At certain folk club gigs, there would often be a man, always a man, who'd come up with an energy ranging somewhere between outrage and outright hostility claiming, sometimes waving documents in hand, that The Roswell Incident was merely a weather balloon! or Look! It was Project Mogul! I have proof! I was like, in the most polite way, Buddy, calm down. I just sang a song.
There were the many, many people who asked what became of my father. My father? My father? No, listen, I would have to explain. The lyrics state: 12 years old. 1947. That would make me... 20 years older than I actually am. I definitely do not look that old but, if I keep touring, I might. Still, what a compliment to know that I'd composed words that seemed so true.
Anyway, those people.
Of much more interest to me were the older men who'd had some sort of actual connection to the original time and place. I wish that I could remember all of the stories, and I might at some point but, for example, there was the man who came up to me after a tea time gig at a retirement home in Florida. He told me, almost wistfully, that when he was in the service, in early July of 1947, he was on a flight from March Air Field in Southern California, to somewhere east, and scheduled for a stop at Walker in Roswell. As his flight approached Walker for landing, they were instructed to bypass Roswell altogether, and to find an alternate spot to land and refuel. No explanation. Not an easy task but they did not land in Roswell.
I found these encounters particularly fascinating, because each man made it clear that I was the first person they had ever told whatever it was they shared with me about Roswell in early July, 1947.
In 1998, I recorded a new version of the song in South Carolina, and sent it over to Eindhoven, where Ankie Keultjes produced the new track as part of my Ephemera album, with the perfect support of the late, great Ad van Meurs, Eric van der Lest, and Tonnie Ector.
At some point, touring somewhere, I think, in Wisconsin, I split a bill with the lovely and talented Terry Farmer, who took it upon himself to learn this song and record it—always a grand compliment. Furthermore, my songs are difficult and Terry did a beautiful job. Of course. After all, he had worked as lead guitarist for the surf legends, Jan & Dean.
About five years later, I received a note from Roger Nygard who produced the Six Days in Roswell mockumentary. He asked to use my performance that his crew had filmed that hot afternoon in Roswell for the outro to his film.
For those of you not familiar with this business of song, my permission involved signing a boilerplate release contract with a standard $50 compensation. As the lingo goes in the songwriting world for co-writing and publishing deals, 50% is better than 0%, so $50 was better that $0. Anyway, Roger has a winning way and nothing ventured, nothing gained. Six Days in Roswell went out on a festival circuit that Roger had blazed and cultivated a few years earlier with his flick, Trekkies. Time passed.
A couple of years later, I heard from a Swedish producer who had seen Six Days in Roswell. His office assistant told me that she'd watched him sit on his office rug replaying my performance at the end of the film over and over and over again. We shared a good chuckle. The producer asked to use the music for my song with Swedish lyrics and Leah Kunkel (thank you) drew up a pro bono permission contract for me.
After another year or so, a Swedish DJ reached out to let me know that the song in question, Min Pappa, had become a Scandinavian hit and the band that recorded it, Raymond & Maria, had won a Swedish Grammi.
Other little sparks of light exploded around the song, year after year. At the very least, there's been the annual airplay in early July, somewhere or other on earth.
A few months ago, I received an email from the sweet and generous soul, The Crafsman, who asked to use my song for one of his delightful YouTube videos. Oh, the amazing people I've encountered because of this song.
Now The Roswell Incident is 25 years old. I wonder what might happen next.
©2021 Suzanne McDermott (All Rights Reserved)
Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5.
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