Thursday October 03, 2013 | 09:31 AM

 “Let’s keep alive their memories of Old Grand Pre…” lyrics from "Scattered But Not Forgotten" by Joseph Pickering performed by Danny Mack.  These lyrics and song could be a theme song for the Acadian World Congress coming to Maine in August 2014.


            “Scattered but Not Forgotten” is a sensitively told story put to song about a tragic episode in North American colonial history. It’s a tribute to the French Acadians who experienced “le Grand Derangement”, in 1755, when families living in Acadia (Nova Scotia in colonial era French Canada) were expelled from their farms while their homes were burned by the British military. These victims of le Grand Derangement were expelled from Nova Scotia and scattered to distant shores on ships, where many perished. 

Joe Pickering Jr. is a Bangor song writer. He created “Scattered but Not Forgotten”, about the Acadian people, to do justice to their memory. The lyric was created in 2007, followed in 2012 with the song.

“I know the Acadian expulsion was one of North America's greatest tragedies. But, for those brave Acadian who carried on, despite the disbursement, the tragedy has shown the bravery of the survivors who carried on. I wrote the song to educate the millions of people who do not speak or read French and are unaware of the historic expulsion the Acadians,” says Pickering.

Pickering has a talent for telling stories in rhyme. As a child, he wrote his first song when he was a 16 years growing up in Lynn Massachusetts. 

Many of Pickering’s lyrics are created for his passion about baseball. While growing up, he followed his family’s devotion to the Boston Red Sox. His mother was a lifelong fan.  He’s written dozens of song lyrics about the Red Sox, sports heros and various major league baseball teams. He colorfully wrote about his Red Sox team’s ups and downs throughout big league baseball history. Pickering’s 5 baseball CDs are in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

 Although baseball is Pickering’s favorite lyrical theme, he also writes about other subjects. His lyrics about Paul Bunyan describe the heroics of the tall-tale hero of lumberjacks.  His legend as a popular American folk hero and lumberjack is a larger than life theme for the common working man.

 Joe Pickering song writer with Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor Maine

Song writer Joe Pickering with Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor Maine

Paul Bunyan was taller than a Maine pine tree, bigger than King Kong in that old movie,” writes Pickering. By and large, lumberjacks who toiled in the North woods along Maine’s border with Canada were French-Canadians and Franco-Americans. 

 Bunyan was mythically born in Bangor. An enormous and colorful municipal statue of the giant is easily visible in a Bangor park, where visitors routinely stop to take photographs. “The Ballad of Paul Bunyan” is the theme song of the Bangor Chamber of Commerce. There’s another version of the song called “The Paul Bunyan Polka”.

 In “Scattered and Near Forgotten”, Pickering tells the true story about the courage of the French-Acadians, who carried on in the face of the cruelty of British military officers, who ordered the expulsion, as explained in the lyrics (printed with permission):

“Let’s keep alive their memories of Old Grand Pre,
Where they kept to hearth, farms, faith and history,
Forced from their homes, they did not give ground,
They would not bow down before the British Crown”

Pickering wrote the ballad to keep the memory of those tragically displaced French-Acadians alive. He writes about how the Acadians did not bow to British tyranny, in spite of the brutality endured by them and their families during le Grand Derangement, leading to centuries of wandering to search for their relatives.  In 1847, Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about the emotional turmoil caused by le Grand Derangement, nearly 100 years after the event, in his epic poem “Evangeline”.

A musical accompaniment to “Scattered but Not Forgotten” includes French-Acadian snare drum, the accordion, fiddle, bodhran (a small Irish percussion instrument), guitar and triangle. Award winning country and music singer Danny Mack is the singer. “He sings with great heart, conviction and compassion abou the courage, love for family, home and the Acadian love of liberty,” says Pickering.

 “Scattered and Near Forgotten” could be an anthem for the World Acadian Congress scheduled in August, 2014, an international celebration planned in Northern Maine with Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada. The Congress helps plan the reunions of the displaced Acadian families during three weeks of cultural programs.

Pickering says all people need to be aware of le Grand Derangement.

Pickering’s wife of 48 years is Theresa Duclos Pickering, a Franco-American from Vermont. 

Pickering’s songs are listed on the website www.kingoftheroadmusic.com.

Paul Bunyan’s folklore in Maine is at the website: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10327

World Acadian Congress websites are http://www.cma2014.com/en and http://www.umfk.edu/archives/acadian_congress/

Le Grand Derangement information is at the website http://acim.umfk.maine.edu/derangement.html

 

 

About this Blog

Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at Juliana@mainewriter.com.

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