“I’m not sharing Sharon, of this I’m swearing.” – Jim Stafford, comic country singer-song writer in 1974. Strange how a song lyric can take your mind back in time, like a particular smell can. Stranger still is this song brings me back to a memory of recalling memories, or rather, of not recalling memories.
Buddy Knox from the town of Happy, Texas had a pop hit with a different song of the same name in 1959, and then Hank Williams, Jr. wrote another song with the same name released in 1968. To be precise, as all three were Southerners the title of the three songs is, “I Ain’t Sharin’ Sharon”. But there is no fault in poetry using colloquial speech.
What the memory of having memories brings me back to though is Jim Stafford’s song. I bought his lp of hits after his song, “My Girl Bill” was top on the pop AM radio station. While that song seemed to foretell of social acceptance of gay marriage in its chorus of ‘my girl Bill’, then final verse makes it clear that he is warning a romantic rival that “She is my girl, Bill.” The confusion was intentional for comic effect, but I can imagine young closeted gays in small towns throughout the country thought otherwise.
Another song by Stafford was a remake of the bluegrass folk classic, “Wildwood Weed” a tune after the sound of “Wildwood Flower”. However, the wildwood weed refers (or reefers…) to potent psychoactive hemp, while the wildwood flower is a self-referenced metaphor by a jilted country girl. Reliable folk historians actually attribute the lyricist as being Maud Irving, pseudonym for a male poet named J. William Van Namee and published in 1860. He wrote the song as, “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets”.
Van Namee published one small book of poems entitled ‘Poems’. From ‘Poems’, it is apparent he wrote “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets.” He dedicated his one small book of poems to Colonel Dorus M. Fox, “Editor of the Present Age, and President of American Association of Spiritualists, an Earnest Advocate of Right and Truth, a Conscientious Teacher and Faithful Laborer in the Field of Reform, with Feelings of the Most Sincere Friendship and Profound Respect”. We should all be so dedicated at least once in life.
The Carter family later recorded Van Namee’s lyric with their own songwriting credit, “He taught me to love him, he called me his flower that blossomed for him all the brighter each hour, but I awoke from my dreaming, my idol was clay, my visions of love have all faded away.” To be fair, the copyright having lapsed by 1927 when commercial country recorded music was born in Bristol, Tennessee and the Carter family preserved forever etched in shellac at 78 revolutions per minute.
I learned all of this trivia later though, after becoming interested in the origins of country music and remembering that I always preferred “Hee Haw” over the “Lawrence Welk Music Hour” TV programs. Looking back, the girls were pretty and the musicians talented on both shows. I don’t recall why I liked the ‘hayseed’ programs better.
I remember my microgroove vinyl 33 1/3 rpm recording of Jim Stafford’s “I Ain’t Sharin’ Sharon” repeating as I reset the tone arm. I looked through photos of my mother and her younger sister. Aunt Sharon had stayed with us and babysat through the summers while my divorced grandmother worked in the office at the plant. I looked at the photos and did not know who they were, although Sharon was always with us throughout the summer.
“Who are these people?” I asked my mother. “That’s Sharon, when she was younger, and that’s me.” Sharon was off to college, gone to me. “How can you not recognize Sharon?” “She’s my aunt?” “She stayed with us every summer.” “I don’t remember.” She looks nice, kind of funny. “Yes, you like aunt Sharon.” I remember a warm feeling towards her. I don’t remember her looking like in the photos. She told me about the Beatles before she left. They were playing Yellow Submarine movie on TV. “You mean you don’t remember the Beatles? How can you not know the Beatles.”
I didn’t remember the Beatles. They weren’t the only thing I didn’t remember until later, or maybe I just relearned a number of things based upon things people told me, upon their memories perhaps. Frontal lobe injury impacts executive functioning and ordering, and particularly slows stored memory retrieval. Are the memories I regained mine or someone else’s? Maybe the aspect of not being truly sure is just true for anyone.