Almost Fiction: Campfire songs

By Sam Jones

Interwoven within the twittering of wild birds and scurrying sounds from the beasts of the forest came the conversation of two intrepid motorcyclists on a camping adventure.

“What did you say?” From sarcastic Harry.

“Huh?” From George the singer.

“I said, ‘What did you say’.”

“Oh nothing. I was just humming a song.”

“You weren’t humming, you were singing. You were over there collecting firewood singing up a storm.”

“Was I? I must have been lost in what I was doing. Was I singing out loud?”

“Of course you were. I could hear you, couldn’t I? What were you singing?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know many songs. Let’s see. Was it, ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ by Jimmie Davis?”

“Nope, that’s not what you were singing.”

“How about, Lefty Frizzell’s, ‘If You Got the Money Honey, I Got the Time’?”

“Nope.”

“Hank Williams’ ‘Jambalaya’ or ‘Hey, Good Lookin’?’ Did it sound like one of those?”

“No, it sounded like you were singing show tunes.”

Sheepishly from George the singer, “Oh. Sometimes I get carried away. Cuz we’re out camping, when I was building the fire, I must have been thinking about the musical Paint Your Wagon. Singing one of those songs. Ever see the movie?”

“No! A musical? Definitely not! No!” Emphatically from Harry.

“Well it’s not a traditionally Lerner & Loewe musical. It’s about cowboys and miners and Mormons and polygamy and polyandry and gambling and getting drunk and hookers; like I said it’s not a traditional kind of musical.”

“I suppose Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds are in it?” With sarcasm.

“No. No Doris no Debbie. As a matter of fact the stars are Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood.”

“Marvin and Eastwood? You’re kidding.”

“Nope and neither of them can sing a note but they both give it a try. They kind of growl and snarl their way through it. But the words are great. In fact that movie could be remade as a biker flick if they wanted to.”

“A biker/cowboy/miner/hooker musical? You got to be kidding.”

“No, a couple of the songs are really bikeresque.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet. Sing me some lines.”

“Right now, out here in the wilderness? I don’t know. That’s kind of gay isn’t it?”

“A minute ago you were over there building a fire singing show tunes at the top of your lungs, scaring the chipmunks.”

“OK, OK, I’ll do what Lee Marvin did. He just sort of gargled the words. Hell, I can’t sing anyway.”

——- There is a long wait. ——-

“Well?”

“OK, here goes…”

“Where am I goin’? I don’t know. Where am I headin’? I ain’t certain. All I know is I am on my way.

When will I be there? I don’t know. When will I get there? I ain’t certain. All that I know is I am on my way.

What will we get? I ain’t equipped to say. But who gives a damn? Who gives a damn?

We’re on our way!”

“You’re right. That’s kind of a biker song. We’re riding out, don’t know where we’re going, what we’ll find, but who gives a damn, we’re on our way. Not bad.”

George the singer stood proud.

“You say there is another song that’s a good biker song?

“Yep. Lee Marvin does a great job with it.”

“How’s it go?”

“I really can’t do it justice.” The singer wanted to be coaxed.

“Come on. Give it a go.” Harry prods.

“OK.” George clears his throat.

“I was born under a wandrin’ star. Wheels are made for rollin’, mules are made to pack, I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back.

I was born under a wandrin’ star, mud can make you prisoner, and the plains can bake you dry, snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry, home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to. Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wandrin’ star.

Do I know where hell is? Hell is in hello. Heaven is goodbye forever, it’s time for me to go. When I get to heaven tie me to a tree. Or I’ll begin to roam, and soon you know where I will be.

I was born under a wandrin’ star, A wandrin’ wandrin’ star.”

“Wow. You’re right again. Born under a wandrin’ star. That’s how I feel. It must be a hell of a movie. Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, you say. I’ll have to put it on my Netflix list.”

Alone in the primeval forest, away from anyone who might tease them, show tunes were heard around the campfire. All the flora and fauna, from crickets to grizzers, seemed to join in and before morning Harry and George had roughed out a screenplay to turn Paint Your Wagon into a biker movie.

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