The Hammond Song by The Roches

by CynthiaYockey on November 12, 2009

The popular music performers that Margaret and I loved to go see in concert were Joan Armatrading, Betty (the group) and The Roches. Betty moved to New York in the mid-80’s I think, so we only saw them once or twice, but we saw Joan Armatrading and The Roches several times over the years. I’ve spent the last hour on YouTube watching videos of the Roche sisters looking for one that is representative, beautiful and at least reasonably cheerful. Then I saw that there is a cover of their Hammond Song by Rock, Paper, Scissors that was recorded July 4, 2008, in Fairfield, Iowa, at Maharishi University of Management, which is where I met Margaret when I came for a World Peace Assembly for people who practice the TM-Sidhi program in June 1984. Yes, it’s making me cry.

My late best friend, Joan Greenleaf, who was a TM teacher like Margaret and who died in 1998 of endometrial cancer less than a month after she was diagnosed, gave Margaret and me an anniversary present of tickets to a Roches concert at a venue in Virginia a year or two before she died, as I recall. We were recognized at the concert as the lesbian couple that had been the disabled rights activists trying to get the lesbian group, Passages, which was led by lesbians at the top of the disabled rights movement, to choose venues for their annual conference that met federal disability access guidelines, which they refused to do for a couple of years, then advertised that they had but had not. Anyway, about five years into our campaign, Margaret was assaulted in front of a reporter for a gay newspaper by one of the conference organizers — the reporter didn’t report it — when I was too far away from her to get in between her and her assailant — Margaret was paralyzed and unable to operate her wheelchair to get away or defend herself.

So, not long after that, when some lesbians approached us at the Roches concert to ask if we were the women who kept protesting lack of wheelchair access at Passages, I was frightened because I didn’t know if they wanted to beat us up for insisting our community keep its promises of inclusion or congratulate us. It turned out they were supporters. But I realized I couldn’t keep Margaret safe in any gathering where there would be lesbians who resented either our disability rights activism or our activism on behalf of feminine lesbians. So the Roche concert in Virginia in the mid-1990’s was the last time we went out to an event where there were likely to be a lot of lesbians. Well, we did see one of Eve Ensler’s last performances of The Vagina Monologues in Washington, D.C., which I think was in 2002, but I expected that audience to be mostly straight.

The Roches are a bit of an acquired taste, so I am introducing them with one of their signature songs, “We,” then the Roches singing the Hammond Song, and ending with the Rock, Paper, Scissors singing the Hammond Song at MUM.

Do you know why I include the lyrics to songs whenever I can? I am a singer and I want to make it easy to sing along.

Hammond Song, lyrics and music by Margaret A. Roche

If you go down to Hammond,
You’ll never come back.
In my opinion, you’re
On the wrong track.
We’ll always love you, but
That’s not the point.
If you go with that fella,
Forget about us.
As far as I’m concerned
That would be just
Throwing yourself away,
Not even trying,
Come on you’re lying to me.
Well, I went down to Hammond,
I did as I pleased,
I ain’t the only one
Who’s got this disease.
Why don’t you face the fact,
You old upstart,
We fall apart?
You’d be okay if you’d
Just stay in school —
Don’t be a fool.
Do your eyes have an answer
To this song of mine?
They say we meet again,
On down the line.
Where is on down the line
How far away?
Tell me I’m okay.
If you go down to Hammond,
You’ll never come back.

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