Bob still dreams of tinkering with tunes

Bob still dreams of tinkering with tunes by Bob Karolevitz Don�t laugh, but I once wanted to be a songwriter.

I would scribble lyrics like Johnny Mercer and Ira Gershwin. It was an ideal life which would bring fame and fortune � and I wouldn�t wear overalls and get my hands dirty in the process.

I guess it started in college in the early �40s when another fellow and I came up with �An Ode to Flute and Fly Swatter.�

Then during World War II, I penned a poem about Texas � where I was undergoing Army basic training at the time. I think a Dallas newspaper printed the verse, which resulted in my getting in contact with a songsmith in that city.

He was looking for someone like me, he said, who could write words to a melody he was then fashioning. When I got a pass, I went to see him in what I then thought was a luxurious apartment. �That�s for me,� I thought, as I gawked around at the lavishness of the setting.

(Remember, I was a poor South Dakota boy who was impressed by anything Texan.)

However, nothing came of that visit, but it awakened a new calling for me when I finally would change my uniform for civilian clothes and join the ranks of the working folks.

I would be my own boss. I could sleep late, and all I had to do was concoct a set of lyrics for a tune which somebody else would compose.

That thought, I recall, helped sustain me through three and a half years of service; and when I got my Ruptured Duck pin, I still must have had a yearning for that lazy occupation.

When I returned to finish my degree at South Dakota State College (now University), I remember that a song I wrote � titled �Does No Mean No?� �- was published in 1947 by a Hollywood firm, so I guess I continued to have the bug.

A traveling band played the tune at a school dance, and I can�t forget swelling with pride as I heard the results of my work performed by professional musicians. It was sheer ambrosia! After all, I had composed both words and music, noodling the tune on my clarinet � I couldn�t play the piano like most songwriters could � and I didn�t know a danged thing about notes and clefs, sharps and flats.

That was a long, long time ago. �Does No Mean No?� never made it to the Hit Parade, and I made another choice about what I wanted to do in life. (A wife, two daughters and a mortgage were specific reasons to pursue a more reasonable dollar-producing goal.)

Somewhere along the line, I wrote a little ditty about Spotted Horse, Wyoming (I thought it had a catchy tune); and I was always going to jot down something called Kawasaki Cowboy. However, I have long since given up the hope of going to Nashville and making a name for myself in the music business.

Of course, I�ve come pretty close to my dream by being a freelance scribe. I�m my own boss (Phyllis allowed me to say that). I can sleep late, but I have foregone the �lavish setting� of my Texas visit more than six decades ago.

But, strangely enough, I still have a slight urge to see my rhyming words decorating a song. I should learn to strum a guitar so I can compose to my heart�s content, but I can�t get my arthritic fingers to cooperate.

I guess I�ll just have to be satisfied with �Does No Mean No?�. At least it�s better than nothing!

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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