I continued working in the recording studios and performing as a pianist which led to my being part of the cast of “Earl of Ruston”, a Broadway play, and the chance to live at the Chelsea Hotel. I loved my time in New York but eventually moved back to Louisiana and continued working in the studios and writing songs. As my songwriting matured I started writing lyrics and collaborating with others. And this led to the central theme of “The Story of A Songwriter”. Writing lyrics as you imagine what they are expected to be is an endless journey of catchphrases and predictable storylines. And it works quite well for many successful songwriters. I must say I never thought any of this effort to be important nor did it hit me in the gut. My intuition kept me searching for the story that lives inside me & the storyline of the lyric.
Writing music seemed to come easy for me. The pursuit of writing “commercial” songs was always a constant fight. Listening to the dictates of popular radio I, as many of you, thought the answer lay inside creating a commercial song. To quote Leonard Cohen, “I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this or any other matter”. I was pursuing what I thought was expected of me but could never come to terms with the results. Which brings us around to what I would call “The Beginning”. Without knowing what I was trying to accomplish I fell into the pursuit of keeping “My Journal” with the use of lyrics & music that merged together into a form that we consider to be a song. In a “real”song the lyrics and music must need each other in a way that one cannot live without the other. You could call it my journal, call it my mission, call it my gift. It seems before this point I was just going through the motions. There were no songwriting courses, there were no rules or guidelines. There was just imitating what you heard on the radio and thinking success was to create what you heard that was successful.
My real story seemed to emerge from my heart and my spirit. I had to discover that you have to hear your story before you can write your story. Maybe songwriting has always been this way, but I must say I had to find this out on my own. Many of the songs that we are exposed to are a collection of clichés and hooks, words and music that have no connection to each other. I know there are many songs that go much deeper but are never heard through commercial radio (the medium that guided me as I grew). And that was the bar that was set as I was learning my craft.
Real songs are not poetry with music, books that read like a melody but a combination of words and music that speak to you as a single voice. It was this realization that created my style and my guide. As I listen through my library of the art that I have created I can see that it’s my way of sharing a collection of experiences as I faced my journey.
It’s funny that I can pinpoint the time and place that this journey began. I lived in a fourplex near the causeway in Metairie so my bedroom was upstairs from the bedroom that the tenants had lived in below. I had an upright piano with a tape machine in my room and one night around 3 AM I woke up, went to the piano and turned on the tape machine. Without thinking, I just started playing and singing a song as if I already knew it. After creating about three quarters of the words and music the neighbor below started banging on the ceiling with a broom handle.
I so wish I could meet these neighbors and apologize for disturbing them so long ago. It seems I didn’t give it any thought that I was disturbing them as this creation emerged. Over the next couple of weeks I finished this song, the first real song that came my way, and here I share with you “Blind Captain”.
From that time on, you couldn’t stop me from writing songs. Real songs, where the music and the lyrics combine to create a story and emotion that you could not separate.