One night at the restaurant, a local recording studio executive approached the approached Wright’s group. The man was also a syndicated disc jockey with three radio stations in Vermont. "He said he’d like to record us – who? us? Wright said.

"We did 12 songs, one that I’d co-written, and all on the first take. We went around and told everybody to listen for us on the radio. It meant a lot to me."

Wright added, "All this was like six weeks before finals. We couldn’t study. And then we played at the formal Norwich dance. People just moved up, sat down and listened to us. I’ll always remember that." After graduation, "We all went to the four winds," he said. "I took my guitar with me and kept playing."

…and I went a’soldiering…I ventured north and east and south and west…

Wright had settled his quandary over service branches and was placed in military intelligence, but detailed to the infantry. "They’re very dissimilar, but one needs the other." After he arrived in Germany in May 1976 with assignment to the 1st Bn, 7th Inf, cupid struck Wright but the relationship ended in disappointment for him. The still unmarried Wright said this brush with love was also musically inspirational. "I wrote a song about a really nice chick. Then I realized the next step in my music was to continue writing. You can be at the heights and in the depths – my writing sort of evolved into a diary."

…And I know if you’ll stay with me, then my happiness’ll be so easy to see…your name burns my tongue, so evil and so young…Giving pain where there was none…

"It’s hard to make fantasy real," said Wright. "Maybe I’m just too sensitive, trying to interpret one’s motives, feelings, threats. It’s like walking through a maze. Sometimes you get to a point where you can just barely peek through." Wright says he creates a lot of his songs when he’s sitting home alone in his sprawling German apartment in Glattbach, a small village near Aschaffenburg. "I’ll go through moods – quiet, and then frenzy."

[my man’s there] sitting cracking walnuts with his school ring…

Since last August, Wright has composed about 25 songs which he is now trying to get copyrighted. "They’re that good," he says with quiet determination. "But sometimes I fear I’ll lose my ability to do this, my originality. I’m testing myself. I’d like to be credible writer, produce something someone else could use. Of course I’d like some money for my efforts." Wright’s ambitions prompted him to get in touch with his old mentor, the Vermont music executive. He has a date to record his songs late this month. His thoughts are also geared toward a reunion with his musical schoolmates.

…Oh, Roy, where did you go? What did you find for your mind and heart?...The wind blew light and clean –years ago…I wish the dreams we had were real…

The 26-year old Wright is intelligence officer for the battalion. He is presently packing his 500-album record collection for shipment to the States where he’ll attend an advanced MI course before his next assignment. "I’d like to go to the 82nd Airborne while my bones can still absorb the shock.

"I look back on my time in Germany as an achievement. I left the womb. Good came out of even the worst situations. My writing and songs have encouraged other people to create, set them in the right direction. That’s what keeps me going."

And his songs go on. One tells of his despair while witnessing two drowning deaths in the Canary Islands. Another is an eerie account of a woman whose spirit leaves her body and flies through the night while her lover is left alone with her body. Another song bounces through the tribulations of getting and maintaining a car in Europe. The man shifts his moccasin-clad feet and strums a final philosophy of life.

It’s amazing just how much joy can be derived; From singing songs and writing words to counteract the lies…And if it’s true response you want, you can’t treat others like fools.

With permission from Stars and Stripes Newspaper, 1999

The soldier
sing his own songs

Story and Photo by ANN KEAYS
Staff Writer

THIS HAS BEEN good overall but still we long for home...we manage to out our fantasies and our sordid dreams...

Slim fingers pluck chords on a western guitar while a soft, melancholy voice fills the room. The singer is a soldier. Music has always been a part of his life, says 1st Lt. Tom[y] Wright, assigned to the 1st B[attalion] 7th Inf[antry] at Aschaffenburg, Germany. Writing his own songs and accompanying himself on his inlaid mother-of-pearl guitar is one way Wright communicates with others. His music is also an expression of his insight into life and its frustrations, the inevitability of death and the search for love and meaning in existence. He voices his emotions with humor and longing.

Please accept the friendship that I bring to you...

Wright's body rocks gently from side to side as he sings. A typewriter rests on his dinning room table with pages of lyrics spilling from the carriage onto stacks of newspapers and magazines. Letters from musicians and a recording house are strewn among potato chips, green onyx ashtrays and a stack of walnuts on a coffee table. "I write from experiences...a lot of my songs are about girls, 'said Wright. "My songs are personal, but when I play them for other people, they're universal."

Irish girls...a sense, an attraction to explore...the Irish flame burned once again for me...

He also sings about military life. His father was an infantry officer and gave his only child "a very strict upbringing," said Wright. "I've found more freedom in the Army than I experienced at home." Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he was exposed to "the cultural things that my mother deemed necessary for me to be a contributing member of society." Included were eight years of violin lessons, school sports and ROTC at Norwich military school in Vermont.

"I wanted the best of both worlds, Wright said. "I was sort of geared to be an Army officer. I didn't know what I suited for, though -- the infantry or military intelligence. And I didn't want to give up my music."

Wright had "done all the model citizen things -- and a few counter-things," he said. "Like I wanted to play the drums. Somewhere along there, I also picked up a guitar."

There's always a girl one way or another who might just be the key in my search for a song...and I'm thinkin' about what's to be accomplished in the upcoming days...

By 1975, in his senior year at Norwich, Wright was playing guitar and performing at impromptu gatherings with three fellow students. The group’s popularity and spirited folksy sound drew an invitation to play for a formal dinner dance at Norwich. "We got us our first gig, so I decided we needed to get some songs," Wright said. For six weeks before the big dance, Wright and his buddies practiced at a local restaurant, well-known for its buffet. "I was inspired," he grinned. "No money. But this man (restaurant owner) let us go through the line – all we could eat and drink – and the patrons liked us."