Lyrics From Life
Last month, on their way to a somewhat larger venue in Salem, Ore., the pop group 10,000 Maniacs stopped for a gig at 12-year-old Amy Dean's Fern Ridge Middle School in Elmira, Ore. More than 400 students, teachers, and parents attended the concert, which Amy won in a lyric-writing contest sponsored by Scholastic Inc. and the Maniacs' record label, Elektra Entertainment.
Amy's song (see lyrics, right) takes its inspiration from an encounter Amy had with an impoverished woman at one of the Dean family's Christmas-tree lots. The woman, who couldn't afford a tree, was collecting discarded branches and twigs in order to construct a tree for her family. Amy later learned that the woman had to care for all her grandchildren because her daughter was addicted to crack cocaine.
The Deans gave the woman a free tree.
Four years later, Amy's language-arts teacher assigned the Scholastic contest to the class, and Amy drew on her experience to compose her winning entry. The contest encouraged students to write about social issues.
Although she thinks songwriting is "really fun,'' Amy says she isn't writing any new songs just yet. For the moment, she is still dealing with the excitement of meeting Natalie Merchant, the Maniacs lead singer.
"It was really neat!'' she says.--S.S.