Monday, September 01, 2008


I was doing a little blog housecleaning and discovered this post that I forgot to publish.

Back in May, I went to the middle school band concert and saw listed on the program "A traditional Korean folksong
called Arirang."

I said to myself, "Could this be the same song I learned one night long ago at the Black Forest Inn with Jim Leickly?

The Black Forest was a small tavern just north of the Ohio State campus. Once a week, a small, sweet ladynamed Esther
Craw held forth on stage with her accordion, leading buzzed college kids in kitschy singalongs.

Jim, a friend from journalism school, and I were something akin to Esther groupies.

One night, a couple of Korean guys were in the audience and Esther asked them if they had any requests. One of them asked
if she knew Arirang. Esther didn't but said she could fake it if the guy could sing a little. He did, singing in Korean, and Esther
quickly picked up the tune.

She asked him what the song was about. As I recall, his interpretation of the story behind the song went something like:
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl's family does not like the boy and moves to the other side of the mountain. Boy
goes to the other side of the mountain. Boy finds girl and... ARIRANG! (wink, wink)

I contacted Jim to tell him about this and he said Esther recently passed away. "Great lady," he said. Yes, she was.


Anonymous said...

Esther Craw passed away sometime in maybe 2006 or 2007. She was a super nice lady. She had a great play list, but her glory was in sometimes letting college kids sing or hum a few lines of a song she didn't know and then coming in strong with that blessed accordian of hers.

The song we fondly remember was indeed Arirang -- not to be confused with 'Arirang the gem of the ocean' or the 'Theme to Arirang's Song'. It went like this:

'Arirang, Arirang, Ar.....Arirong (move hands to indicate that you are traversing a mountain range)'. They sang it at the opening ceremonies of the Seoul Olympics (sans accordian).

Esther taught me "Won't you come home Bill Bailey", "The Whippenpoof Song", "Bye, Bye Blackbird". More than that, she taught a couple of crusty journalism hacks how a room full of people from around the world who don't know each other can come together for a brief glorious moment in song and joy.

I've heard it said that a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordian, but doesn't. Well the definition of a gentlelady like Esther includes someone who thinks they can play the accordian to any conceivable song -- and does.

Thanks for the memory Sully.

Jim Leickly (Sully's buddy at the Black Forest Inn)

Sullicom said...

Thanks, Jim.