On my recent trip to New York I met up with my Coney Island
friend Mr. Amos Wengler, who told me he was excited about his new song for the
new Coney Island. With not much
preparation I got my field recorder and Amos played his song with heart and
soul. I found it very catchy. For the rest of my stay and on my way back home I couldn't get it out of my head. But I was pleased. He asked if I could videotape
it. I wasn’t much prepared but taped
him and thought I’d figure it out when I get back. I didn’t quite know exactly what to do with the
little footage and field recorded song that I now had with me of Wengler’s new
pride and joy, but a promise is a
Amos is sort of a Coney Island Santa Clause in a lifeguard uniform. Though his usual attire is more the shorts and sandals garb with a guitar strapped over his shoulder, I asked Amos how he comes up with a song and he told me that the title usually pops in his head first, then he plays around with it for a while until
'it' happens. “I grab the guitar and it
just sort of comes out”, he said. “And I’m
kind of surprised myself and I say ‘hey!’ how did I do that”, he adds with wonder and a proud grin under his cotton candy beard. He says that's the way it usually works for
him. He gets inspired by the title. He
keeps a recorder nearby for when it happens.
Amos Wengler has been writing songs since he was sixteen,
about the time that he was a lifeguard on Bay 12 in 1965 at Coney Island.
When I asked him what keeps in Coney Island, he chuckles and
says he’s stuck here. But he does find
himself in Coney because he loves the atmosphere and the ocean, including the many people he knows here. They’re his friends. He feels if he goes someplace else, he’d be
Amos Wengler takes part in many Coney Island events
including the famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
He is a Coney Island Polar Bear and has sort of been the music backdrop
creator for many Coney Island popular festivities. He has songs for the Mermaid Parade, The Hot
Dog Eating Contest, The Polar Bears, and now for the New Coney Island. He hopes this one will catch on. He also hopes to record the song in a studio with accompaniment and arrangements.
Like many denizens of Coney Island, Amos also feared the
impending doom for Coney’s amusement district.
But the fear is over and amusements are here to stay, proving that Coney
Island is a rare survivor in the face of gentrification. Though its make up seems gentrified it has always stood up for its principals. Wengler gives a sigh of relief, for if it were for condos to rise at the
footprints of the amusements, he would probably have no more songs in him to write about Coney
Island. “That would be a
bummer, if it was all condos here, I would probably write an anti-condo song. But for sure that would spoil it", he says.
He’s excited about the new boardwalk with the new
restaurants, the big new rides, the Scream Zone, Grimaldi’sPizza,
tattoo shops, and all the re-vamped stores. “So, people
are watching”, he adds. Which will only
make things grow further. He said you
see a lot more people here on the weekends...a lot more.
It would be interesting to see how this winter will look like.
I thanked Mr. Wengler for sharing his song with me and though
it comes here in the form of a modest little music video in autumn, we both
agree it will be catchy enough to be heard to next summer and beyond. The New Coney Island needed a song and this
"Welcome To Coney Island" by Amos Wengler [Acoustic Version]
Posted by Omar Robau (ConeyHOP) [Youtube]
Disclaimer: This acoustic version of this song was recorded live with a high quality H4 Zoom Recorder, but still can not compare to a full studio recording.