In the autumn of 2015, Fredericton’s winter festival Shivering Songs began looking for a way to do more for their city while contributing to United Way Central New Brunswick. Naturally, the solution they arrived at was musical in nature, pairing songwriters with the people who have benefited from the help of the United Way and telling their stories in a concert series called Songs Of The City.
For the series, Tim Walker of Grand Theft Bus was paired with a Fredericton man named George Woodworth, a carpenter in his mid-forties who fell from a tree while raccoon hunting in 2007. The incident left Woodworth a quadriplegic.
“Meeting George, having the opportunity to share his story through song and performing with him has been an incredibly moving experience for me,” says Walker. “His positive attitude and upbeat demeanor in the face of extreme adversity is beyond admirable and inspirational.”
For the song Tim Walker worked with an overlapping melange of fellow members of Grand Theft Bus and The Olympic Symphonium. Together, they crafted ‘Mama’s Never Wrong (George’s Song)’ based on an early experience in Woodworth’s life and the lesson his mother taught him about the value of a sense of humour.
“One of my earliest memories is one of life’s lessons that I’ve learned to live by,” explains Woodworth. “My dad had drowned when I was five weeks old so mom and I lived alone. There was a long, uphill slope behind our house, so in the springtime water would run down and into our basement. We were out trying to channel the water away from the house. In all honesty, I was four-years old so I was probably getting in the way more than I was helping. In any case, my boot got stuck in the mud and in trying to free myself, I pulled my foot out of it and ended up putting my sock foot down in the cold, muddy water, which of course from an onlooker’s perspective must’ve been quite comical. I looked up and mom was laughing and I started to cry. Mom bent down beside me and said: oh George if you can’t laugh at yourself, you can never laugh at anybody else.
Through everything that life has thrown at me, my father’s drowning, a stepfather with a serious mental illness and becoming a quadriplegic at age 34, my sense of humour has been a fundamental means of coping and staying positive.”
Woodworth is now raising money to purchase an accessible van to help him in his day to day life getting around the town. With the use of a GoFundMe page Woodworth has already raised $12,000 of a $43,200 goal—the cost of retrofitting a van with a lowered floor, Q’straint, chair docking system and hand controls. The purchase of the second-hand van itself will bring the total to over $78,000.
To help Woodworth achieve his goals, the collective band have recorded and released a version of the song on Bandcamp in a ‘pay what you want’ format. They will be donating all proceeds from sales to George’s Van Plan.
“A fundraising effort like this can easily succeed if many hands give just a little,” says Brad Perry, also of Grand Theft Bus. He and his partner, Evan Hansen, own and operate The Recordery in Fredericton and donated their time and skills to the project. “The Recordery is really happy to have had the chance to record this song in hopes that it can help make George’s voice a little louder, help his story stand out in the crowd and let it be told to an audience that might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear it.”
‘Mama’s Never Wrong (George’s Song)’ was made available on Bandcamp on October 9th, 2017. If you’d like to purchase it click here, or if you’d like to contribute to George’s Van Plan, please visit www.gofundme.com/georges-van-plan.