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The Memories

About the new CD

So tell us about your new CD compilation, Acoustic Concerto.

I'm really happy to finally be able to release some of my best songs that I recorded over the years. I've tried to keep it mainly an acoustic album so it has been hard to pick which ones to release, but I wanted the CD to appeal to music lovers who like acoustic pop rock of the 1960s and 70s.

 

Why should people buy your CD?

Well, first they have to ask themselves if they love 60s and 70s acoustic pop rock. If the answer is yes, then it would be a good investment. Also, if you don't mind me saying so, I am fairly talented steel string acoustic guitar player, and I believe that will come across in my music. It's music that has been influenced by some of the most talented singer/songwriters in the world and that means something, I guess. Hey, just go to CDbaby.com and you can sample some of my songs and then decide.

 

How did you come up with the name "Acoustic Concerto"?

I have an instrumental song on the CD called "Acoustic Concerto," which is all steel string acoustic double-tracked on my Martin D-35. I just love steel string acoustic pop rock. You can't find it that much anymore. Christian music is where you find it the most, and so I find myself listening to artists like Steven Curtis Chapman. This CD is for music lovers who like listening to steel string acoustic pop rock. Remember the group America? They were the top acoustic pop rock group in the world in the early 70s and they had a huge impact on me.

 

Let's go through the songs. Talk about "Little Princess." Listen to Little Princess

I wrote that for my goddaughter Lisa when she was six years old. I wanted her to have something special she could treasure through the years. It was a complex song to record. I did it on 24 tracks and spent about six months working on it. I layered the sound like record producer Phil Spector would have done. I have synthesizer on synthesizer and strings on strings. It is one of my most beautiful recordings. I used a synthesized French horn effect as counterpoint harmony to the strings and then added counterpoint vocal harmonies to the lead vocal. It's very compelling. I'm happy to have the opportunity to share it with follow music lovers now.

 

Girls used to give me the eye because I had long hair and was pretty good-looking.

"Girl, Girl"? Listen to Girl, Girl

I wrote that song when I was 20 years old. It's about a guy who is head over heels with a girl he meets. They used to play it on my college radio station, and girls used to give me the eye because I had long hair and was pretty good-looking. But I couldn't talk to a pretty girl. I was too self-conscious, so a lot of them did the talking for me.

 

"Acoustic Concerto"? Listen to Acoustic Concerto

That's an instrumental. Over the years I've had so many people tell me how much they love the song that I decided I would release it on my CD and make it my title track. As I mentioned previously, I'm playing my Martin D-35 double-tracked. That means I laid down one track and then recorded another track while listening to the first one. It will mellow you out.

 

"In a Dream"? Listen to In a Dream

Most definitely an existential statement about our human capability to create joy in our hearts when we are beaten down by the harsh existence of reality; I was inspired by Victor Frankel's book Man's Search for Meaning. He survived life in the Nazi concentration camps by creating a world in his mind of beauty, thus postulating that we could create joy in the most miserable life-threatening environment known to man. It's a great book, which I encourage anyone who is struggling with life to read. People have told me the structure, vocal delivery, and sound design of the song reminds them of the Moody Blues.

 

"Julie Jean"? Listen to Julie Jean

I wrote and recorded this song a few years ago also. I wanted to do a little rock boogie woogie with a beat. It's most definitely a 60s song. The title character is a 22-year-old girl who left her boyfriend, and he wants her to come back. He offers to put up with her pets and cigarettes if she will return, but he has a hidden agenda, too. He has become dependent upon her cooking and cleaning skills and is upset because the house is becoming such a mess. I recorded two tracks of my Martin acoustic and then four tracks of electric guitar before doing two vocal tracks. I recorded it with a drummer and bass player.

 

"Brand New Life"? Listen to Brand New Life

This is my song about my evolution as a singer/songwriter and my decision to go professional full-time. I wrote and recorded it in 1972 with Stephen Sack playing backup guitar and doing harmonies. That period in my life was so incredible. I used to practice 12 and 14 hours a day. When people came over, I said I can talk but I still have to practice, and I would do finger-picking or flat-picking on my Martin while talking with my guests.

My parents tried to convince me that only children and people who "never grow up" play music in their late twenties.

One day while alone, I was singing a Paul McCartney song, and bam!! It was like I evolved in a second. One minute I was playing the song and then all of sudden something happened. It's hard to explain. It was like everything just fell into place. My singing voice improved, my guitar playing improved, and my whole feel for music just changed in one second. I have never experienced anything like that before in my life. And from that day forward, I was a much improved singer/songwriter. The next day I wrote "Brand New Life."

Also, at that time in my life I was living in Rogers Park on Chicago's north end in an area filled with hippies. I wore my hair very long and considered myself a cosmetic hippy because I looked the part, but I still was really a North Shore preppie. The song also spoke to my commitment to being an artist. My parents and other adults tried to convince me that only children and people who "never grow up" play music in their late 20s. I was 27 at the time. I remember trying to explain to them that I would be an artist no matter what age I was, regardless. They thought that being a musician was something only children do-unless you make a lot of money at it. I know they realized, finally, I had some talent, but I wasn't making the kind of money Elton John was, and in the area I grew up in, money meant and was everything.

 

"L.A. Blue"? Listen to L.A. Blue

Well, that song is special because Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award-winning director, picked it for me to perform in his movie Melvin & Howard. I remember my manager called me one morning and he told to get down to Universal Studios with my guitar because Jonathan wanted to hear me play. I was asked to come into his office and we spoke for a few minutes. He asked me to play something, so I performed this sad ballad. He stopped me in the middle of the song and asked me to play something that rocked, so I played "L.A. Blue."

When I finished everyone was just sort of sitting there with their mouths open. I guess I did pretty well. When I left his office, people in the waiting room gave me a standing ovation. I still remember this beautiful young woman with long dark hair. She had the most incredible brown eyes. It was extremely flattering. My manager called me that night and told me I got the gig. We celebrated by going to the Troubadour and having drinks with Tom Waits.

The song is about my decision to move from Chicago to Los Angeles, to make it in the music business. It's a love song to both Chicago and Los Angeles. I loved moving to Hollywood but I also missed Chicago. Many people think "L.A. Blue" is the most commercial song I ever wrote, recorded, and produced.

 

You produced the song yourself?

I did. I arranged all the instruments and string sections as well, although one of my friends, Brandon Curtis, a superb violinist, actually wrote out the notes for the session players to read. At the studio I conducted them and I immediately realized the role a conductor plays in working with an orchestra. It was empowering to realize I could produce world-class music, but one of the regrets I have in my career is that I never had the opportunity to work with a world-class producer in the studio like a Don Was, Phil Spector, or George Martin.

 

Tell us about the song "Hunters." The title certainly has a predatory ring. Listen to Hunters

I could write a book about that song. It's a tale of the Lakota Sioux. I wrote it from the viewpoint of an old Indian man in the early 20th century who is telling the story of what it was like to belong to a free society in one of the most powerful tribes living in the west. His people have been decimated and destroyed by us, and he is dreaming back to what it had been like when he was young and free and was the hunter instead of the hunted.

 

Someone mentioned that your string arrangements on "Hunters" reminded them of Jimmy Haskell's orchestral arrangements.

I've had people tell me that. At the time I didn't know who Jimmy Haskell was, although his arrangements probably influenced me subliminally. He was a genius and to be compared to him is a great honor. I think a lot of people will really enjoy this song. I was lucky to have worked with some of the finest studio musicians available in Hollywood at the time.


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