CITY DAWN – A SONG OF SPRING

UNDER THE BRIDGE IN THE CITY DAWN

(“Under the bridge in the city dawn, I don’t even need my Spring jacket on..”)

TO HEAR “CITY DAWN” CLICK  HERE.

In early April, the nights in Connecticut can still be still quite cold, in those hill towns, especially. The crocuses and grape hyacinths and daffodils are just starting to burst through the recently unfrozen ground. The explosions of cherry blossoms and dogwoods are still a good four weeks away.

Down in the largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood of Hartford’s Frog Hollow, in front of the dirt yards and old apartment buildings and funky little grocery and package stores, the warming days inspire people to set up chairs and card tables. There they hang out, play cards and blast Spanish music from boomboxes.

STREET GROUP
(Guys hanging out on Park Terrace near Trinity College, Hartford CT.)

From my apartment in the Hartford’s West End I used to walk through this area in the mid 1970s on my way  to see a movie at Trinity College’s Cinestudio.  On early Spring days, from high noon to about 5pm, the streets around Park Terrace and Pope Park were a cacophonous jumble of conga drums, timbales, expertly stumbling bass guitar, piano montunos, stinging clave rhythms, Spanish syllables sung and shouted and the horn section-like car horns and car engines.

FROG HOLLOW.png

(The intersection of Park Road and Park Terrace, Frog Hollow, Hartford, CT.)

Something about the change of the weather in late March and early April always opens up my heart with hope. Suddenly anything is possible again and life looks limitless. And without fail my mind flood with images and memories.

Be it in the rural old mill towns, the crowded cities, the back roads along the rivers that snake through the old farmlands, or the highways reaching onto into the wide open North, South and West, April is not the cruelest month, as T.S. Eliot wrote. It is the season of all hope, beauty and desire. In the Springtimes of the mid to late 70s, I would get on my Schwinn 10 speed and ride onto into the countryside, filling up my head and heart with the nature that would always inspire me.

I wrote the first verse section of “City Dawn” while playing a modern dance class at The School Of The Hartford Ballet. The students were doing an “across the floor” exercise that happened to be in a medium fast 3/4. It wasn’t a waltz, and it wasn’t a jig. It was more of a march. So I thought up something funky in 3. It became beginning of this song.

The rest of the song grew in sections, kind of like like kudzu. Over the course of 13 minutes, I went through the hills and highways of Connecticut and followed the trail of a relationship that was going on at the time. It took us to many places, some very good, some dark and miserable. But the ultimate lesson was one of forgiveness and hope.

road-soccer-at-dawn-1977
(Playing soccer at dawn in the middle of the road with one of my old band mates. May 1979.)

I wrote some of it in the practice rooms at UConn, others at a second floor Sunday School room at my old Center Church in Hartford, and fine-tuned it sitting at my kitchen table at my apartment.

CENETR CHURCH HOUSE SUNDAY ASCHOOL ROOM WHERE I USED TO WRITE MUSIC

(The second floor Sunday School room at Center Church in Hartford, CT where I wrote music alot of music in the 1970s. It had a great piano and looked out onto the back of the church and the old graveyard where Thomas Hooker is buried.)

GRAYSON WRITINGSONG AT WHITNEY STREET TABLE
(Writing music at my kitchen table in my apartment on Whitney Street in Hartford.)

It’s a journey. And, like so many others, I find it more and more interesting to revisit, as more time passes. As the funnel of one’s life gets longer to look back at, things like the forgiveness of one’s foibles, character defects and excesses come a bit easier.

Maybe today I wouldn’t write a song that is 13 minutes long. But then again, maybe I will!

It’s pointless to try and predict the destination. It’s the road along the way that keeps us interested,

*            *            *

For those of you who like words, here are the lyrics.

CITY DAWN
words & music by Grayson Hugh

Under the bridge in the city dawn
I don’t even need my Spring jacket on
smell the gasoline in the breeze
there’s a mist still sleeping down by the river trees

Couldn’t go on the way we were
things couldn’t have gotten much crazier
that life wasn’t what we deserve
’cause the air by the sea is too real
for our eyes to be unsure

Standing out on the hot highway
I’m waiting for a ride to go my way
thinking of you in those country hills
where the April nights still give you chills

Like tumbleweed the cars roll by
driving past me to the edge of the sky
in the grass by the road some flowers sigh
all the miles of this road they are nothing
when I think of you and I

In the new city dawn
Summer days coming on
daylight fog in the air like a tear
sidewalk yards, pigeon feet
Spanish sound in the heat
life begins with each new day
now it’s here

Fast
we drove along the backroads
by the yards so green
the sunlight in the lateness of the afternoon
was hanging in the trees
the beauty of the Summer was inside us
and our breath was in the breeze

Glad
we were to jump off Friday
and to see the sea
as we sipped our beer and talked and laughed
the moments in us turned to haze
as we watched each other
all our thrills and wishes grew within our gaze
both of us were happy
just to know this happiness would last two days

You and only you
could move me and amaze me like you do
I’ve been a fool for you
oh now baby I wanted to

That part of us is through
oh baby let’s begin again anew
I can’t stay away from you
oh now baby you know it’s true

Let’s go find some time, you’ll have yours and I’ll mine
we’ll walk up to the thin tree line where the sun makes the little rocks shine

It’s where your eyes have been
that thrills me so
and the way the wind is in them
and what they know
my eyes fly forever with them
to my soul

Under the bridge in the city dawn
I don’t even need my Spring jacket on
smell the gasoline in the breeze
there’s a mist still sleeping down by the river trees

Couldn’t go on the way we were
things couldn’t have gotten much crazier
that life wasn’t what we deserve
’cause the air by the sea is too real
for our eyes to be unsure

In the new city dawn
Summer days coming on
daylight fog in the air like a tear
sidewalk yards, pigeon feet
Spanish sound in the heat
life begins with each new day
now it’s here

©  1980, 2009 by Grayson Hugh/Swamp Yankee Music/ASCAP

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