When I was in second grade in New York, I knew a boy named Garry Novikoff who played guitar and sang with a maturity far beyond his years. He impressed me quite a bit with his musical abilities and I wanted to impress him back, so one day, during a break in class, I sang him the refrain of a song that my mother had just taught me, “Jamaica Farewell.”
“No, that’s not how it goes,” Garry said, and proceeded to spin out a line of music that soared above the melody that my mother had taught me.
I thought and thought... and finally realized that Garry and I were both right. Those lines of music belonged together! That was my first exposure to vocal harmony—but then the teacher called the class to order and I never got to sing the song together with Garry.
When I moved away from my neighborhood that summer, I never saw Garry, or any of my friends from that time, again. It was 1972. There was no Internet, no email, no chat software—just exorbitant long-distance rates, since Ma Bell was still the only game in town.
Still, I remembered Garry and wondered what had become of him. Many years later, once I had Internet access, I looked for him every so often, but without success. About a week ago, I found him. After almost thirty-seven years, we’re back in touch.
Garry’s website, which includes clips of his excellent songs, is here. His debut CD, “A Normal Life,” is available here (yup, at CD Baby, same place as mine!). Like my friend, singer-songwriter Sandy Cash, who lives just down the road a piece, he is a protégé of Christine Lavin. And yes, he still sings “Jamaica Farewell,” which means that I have another dream to add to my stash: to sing it together with him one day, with the harmony that he taught me all those years ago.
How about it, Garry? When you’re done with your three-week residency at Caffe Vivaldi (congratulations!), there are lots of excellent English-speaking folk-music venues in this neck of the woods....