Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 20, 2014

A song for Sanibel

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Sometimes a song sits and waits for the right moment to reveal itself.

For David Carter, a former local resident, historian and college instructor, the song “Sanibel” found him soon after he retired to Florida. The tune most recently became the subject of his ongoing fascination with technology and communication.

“I first heard in in ’06 or ’07, when iTunes was barely out and I was barely into iTunes. I downloaded it — fell in love with it,” Carter said, explaining he had entered the name of his new neighborhood into the search bar and found a song recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young from the “Looking Forward” album.  

Carter, who grew up in Flatwoods and enjoyed a productive and award-winning career in advertising, TV production, book publishing and other related areas while based in Ashland, said the song gave him an idea for a video, although he put the project aside at the time. The song came back to mind as he began a new project spotlighting great things about Sanibel, Fla.

“It was just little features,” he said, explaining the DVD project gave birth to a website, which suddenly found a sole sponsor.

“That comes with the responsibility of producing eyeballs,” he said of the sponsor, noting he wanted to do something to make “a big splash” when the site was unveiled in January.

“I immediately realized I could not afford Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Warner Brothers Records,” he said, noting he decided to find out if the man who wrote the song had also recorded it. He found the songwriter, Denny Sarokin, in Nashville and by the end of the weekend they had reached a deal to use the song in a video.

Sarokin explained he wrote the song in 1981, after receiving a post card from Sanibel signed by his former girlfriend.

“One day, I received a mysterious picture postcard with a beautiful island sunset on the front. On the back, she had written: ‘Dear Denny, Here’s a picture of our evenings here on Sanibel. Wish you were here. All my love, Suzie.’ I wanted to make contact, but she had neglected to include an address or phone number. I took this as a sign that this was not meant to be. I vented my mixed emotions the only way I knew how — on my acoustic guitar. Two hours later, I had written ‘Sanibel,’” he said.

A short time later, he had a message on his answering machine saying, “Hello, Denny, this is Graham Nash calling from Maui to tell you that I love your song.”

“After an initial series of phone calls between Graham’s ‘people’ and my ‘person,’ things seemed to grind to a halt. Time passed. Lots of time passed. Finally, in 1999, 18 years after I wrote the song, Sanibel appeared on ‘Looking Forward,’ the CSNY reunion album,” he said. “More time passed. Thirty-three years after I had written ‘Sanibel,’ and 15 years after CSNY recorded it, I got a phone call from Sanibel on a Friday morning in early November of 2013. ‘Denny, you don’t know me, but I’m a filmmaker from Sanibel, and I want to make a music video of your song.’

“Over the weekend, I talked with David E. Carter a dozen times. He directed me a website that showed his work. Once I saw several of his film clips, I knew we were going to do this. Actually, he had me from the moment I looked at his website and saw him holding a big Emmy Award.”

Sarokin said he and Carter were immediately on the same page. “Within a few days after David first called me, we were on the same wave- length. We started story-boarding the video. I send him some photos of my image of ‘Suzie,’ the girl who inspired the song, and then I saw a guy on a convenience store parking lot who would be a good ‘young Denny.’ I took his photo and sent it to David. Within days, he found the man and woman who would star in the video.”

The video stars  Jessica and Chris Barrett of Fort Myers, Fla., who own a photography business specializing in ballroom dancing.

“They were perfect,” Carter said. “Jessica is a dance instructor and has modeled, and Chris is a musician. He could play the guitar on camera and not have to fake it.”

Carter spent 10 hours filming the couple on Sanibel, and two weeks later, the final edit had been done. When Carter showed it to his wife, she said, “It made my cry.” It was then, he said, that he knew he had created something special.

“Every time I see it, it gives me goosebumps,” he said.

The video for “Sanibel” can be viewed at www.sanibel-captiva.tv, sponsored by Pfeifer Realty Group.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.