While I’ve written about runs I’ve had in Sag Harbor, some very good ones, this post is not about a run. It is, in part, about not a run. This is because I’ve been bothered by yet another malady and fear the fat lady has sung, bowed, and had her make-up removed. I may go out tomorrow. But the bottom of my right foot is sore, with no precise explanation.

But Sag. I wanted to write a song, and it was suggested in a video course on song-writing that one select a place and build from there, and so it was that I selected Sag. It is partly in East Hampton and partly in Southampton, to the north. One of my sisters has a house there.

A few spots immediately came to mind: the American Hotel, the pier.

So a while ago I started a song that didn’t really go anywhere. It’s in the first person and I’m walking around before meeting a former lover. But it didn’t, as I say, go anywhere. I had written a chord-structure: Am, Em, F#m, D, Am, Em, D, G.

A few weeks back, my wife was meeting someone about doing a sale at his house and, as is my wont, I had my guitar with me as well as some lyrics. Over a half-hour I worked out the heart of the story, although not the ending. That came shortly thereafter, and I fiddled with it.

Realizing that I run into difficulties with too many syllables, I cut where I could. I then did a rough recording, deciding not to worry about a chorus. I sent it to my sister with the house in Sag and some others, and my sister said that while she liked the lyrics, the melody didn’t work. Indeed, it had troubled me throughout. I knew she was right. So I took my guitar and decided to play a G chord to see where it led me. And it led me to a C and then I had the tune. Almost.

Because I didn’t have a chorus, things droned on. So, voila, I decided to simply change the chords now and then and it worked. So the verses are G C G D D7, G C G D G, and the “chorus” C G C D C G C D G. Much more pruning and tightening and I had my song. I had a nice rhythm and not too many syllables. I played it last night at the guitar meet-up. I’ve grown to like it. Plus I’ve always liked saying “Amaganset”. Here it is: Sag. (While I have songs on SoundCloud, I have nothing to do with the songs that autoplay after “Sag”.)

SAG, by Joe Garland

Capo: 2: G   C   G   D  D7,  G   C   G   D  G
I was a little early   /   So I headed to the pier
Heard a distant      boat’s bell
I checked my watch    /   Realized the time was near
For our meeting at the American Hotel
 
It’s quiet in September   /   Mostly locals are in town
No back-up     at Division    and Bay
Sweaters over shorts   /   Things very much slowed down
My only thought was convincing her to stay
 
She was five minutes late   /   Kiss on the cheek, she smiled
As we left, I held her hand
She laughed at the sea gulls   /   She hadn’t seen one in a while
She said, “I hope you’ll understand”.
 
[PLAY AS CHORUS]
C  I said, “We can do that later
G  “Right now let’s not talk”
C  /   D  We headed for what had been our old café
C  Each step echoed loudly
G  On our quarter-mile walk
C  /  D  G  I still didn’t know what I would say.
 
Silently we strolled    /   A piano playing scales
On the second floor of a house across the way
To our left we could hear   /   The fluttering of sails
Of boats that were bobbing in the bay
 
As we reached the corner   /   Her hand tightened its grip
As I opened that old café’s door
We sat at a round table   /   I asked about her trip
She paused, said “I can’t take it anymore”

[PLAY AS CHORUS]
“As I rode out on the jitney   /   “It gave me time to think
“You were a fool for letting me move on
“You said you weren’t ready  /  For your universe to shrink
“Now you tell me you were wrong”
 
I was taken aback/ By the venom in her voice
More so by the fact that it was true
I’d made a lot of damn ones   /   But that was my worst choice
I feared there was nothing I could do
 
“Look I was an asshole   /   “And, yeah, a fool as well
“And I regretted my words before they were said
“But I own each one of them   /   “More than I can tell
“What a waste, I could have been with you instead”

“I can’t say I’m a changed man  /  Though perhaps I’ve seen the light
“And hope to be blinded by you
“Give me a chance  /  I’ll try to make things right
“And we can have a universe of two”
 
[PLAY AS CHORUS]
When we finished eating  /  I asked her if she’d stay
“No”, she said, “I’m Amaganset bound
“But please come meet me  /  Tomorrow, say, mid-day
“I’ll tell you if I’d like to stick around
“Whether I’d like to stick around.”

 

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