The expressions of support for Bedford’s high school graduates have been heartfelt and creative, reflecting the entire town’s desire to ensure that this milestone does not get lost to the harsh realities of a pandemic. Teacher Jim Felker’s contribution is a shining addition to this list: an original song, The Gallant Buccaneers.
Felker is Band Director at Bedford High School and teaches world drumming and music production. He has taught in Bedford for 20 years. He is also a career musician who says he has written many songs…but composing this one was a special experience.
“I was washing dishes one day back in March, feeling anxious and frustrated by the school closure and worrying about the future. I was thinking about the seniors in particular and a melody just came into my head.” Felker described this “lightning bolt out of the blue” as “atypical” of his songwriting experience. He sat down with his guitar and started writing. “I began working on it about 3 in the afternoon and it was all done by midnight.”
Drawing on the imagery of the BHS mascot, the buccaneer, he began to craft a song that has a bit of a “sea shanty” sound to it. A sea shanty is a working song that historically was sung by laborers on large sailing vessels. Felker sang all three of the harmonies himself and then used sophisticated music software to synthesize the instrumental accompaniment and add special effects. Listen carefully, and you will hear ocean sounds and a ship’s bell gently clanging in the background, to complete the seafaring tone.
“I wanted to send a particular message with the lyrics…that life is a journey, not a destination. I was glad to find a way to communicate directly with the kids. I wanted to do my part to make sure they know they are loved and cared for.”
The final verse of the song seems to perfectly capture his intention:
“And as the sun shone on all their faces,
they thought of all the love at home.
It was a different journey, not the one that they expected,
but they knew they’d never be alone.”