Ranting

Jud Strunk Made Me Cry

December 27th, 2018

Only one song has been played on the moon, and it’s enough to make you cry. And remember.

As published in The Daily Memphian, December 28, 2018

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A DAISY A DAY.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend made a request for one of my former columns ­– like a song request. That’s only appropriate since it was a column about a song, and I think an appropriate column for the end of a year, and particular ends and particular memories for each of us. So this one is for you, Dick. And for me.

Out of all the songs in the world, only one has been played on another.

When the astronauts on the Apollo 17 lunar mission in 1972 decided to take along a song to play on the moon – when they perhaps considered something classical and immortal from Beethoven, Bach or Mozart – maybe something contemporary at the time, say 1972’s “I’ll Take You There” from our own Staple Singers – they chose – Jud Strunk and “A Daisy A Day.”

 “He remembers the first time he met her,

He remembers the first thing she said,

He remembers the first time he held her,

And the night that she came to his bed.”

Jud Strunk made me cry. Although that’s a great name for a bully, Jud and I never faced off behind the gym, never stepped across a line drawn in playground dust. But lines he wrote and sang 40 years ago had me sniffling in my garage like an eight-year-old with his first bloody nose, sitting in my car listening to the radio, not going inside until his song was over.

“He remembers her sweet way of singin’,

 ‘Honey, has somethin’ gone wrong?’

He remembers the fun and teasin’,

And the reason he wrote her this song.”

It’s Alex Ward’s fault. We go back to the early days of the combustion engine, and I sometimes catch his Pig & Whistle (best onion rings ever) radio show (no song or artist too obscure) on Oldies 102.3 (this is the plug) on Sunday nights. This particular Sunday, he re-introduced me to one-hit wonder Jud Strunk and hit me hard.

“I’ll give you a daisy a day, dear;

I’ll give you a daisy a day.

I’ll love you until the rivers run still,

And the four winds we know blow away.”

The world can slap you around so we put up defenses, life can be hard so we play it tough. Love can leave you vulnerable and exposed, so we don’t say it. Loss can you leave you helpless and hopeless, so we don’t show it. But there are people we see every day, and too many we don’t see anymore, that deserve our recognition, our unabashed acknowledgement of who they are to us and what they mean. And in so doing, maybe we save ourselves.

“Now he walks down the street in the evenin’,

And he stops by the old candy store.

And I somehow believe he’s believing’,

He’s holdin’ her hand like before.”

As I sat in the garage and waited for Jud to finish pushing me around, I thought about a lot of people, and about the one who’s been there for the all those hard slaps, love and loss. And the one still sitting beside me literally and figuratively. And the one who would say later that night, “Stop singing that damn song or I’ll wake up at 3 in the morning with daisies in my head.” Ever the romantic. 

“For he feels all her love walkin’ with him,

and he smiles at the things she might say.

Then the old man walks up to the hilltop,

And gives her a daisy a day.”

Yeah, it’s sappy and full of cheap sentiment, and if any of you tough guys have a problem with that maybe you should meet me and Jud out behind the gym.

“I’ll give you a daisy a day, dear;

I’ll give you a daisy a day.

I’ll love you until the rivers run still,

And the four winds we know blow away.”

I’m a Memphian, and it’s time I started handing out daisies.

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