Dottie’s Charms

O Canada

I have this old charm bracelet that my pal Marykate bought for me on Ebay about 10 years ago. For some reason, she thought I would like this piece of kitschy costume jewelry. I have yet to actually wear it, not really my style, but what she didn’t know was that the bracelet would become a minor obsession

Who was the original owner? What did she do? I do know her name was Dottie, as there is a round engraved Dottie charm. The bracelet looks like it could be from the 1950s to early 1960s. She was not from a wealthy family – the 22 charms are pewter as opposed to silver or gold. She traveled domestically gathering mementos from Florida to Mackinac Island to New York City. She played piano. She liked big sculpted poodles. She liked cowboys. She was a working girl; there is an ABWA union (American Woman Business Association) charm and an office chair. She was Jewish – a mezuzah. I keep saying “was”. Maybe Dottie is still alive. Who knows?

I also thought Dottie could inspire some kind of musical piece. By the way, all I have been hearing lately from music industry futurist is that albums are out, and singles are in. That just makes me want to do…a concept record.

So…I had this grand idea that I would ask some of my favorite authors if they would take one of the charms and write a lyric about Dottie. So far, I have the words from 12 amazing fancy pants writers, including ones from Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn), Luc Sante (Low Life), Rick Moody (The Ice Storm), and my partner in crime – the one who helped me put it all together – David Hajdu (Positively 4th Street). Most everyone that I approached was game. Most had never written a song before, I think.

The interesting thing is that every one of the writers so far has imagined Dottie as a sweet, but unlucky girl in the love department. Poor, poor Dottie.

Here is the Canada Charm with lyrics by badass Sara Marcos (Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution). I did the music with that really talented fellow named Mike Viola. We are going to collaborate on a bunch more, I hope.
O CANADA

(Lyrics by Sara Marcos)
O Canada, you took me in
Just beneath your native skin
To the land we both belonged to years ago
O pal of mine, how young it was—
Mountie you and your Yankee cuz
Dog days of adolescent fuzz
And distortion, gain, delay

O Canada, you took me in, you took me in
You took me in, O Canada

A summer long, a lakefront green
The profile of a departed queen
Sat sweating by mosquito screens
In doors upon the wild
You gave your heart, I deigned a glance
It seemed so plain, but you thought fancier.
I knew it, saw through it.
You were still a child.

O Canada, you took me in, you took me in
You took me in, O Canada

O Canada, your penny buys
Not much more than a pair of eyes
Red and cold like a dragonfly’s
As it trolls the lake at dawn
That’s how much our stories earn
Worthless as a mountain fern
Summer glows for fall to burn

In my pocket, getting warm
Like August in November
A value-vacant ember

Oh Canada, you took me in, you took me in
You took me in, Oh Canada

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