When a 96-year-old man becomes a social media sensation, it’s usually not too hard to see why.
Fred Stobaugh, the gent featured above, ran across a call for entries for Green Shoe Studio’s Singer Songwriter Contest and used it as an excuse to write a love song for his wife, Lorraine. That’s plenty sweet, especially when one does the math—Fred and Lorraine were together for 75 years, and married for all but three. When one learns that Fred buried his bride just six weeks before hearing about the contest, the story takes on a sort of romantic urgency. We need him to win this contest.
Rather than uploading a video of his “Oh Sweet Lorraine” to YouTube as instructed, Stobaugh slipped the lyrics into a manila envelope and mailed them off along with an explanatory note. Green Shoe’s Jake Colgan was open to the transgression, as befits a record producer who made the conscious decision to set up shop in Peoria, Illinois.
It’s safe to assume most of the entrants approached the contest with their eyes on the prize, a professionally recorded demo CD and photo shoot, and laurels with which to adorn their developing careers. No disrespect to them—they were following the rules in good faith—but the purity of Strobaugh’s motives no doubt set him apart as much, if not more than his longevity.
With all the attention being paid to the endearingly modest Mr. Strobaugh, let’s do take a moment to acknowledge this year’s actual contest winner Graham Cowger, as well as the runners up. A class act can be a difficult act to follow. To quote Lou Reed entirely out of context, “always back to Lorraine.”