Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .
Article #9: Sharon BottomsSpring, 2001 - by Gaye Adegbalola
Saffire just finished recording "Ain't Gonna Hush," its 7th CD for Alligator Records. For all the details about the recording experience, please see Andra Faye's article on the Saffire website. Now, however, I will only comment on the songs I sing lead on . . . And one song in particular.
I performed four originals and one cover. The cover song is (surprise!) a country song bent into a boogie--Joe Diffie's "Prop Me Up Beside the Juke Box (If I Die)." The originals feature some unusual writing for me. There are two love songs. One, "Coffee Flavored Kisses" is my first effort at writing in a swing style. Aside from the style, Andra Faye and I added some harmonies which we hope will create an "Andrew's Sisters feel." It's also my hope that Starbuck's might use it in an ad campaign. (Anyone have Starbuck's contacts??)
The other love song is the song closest to my heart--"If I Should Die Tonight (I Won't Be Blue)." I pray that everyone should have such love in his/her life. It's about as deep as I get, written as sparsely as possible, with few chord changes and no bridge. It's my legacy to my partner.
There is one doo-wop type song, "Happy Birthday to Me," which takes the saddest situation possible--no one recognizing your birthday--and creating a unique private party favor.
The fourth song I wrote is the "Blues for Sharon Bottoms." I desperately wanted this song to be on the CD because it's a story that I want to live on, a story that I want to tell and re-tell. It is a folk song (think "John Henry" or "Casey Jones"), but a folk blues. It is musically based on Jimmy and Mama Yancey's "How Long Blues." I want to tell this story because Sharon tried to live honestly in the conservative state of Virginia in the early '90s. I live in Virginia and I could never have done what she did. She became an inspiration to me--an inspiration of strength and courage. I don't know what her current situation is, but I wanted to chronicle what I felt during her court struggle and, hopefully, inspire others the way she inspired me. The lyrics follow:
Written by Gaye Adegbalola 5/94, Revision #5 9/00
It was down in Richmond, Virginia
Nineteen hundred and ninety-three
Sharon was tried
And she lost custody
It was bad when they took her son
But then they gave him to her mother
This vicious verdict
Was unlike any other
Sharon gave him a loving home
She taught him wrong from right
But because she raised him honest
She lost this family fight
Chorus: So how low, how low
How low, how low, how low?
Sharon B's momma is a baby stealing so & so
You see Sharon wouldn't hide in the closet
She wouldn't run for cover
Because she loved a woman
They called her an unfit mother
Sharon's got to fight and be strong
While she bears this double pain
If my momma took my baby
Great God a-mighty I'd go insane
Judge, oh judge, oh judge
The tree grew as it was inclined
Sharon's momma raised Sharon
How can you be so blind?
They say love conquers all
They say that love is blind
In the name of love,
I'll keep Sharon on my mind
You know they came for the Black
You know they came for the Jew
They came for Sharon
They might come after you
Repeat same verse
Chorus 2Xs--2nd time a cappella
Andra and I added harmonies on the choruses and on the 2nd "They came for the Black" verse. Sweet Honey In the Rock we're not, but perhaps many listeners will join in with us and lift their voices in recognition of Sharon. It ain't to live an honest life.
Peace be unto you.