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Garboo

Words and Music: © 1993 by Tom Smith
With a quote from "Londonderry Aire (O Danny Boy)" (Irish trad.)
Every word in the song is true, more or less; certainly colored nicely by my memories. My grandmother, Phyllis Troeder, was born Teofilia Sonk in Detroit, Michigan on 29 May 1915. She and my grandpa Arnold brought my mother Nancy and my uncle Gary into the world. Garboo helped to raise me and my brother and my sister. She took me to my first comic book store, she watched Road Runner cartoons with me, she drove me to gaming cons, she talked to me nearly every day for thirty years. I still miss her cruelly. The cancer took her relatively quickly, only six months or so; but I was at OVFF in 1993 when I found out they'd moved her to the hospital while I was out of town, and this being on the same day as Mary Ellen Wessels's father dying, I was devastated. So I wrote this Saturday morning for my concert that afternoon, and I dedicated that performance to her and to MEW's father, and I dedicated Tom Smith Plugged to her memory. If you haven't figured it out, this song was a one-take wonder, and a good thing, too, because I don't think I could've done it a second time.

When I was very little, and barely knew my name,
I called my grandma "Garboo" -- I'm not sure where that came from,
Some say it's German for "nanny," but I knew in my heart,
I called both her and the garbage that, and at least learned to tell them apart.

For many years we lived with her, my brother, mom, and me,
My sister and my uncle, and our menagerie,
Three cats with nineteen kittens, four dogs of varied size,
And two monster velvet clown paintings with bulging plastic eyes.

She taught me every Polish joke that I will ever know;
One day I said, "I'M Polish!" She said, "I'll tell you slow."

And every night she'd tuck me in and sing me "Danny Boy."
She didn't have the greatest voice, unless you count the joy,
She taught me penny poker, she taught me dirty puns,
She taught me how to live each day by making each day fun.

Her husband was a laughing man I wish that I had met,
He died when I was six weeks old, but I will not forget
The slightly faded photo as he held back joyful tears,
Holding me for the first time the night he died --
She's had that look for thirty years.

She's hardly even rested since my life has begun,
She got a job in real estate 'cause meeting folks was fun,
She's met so many people, and seen so many joints --
I wish she'd sold more property, but, hey, that's not the point.

She's been to Rocky Horror -- twice, loved Beauty and the Beast,
Thought Batman: The Movie was worth the price, plus popcorn too, at least,
She heard me sing in concert once, and much to my surprise,
I thought I saw my grandpa looking out behind her eyes.

I wish that I could tell you, Garboo, all you mean to me,
But language isn't clear enough, and diamonds aren't free,
The music, love and laughter, and how they help you thrive,
I learned them from my Garboo, and they're how I stay alive...

O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen, and down the mountainside,
The summer's gone, and all the leaves are falling,
'Tis you, 'tis you must go, and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
And I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
O Danny boy, O Danny boy, I love you so.

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