I have spent my entire adult life as a professional guitarist. I achieved that by logging thousands of hours of practice along with seven years of studying music in college—which lead to two degrees from institutions of higher learning—not to mention being an active listener of any variety of popular recorded music that was ever played in the home of my childhood. It all lead to my obsession with and love for music and playing the guitar. That I have been able to provide for myself as a professional guitarist for some forty years is nothing short of a miracle.
But long before any of that ever happened, back in the 5th grade when I got my first guitar, I taught myself a handful of chords—by ear—and began writing songs. At first they were simple, earnest, probably very generic love songs written (without her knowledge) for a girl who sat in front of me in class. Then I moved on to trying to mimic various songs I’d heard on the radio, setting out for myself the assignment of “try to write a song that sounds like Insert Title of Pop Song from 1973 Here but isn’t.” I remember, once I was introduced to jazz chords and melodies that were more syncopated and chromatic than what I was used to, moving on to imitating songs from the “Great American Songbook” that my parents listened to.
Probably the most important thing to mention at this point is that all of the songs that I was writing included lyrics and would need to be sung, by a singer, which was something I never really thought of myself as being (in spite of spending hundreds of hours singing along to records, trying to match not only the pitches and rhythms but also the timbre, tone and gestures of the vocalists on those records).
This preoccupation of mine of writing songs—with lyrics—began to fade during my later teens as I immersed myself into the study and practice of jazz. This is not to say that it faded entirely away, but it definitely became something I did only on rare occasion. It is also noteworthy at this point to say that, as the years went on into my early adulthood and my first marriage, the fruit of this preoccupation was something that I rarely—if ever—shared with anyone. It became a secret. As my career as a professional musician took off, and as my reputation as a jazz musician took form, it became ever more important for me to keep this secret. As a result, my forays into songwriting became more and more infrequent; to the point where most years would go by without my having written a single song. The year in which I would write a song became a rarity.
All of this is to say—to the few fans out there that I may have—that I am embarking on a new (or old, as it were) journey artistically. For the last year I have been allowing myself to write songs; several of them, about a dozen in fact. I am now in the process of recording these songs. My next record will be of mostly original songs on which I will sing and, of course, play guitar. The musical styles presented will be things to which I was attracted when I first started playing music. Those styles will be many and varied. My northern star is emotional honesty and my highest self seeks musical integrity. Wherever those things take me is where I will go. I hope that you will go with me. It could be quite a ride!
—August 9, 2018