Remembering Sammy

21Oct08

A catchy song is like a popcorn kernel behind your back molar.  I have been smitten by my latest album purchase, (D)early Departed (click for B’s masterful description of the premise).  One of the most hauntingly fantastic songs on the album is “Inebriate Waltz” by Leigh Marble.  It centers around Sam Simpson, Oregon’ s first poet laureate, who died in a drunken stupor by hitting his head while walking along the waterfront.  His poem entitled “Beautiful Willamette” garnered him the most fame postmortem, my favorite line of which is,

Bright Willamette glides away / Onward ever / Lovely river / Softly calling to the sea / Time that scares us / Maims and mars us / Leaves no track or trench on thee

Would you believe I didn't even KNOW that was his epitaph too?

Would you believe I didn't even KNOW that was his epitaph too?

He served as editor of the Salem Statesman (presumably before it fell into a sinkhole of reprehensible journalism) and was a drunk of epic proportions.

Leigh Marble’s song rocks to and fro in its melody, much like the river itself, and the lyrics tell a vivid story:

I wrote epics and sonnets and songs, but damn it!  All they remember is ‘Beautiful Willamette’.

Those little liquor bottles, that sidewalk slip.  It was the river that killed me sip by sip.

A writer for the Oregon Historical Quarterly wrote that,

The life failure of such a man as Samuel Leonidas Simpson should be accounted for historically and truthfully, and the cause of it all summed up in that one word we are forced to use with such reluctance: inebriate.

In short, Sam Simpson is fascinating, Leigh Marble is a master of words, and you really should buy a copy of the CD.

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One Response to “Remembering Sammy”

  1. Wanna hear something funny?

    I have that song playing *right now*. Literally on my iPod as I saw your post.

    It really is quite hauntingly catchy.


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