| Payton North
HAMPDEN – Former Palmer resident-turned Hampden citizen Bernie Appleby posted on the “01036: Hampden Massachusetts Occasional” Facebook page asking residents what makes up the town that they all know and love. From their responses, he planned to write a song about Hampden. What Appleby didn’t expect was the outpouring of reactions and excitement he received.
Appleby chose to move from Palmer to Hampden four years ago for a change of pace while simultaneously staying close to his family who are located in area towns.
“I moved here and I happened to meet a lot of people in town. It’s a quaint little friendly town,” Appleby reflected.
He started playing the guitar when he was 10 years old, and Appleby joined his first band when he was 12. Appleby told Reminder Publications that up until about five years ago he was playing guitar on the club circuit.
“I’m just getting too old to stay up until two or three in the morning,” Appleby joked.
Up until the age of 30 Appleby focused on playing the guitar. Until one day, when his band needed someone to sing harmonies. From then on Appleby took it upon himself to learn how to sing. Now, years later, he’s enjoying his retirement in Hampden.
Appleby shared that he has written a song about Hampden’s VFW, and one day the thought of writing a story about the town crossed his mind.
Toward the end of January Appleby posted to the Hampden Facebook page teasing he had “way too much time on his hands” and that he would appreciate input from townspeople regarding a theme, nicknames of the town, local historical spots or anything that could be of use to put into a song about Hampden. His post had over 90 comments with tips and input from Hampden locals looking to help Appleby’s cause.
Residents brought up the woolen mills, Goat Rock, the fishing derby at the VFW, Snoopy rock, Rockadundee Road, Laughing Brook and more.
“I expected some response, I didn’t expect that many. It was all positive responses, there were a lot of good ideas,” Appleby said. “One of the responses cracked me up, she [a Hampden resident] said there’s enough here for a double album.”
A month after receiving multiple inspiration comments, Appleby announced to the Facebook group that the song has reached its completion and that he was planning to record it in the near future and then perform it to the town at an upcoming event.
Though he didn’t want to give away too many details, Appleby told Reminder Publications that he uses plenty of innuendos that people in town will understand, whereas out-of-towners may not. The song, titled “A Whisper in the Pines,” is roughly five minutes long.
“I want to stress that I did not do this for any type of recognition. It was just something I wanted to do and it was fun and something I can share with people,” Appleby explained.
While no plans are set in stone, Appleby said he plans to talk to town officials to see if there is a way he can perform the song at the town’s Memorial Day celebrations.