North End of Town - Song Story
I asked my friend Alisa to record my song, North End of Town, while I was playing at the annual Art + Roses festival on June 3rd. It has quite the song journey since I first began to write it when I lived in the Boise North End during my college years. I never quite finished the song although I’d pick it up every so often and work on it, but since I was no longer living in town it wasn’t quite happening. Guess I just needed a little inspiration which unexpectedly came to me in the summer of 2005 when Stan and I had taken our cruiser bikes downtown to have dinner and tool around the neighborhood. We were thinking of moving back into Boise from Meridian and were spending more and more time in and near the Boise Foothills which played a part in providing the muse I needed to bring this song to the front of my music set.
That particular evening we hitched our bikes to a tree and shared a pizza at Lucky 13 which used to be on the corner of 13th and Eastman. Marcus Eaton was playing music in the street and everywhere we looked there were people milling around in the sunshine - some with kids and dogs, some with their favorite brew, everyone content. It was such a happy mess of humanity and time stood still for a spell. Over dinner we talked again about how we really needed to try to find a little place in the North End and the steps it would take to make that happen. We both loved the ambience of one of Boise’s oldest quarters and the fact we’d be so close to the Foothills and the Greenbelt that links all the parks with access to the River which happens to flow through town. And to think that any event we wanted to attend would just be a bike ride away! As it was, everytime we wanted to go for a scenic ride we had to pack up our bikes, sit through Meridian traffic, and then drive 20 minutes to Boise. But it wasn’t just about the bike riding, Boise was calling to us because we were in a transitional season of our lives and we sensed a change would really do us good.
After dinner we rode around town till dark and my old unfinished North End song wouldn’t leave my mind. Later while I was humming the perky little tune, I dug it out again to see if I could breathe new life into it. Much to my surprise, the words flowed freely, thanks to our recent excursion, and each new verse easily complimented the next. I was already happy with the original melody and format, so I guess all it needed was a magical experience and a new spark toward a dream.
Speaking of dream, I never would have guessed that finishing the North End of Town would then became a muse for our move to town. Every time I sang it, I felt it was like a prayer. 2 years later we were settled in a little cottage up on the Bench by the Boise Train Depot. I admit, the Bench isn’t exactly the North End, but it’s still just about a bike ride south of town - which is another song story for another day. For now let’s just say real estate on the Bench is more affordable and made our move possible. Sometimes your dreams don’t work out exactly as first pictured but you end up living the dream, nevertheless, and often with an even brighter outcome.
A few more songwriting details before I forget: The early lyrics were penned through the eyes of a 20 year-old and the latter through my eyes in 2005. It’s amazing how the 2 perspectives coincide. Perhaps it’s a nod to ‘authentic me’ which has always been partial to the back streets of a cozy neighborhood. It’s like the young me and ’seasoned’ me agree. Perhaps I caught a glimpse of college-girl me on 13th Street that day. Now that it’s 2012 I think she’d tell me I made the right decision to freeze the song in 2005. I mention Lucky 13 instead of the Sunray Cafe which stands in its place and every once in awhile I wonder if I should write in the update. But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to use the line “…Lucky 13, such the happening scene - and if you can find a seat, indeed you are lucky!” which makes me smile every time I sing it. After all, it was the venue that hosted the summer evening that inspired us to take steps toward one of our dreams instead of just talking about it.
By the way, Lucky 13 is thriving since it moved out to Harris Ranch. It’s a perfect destination for a longer bike ride to dinner.
Ok, enough song story for now. Hope you still have time to listen!