|A Closer Look
You Cant Break My Window Mister David Schickeles Music
by Tom Hebert (Nigeria 196264)
AT A MID-80s PEACE CORPS REUNION in Washington, D.C., I met up with David again after some 20-odd years. I hadnt seen him since a Free Biafra/Committee of Returned Volunteers meeting in 1969. He mentioned his music. Like everyone else I knew, I had seen and used his film Give Me A Riddle, so I was interested. A week later he sent me a 45 RPM with Jack on the A side. In 1986, Jack helped me transition my career back to freelance consulting as I wore out the little 45 playing it every morning, steeling myself for the lone life ahead. A piece of Jack :
Jack is true as the day is long
so say your prayers if you must do
Beyond that 45, one of my life treasures is a 1987 cassette of Volume Four (of five), entitled Everything. The songs on it all have complex orchestrations with multiple tracks, David on leads with harmony vocals, reeds, drums of all kinds, pedal steel guitars, cello, harmonica, etc. Professionally recorded. But, as you can tell from Jack above, how tuneful they are! And some really, really swing, hosannas sing, in a mighty big way. I whistle them when I am out riding my Spanish pony. Accessible.
. . . the place just made me feel at home so
when the bastards wear you down
Such merry music was a family affair. Davids brother Peter Schickele tells listeners of his Public Radio series Schickele Mix about how he and his brother started presenting these weirdly funny family musicales which later grew into his satirical classical music and the character of P.D.Q. Bach. (David was also a serious viola player.) Heres Davids maverick self in You Cant Break My Window:
you cant break my window mister with
And lastly, from Sophie Sleeps:
The moon wears black pajamas
Last November phone calls and e-mails asked, Did you know David Schickele just died? Damn! But we do got his songs. Davids sleeping.
Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64) worked with the USO in Vietnam and Bahrain after the Peace Corps. He was involved with emergency relief work in Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War, and was a consultant with Antioch College and the State University of New York at Old Westbury. He has written three books about innovative American training and education and spent eight years with TVA. He lives now in Pendleton, Oregon and is a consultant to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, developing a Tribal horse program. His article on David Schickele appeared in Friends of Nigeria Newsletter, Winter 2000 Vol 4, No. 4. We thank FoN for permission to reprint it here.
All lyrics copyrighted by David Schickele and reprinted with permission.