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Steve Key: Songs/Lyrics

To Sadie from Newfoundland

(Steve Key)
May 29, 2012
Steve Key Songs (BMI)
Originally released on "Scatter Seeds" (2000)
Recorded and mixed by Mark Stacy, Nashville TN

Sadie Hickey was my grandmother on my father's side. She was from Newfoundland, but spent most of her life in the New York area. I last visited her when she lived in the upstate New York town of Herkimer, not far from the Baseball Hall of Fame. And she did like the Mets.

This song was written at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. It was a two-part workshop -- a group of songwriters (I remember Ani DiFranco was in our group) showed up one afternoon, played a few songs while the audience wrote down song suggestions and put them in a hat. At the end of the first session, we drew song topics from the hat, with the agreement that we return the next day with a finished song. I drew "cod stock of Newfoundland". I had no idea what they were talking about. They said I could pick another topic, but I felt some American guilt, not knowing anything about Canadian issues. So I took it as a challenge. I tried asking the Canadian musicians about it, but they weren't much help. So I left the festival, went to the library in downtown Winnipeg, sorted through newspapers, got the gist of the issue, that the cod stock had been depleted. But what to write about it? I went back to my hotel room, sat up until the wee hours, and finally thought about Sadie. Maybe it's a bit of a cheat -- the cod stock is mentioned in passing, but at least it's in there.
I wanted to say hello Sadie 'cause lately I've been thinking of you
I haven't been much of a grandson and you'll be 91 on your birthday soon
I learned some of your favorites by Hank Snow
About all the girls he'd known and the places he'd been
With the travellin' I do it can be just the same
I learn all the names and forget them

I fade away on the interstate
Is it too late to be stopping by
I fade away but I don't forget
I don't want to let you go and just fade away

I remember how you'd travel in the summer time
To the maritimes up in Newfoundland
To the scattered remains of your family
Who only know of me from your photographs
And all I know of them is just the headlines
I hear it's hard times for the fisherman
Did my great-grandfather work the fisheries?
Would you tell me when I see you again?

I fade away like the cod stock
And the empty docks I have never seen
I fade away in a memory
Do you think of me in those pictures that all fade away?

I could take you for a visit back to Brooklyn
Where you huddled in with all the refugees
I know you'd love to go and see the Mets play
And after the game would you talk to me?
I want to hear all about the young girl
From the old world, in the simpler time
Long before the lay-offs and the fishing bans
In the Newfoundland I may someday find

I fade away like I've always been -- the American with a busy life
I fade away; before I lose the tie, take me back in time
Before it all fades away