Song 3: Dug!

Year in New Zealand: 12 Months 12 Songs is an audio journal of an album, that is being written song by song, month by month. Each month a new track is posted at
This is the third in a series of posts breaking down the story of each song

On the walk to and from school we sometimes pass the Darfield Jail. This afternoon instead of pushing the pram past it, we decide to get a closer look. It is a small one-room building, with a plaque to tell the story, and a pillory, so you can pretend to be locked up.

I roll the push-chair up the ramp, and notice that there is a marker for a time capsule, placed right in front of the Jail. I explain to her that they dug a hole in the ground, buried some important things, and now they aren’t allowed to dig it up for fifty years.

I am fascinated, imagining just what they’ll find on the the day they dig it up, but she is more interested in rolling her toy library swing car back down the ramp.

The next week I walk past an excavator digging up a new gas station to get to the Darfield Public Library. In addition to books, the library is home to many other things: a garden-seed sharing station, an ongoing communal jigsaw puzzle, a spider information kiosk with a digital microscope, a 3D printer, some real fish, a life-sized stuffed tiger and a Monday morning ukulele group. The Darfield Ukulele Group, or D.U.G., has traveled to ukulele festivals and performed in the community at Annie‘s daycare and the local nursing home. Their repertoire includes Kiwi classics and pop hits from every era, including a mash up of “Country Roads” by John Denver and “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, which we performed wearing cowboy hats.

Before ukulele rehearsal I sift through the stacks of books to find a poem suitable to set to music. I am hoping to find something that could become a hymn. Once it is 11 am I make my way to a meeting room. Around the conference table sit about 12 Kiwis, many of whom are able to rehearse on a Monday morning because they are retired. After spending so much time at home with a baby, it is a welcome change of pace!

I find my seat, tune up, and nervously throw the question out there: “how would you all feel about working with me to record an original song?” Karen, one of Annie’s teachers, has written and recorded music, but many of the others have never been a part of something like this. I, on the other hand, have never recorded a group of 12 people before the composition is finished. I show them the chords and have them sing “ooh” and “shananana.” Before you know it we are recording the live performance that becomes the seed of the whole song.

At our local toy library they have a music section. Since I can’t check out toys for myself, Cora checked out the drum. She loves using it to stand herself up, and Annie has joined her in some drum circle jams. But everyone knows it’s actually Daddy’s drum. It worked nicely on the track.

Annie & Cora playing (with) Daddy’s toy library drum.

The unexpected MVP is Annie’s Duplos. They made for some nice fills and beefy snare sounds, plus I love picturing kids searching for the perfect LEGO when you hear them spill at the end…

You never know till you’ve Dug!

Hear the full song at: