Wednesday, March 16, 2016

...a birthday blog for Everett Bradley!!

Every so often, one of my unsuspecting friends is the proud recipient of a birthday blog from yours truly. And today, the honor belongs to Everett Bradley!

I first met Everett among swarms of people after some gig he played at the Bitter End, but as we know, swarms of people are not very conducive to any kind of meaningful interaction, so it would be a few years before I feel like I can say I actually met Everett.

It was at a pre-New Year’s Eve party that my friend Tanya Leah hosted, and it was a lovely intimate gathering that turned into a magical evening of meaningful conversation with everyone in attendance.

Did you ever meet someone who just exudes love and joy and light? That is Everett. And that is apart and aside from the ridiculous amount of varied talents that ooze from every pore of his being. Ooze, I tell ya.

I was going to put a whole bunch of stuff here about how he’s played with everyone from Springsteen to Bowie, been nominated for a Grammy, appeared on Broadway and just finished a stint as bandleader for The Meredith Vieira Show, but it seemed very name-droppy and braggy. Oops. Did it anyway!

But the more relevant point, to me, anyway, is that when Tanya and I called him to ask if he’d be part of my album, he said, “yes.” And that was at a time when he certainly didn’t need the work. And also, he’d never heard what I do, so total act of faith on his part, for which I will always be grateful.

Everett wound up singing the male background vocals on almost every song on the album, as well as playing percussion as only he can. If there was a camera on my face during his sessions, you would see the biggest, giddiest, most joyous and gratitude-filled grin on my face. (The still photo here of us afterwards will have to suffice, I’m afraid.)

In a couple of days, I will get to play and sing live with him in studio for a video shoot, and I consider that a thrilling privilege. But in all honesty, the bigger thrilling privilege is to call him my friend.

You are a beautiful soul, Everett Bradley, and I hope this day is a true celebration of the gift you are. Happy, happy birthday!!
Everett and Me (It's his drink I'm holding, I swear!)
Everett, Tanya, and me in post-recording bliss!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

...your world now

I have been known, on many occasions, to write blogs eulogizing and paying homage to those who have passed – some famous figures and some relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

It seems fitting to try to capture some small detail of a life lived and impact made. The truth is we all impact each other in profound ways that go unspoken most of the time.

It’s that teacher who encouraged you, that event that changed the course of your life, the love you thought would last forever. We are destined to grow and change, despite our best efforts not to. We become who we are, and along the way we are accompanied. We are accompanied by a soundtrack, the songs that take the journey with us.

Maybe it starts with the music our parents played. Maybe it’s an older sibling. We are not conscious, most of us, of what forms us until we look back much later, until we start making our own choices, dabbling in different genres, until we find what speaks to us, and maybe even more importantly, what speaks for us.

My tastes have never been the avant-garde. I’m not drawn to art that disturbs me. I’m drawn to what makes me feel a part of something larger, or at the very least, less alone in the world. The world is disturbing enough. I want harmony, both in my music and in my soul.

You would think that, being a songwriter, I would have a long play list when it comes to favorite bands through the years, but the truth is I’ve only ever really truly loved two – the Beatles and the Eagles.

If you scoured my CD collection, that is pretty much who you would find for bands, not that there haven’t been other good ones, but let’s be frank, the other bands I’ve liked can trace their sonic lineage directly to the Eagles, so why not stick with the source?

When John Lennon was shot, it was one of those events where you could remember exactly where you were when you heard the news, what you were doing, how you felt. Our world would never be the same, not only because of the way in which he died, or how young, but because his passing made any hope of a future reunion gone to us forever. We’ve had decades to live with that, now and accept it.

The Eagles, though, that’s another story. We’ve seen and heard hell freeze over. And no matter how long they’ve each had solo careers, it never seemed to shut the door on the band, on that sound, on the songs that have been our soundtrack.

Glenn Frey died last Monday, and though his passing has been one in a long line of recent musical passings, I have hardly been able to speak about it, so profound seems this particular loss.

I didn’t know him personally. I knew nothing about his life or his family. I couldn’t tell you his birthday or favorite color. But if you asked me for a list of my all-time favorite songs, there was sure to be at least one of his on there. And that is saying something.

In a world where melody and lyric have been replaced by a driving beat and mindless repetition of disposable hooks, it’s easy to see why respect must be paid to those whose work endures. I often wonder what songs our current youth will be reminiscing about four decades from now. Justin Bieber? Jay Z? I feel sorry for them. Truly.

Me, I’ve got these songs, timeless, and enduring, and so much more poignant to me now. The world seems a much sadder place, with the Eagles, like the Beatles, relegated to a memory now. The harmonies seem that much sweeter, and my own life, that much more fragile.

Artists are struggling nowadays. We seem perpetually torn between trying to stay afloat and trying to stay true to ourselves. Bands like the Eagles never seemed to have to endure this struggle. They never seemed to go away or lose relevance.

I find myself telling people to say something that matters, because our time here is brief and the need is great for that.

Glenn Frey seemed to already know that, and with his passing, I hear this song of his and Jack Tempchin’s in a new way…

“It’s your world now, use well the time
Be part of something good, leave something good behind
The curtain falls, I take my bow
That’s how it’s meant to be, it’s your world now.”