Here are some songs I wrote about Native Americans and the Cleveland Indians. The songs are free downloads and below are two excerpts from my Memoir Welcome to My World and a brief intro
As you know the Cleveland Indians have changed their name to The Guardians. My mother loved Saint Kateri Tekawitha and had a great love for Tecumsah, and American Indians.Years Later I wrote a song for Ohios 150th Birthday for the Fine Arts Childrens Summer Theatre Program, which led me to playing A Pow Pow in Eastlake.The song was based on Trumpet In the Land the long running play in New Philadelphia about Ohios first settlement, which led to American Indians being slaughtered.
On the other hand I was a baseball fan and a Cleveland Indians fan when I was 9 years old and NEVER thought it was a big deal that they were called the Indians. So as I always seem to I go to my shelter of writing and music and song. Since Love Is Lord of Heaven and Earth how can I keep from singing
Here are two excerpts from my Memoir Welcome To MY World
I also taught creative songwriting at Lakeland Community College. I brainstormed with students to help them with lyrics and songwriting. I gave them creative ideas such as writing a new dance craze or a new song called Blowing in the Wind.
One of the creative ideas I had was to write a new theme song for the Cleveland Indians. At that time, the Indians were losing one hundred games per season and their theme song was kind of a generic upbeat, feel good song. I thought it would be more appropriate to have an Indian’s song to reflect more of what the fans were actually feeling. It would have to be a blues song because the Indians had been playing badly since the 60’s.
So we brainstormed. Everyone in the class threw in a couple of lines. One guy said “All I know is that I was listening to one of their games in the eighth inning and they were winning seven to four, but lost the game in the end, nine to eight.” I mentioned that the team had been in a thirty-year slump and pointed out the fact that many ex-Indian players play in the All-Star games.
About three weeks later, Tri-C asked me to appear on a local TV show to promote a concert I would be playing at the college. I sat in the guestroom at the show with my fellow guests: Bob Feller, the famous Cleveland Indians pitcher, and Rocco Scotti who was famous in Cleveland for singing the National Anthem. They were there to promote an idea they had on how to raise funds for the stadium. They wanted to place a new statue of Bob Feller in front of the Cleveland Indians Stadium. Bob approached me and said “I don’t know if I feel comfortable with having a statue of myself at the stadium.” I said to Bob “It’s for the fans. The Yankees have their heroes, we should have ours.” Bob said “Well, if it’s for the fans and the Yankees have theirs, I guess it’s alright.” I felt I had played a bit-part in history -- a little like Forrest Gump.
Bob DiBiasio, the publicity director of the Cleveland Indians, was also there. I talked baseball small talk with Bob who is a very friendly guy and we hit it off. A week later, I saw in a local Magazine that a movie was being made about the Cleveland Indians. The story line was how the Indians were perennial losers. The movie was called Major League. I thought to myself, “This is perfect; I’ve written a song about the Indians being terrible and now they’re making a movie about it. How could I contact the producers of this movie? Maybe Bob
DiBiasio could help me out.” I contacted him and asked if he would be willing to hear my song. To my surprise, he said yes, and after hearing it, told me he liked it. He said that maybe the Indians would be looked at as lovable losers like the New York Mets. Bob gave me the address to the producers of the film telling me to let them know he sent me. Bob then gave me his blessing.
I sent my song to the producers. They told me they liked it and that it didn’t quite fit in with the movie, but they would keep it in mind if anything arose in post production, but nothing did arise and the song was not included in the film. Instead, they used LA based Randy Newman’s song about the burning river and Wild Thing. So, when I saw the movie, I really had the Cleveland Indians blues.
That summer I was commissioned by the School of Fine Arts to write music for the Willoughby Fine Arts Children’s Summer Theatre Camp celebration at the Ohio Bicentennial. I wrote Beautiful Spring. I wrote this song about Ohio’s history regarding the martyrdom of the activist American Indians. It was also a good way to mention that the U.S. is capable of great injustices. It was also a roundabout way to protest the Iraq war while writing a song that would serve as a Christian pacifist witness.
Beautiful Spring is based on a true account of the original Settlement in Ohio. I translated the story into a song-telling narrative
On Memorial Day (the day after writing this song) I played at the All Nations Festival in Eastlake, Ohio,
500 Flags Park. I was asked to do this job for WELW, the radio station I was on at the time.
An American Indian, his wife and another American Indian couple were in the parking lot collecting money for parking. After parking, I took my guitar out of the car thinking; “Should I play this song for them” (this was common practice among musicians in the 70’s). I thought they could tell me if the song was worthy; if I showed their culture proper respect and if I pronounced the names correctly. They liked the song and then asked if I knew more Indian songs. I had just learned the Navaho Peace Prayer for a Mass I played; he liked that also.
The man then asked if he could recite something to me. He recited a reading which he said was an ancient prophecy that had been fulfilled in the 7th generation that the white man’s children would come in peace and understanding towards the American Indian. As I looked at him in wonder, he asked if I would like to play the pow-wow he would be hosting in Eastlake in a couple of weeks. When I told him I didn’t know that many Indian songs, he said the Beatles, or Neil Young would be fine. He said he would feed me buffalo burgers and the deal was made.
My mom was on oxygen and had not laughed in weeks, but when I told her about this, she said, with a joyful laugh, “This would only happen to you.”
I went to play the pow-wow that Sunday. The minute I walked in I saw two people I knew. The first was a girl I met at a Christian Open Mic night that I hosted; she asked if she could sing with me. The other person, who I can only describe as a proselytizing born again Christian, joined us to witness. She wanted me to tell the Indians to accept Jesus Christ as their savior or they would burn in Hell. I was very happy and felt a bit privileged to be there and was quite content to let my song do the talking.
I played my song first and then played the Youngblood’s Get Together with the lyrics “C’mon people, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another, right now.” During the instrumental part of the song, my young Christian, singing friend asked everyone to close their eyes and to let God speak to them in their own way. That was really inspired.
After I finished playing, the born again Christian woman and the American Indian woman both came to talk with me. The Indian asked if I would, the next time I sing Get Together, replace the word (brother) with (one another) so to include women and animals. The born again Christian said something to imply that people who are controlled by pagan Gods should try to find the one, true way to God through Jesus Christ. She then looked at me and said, “Right?”
I was in a tough spot here. While believing in Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life, the Holy Spirit will not force Himself on others and has an accepting love for all. I also have a profound
respect for the Indian culture; the truth is the white man, Christians included, have shafted the Indians from the start. The Christian lady was raining on my parade, and on top of that, I had just sung a song, Beautiful Spring, that addressed all these issues, so I changed the subject.
Jesus, on many occasions, did not answer a question, but raised more questions putting his accusers on the spot. I asked both of them why they thought my song It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going, was so popular.
It Only Takes a Spark
It only takes a spark To get a fire going With a little bit of faith
We can move the mountain
We’re all in this together
The earth, the sky, men and women For the sake of our children
For the sake of ourselves We're gonna win this fight
We're on this planet together Somehow we’re connected
If we treat others like They'd like to be treated We're off to a good start
It only takes a minute
To think of what you’re doing For the sake of our children For the sake of ourselves We're gonna win this fight
It only takes a spark To get a fire going With a little bit of faith
We can move the mountain
Was it an anti-war song, a peace song, a patriotic song, or was it a Christian song or some sort of song that appealed to “new-agers.” The born again Christian said it was a Christian song because of the line “With a little bit of faith we could move the mountains.” The Indian said she wished I would have said with a little bit of love instead of faith and added it couldn’t be a Christian song because it was loving and inclusive. I said I think you can be loving and inclusive and be a Christian and she stated she didn’t think so. The women left, I ate my buffalo burgers, and went home.
Denny Carleton Memoir Denny Carletons' Welcome To My World is a memoir of the path less taken of a Cleveland Rocker from the 1960s who played in notable Cleveland Bands the Lost Souls, Choir and Moses . After the rockin 60s The book takes you through his journey as a praise and worship leader,singer songwriter and caregiver for his parents. Many stories that either reveal unbelievable coincedences or else the loving. hand of God the Father (depending on your viewpoint).The book weaves between musical and spiritual revelatory experiences in the Holy Spirit, being serious yet humerous at the same time.Not for everyone but 5 stars for others. For example Denny sings at an Indian Pow Pow and is confronted at the same time by an Indian women who wants his music to be more inclusive and also a Christian Fundamentalist who is very dogmatic.A book for our time that offers a vision in a conflicted world but manages to be a light hearted and a easy read. Welcome to My World is a good example of the New Evangelalization .One person telling their story and experience to a friend in a real and non judgemental way. Top reviews Fred Grupe says this book rocks"I purchased Denny's book, Welcome To My World and it is totally awesome. For anyone who grew up in Northeastern Ohio over the past 60 years, this is a MUST read. Baseball, music, hippies, Christian communities, song
Welcome to My World, the memoirs of Cleveland musician Denny Carleton is a wonderful and inspiring read! Journeying from the 1960’s to present day, this book takes a nostalgic look at Cleveland music as seen through the eyes of an accomplished musician/composer and teacher. More than a mere historical review, it is a moving and spiritual work, well with its time. - Bob Soeder – Director of Music/Liturgy, St. Monica Church, Garfield Hts. OH