Of all the methods to express, music is most immediate and satisfying. My inability to read music made it frustrating, but tunes kept pouring into my head and I learned to manipulate my way around the piano and guitar fairly well. For thirty years, through instinct and playing by ear, I explored the beauty, power and satisfaction derived from composing and playing music. Although a challenge, perhaps the ultimate thrill came in playing with others. Suddenly, music, like no other form I’d found, was the collaborative art I was craving.
There are ten songs below to sample:
Catchy Tune / acoustic guitar
For years, my personal recording studio was in the bedroom, complete with a chair, tape recorder, one microphone, and guitar – my 6-string acoustic. “Catchy Tune” was recorded sometime in the late 70’s in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Duet / acoustic guitar
Imagine a geodesic dome that encased a hard cement floor. What great acoustics for guitars. The dome was a vacated YMCA dining hall that my fellow camp counselor, Tim Swann, and I used to parlay this tune into a duet during the summer of 1978.
Pick-ups / acoustic guitar
Again, recorded in my bedroom “studio,” this tune was one of my hardest to play in one take without error (although I nearly stopped once). As a result, Dexterity: B+; Originality: A; Rhythm: C-.
Harmonica Song / acoustic guitar, harmonica
Inspired by Bob Dylan and Steve Forbert’s harmonica styles, playing the guitar and harmonica on this tune proved I could do two things at once, promoting my dreams of playing in a band one day (i.e. playing, singing, even shaking on stage in sync).
Fuzz Buster / acoustic guitar
Another bedroom recording, only now with harder rock acoustic sounds. I sacrificed a smooth rhythm for crashing, electric-sounding chords, reminiscent of songs created during my upcoming band days.
Get Rhythm / electric guitar with band backup
This is a Johnny Cash song I found great joy in turning into an instrumental with The Poor Boys. Recorded live at a party in 1980, we were just beginning to come together as a group, and I was having fun and feeling my musical oats.
Rain Song / acoustic guitar
The band had broken up and it was back to the bedroom. Inspired by a thunderstorm one afternoon, I set up my mic just before the storm passed and recorded this spontaneous response to my heavy surroundings.
Dad’s Song / acoustic guitar
Recorded through an amp in a sad DC apartment in 1993, this composition just seemed to allow me freedom to ramble and explore feelings about my father who’d just passed away.
Piano Solo / piano
I didn’t own a piano. But I knew where the grand pianos were in the music department at the University of Maryland. I snuck in after midnight one night and set up shop to record this improvisation before the tape ran out.