salesman garners songwriting inspiration from produce
By Brian Gaylord
It's probably going to take
a specialized taste in “produce” music to come across “Rambutan,” the
authoritative song about the “very hairy berry” by the same name.
But Bobby Locke, a salesman
for Tavilla Sales Co. in Los Angeles , has hopes for the song he recorded
in a friend's Santa Clarita , CA , studio, north of Los Angeles .
The catchy Calypso-style tune
features lead vocals and guitar work by Mr. Locke and background vocals
by his friend Jeff Vincent, who mixed in marimbas, drums and background
Playing the guitar is not
Mr. Locke's forte, but he can carry a tune. He knows of what he sings:
A longtime salesman in Tavilla's tropical fruit department, he sells
rambutan, a spiny specialty item.
Mr. Locke is in the process
of sending the CD to people who grow the fruit. While chances of hitting
it big with “Rambutan” are slim, Mr. Locke has gained attention with
his songwriting efforts. He once placed sixth in a Billboards songwriting
contest; Jimmy Buffet of “Margaritaville” fame gave that song a listen
but didn't record it. Many years ago, Mr. Locke recorded in the studio
of highly successful songwriter John Bettis, who co-wrote the blockbuster “Top
of the World” with Richard Carpenter.
“Hitting it big with songwriting
has always been a dream, but you have to be in the right place at the
right time,” Mr. Locke said.
Native to Malaysia , rambutans
are commonly grown throughout the archipelago and Southeast Asia .
Small and deep red in color, the fruit is covered with soft hair-like
Rambutans' harvest season
typically runs from September through March, and Tavilla sources its
rambutans from Hawaii .
The fruit is far smaller in
volume than Tavilla mainstays such as mangos and limes, Mr. Locke said.
At retail, a pack of seven to nine pieces generally sells for around
$4, making rambutans a very expensive fruit offering.
The song's lyrics include
instructions on how to eat the fruit and says it “can cure all your
ills” and “put you in the mood.” The lyrics concede that the fruit “looks
a little scary,” but claims rambutan — the flavor of which brings to
mind a grape — is “sweeter than the sweetest grape.”
For the specialty produce
song aficionado, “Rambutan” should be available on Tavilla's web site
(www.tavillasales.com) by mid-October, Mr. Locke said. At the request
of Dan Lawton, manager of Tavilla's tropical fruit department, Mr.
Locke is working on a mango song.
Mr. Locke is hoping for better
success with his songwriting efforts than he experienced some dozen
years ago with “Incommuni-avocado.” He said he sent it to the “avocado
board” but never got a response.
He added that the production
quality paled by comparison with “Rambutan.” “I just had a drum machine — it
was kind of cheesy,” Mr. Locke said.
“Incommuni-avocado” — a play
on the word “incommunicado” — was about a produce employee near and
dear to Mr. Locke's heart who wins the lottery and suddenly goes AWOL
from his employer.
Alas, despite lottery dreams
and songwriting forays, Mr. Locke has yet to quit his day job.