One of the few harmonica players schooled in the melodic and rhythmic intricacies of Southern string band music, Mark Graham is equally known for his songwriting. He'll be teaching a songwriting track at Voiceworks in a few weeks. Here's a gem from his pen – an ode to a Northwest icon.
The Song of the Steelhead
In the rugged Northwest from Cascadian crest,
The waters will tumble and plummet.
They run and they race from the peak, down the face
To the feet of Olympian summits.
And there they recline 'neath the fir and the pine
In the beds of the numerous rivers.
Wherein also resides a fish famed far and wide
Whose mere name gives the fisherman shivers.
The steelhead in motion downstream to the ocean
Is in search of a fine education.
He'll rate "swimma cum laude" though merely a trout
At time of his matriculation.
Both early and late this scholar can't wait
To attend to his maritime studies.
But often at night he'll go out for a bite
And a drink with his old hallibuddies.
The angler crack'll have no lack of tackle
Be it bait, be it spoon, be it spinner.
He'll hope and he'll pray at the end of the day
That a steelhead will join him for dinner.
But I'll be you a buck that this fisherman's luck
For a day in cold water and waders
Will bring a case of the flu, two feet icy blue
And a supper of roast beef and taters.
Some may fish with a fly as they fly in the face
Of the fish with the face that is ferrous;
A fly with allure like haute couture of
Those fetching fly fashions of Paris.
The fly it is cast but but this fish cries "Avast!
I'd as soon be caught dead as be seen
To dine on a fly when I'd just as soon try
Some fine Thai or Italian cuisine."
But this angler's undaunted, though taunted and haunted
He wanted to fill up his creel
With that furious creature who's curious feature
Is a head made entirely of steel.
The splendidious, insidious, the Salmo irideous
Who's caressed the salt sea with his tail;
A fish so suspicious, so fierce, so delicious
It's the fisherman's holiest grail.
Mark Graham, copyright 1991