construction workers who were driving heavy equipment for my Dad building his roads for his Tahoe Paradise subdivision.
My Dad had me signed, sealed and delivered to a private dorm at Sacramento State University upon my return from France. The Vietnam War was escalating in 1965, and I was in college. I didn't like it. I felt like it was my duty to join the Army and fight for my country, so I did, and that was the end of my formal college first attempt. When I was 30 I registered as a Freshman at the Music Department at San Francisco State University. I had passed the audition for voice in May of that year, and I started with the best vocal teacher they had for that summer semester. I bought a house not too far from the university, and so I totally dedicated myself to get a college education. I had a wonderful 25 year career in the music industry in Nashville where I went right after graduating from college, and moved there in 1986. I got caught up in the movie "Platoon" phenomena, and Music City needed a 'token' Vietnam Veteran. I had been working on a song given to me by my songwriter buddy, George Jeffrey, titled "Goodbye To West Virginia", and fell into the opportunity full scale, and produced and sang my "Voice of America" album. I dedicated my career to producing other artists and singing for the American Veterans and Active Duty folks.
When I arrived in Nashville in 1985, I had completed two entire albums of my own music. I had written, produced and sung all these original songs on two albums, and took them with me to Nashville to prove my talents. It worked, but the Veteran dealie forced all my original material to be put on the back burner. As the years went by in Nashville, my songs I brought with me were pushed further and further to the back of the closet. Napster virtually ruined the independent artist and producer in Nashville when it downloaded the first free song on the Internet, so I retired at the end of 2004 and moved back home, here on my farm in Northern California. I took a 6 month sabbatical from my computer network of Veterans that I had developed in Nashville, and got my 'act together' here so I could further pursue my musical interests.
One of my best buddies in Nashville, Mike Stidolph, had retired a year before I did and he was a Native Californian, like me, and he moved back home, too. Mike and I made music in Nashville together for all those years, and before we left, we agreed to get together in California to continue our musical careers. Mike's father passed away and left him a bit of an estate, which he invested in a computer music studio. When I got back 'into it', I, too, got my mp3 music studio working here on my farm, and Mike and I did a bunch of work together making all kinds of music to practice and develop our new concepts. It was very difficult for Mike to get work here as a musician, so another friend of ours convinced him to move to La Crosse, WI. He did, set up his studio there, and we began our collaboration via the Internet.
This album is the result. We did what others said was not possible. We made this album that is technically as good as any being produced by the top acts in Nashville. All the songs are originals I wrote, as well as a few that I threw in for my Old Buddy, George Jeffrey. I pulled out all those old songs I had written and sang on those two albums I initially brought to Nashville, and here we are. Songs that were written before most of our kids were born, were 'born again' .
"Mulligan's Memories" is the first song because it starts 'my story'. We would call a record like this in Nashville a "Concept Album". Many artist have done so, singing about the Civil War, or Texas, etc, but few have done so with an album that tells their story. This is MY STORY.
When I was a little lad, maybe 4 or 5, we lived on a dairy farm in North Sacramento. It was in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Those were great times to be an American, and I was an original Baby Boomer. Behind our house was a California Delta levee with an old slough that wound around the area. It eventually led to the American River that dumped into the Sacramento River near downtown Sacramento. I grew up in those fields and sloughs. It was a great life. I was "Huckleberry Finn" for real. And, my parents let me wander. I was a total free spirit.
Down the slough a bit, perhaps a third of a mile, was a major train track that led from San Francisco to Chicago. Where my slough dumped into the bigger slough was a very important "Hobo Jungle". Hobos from all over the country often stayed there on their endless journey riding the rails. They lived out in the open, some in cardboard houses, some under tree limbs, and it was a unique society. A Hobo was not a bum. He was not homeless. He was a part of our American culture. And I used to go down there and hang out with them. I was welcomed. They would go out in the morning to the various houses, go up to the back porch, knock and the housewife would open the door for them. (It was a different time, we didn't even lock our doors!) The Hobo asked if there were any 'odd jobs' he could do for her, and she would put him to work. He might mow the lawn, pick up the garbage from the trash can that the dog had knocked over the night before, or a thousand other chores. When he was done, the housewife would not pay him with money. She would give him 'treasures'; potatoes, carrots, a chicken, a bit of left over beef roast, or whathaveyou.
Then all the Hobos would come back to the Hobo Jungle and give their treasures to "Hobo Joe". He was a real man. A really great guy who took all their treasures and made a Mulligan's Stew on his open fire in his big pots, and at around sunset, they would have a feast. They all sat around eating their own portion of Mulligan's Stew, and they were usually served in a top-cut-back tin can. The Hoboes would eat their fill, and then pull out their instruments: harmonicas, fiddles, guitars, banjos, and others would beat sticks on cans and logs, and they would light a big fire and sing songs and tell stories. I witnessed this, and I was part of them. I would catch fish and crawdads, or bring a bag of fruit from our trees around our yard, and they would welcome me as their "Little Hobo". Great memories.
I finished writing this when I was the managing chef at the world famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville (Daddy's Red Ribbons). When I cooked there I made 3 different 'specials' a night for $6.99, and they were always different. I also made two different soups from all my leftovers from the night before. I called them my "Mulligan Stews". I served countless numbers of songwriters and other music professionals my Mulligan Stews for 5 years while I worked there. And when I looked out my little serving window to see my customers, often times they looked to me to be Hoboes sitting around the campfires, eating their Mulligan Stews and listening to the various songwriters playing their instruments and singing their original songs. Mulligan's Memories.
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