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In the fall of 1979 I went to my dentist's office in Palatine, Illinois for a routine visit. At the time, I was flirting with the hygienist, she put the dental bib on, and tilted the examining chair in a downward position, I could see clearly outside the garden apartment office window, just slightly below ground level. Looking upward I got a glimpse of something I had not paid much attention to before; it was the Victorian-style house across the street. a typical painted lady, with a traditional gable attic. I was transfixed. I asked the hygienist ," Have you ever been in there?" She said, "yes". "What did you see?" I asked.

"Oh, you know the usual stuff, an old fashioned kitchen, velvet furniture, many paintings of people wearing stiff collars and old hoop skirts." She went on to tell me that she went into the attic one time with the owner, to help him move a sewing machine. With intrigue, I asked her, "What was up there?" She said she saw such things as; a rocking chair, a cradle, a fancy plated mirror, and an old trumpet, and above all creepy pictures of old people, an inch thick with dust. That night, as I lay in bed I was thinking about what she had seen in the old house across the street. At that particular time in my life I had  been fascinated with antiquities and their origins, along with the old Victorian style homes they inhabited.

The intrigue set me on fire. Now I couldn't sleep. I picked up my guitar and let my imagination run wild with what little facts I had. I grabbed my trusty ruled pad and jotted down, "Walking in my room feeling deep and peerless (a word I later changed to fearless)." I started gently finger picking trying to feel my way through an imaginary trip to an attic. My heart strings fed my fingers with a soft, gentle pattern reminiscent of an old-fashioned folk song, all the while thinking to myself of the spirit which we embrace our individual belongings with. What happens to them when we die? Does this spirit remain with these artifacts? I know when I am exposed to antiques of any kind I feel something (...don't you?), especially when you know the history of the item. But when you don't know where it came from, you certainly know it had a hand in human life, and that maybe it was treasured, that it had more than just an intrinsic value to that person. Maybe it was a gift of love, an object that held sentimental value for someone.

I had to do more to imagine what else was in this attic... dust upon the wall, ashes from an old cigarette. Lyrically I turned the trumpet into "An old cornet", it fit better, and sounded less contemporary. For some reason a hook developed and the chorus came alive... "A rocking chair and cradle, and dust upon the wall," and the song was born. I worked on the song for a few more days tweaking the lyrics and the music. Ultimately I thought I might be able to impress the hygienist with my song, but she never returned my calls... C'est la vie.

At the time, I felt good about writing this song, but I kept it to myself ...folk songs don't often excite those around you when your contemporaries are rock 'n' rollers. In 1986 I recorded it for the first time, with, Charlie Crabtree, the best mandolin player I ever played with. Charlie helped breath more life into this song and for that I am forever grateful. "I feel love in old antique Spirits"


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