SHAPE MUSIC


While I really don't have a formalized Bucket List, I had always dreamed of singing at my daughter’s wedding! No I don’t sing professionally, though I have wanted to, you know, sing and get paid for it! I almost did once. Practiced folk and bluegrass and country with a fellow named Rick who ended up in the Bull Creek Band playing a couple songs I wrote. We had a bar gig lined up in ’72 that never happened. We were going to do songs like “Brother Love,”and others by Arlo and Woody, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young;” throw in a lot of Willie Nelson, like “Blue Eyes,” “Country Road,” “Whisky River” – our kinda songs. Perhaps toss in a strained refrain or two from Johnny Cash!


Why not? Why not sing at my daughter’s wedding? Hell, I forked over enough dough to buy the place! No problem… Just let the proud Papa sing.


Besides, I certainly got the genes for it from Uncle Frank and my mom (on the Floersh side of the family). I learned songs strumming on the old family banjo ukulele, a fine old antique and lots of fun to play. I used to sit for hours out on the front porch at 1226 Howard in Inglewood (East Nashville) mastering it around age six. I will play to my dying day. Now my grandchildren like to join in and sing and dance and holler. My daughter’s four year old daughter dances and sings with me now. What a joy! I think she’s part me.


And for singing credentials, don't forget, I sang Alto in Sr. James Marie’s Holy Name grade school choir. And in ’61 toured with the Bellarmine College Glee Club which involved a couple of solo parts. I'm no lightweight. I can carry a tune, but I can’t read a note! I play and sing by ear. Learned that from my momma.


Professionally? No, but I do entertain myself with songs from daddy’s old yellow-weathered song book he typed on our old upright Underwood typewriter and hand wrote in the banjo notes.


And! And, I have entertained a few folks along the way with renditions of a seldom-heard-before mountain song, “PoorWilly” and “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” songs my mom, “Litz,” taught me. She would sing them to me as a child and I would scoop ‘em up into memory and harmonize. Look me up sometime, I’ll plink-ka-plink ‘em out fer ya! A few of them can be found in my album “Tom Strums.” Scroll down to my album on the HOME page https://www.tenbrunsel.com/


Returning to the wedding and my life’s dream – to sing at Erin’s wedding. My oldest grandson, Will, asked me the morning of the wedding, “So, Papa, if Erin is going to be a Secretarski, will she still be in the family?” I put my arm around the seven-year-old, comforting him, a bit teary eyed myself, “Yeah!” Yes, yes she will, Will, always - Always a Tenbrunsel, and more!


Wedding Day. It was “game day”and the secret to pulling this off was my oldest son, Kevin, a successful businessman, engineer/administrator at Motorola, Chicago at the time. He also carries the Floersh genes for being able to carry a tune. And thank God, for he met his beautiful wife, Kerri, through song. He has since passed his singing talent and love for music to the next generation. His daughter Kaitlyn has the voice (from her mom and dad). Kevin still sings in a rock band in Chicago in his spare time. “He will carry the day for me at Erin’s wedding,” I thought!


So after practicing in two separate cities, Chicago and Huntsville Alabama (via the magic of technology), Kevin and I were going to pull this off. The next step was to practice together for the first time. The morning of the wedding, in my ‘94 maroon Honda Accord with the tape player blaring, we harmonized our hearts out. There we were singing, singing aloud, singing our hearts out in the middle of the Four Seasons Atlanta parking lot, windows up, air conditioning on. Kevin was carrying a strong a-cappella melody with me improvising my unique self-designed harmony all over the place.


I just love the delicacy and simplicity of “The Wedding Song!” We were ready to take it to church.


Surprises come in all shapes and sizes!

We got to the church early along with the bridal party. Time was needed for them to primp and dress prior to the “I do’s.” The smell of flowers filled the air. Kevin and I were dapperly decked out in our spanking tuxedos. With enthusiasm we headed up to the choir loft, me a bit nervous. Performing in public was old hat for my eldest son, Kevin - no sweat! However I am another matter. This is a bucket item and I don't have a lot of public performance experience.


Surprise! So we arrived at this huge rising choir loft high in the back of the church, framed by massive organ pipes. The organ (and organist) both large. The Cathedral was very large and impressive. SURPRISE! What??? “You got to be kidding,” was my thought, “I’m sweating bullets here on a bucket list and you’re telling me I’ve got to audition before you let me sing? Oh my God.” The butterflies hit the fan. I was in panic mode. What the heck was I doing here? Audition? You’ve got to be kidding!


So there we sat, Kevin and I, while his wife, Kerri, proceeded effortlessly to crack crystal on a practice run of “ Ave Maria.” I began to look for the exit!!! No way were they going to let me sing, not even with my Floersh genes after Kerri’s stellar performance. I might as well head on down into the church. Kick the bucket list!


I was nervous, shaky, my throat tightening. It was our turn to audition. Kevin and I had our backs to the altar, struggling to get me in tune. We started and restarted several times with an impatient, unsympathetic, unwavering organist/executioner peering at me over his glasses. I looked skyward asking