Better Place to Be
About me: I'll begin at the beginning. I was born in West Tennessee, the son of a poor Jewish sharecropper and a Washington Debutant. Shortly thereafter we moved to a humble log cabin in lower Manhattan. Then there was the circus, which brings me to the present. All kidding aside; well, most kidding aside. I'm a 64 year old real estate broker living in upstate New York. While I would like to think that I could play out on a regular basis and maybe even open for that young upstart Canadian, Michael Buble, it probably ain't going to happen. All I got right now is this CD that I made with love and reverence - reverence for the genius composers who wrote the songs I am singing. My original intent was only to create something for my wonderful wife and children and friends. But the thing turned out better than I expected, so here I am, trying to peddle a few CDs to justify making another. As a card carrying member of the Self Deprecation Society and my own most strident critic, I feel comfortable in saying that I enjoy listening to me. The album is far from perfect. I hear things I would like to do over. Occasionally I come close to cringing. But overall, I feel good about the sound. Most of the songs were written before most of the people who may read this were born. So what? Jazz artists young and old continue to fall back on them as musical staples. The melodies and lyrics lend themselves to reinvention just like Shakespeare plays. These songs will be around for a long long time. Hey, but I'm not an old stick in the mud. I've got a young and hip side and I have a keen instinct for what is good music no matter what the musical genre or era. The music has been with me always. My grandmother used to serenade me on her baby grand Steinway when I was 2 years old. I was begging my mom to allow me to take piano lessons at the age of four. I grew up with Elvis and Bill Haley and the Comets and Little Richard but tolerated Rock and Roll only because that's where the girls were. Even as a pre-teen my bag was the highly orchestrated romantic stuff and movie sound tracks by the likes of Alfred Newman. I started performing at 16 or so. My first instrument, the four string guitar. My first song, or at least so I remember, " All I do the whole day through is dream of you." My first audience, Judy Shaw, who just laughed. I found I had an aptitude for mimicry, so part of my shtick was to imitate guys like Louie Armstrong and Elvis. I can still do this as well as sing in markedly different styles. Not too long ago I had a blues trio called Black Cat Blues. Ken Allen and I did quite an eclectic array of blues, country, gospel and folk. Played out a few times and made a few bucks. My next group was a Dixie Chicks all male tribute band called the Chicksie Dicks. After that, a band made up of retired CEOs called The Bottom Liners. ( Remember, I said "most kidding aside") The thing about the blues group is true. I don't dream about music. I dream music. Whole orchestral pieces. Sometimes I wake up in mid dream crying at the beauty of what I had just "heard" in my dream. If only I could create music like that, I say. But of course, I did create it. After all, it was my dream wasn't it? Maybe not. This is what I believe and it throws this monologue into the realm of the metaphysical. I believe that the music is out there and that some of us have the apparatus to "tune in" to it. Some fewer still have the ability to get it down on paper and perhaps perform it. I have heard other musicians say something similar. There is a genius to the songs I have chosen to sing here. There is genius in the songs of Billy Joel, Carly Simon and James Taylor. Great and original melodies are really hard to come by. Great and original lyrics even harder. I recorded a total of 24 songs over a period of 4 months, a total of around 20 studio hours. I am a neophyte at this so I can only surmise that this is not a lot of studio time to record 24 songs. I never met the piano man, Carleton Boone, before we met in the studio to record the first song. We went over the song once, found a key, and went at it. Maybe three passes. Maybe just one. Wham, bang. Hey, this was vanity press. I couldn't justify spending more. The last song, sung without accompaniment, provides the title of my CD " A Better Place to Be." It was written by the late Harry Chapin. I have been performing this song for the last 15 or more years, and every time I do, I have to fight the urge to cry. All I can say is this; thank you Harry for your beautiful song. I hope that wherever you are, you are still hearing the music.