Are you looking for a song to lift your spirits? I gave myself an assignment to write one in praise of a convenience store. It was a lot of fun to write. Join me in the kitchen and I’ll sing it for you.
THIS MONTH’S MUSIC: “The Mahwah WaWa”
FEATURED NON-PROFIT: CDC Mental Health Resources
On April 11th my friend Kim Moberg and I will introduce The Know Better Do Better Project at Club Passim, along with several other Iguana Music Fund grant recipients. This is a free, live and in person show.
Also coming up this month, I return to the New England Folk Festival on Sunday, April 24 (online). My first show is at 1:00 pm with my good friends Peter Fischman and Deb O’Hanlon, and in the second show I join the good folks of the Children’s Music Network at 3:00 pm.
Click for the details of these and all upcoming shows.
This Month’s Music:
“The Mahwah WaWa”
“The Mahwah WaWa”
© 2022 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
Over the years I have spent a lot of time on the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 95, and on smaller byways through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, North Carolina and further south in Florida. In these states and territories there are 961 WaWa convenience stores, where you can purchase pretty much everything you need as you travel this amazing country; and quite a few things that you don’t need. On their web site, WaWa says “we’re on the journey for boundless convenience.”
One time, while traveling through northern New Jersey, my wife Margo and I got a bad (good?) case of “the goonies.” I am not sure, but I think Margo and I invented that term. “The goonies” is when fatigue takes over and ordinary things seem extraordinarily silly. Perhaps this has happened to you? It isn’t really “the goonies” unless accompanied by uncontrollable laughter.
On this trip we were heading back to Boston after visiting Margo’s brother and siter-in-law near Philadelphia. Early that morning we filled up the gas tank (and our lunch box) at the local WaWa store. After many hours spent in stop-and-go traffic, we reached the northern extremity of the New Jersey Turnpike by mid-afternoon. At this juncture there is a famous pit stop near Mahwah. When we got off to refresh ourselves, we were disappointed that while there was a WaWa in pretty much every NJ town, there was not one in Mahwah. For the rest of the trip, during occasional periods of silence one of us would say “Mahwah WaWa” under our breath, then we’d both break out laughing. That of course led to episodes of laughter launched by other examples – like the Wichita WaWa, Walla Walla WaWa, Wakisha WaWa, Chautauqua WaWa, Tomaqua WaWa – and if they go international, there is of course the Okinawa WaWa and the Guatamala WaWa.
Fast forward to four days ago: I have been struggling with my emotions; privately in and out of tears for weeks. The front page news has been overwhelming. Tears come at odd times – when I hear a child singing, when a grocery store customer says “thank you” to the person restocking the shelves, or when I heard the wood frogs emerge from hibernation to loudly croak they are ready to start another generation.
Strangely, in the middle of this emotional roller coaster, the memory of “the goonies” trip through Jersey came to mind. Maybe writing a song about it would help lift my spirits? How about a promotional song for the imagined Mahwah WaWa?
The song started to work its magic even before I’d finished writing the first verse. I found myself laughing at the silliness of this song, but also at my own creativity. I shared a first draft of it with my Children’s Music Network friends at our weekly virtual song swap. While singing it, I saw my friend Nancy laugh so hard she snorted tea out of her nose! We all had a good laugh as they sang along while muted. Afterword, several said it was their first good laugh in a very long time. This reaction was a great gift to me, and an encouragement to share this song and story with you.
I hope that you can give in to “the goonies” from time to time, or to just find something to smile about and be grateful for.
Steady on my friends,
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
For obvious reasons, we are experiencing an unprecedented amount of stress. If you or a loved one find it difficult to cope, I encourage you to ask for help. If you are in the United States, these free and confidential resources from the CDC are a good place to start. Outside the US, please find your local mental health organization.