SYRACUSE — It’s true, sometimes an inspiration for a song can come in the most unlikely places or within unusual circumstances. A man who has no ties to the Syracuse area and only stopped there to rest and relax after being diverted off an interstate highway found himself inspired to write and record a song.
A few years ago Matt Doyle, now a retired IT consultant living in the Portland, Ore., area, was traveling on I-80 from New York to Omaha, Neb., where he lived and worked at that time. A vehicle crash shut down all lanes of traffic and Doyle had to take a detour and eventually ended up on US 6.
Looking for a place to stop for gas and to get something to drink, he found Syracuse. It was late in the day and not being familiar with the area, Doyle got turned around, heading in the wrong direction away from the interstate and found himself parking his car at Lake Wawasee in the Enchanted Hills area.
He was tired and decided to take a nap. When he awoke, something was stirred within his mind. “A violin solo was just booming in my thought process,” he said. A song writer from time to time and one who enjoys the arts, Doyle admitted he is not a professionally trained musician though he has played the guitar and piano.
Those thoughts persisted and “started turning into a thematic song,” he said. By this time he was back on the road and headed to Omaha, but he still had to pull off the road and write his thoughts down. “By the time I got back to Omaha, the entire song and thought process was booming in my head,” he said, adding he had never heard of Lake Wawasee and had no knowledge until later there was once a Chief Wawasee.
The song rolling around in his head and commanding his attention is essentially about a Native American man of the Miami tribe who was a legendary fiddle player buried on Syracuse Hill. Or, Doyle explained, it could be about the man’s daughter carrying on his legend after he died.
He admitted, “the song came completely out of nowhere,” and it may only involve folklore. The Miami tribe did live in and around Lake Wawasee for a while, but it is not known if there ever was a legendary fiddle player from that tribe who had a daughter carrying on his legend.
“Is there a lady on the water (Lake Wawasee) inspiring musicians to write songs?,” he wondered.
Doyle came into contact with someone in Omaha who has a recording studio. Not being familiar with string music, he still managed to play the song on a synthesizer to the amazement of the recording studio’s owner and the song was recorded quickly and was dubbed “The Fiddler.” Doyle believes that was more than just coincidence.
Later, after he moved to Oregon, he was advised by a classical violinist to send the song to someone in the Syracuse area. Doyle did some research and contacted Wawasee High School by email. “I thought they might know of a story about a fiddle player, or a father and daughter,” he said, or they might have heard of some legend about the lake being an inspiration.
Scott Lancaster, a teacher at WHS, said he has read a lot about the local area but remembers no such stories. “Too bad Ron Sharp passed away, he would certainly know,” he said. “It is a curious story, the songwriter stopping here and being inspired to write this song.”
Doyle chose to “gift” the song to the high school and also make it a tribute to the Miami people.
The song can be accessed online at https://soundcloud.com/user-235649561/thefiddler.