1. I AM SOMEBODY
I wrote this song back in the late 70’s and it came through me like a lightning bolt, at a time when I was feeling very unsure about my life. It was a reminder that I was not alone in the world, and of my virgin spirit of goodness. This song is also a part of the music score of a musical I’m working on..based on my song ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’.
2. MY FOREFATHERS
When my Mom was still around, I used to visit her in New Jersey every few months. She came here from Poland with her seven brothers and sisters before Hitler invaded their country. My Mom had many stories and pictures from the ‘old country’ as well as religious paintings all around her house. One night, it occurred to me, that aside from a cousin who sang for a short time professionally, I was the only person who had pursued a career in music. My Mom always encouraged me with my music though it was my Dad who brought so much of it into our home. There is a picture in the lyrics booklet of my CD next to these lyrics. The picture is my grandfather, taken years ago in Poland.
3. I REMEMBER DEMPSEY’S
Jack Dempsey was an iconic sports figure in his time. There was a famous place on Broadway, between 48th and 49th Streets IN New York City named after him, Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant Bar & Grill. Many famous people in show business came there over the years. When I started hanging out on Broadway in the 1960’s, Dempsey’s was a music business watering hole during the day, and a tourist trap at night. Dempsey himself, who was in his 80’s at the time, would come by one or two nights a week, wearing his famous grey double-breasted suit, carrying a long Cuban cigar, stopping at tables to sign an autograph or two, or ask if the roast beef was alright. The place was a tribute to the fighting game and had huge murals on the walls depicting famous fighters. I heard it was to be sold in 1974. My father was still around then, so I asked him to go over there to relive his boyhood memories of Jack Dempsey the fighter. The song ‘Dempsey’s’ was a result of what he told me and what I experienced there. It is also going to be a song in my musical.
4. REAL KIND OF PEOPLE
This song was work in progress for many years. I believe it was inspired by some of the characters I met in Hollywood, when I moved there in the early 70’s. It also came from my basic mistrust of the political system.
5. HELP ME GIRL
I originally wrote this song with lyricist Scott English in the 60’s when it was recorded by Eric Burdon and the Animals. I wasn’t sure I could pull off an updated version, but with so many brilliant musicians in Nashville who migrated here from either Los Angeles or New York, I was fortunate to get it done exactly the way I wanted it.
6. MY ROAD LEADS TO YOU
I wrote this song with Jimmy Collins some years ago, and this recording is the actual demo I did for the song. I felt it had some magic and decided to include it in this collection. I was torn as to whether this was a love song or a spiritual song of surrender. I settled on the latter, asking my old friend Paster Andrea Crouch to bring a choir arrangement to it. I think it’s one of my favorite cuts in the CD.
7. THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS
I am sure we have all known a person or two who was stuck in dark times. I was there at one point, but managed to get past it..perhaps this song brought back the memories of it..Phil Brown lent his incredible talents as a guitarist and arranged most of the track for me.
8. YOU CAN’T HAVE ME
This song was originally inspired by an ex-girlfriend who is a great friend to me these days. However, as with most writers, the story was altered. But..I am sure many of us have had a knock on the door or a phone call from someone who we have gratefully left behind. My old friend Hugh McCracken played most of the electric guitar, and I really love how the track came out.
9. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER SAM
I actually wrote this to poke fun at a buddy of mine..and yes..I elaborated on the character here as well.
10. EL HAKAMIER
Some years ago I heard a story on NPR about a ‘torture palace’ in Iraq that was set up by Saddam and his sons who used it, and sadistically tore apart families there. The stories of some of the survivors whose statements were translated on the air, stayed with me for some time. I approached the great poet, Charles John Quarto, to write a lyric about what I had heard, and this track, which includes a recitation by Charles, is the result.
11. AIN’T IT SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER BY NOW
Living in Nashville was a challenge to an outsider like myself. It’s very political here, although a wonderful place to be creative. After a few years had gone by with little attention paid to my songwriting, I was feeling sorry for myself, and wrote this elaborate piece. I enlisted the talents of Tom Hensley who played keyboards on my first album, ‘Black & Blue Suite’, as well as Hugh McCracken. The guitar solo was by Phil Brown. It is one of my favorite cuts as well as a part of the song score for my musical. These days, with the economy crunch and so many people out of work and disillusioned, I believe it strikes a common chord in many of us.
12. CAN’T WE START OVER AGAIN
I wrote this song years ago about a failed romance, and decided to bring it from out of the rafters and record it. It is written in the style of the great standards of the 40’s and 50’s that many of us grew up listening to. Pat Coil, one of the greatest keyboardists in the world as far as I am concerned, did a lovely arrangement, and I felt the song would be a perfect ending to my CUTS & SCRATCHES CD.