Mr. Cullinan Shows Prowess In My Oyster

Mr. C. Fills His First CD With A Variety Of Music From Choral Music To Rebellious Rock

by Craig Wildman
from the Panther Prints (the school newspaper where Cory used to teach)

The music Mr. Cullinan writes does not fall into a traditional category. It combines elements of every kind of music. It is also further proof of Mr. Cullinan’s abnormality. His first album, My Oyster, shows this. He compared the style of the music on it to the Beatles’ later works because the different types of music on it are so diverse. In several of the songs he works with string instruments, woodwinds, and horns, sometimes using them for the Big Band sound as in My Oyster, other times using them for filler and the background. His style of singing, along with the orchestra background, occasionally gives the feeling that he is singing the type of song that might appear in a musical, yet at other times his singing reminds the attentive listener of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. In “Crazy Old Man,” the first track, he shows his willingness to jump between octaves as Queen was known for.

On a completely different note, he makes a strong social commentary on segregation in “Little Rock Don’t Break.” The title refers to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Elizabeth Eckford was confronted by an angry mob on her first day of high school in 1957. The song has a dramatic feel giving the listener no idea where the song could be going. It instills the uncertainty and imagery that Miss Eckford felt in 1957. He relieves the tension in this song in “Without You,” which is an easy going love song with a predictable beat.

With even more variance than the Beatles put in Magical Mystery Tour, Cullinan adds next “Bright In Your Ways,” a sentimental song dedicated to his brother. The song is sung a capella in four part harmony with Cullinan singing the tenor part. It is a choral arrangement that shows his varied talents.

Our Town,” the twelfth track, expresses Cullinan’s zest for life and love for the world. He sings “the truth lies in the love of living” and uses calm yet serious music to back up the lyrics. This song relates back to the song “My Oyster” and the name of the album. Cullinan uses both meanings in this song but clearly uses the second meaning of the word, oyster, “something from which one may extract or derive advantage,” as he writes in the booklet accompanying the CD. Taken in context, Cullinan sings that “the world is my oyster” showing that he understands what opportunities abound in life and that he intends to live life to its fullest.

The album ends with “the secret thirteenth track” in which Cullinan proposes marriage to his wife Janette. He invited her into the recording studio where he recorded the song as he performed it for her. “Something (For Janette)” is a slow sentimental song with Mr. Cullinan singing with a piano, drums, and a bass backing him up. In other songs of the album, Cullinan dances on subjects from social critiques to songs of respect for others, but he writes a classy love song here that he and his wife will surely enjoy for years to come.