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Thanks to Facebook friend Gene M, I have a title for this first solo CD in four years…The Apocaloptimist. It’s a combination of the words apocalypse and optimist. See I think the world is going in a bad direction, but I believe in my heart it’s going to turn out all right. And I work at making that a reality with every day I am blessed with being here. So…
The Story Behind the Songs:
Living The Party Life came to me first as the guitar motif you hear that opens the song. In a matter of moments, the chord progression fell into place and I played it over and over waiting for something to take place lyrically. I wrote perhaps thirty verses to this song before I found the few that I used. Inspired by the mindless nihilism that seems to permeate our culture and our politics today. Quite a crowd on the background vocals and Stephen Bishop single background parts. Tried to channel Andy Summers on those guitar parts. Had a grand time.
Gypsies In the Hallway began as a phrase that popped into my head that wouldn’t go away. Then it became a poem that layed around the studio for a few weeks and then the melody just exploded onto it. Paul Barrere of LIttle Feat is playing that wonderful slide guitar. Stephen Bishop, Lisa Turner and I did the background vocals. You probably can guess who the gypsies really are in this fable. If not, think about lobbyists: the cancer in our congress.
Last Call was inspired by a little fantasy trip taken down memory lane, back to the days when I lived on the Monterey Peninsula of California up on the side of a mountain just south of Carmel. A dream of a time. Plus from working in so many bars thru the years, I always thought someone should write a song called Last Call. Turns out it was me.
Drive My Car was a song I came up with for the another All Wood and … series but the all the folks I approached with the idea of doing the Beatles didn’t want to change a note of theirs. I love them as well, but I felt this was a fresh take on their song. Hope you like it. Corky did a truly amazing harmonica solo.
Here We Have My Father started out driving on the road somewhere, in the car with the words and music just popping into my head wholecloth. When I got it home and tried it out on an instrument and found that it was really bad. Then I got the idea of putting space between each of the lines (something I started experimenting with that seems to bring remarkable results). After my father, it seemed that I had to include my mother and sisters and then, why not everyone else. The guitar part is one of my favorites. I tried to emulate the guitar part of McCartney’s Blackbird, but with my chords. I go up and down that neck across all twelve frets. Very fun. So there you have it.
Highway 23 was a song I actually started when I was living in Santa Cruz, California out near 41st Avenue. The number 23 has always been prevalent in my life and seemed to lend the incomprehensible to the song. Put that melody to the words and then found I couldn’t do it justice as a player so I shelved it until last year when I popped back into my head warming up for a gig at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. I tried it out and found I loved the floating key centers and the imagery. That’s Laurence Juber taking that wonderful solo against my twelve string melody. He also added some amazing textures with his harmonics. Great player, great guy.
Etude in E Minor showed up while I was warming up for a gig in Boise, Idaho. The melody would not go away and I had to record it. Corky surprised me by putting some very evocative harmonica on the track.
When You Get Right Down To It started out as a poem I wrote the morning that I heard of Davey Jones passing. He was a very gracious fellow to me and I always liked him. Very vibrant dude, so I wasn’t expecting his sudden demise. As I ruminated on him and the very transitory nature of all our existence, I started this little couplet that turned into a multi versed thing that I couldn’t stop and the music showed up in the middle of that session. That’s Lori Lieberman and I doing the background vocals. I love playing this song. I believe that Davey would have loved the playful take on life and death. RIP pal.
Last All Night is something different in that I wrote it on stage at the Caspar Inn, run by one of my favorite people on earth, Peter Lit. I was playing solo and got to rocking out and suddenly the folks who were sitting there listening just got up and started dancing. Doesn’t happen too often with solo singer songwriters. I just sang this without thinking about it at all. When I got it home and started experimenting with the space and time thing I slowed it down put some olde fashioned swing to it. One of my favorite songs to play. It’s just nothing but fun. James Hurley does a wonderful job as the jazz guitar soloist and that’s me on the classical guitar prelude to the song.
Any Other Way was a poem I wrote to the love of my life, Eveline, for our tenth wedding anniversary. Soon after I gave her the poem, I started fooling around with a melody and it was just so very natural and fun I had to record it. But I never liked the other recordings of it, so I never included it in a CD, but Chad does such nice bass stuff on this one and that sly percussion just made me happy to listen to it. I think the work of Paul Simon inspired this track.
Twinkle In Your Eye started as a song assignment given me by the lovely Dalis Allen at the Folk Alliance International conference a couple of years ago. You are given a phrase and have to come up with a song. I had just been talking with my sister, Sandra, about Alzheimer’s (her father in law suffered this sad disease, as well as several good friends of mine) and what a dreadful thing it is, so the two ideas just hooked up immediately. It took about ten minutes for this song to write itself, but a long time to get the right tempo, arrangement and accompaniement. Once I added those high twinkles on the classical guitar it came together.
Lullabye (for Chloe) is a two parter, in that I wrote the guitar piece at the home of John Batdorf’s sister Jackie in Ohio. Then that guitar part kept showing up when I would warm up and I thought that I should do something with it, as I liked it so very much. Fast forward a year or two and I am staying at the home of my friends, Patti and John Heller near Wilmette, Illinois. They were gone and I had the house to myself. I was sitting in the den with a fire going looking out the window at the pine trees covered with snow and thinking about the fact that they had just received word of their first grandchild’s arrival. The words just fell out. This is just what it’s supposed to be…a lullabyebye, the last tune on the CD.
In Closing …
I recorded this using the Reaper program (my favorite of them all) through my D&R Dayner board. The guitars I used were my Collings D2H, my Taylor 810ce, and my 1964 Guild mahogany classical guitar. The keyboard was #11 of the Alesis Quadrasynth. Still love it. The Mic was an AKG 414 modified by the late and great Stephen Paul over a decade ago. Mic and guitar cables by Mr. Wizard, Ken Goerres and I ALWAYS use Elixir Strings.