Footnote 1: On Trying to Tell the Tale of ‘Elizabeth & George’:

Jun 2, 2013 by

Part one of my three-part series, “Elizabeth & George,” began today in the Sunday Gazette-Mail. The series tells the surprising backstory and complete other life of a homeless woman on the streets of Charleston, W.Va., who called herself “Elizabeth.” The series speaks for itself, but I wish to add some ongoing notes about trying to piece together Elizabeth/George’s life through a haze of 30-year-old memories and often incomplete details.

Also, in this age of social media feedback loops and crowdsourcing, I welcome corrections, clarifications and additions to the tale of this person’s life, so when I try to take this story to a magazine it will be in even further focus. I also welcome anyone who may have further recordings and tales of George and Elizabeth to share them here in the pages of WestVirginiaVille.

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1. WHO WAS SHE?: In creating the video above, I decided to use one complete track of George’s music from back in the day so people could get a sense of his skills. I have quite fallen for this song, “Marathon Man.” It shows George’s talent as both a song creator and arranger. But who is the female singer in the song? Two of George’s musician friends perform on this track and I interviewed them both for the series — John Shepherd and Rick Buford. But neither knows the name of the woman who laid down the cool backing vocal track. George apparently pieced this song together from tracks recorded in different locales. The song was performed by a band of George’s based in Indiana called NiteLife, and  “got some press” and attention at the time, Shepherd told me. But he said his house burned down some years ago and he lost a lot of the stuff from this time in his life. I note from the 45 rpm that George also registered “Marathon Man” and the track on the other side, “Johnny’s Good Lookin’ Motor Car” with BMI.

P.S.: Cool female singer, if you are out there, please check in and I will add your name to the video credits!

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Ric_ocasek

Ric Ocasek. Give me a call, man.

2. WHERE’S RIC?: I tried every which way I could to get in touch with Ric Ocasek, who figures in Part 2 of the series and who spoke so highly of George’s music in Rolling Stone magazine. The biggest hole in the tale is the story of what  happened when George apparently went off to record in Boston at the studio where Ocasek recorded with his band, The Cars, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I sent repeated queries to Ocasek’s OKmanagement firm in Beverly Hills, which said he was unavailable because he was recording, but had forwarded my emails. I also contacted the fellow who edited Ocasek’s recent “Lyrics & Prose” collection of song lyrics from The Cars and other parts of his career, but he just bounced me to OKmanagement. On the offchance, I sent my queries to ricocasek@gmail.com and ric.ocasek@gmail.com. Fail, all. If you are a friend of a friend of a friend of someone in Ocasek’s posse, or if through the wonders of passing the story forward through social media that you, Señor Ocasek yourself, see the series or read this blogpost, give me a call, man.

P.S.: Dude, The Cars music was on the soundtrack to my senior year of life at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Along with Talking Heads, Patti Smith, The Police and.. uh Ravel’s “Bolero,” The Cars were in heavy rotation at the (in)famous Farm parties just over the border in Indiana at a farmhouse in the midst of a cornfield that stretched in all directions to eternity. Let the Good Times Roll, indeed.

P.S.S.: Really, I never say ‘Dude.’ Well, almost never. But usually sardonically.

P.S.S.S.: ‘Bolero’, you may ask? Interpretive dances to ‘Bolero’ went, um, well with certain cigarettes.

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4 Comments

  1. Christopher Perez

    Douglas, that was a fascinating read and I thank you. I heard about Elizabeth & George on Facebook through an attorney friend of mine from Charleston. I shared a link to Part 1 with some close friends from Huntington (where I grew up) and they enjoyed it, too. Since this weekend I have been looking forward to each subsequent installment each morning.

    I’m with you re Marathon Man; great song. I hope your efforts to contact Ric Ocasek pan out and shed some additional light on the subject of this story. May George/Elizabeth rest in peace. Thanks again. –Chris

  2. admin

    Thank you for the note, Chris. It has been quite a read opening out the layers of this story!

  3. Kevin

    Two things:

    1. ricocasek@gmail.com is the same email address as ric.ocasek@gmail.com and r.i.c.o.c.a.s.e.k@gmail.com as gmail simply ignores periods in email addresses. I just thought I would share.

    2. I really enjoyed the series in the paper and wonder if there is any chance you are already looking into the life and disappearance of “Aqualung”?

  4. admin

    I did not know that. Thanks. I love knowing things like that. Yes, many of us have wondered whither went Bill Dunn?