Rock and Roll
(Just for Fun!)
Shortly after I graduated from Berklee I sent out over 100 demo tapes to every major record company, producer, and A&R person I could find. I selected the most influential of the people who sent a positive response and I met with him. I ended up signing a contract with one of the major record labels but while my producer was working on a deal for me to go on tour, opening for one of the record company’s front line acts, he passed away suddenly. Without him the deal crashed, and while this gentleman who signed me believed I was “Going to be a big star” I never got that close again.
Now that I am primarily a Christian artist, I don’t pay much attention to these songs anymore, but every once in a while it’s nice to dust them off and give them a listen. They’ll sound dated now but please remember that most of these were written in the late 70’s and several of them were, at that time, quite the cutting edge.
A Moment of Honesty Before We Begin Listening
I am a musical chameleon! I like so many different styles and genres of music that, musically speaking, I’ve never decided what I want to do when I grow up. From syrupy ballads to R&B, from jazz ballads to hard rock, you’ll find a little of everything here.
Being completely honest and with all humility, I am a very average lyricist, a world-class songwriter and arranger, and an extremely capable engineer and producer. It took me a long time to come to that realization and I suspect that, had I swallowed my pride and found myself a world-class lyricist my career may have been quite different. But, as my dear friend Gwynne is so fond of saying; “God doesn’t make mistakes”.
So here they are: A handful of my best efforts at Rock and Roll. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
My favorite of my secular songs, “Look Away” is a ballad with heavily jazz influenced harmony. This is a fairly new recording, all midi except for the vocals. The vocal accompaniment on the chorus is supposed to have another voice a third higher, but I can’t sing that high anymore L. “Look Away” won an Honorable Mention in The American Song Festival.
“Sexy but not
vulgar” is how a record company executive described why she liked this song so
much. This is one of two songs that were
co-written by Dr. James Faix. Dr. Faix worked at
the Massachusetts General Hospital while Jackie and I were working there and he
was a VERY talented lyricist. I wish I
had had the opportunity to work with him more.
This is a fairly new recording and is midi except for the voices. “Chase Away the Sandman” won an Honorable
Mention in The American Song Festival.
Upon my first meeting with my record company executive, he told me that my demo tape contained three ballads and needed an up-tempo song. He told me to bring him a new recording and to do it within a week. Dr. Faix and I spent an evening back and forth on the phone until about 3:00 AM and hammered out the lyrics. I wrote the song the next morning, then that evening recruited musicians from the halls of Berklee and recorded this on the 2nd take (This is the original recording). It’s quite a bit more “Poppy” than my usual fare, but not a bad song. “You Should Be Smiling” won and Honorable Mention in The American Song Festival.
Another of the songs that was on that old demo, my record company executive loved the way the song waited until the twist at the end of the last verse before the chorus made complete sense. This also is a relatively new recording and is midi except for the voice. With the exception of “Look Away”, the recording of which was a labor of love, I didn’t spend a lot of time working on the arrangements of Walk On and Chase and it shows. Maybe one of these days I’ll take the time to fix them. “Walk On to Tomorrow” won an Honorable Mention in The American Song Festival.
“If Only You Knew” would have been my first released single. Though it sounds quite 80’s now, it was extremely cutting edge in the late 70’s. The synth work on the original recording was done on the monophonic keyboard of an ARP 2600 that I had to program for the sounds, then record in layers. This is a newer recording and is midi except for the vocals. “If Only You Knew” won an Excellence in Songwriting Award from the Great American Songwriting Contest.
The lyrics to this song could probably apply to relationships, but this was written about my relationship with the music industry. I wrote it out of frustration born of the fact that I was hearing a lot of songs on the radio that I felt were inferior to a lot of my work, and to the work of several of my friends from Berklee. I’d love to say that I’ve matured but I am still irritated when I hear crap on the radio! “All I Wanted was Just a Shot” was recorded at my friend Tom Maggio’s studio with Fred Oltarzewski on drums, Bob Mahns on synth, Beve Holloway on piano, Bob Grieco on guitar, and Edred (Keith) Mitchell on bass.
I SERIOUSLY did not intend for this to sound as country as it does. I wrote this for the wedding of my co-worker and friend Sherri Gluckman Bale. I recorded this before I was comfortable singing so Berklee Songwriting Professor Extraordinaire, Jon Aldrich, did the vocals. If you are a student at Berklee and love songwriting DO NOT miss out on an opportunity to take Jon’s class!
Many years ago I had a good friend who was a terrific guy and a very talented drummer but who came from a rather lower middle-class family. His girlfriend drove around in daddy’s Mercedes and swore that she loved him but she took great pains to make sure her friends never saw her with him. I guess he wasn’t good enough for her group. “It’s A Secret” was written about his experience with her. In case you are wondering, they only lasted about 6 months. He deserved better! My Brother-in-Law, Scott would have been really upset with me if I hadn’t included this song.
As always, if you have constructive comments, suggestions, teaching moments, or requests with regard to my music, please let me know. You can email me at