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I started out with nothing. Vic

Posted By: Vicarn

I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 02:12 PM

Took an age to write this, partly due to other commitments.

I found out recently that my great uncle had lost both his parents by the age of seven and was sent to an orphanage.
At the age of 11, in the year 1904 he was sent from Wales in the UK to work on a farm in Canada.
From what I could discover he moved around the US a lot, , Pennsylvania, Michigan, California and even Brazil, probably seeking work during the great depression.
Must have been a tough character.

It'll never be a hit but I had to get it out of my system.

Thanks to Travis for giving me the title.
https://soundcloud.com/vic-arnold/i-started-out-with-nothing
Vic

I started out with nothing ©2019 Vic Arnold
V1
The first thing I remember was the echo of her feet
as she led me by the hand to that big door.
"This is your new mother that I brought you here to meet.
Mother Mary, she'll look after you for sure."
Then at the age of 12, indentured off to a farmer,
New Caledonia, far across the sea
and on that frozen ground it couldn't be much harder
but they said it was the only place for me
The only place for me
Ch
I started out with nothing on a doorstep cold and grey
and listened to her footsteps fade away
I started out with nothing and that cap on me still fits. Nothing, and I've still got most of it
V3
At 17 I rode to Pennsylvania on a train
Slogged away like the devil down a hole
But there in Luzerne County I met a fair young maid
We scratched a living from that poor dust bowl
We raised a fine family then we moved to Michigan
I was 31 but looked like 55
Dear Maggie passed away with the curse of consumption
It was all that we could do to stay alive.
To stay alive.
Ch.
Br.
We followed the sunshine because it was free
but the fruit is too dry for the wine.
and migrants are migrants wherever they be
and wither ... wither on the vine
Ch.
















Posted By: Travis david

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 02:26 PM

Ah I remember that title Vic.
Great story and intro too. My ears are'nt good but it sounded like the vocal needed adjusting for at times the music over powering it?
Best of luck for this one
John
Posted By: Neil Cotton

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 03:24 PM

Listening...vocal in plenty strong.
Nice travelling prosody
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 05:12 PM

Hi Travis.
Thanks.
I listened again but it sounds ok to my not so good ears.
Any place in particular?

Vic
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 07:44 PM

Thanks Neil.
Ontario is where he was sent, initially. Maybe you met him. :-)

Vic
Posted By: Neil Cotton

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 11:06 PM

Originally Posted by Vicarn
Thanks Neil.
Ontario is where he was sent, initially. Maybe you met him. :-)

Vic


A long shot LOL
Compare
https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/country-size-comparison/canada/united-kingdom
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/08/19 11:36 PM

I enjoyed this very much, Vic. What a great story. I think the up-tempo treatment is just right for a tragic story when the emphasis is on his endurance and the forward trajectory of his life.

I love this line: "Nothing, and I've still got most of it"

I think you might want to change New Caledonia to Nova Scotia. Same meaning, but very different places on opposite sides of the globe. Also, if authenticity is important, I don't think Pennsylvania was ever a dust bowl. That's something associated with the prairie states like Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas and Nebraska. Pennsylvania might have periodically been affected by dust storms blowing eastwards from those states, but I don't think it was ever a "dust bowl" itself.

Both these things are easily changed if you want to.
Posted By: 90 dB

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 02:04 AM

Vic,


I think the vocal level is just fine, and the lyrics don't need to be re-written (but that's JMHO). Enjoyed the song, great tribute to an ancestor.


Regards,

Bob
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 12:51 PM

Yes Neil, we could do with a little more of that space over here.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 01:09 PM

Thanks Gavin.
Well "New Caledonia" is printed on the photograph of him that he sent to his half sister (my grandmother) back in the early 1900's.
I need that part to stay.

I must thank Travis for that line "Nothing, and I've still got most of it". He sent it to me as part of a comedy lyric for a song and I pinched it (with his permission).

Of course you are right about the dust bowl. I was thinking of how it affected the US in general and how folks travelled around..
Perhaps I will change it to "around the poor dustbowl".

Vic
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 01:27 PM

Wow, Vic! Sounds like he had an even more adventurous time than I realized. How the heck did he end up there? Was he a sailor too? Amazing.
Posted By: Calvin

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 01:35 PM

Hi Vic,

Very nicely done.


Calvin


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/0/calvinstewart
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 03:20 PM

Thank you Bob.
Food for thought.

Vic
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 07:41 PM

Hi Gavin.
I assume you mean Brazil. I read that at the end of the 1930's that place was buzzing.
As far as I'm aware he was into farming but being from a Welsh mining town he probably new a bit about mining too.
His wife had died young so he just packed up his kid and went. Anything that put food on the table I suppose.

Vic
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 07:53 PM

Actually, I meant New Caledonia, which is in the middle of the South Pacific, between Australia and Fiji. Google it - it looks like Brazil wasn't the furthest he traveled. There might be even more to your adventurous forebear than you yet know - or are telling us smile

I suggested changing it to Nova Scotia because I thought you had just slipped up, since both actually mean New Scotland, and you mentioned he had been sent off to Canada. Not much frozen ground in New Caledonia, I wouldn't think. More like palm trees and beaches.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 08:50 PM

Hahaha! Gavin. Now I get it.

No. It's New Caledonia, a small town in Ontario, Canada. Now incorporated into Haldimand. Where the Grand River meets Lake Erie. It existed, honest.

Vic
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/09/19 09:39 PM

Darn it! I had great stories of adventure floating through my mind. Mind you, Brazil is not exactly to be sneezed at. smile

Before I posted I checked for a New Caledonia in the US and Canada and didn't find one. I just checked again and found a Caledonia in Haldimand, right where you said. I guess they must have dropped the new when it was... well, no longer, new LOL. Founded by a Ranald McKinnon, according to Wikipedia - can't get more Caledonian than that.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/10/19 08:32 AM

Thanks Calvin.

Vic
Posted By: Mimmo

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/10/19 11:29 AM

Originally Posted by Vicarn
Hahaha! Gavin. Now I get it.

No. It's New Caledonia, a small town in Ontario, Canada. Now incorporated into Haldimand. Where the Grand River meets Lake Erie. It existed, honest.

Vic

Hi Vic...Interesting!!! Caledonia is only about 10 minutes or so from where I am...Much bigger now.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/10/19 07:40 PM

Hey Mimmo. You may have trodden in the footsteps of my ancestor.

Vic
Posted By: Mimmo

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/10/19 11:29 PM

Originally Posted by Vicarn
Hey Mimmo. You may have trodden in the footsteps of my ancestor.

Vic

Hi Vic....I did a lot of work in Caledonia in the '90's. I worked in new home construction then.

They dropped the "New" and call it just Caledonia, it's now Haldimand-Norfolk County.

Have you ever been around here?
It's a small world, isn't it?
Regards
Mimmo
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/11/19 12:10 PM

Never went there.
I believe my great uncle was in that area from 1904 to 1910 before he moved to Pennsylvania.
I only know this because that's where he had his picture taken in a studio there run by an F. Emmerson.
It certainly is a small world though.

Vic
Posted By: GocartMoz

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/11/19 06:58 PM

Very special tune Vic. Worth the wait! Not much to criticize. I just sat back and enjoyed. I loved the harmonies in the chorus, but if anything I think the tune was screaming out for more backing vocals starting with the verse after the first chorus. Maybe some oohs and aahs there. I was hearing harmonies in the Bridge as well should you wish to add any. Great as is though. Good stuff.

Dave
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/12/19 02:08 PM

Hi Dave.
Thanks for the listen. I don't want to over egg the pudding but I will give that sugg. a shot.

Vic
Posted By: GocartMoz

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/13/19 01:35 PM

Vic,

Just the right amount of bv's in the verse after first chorus.. It works great. Is the harmony on "wither on the vine" new, as well? Fits great. Loved the way you did that, though I cannot recall if that was on your original post. Really enjoyed the listen. It is a winner.

Dave
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/13/19 02:19 PM

Thanks again Dave.
No, that wasn't in the original post but after your suggestion I thought it would fit.


Vic
Posted By: Gavin Sinclair

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/13/19 09:36 PM

Vic, I think your background vocals added just the right amount of egg to the pudding smile. Listened again, and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time.
Posted By: E Swartz

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/14/19 02:04 AM

Hey Vic,

Great story, and surely special to you. The song's music & vibe along with the upbeat tempo pull you in quickly and keep you riveted. I also just found myself enthralled by the story as I'm very interested in my own family's ancestors as well.

I listened on FB and here both a couple of times and felt after this last time listening that it might be cool and "effective" to lose the percussion in the Bridge and maybe even slow down the tempo just in that section. IMO, this would give you a great break from the "strong back beat" dominance within the song and "empower" the bridge......plus empower the return to the chorus as the percussion jumps back into the song--use or lose.

steady-eddie.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/14/19 06:38 PM

Thanks again Gavin.
Maybe just enough egg.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/14/19 10:45 PM

Thanks Eddie.
I am a fan of dropping rhythm, drums etc. from a bridge and sometimes do that.
I will give it a try on this one.
Watch this space for an update.

Vic
Posted By: Michael LeBlanc

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/15/19 01:57 PM

I enjoyed this story Vic. Mike
Posted By: L. James Tanner

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/15/19 04:10 PM

I like this a whole bunch, and a great story line and delivery. Awesome work Vic!
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/16/19 09:24 AM

Thank you Mike.
Can't beat a good story.

Vic
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/16/19 12:17 PM

Hi James.
Thank you for that.

Vic
Posted By: Martin Lide

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/16/19 02:26 PM

Nice and well deserved tribute Vic.
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/16/19 04:15 PM

Thanks Martin.
I hope so.

Vic
Posted By: Michael Zaneski

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/17/19 01:57 AM

Hi Vic,

Very enjoyable, reminding me of Tom T Hall musically and Hag lyrically. Love "still got most of it."

Mike
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/17/19 10:41 AM

Nice to see you back, Mike.
Yes a little retro.

Thanks for the comment.

Vic
Posted By: Deej56

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/18/19 04:21 AM

Vic,

Your productions are always so slick . . . love that banjo opening—killer. Nice, foot-tapping tune . . . hard not to listen without the head bobbing. Nice hook (nod to Travis on that one). Moreover, really admire the write . . . tough to pull a song like this together, and you’ve penned a nice tribute to your great uncle. Nicely done, Vic. A pleasure on the ear.

Kind regards,

Deej
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/18/19 02:48 PM

Thanks Deej.
Slick Vic eh? :-)

I enjoy writing about real people. Keeps them alive in my mind.

Vic
Posted By: Dave Rice

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 06/30/19 03:25 PM

Late again, Vic... Sorry!

I really appreciate "the story behind the song"... coming from the days when record jackets were filled with stuff about the artist and the songs on the album. This one is a real treasure and it's obvious to me... you come from good stock... as we sometimes say down here on the plains.

Great intro, remarkable, well-woven lyric and melody... and then, there's that memorable Vic vocal... kissed with just the right amount of harmony in all the right places. Your Great Uncle's story deserved to be told... and you told it well, my friend. Enjoyed very much. ----Dave
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 07/01/19 10:23 AM

Hullo Dave.
Not too late at all.

Yes, good old Welsh beef stock. But it has thinned out over the years. :-)
I believe in keeping these old stories alive.

Thank you.

Vic
Posted By: Steve Altonian

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 07/01/19 12:56 PM


Originally Posted by Vicarn


Maybe it could be cut.....

Ch
I started out with nothing on a doorstep cold and grey
and listened to her footsteps fade away
I started out with nothing and that cap on me still fits. Nothing, and I've still got most of it


Okay. This is a great tune but if you were sitting next to me I would re-write the CHORUS. Correction: I think the Chorus should be adjusted. Here is why? TITLE: I started out with nothing. IMO EVERY WORD IN YOUR CHORUS NEEDS TO SUPPORT THAT
THOUGHT.

I simply do not get the cap line....or what the cap has to do with you starting out with nothing...Even the doorstep cold and grey is using up important real estate. You are stating the weather instead of supporting STARTING OUT WITH NOTHING.

This is a great piece but if this were mine, I would tighten up the CHORUS to only support your thought.

I would not say this to you if I didn’t think this has great potential. Just my opinion, but everything should revolve around your Chorus. You can afford a throw away line here and there in a verse. But not in your CHORUS.

Great tune, great musicianship, but that is what sticks out to me.

Best to you
Posted By: Vicarn

Re: I started out with nothing. Vic - 07/01/19 06:50 PM

Hi Steve.
Thanks for the listen and comment. Interesting how you see it.

Don't you have that saying over there? "If the cap fits, wear it"? It means that the description is correct.
On the other hand "On a doorstep cold and grey" is just emphasising metaphorically, the grim existence of an abandoned child.

Maybe Brit humour doesn't travel as well as I thought, although Monty Python did ok.
I have a few American friends who seem to get it though, or maybe they thought it was an "Emperor's new clothes" situation.

Thanks again for your view.
Vic
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