Lyric of the Week: BOARDWALK STRUT
I left my home in Boston
And headed for the Jersey coast
I ditched beantown hub behind me
And went back to the place I loved the most
Seaside bound for glory like a straight pinball shot
Ain’t nobody gonna tell me where I can go or cannot
I’ll be strutting down the boards today
I’ll be strutting till the sun fades away
Boot heels clicking down the promenade
The boardwalk is my place to play.
When I was a kid I asked my momma
Why don’t we go all these different ways
She said Son, you can drive wherever you want
When you get older one day.
So now I’m a man and I’m out on my own
Blasting off tonight into the unknown
I’m a singing playing driving strutting fool
From Sea Bright down to Seaside I rule
Ain’t nobody gonna mess with me ‘cause I’m one badass dude
The boardwalk is where I can be cool.
Some people go to Bermuda
Others to the Florida Keys
The gamblers go to the Riviera
The rich folks sail the South Seas
But me I’m just a poor dude
With no credit and just ten bucks to my name
All I got’s my knapsack full of rock’n’roll ideas
Looking for a shot at some local fame
I’ve crisscrossed the great state of New Jersey
New York City and Long Island too
I stuck my face into all these crazy places
But there’s only one place that’ll do
Think I’ll sit on the pier’s edge tonight and watch the waves
Just sing to myself till the sun burns through the haze
Then I’ll strut at my own gait
Walk tall and hold my back straight
No reason for me to skulk, slouch, or shuffle
The boardwalk is where I can be great.
Some people spend their whole lives
Defending their so-called street credibility
To move up is to sell out, in their eyes
And so they fight to maintain their incorruptibility
But me, I don’t believe in any of those things
I’ve altered my idea of paying dues
Still carrying my magic bag of rock’n’roll dreams
But I may have lost my right to play the blues
So I gotta come down from my ivory tower
From the vaunted halls of wealth and power
In desperate search of something that’s still deep down in my soul
‘Cause the taste of success has since turned sour
So I’m gonna slip on those harness boots
And set off in passionate pursuit
Of something it seems I lost so long ago:
My down-the-shore boardwalk roots.
©2022 The Hesh Inc.
I began writing this in 1989, when I was starting to feel my life in Boston begin coming apart at the seams. The first two verses are an expression of wanting to go back to something I needed to be part of yet was being prevented from doing so. The second two verses were written after I began visiting the Shore by myself, after my then-wife had taken our daughter and gone back to mother. I could have stopped at that point and called the song complete, but there was "something" that yet needed to be written, though at the time I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Fast forward to the early 2010s, after I had moved around, to the Shore and away from the Shore, numerous times. Life had gotten decidedly better for me in the ensuing decades, at least in the socioeconomic arena, yet there was a nagging feeling that I had lost a vital part of myself in that process of improvement. I completed the song, with the last three verses, after several more trips to the Shore in the hopes of regaining that which I felt was sorely missing but refused to believe was altogether lost. I'm still looking for it. But at least now I have a finished song.
Musically, the obvious influence was Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," evident in the song's very first lines. I envisioned the arrangement as a soul-funk workout, complete with James Brown–esque staccato horn stabs. Some Hendrixian guitar would not be out of place here, either. Intended as a vital part of my Soul In Exile story, to be included on the next installment of the opus, hopefully to be recorded in 2023.