From the moment I watched Ricky Nelson play his guitar singing Travelin’ Man at the end of an episode of The Ozzie and Harriet Show, I was a goner. I was 12 years old, and I had to do that. My parents bought me a blue sunburst Stella guitar, and I learned enough baby chords to play rock ‘n roll, formed a band with the Goldstein brothers who lived down the street, and never looked back.
Television had changed my life. But, it was another television show I watched a few years later that completely transformed me. One evening, PBS ran a one hour concert featuring Ario Guthrie and Joni Mitchell. Watching each artist perform a handful of their original songs struck a chord that resonated so deep that I became a songwriter. I was 14.
I spent my high school years in cover bands playing parties, dances, and bat mitzvahs. A high point with one band was being selected to play for a week on Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier on the The Lou Grant Talent Show at the same time Little Stevie Wonder was performing his breakout Fingertips Part 1 & 2 there.
After high school I stopped playing in bands and began to focus more on writing. I sold my electric Gibson and traded an amp for a 1951 Martin 00-17 which I still have today. During college and into my twenties, I played at parties and with friends, but that eventually fizzled out, and over the next several decades I became a recluse with my own music. Armed with my guitar, keyboard, and 4-track cassette recorder, I was my own band. By the mid 1990’s, I had written and recorded over 100 original songs performing all of the instruments and vocals myself. I produced 9 home-made albums, and even did the album artwork and made copies to give to some of my musical friends. My songs were never intended to become commercial hits, nor were they intensely personal songs either. I always viewed songwriting akin to creating any other kind of original art, and I always considered myself an artist.
For the next dozen years or so, I placed my music on hold for the most part, as maintaining sobriety, raising my family, and growing my business took most of my waking hours and energy. A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.
Fast forward to 2006. After illness forced me to sell my business, I realized I now had the time to dedicate to my lifelong passion, songwriting. This time, however, I approached it differently. I had never studied song craft before; I never even heard of studying song craft. Rather, songwriting was just something I always just did. In recent years I had read various articles on the internet about the craft of songwriting. Having mixed emotions about following someone else’s rules when it came to creating art, I came to understand that craft can strengthen any discipline. I opted for a DIY curriculum, devoured every songwriting book I could find, joined a few A&R organizations, and I’ve been participating in classes, retreats, critiques, seminars, and study full-tilt now for almost a decade.
The songwriting community is the most generous group I have ever encountered. I get to work and study with amazing mentors who welcome everyone with open arms and extraordinary kindness, and I get to give back to newbies who feel the calling. The commercial songwriting arena offers the greatest access to studying song craft, and to these ends I have chosen to study with many of the best songwriters in the business here. The bar in this world is extremely high, and particpating here is great fun and hopefully makes me a better songwriter.
For seven years I worked with a gifted producer, Richard Kearney, who owns After 3pm Music, a recording studio in Nashville. After producing 50 broadcast-quality recordings of my own songs, during the past year I’ve branched out working with 3 other Nashville studios. To date I’ve had a handful of single song contracts signed, a few holds, and to date one placement on a network TV series. My songs have been in rotation on Armed Forces Radio Network and a few other radio stations. In 2015 and 2016 I received Semi-Finalist awards with the International Songwriter Contest, and most recently have been accepted as a Songs of Love songwriter, a non-profit where I’ll be writing personalized songs on demand for terminally ill and disabled kids.