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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Story Behind the Song (in depth) "Seven Mile Bridge"

This song was an interesting song to write in that it tackled a couple of subjects at the same time. In the beginning of January 2006 a group of fifteen Cubans refugees sailed for a better life in the U.S.

In addressing this in the song the first lines are:

They left Cuba with freedom in their eyes, land of plenty is on the horizon, and you can hear them as they cross the straights, singing goodbye to the land of sugarcane.”

(at this point the chords to the ultra-famous Cuban song “Guantadamera” play, to give the subliminal impression that's the song they are singing)

The Cubans landed on the old, unused Seven Mile Bridge in the middle of the Florida Keys. At the time, the U.S. had the absolutely absurd rule that Cubans who landed in the U.S. had to be on dry land, in order to emigrate. Stranded on the bridge, the U.S. Government determined that they were not on dry land and re-repatriated the refugees back to Cuba.

I felt this was completely absurd on a number of levels. First and foremost, the policy, which was called “Wet Foot Dry Foot” requiring refugees from Cuba to be standing dry land to emigrate. It's a lot like a getting a touchdown. What were we doing, playing football with people's lives? Picture the Cubans floating along in the Florida Straights as the offense and U.S. Coast Guard as the defense.If the defense catches them on the water, they go back to Cuba. If they reach U.S. soil (or sand), they score and stay. It should be noted that during this aquatic bastardized football game, many Cubans died in their attempt to reach the U.S. as their boats were just not seaworthy and sank in the quest.

The other absurd part of the policy was that it pertained only to Cubans. If a group from anywhere else sailed and landed, it made no difference at all if they were on dry land or not, they were not welcome and sent back. The Cubans were the only “team” allowed in this hypothetical football game.

With this particular group of Cubans, they landed on the Seven-Mile Bridge. The U.S. didn't recognize that as part of the U.S. and sent them back to Cuba. Here I addressed that issue with the second verse:

And they rolled into the Florida Keys, washed up on that Seven-Mile Bridge. But federales said 'ain't no way, wet foot, dry foot, a bridge ain't no foot, it ain't USA so be on your way”

In addition to the policies that I found absurd regarding Cubans reaching the end-zone, on top of being the only players in this life and death game, There was also the issue of The Seven-Mile Bridge.

When the bridge was first opened in 1912, it was the longest bridge in existence. It was called “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” at the time! This was living history. This was a very important part of American culture. Henry Flagler built the bridge as part of his railroad complex of forty-five bridges, island hopping the Keys. The quest was to utilize Key West's deepwater harbor as an import hub for South American goods to be sent by his railroad to the U.S. mainland for distribution coast to coast.

Yet, here in 2006, it was viewed, with no significant character and actually, no significance whatsoever. It was scoffed at and disowned by the government. The play was sent up to the booth for review and after watching the “instant replay”, the call was sent to the referee on the field... or rather on the water in a Coast Guard vessel. Their view, within the context of a set of absurd rules of this aquatic football game played with human lives, was that there was no touchdown scored by the Cubans. The run down the sidelines ruling had the offense step “out of bounds” and they were sent back to Cuba. In doing so, they essentially said the Seven Mile Bridge was not part of the U.S.

The state of Florida wanted nothing to do with it and played a very good role of Pontius Pilote, earning an MVP for the game.

This was addressed in the song as such:

and they disowned the Seven-Mile Bridge they don't want it, neither does the state. Eighth wonder of the world when it began. Derelict bridge left to sun, sea, and wind”.

And so ends the first part of the song. It made a statement or two. It also gives food to the listener to think. There is a fair amount which is between the lines as well. It's also a very serious subject, for those curious to ponder. The intellect will ponder this, however, for those who don't care to do much thinking about a song's between the lines meanings, it has a good melody and chord changes, which provide a firm and original chassis for the song to ride on.

For me, this is the most important part of a song. Lyrics mean nothing if the music is a slug.

The next part of the song takes place after the Cuban have been sent back to Cuba.

On January 14, 2006, The Conch Republic's Sir Peter Anderson went to the Seven-Mile Bridge and boated out to where the Cubans has been. Raising a loaf of Cuban Bread (the weapon of choice in the whimsical Conch Republic) declared that as the U.S. Government doesn't want the bridge, the Conch Republic does! He also declared it the only piece of sovereign territory of the Conch Republic. (note: The rest of the Conch Republic, the Dry Tortugas – Elliot Key are joint U.S. - Conch Republic territories). One could always find the Keys-style absurd humor with Sir Peter!

Additionally, Sir Peter had plans to make Eco-friendly affordable housing that would be built on the old bridge! Affordable housing in the Keys has been a decades-long issue that is often spoken about but seldom acted on. Here he had plans for solar powered energy and bio-toilets/plumbing!

The last two verses address and close out the song

And to the rescue comes the Conch Republic. Loaded with laughter and a son of a gun. And housing here is much too insane, billionaires buy the millionaires out how are the common folk gonna settle down?

Now calls have been out for affordable housing, for years and years it's fallen on deaf ears. The Conch's got a fresh new idea, he wants to build on that Seven-Mile Bridge!

I want to live on that Seven Mile Bridge! I want the ocean in my front yard. Conch Republic let it fly your yarn....” add lib to end.

This was a fun song to write and a curious one at that. It covered two different social issues: Cuban immigration and affordable housing. It also brought attention to the Seven-Mile Bridge. The song came together quite quickly. One afternoon actually.

It's a bit funny, I realize for a songwriter who is classified as Trop Rock, to be dealing with social issues. It's not my usual, but it's an option I take when I feel the inspiration and I did when I wrote this song!

The example here is whats known as a demo. It's not really fit for airplay, but it clearly gets the song across. "Seven Mile Bridge" was written immediately after the event 1/17/2006. I hope you enjoy it!


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