Many many years ago on a day just like this, that is, a day of sunny Seattle brilliance, my boyfriend and I explored the southwest shore of Lake Union in his wooden lapstraked rowboat. So much was different then, circa 1985, the city especially although I was different back then, too. And certainly life was different for all of us.
What was to become the downtown centerpiece of a local mogul’s empire, was – on that day – an abandoned corner of shore basically good for nothing except blackberry brambles, rotten piling snags, dusty bits of broken bottles, crumpled beer cans and muddy chunks of concrete. An unsightly mess nothing more, unwanted and forgotten.
We rowed on. Then, suddenly, there it was – hiding behind a gigantic tangle of blackberry vines, THE ROSE BUSH, exploding up, out and over the water’s edge with arching branches festooned with hundreds and hundreds of pink blossoms, cascading down to the water. It was magnificent. (For years afterwards I would try to catch a glimpse of the bush from Westlake as I drove northwards, but it wasn’t visible from the street. Eventually it was bulldozed.)
My song, The Wild Red Roses, was inspired by the wild pink rose bush and by that day long ago that was just like this one. Of course the song is full of untruths as many of my songs are, but the essence of that day, its beauty and wild joy is in there, tinged by an unconscious sense that life as I knew it, as we knew it, was about to change.
Take a listen. I hope you enjoy it in spite of my meddling with the facts. The roses weren’t red, they were pink. I broke up with him, he did not break up with me. And true love only seems to know “where the wild red roses grow” about half the time.
“I remember how it was, oh! the wild red roses,
On a day, well, just like this, the wild red roses,
Down by the water in the middle of town
With nobody else around
Me and my baby found – where the wild red roses grow”