Claudine , One & Two


Now, "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" (Lloyd Price) doesn't count, and anyway, that's been done... So, Claudine, because I couldn't come up with anything good that rhymes with "Claudia". Claudine 1 & 2 because I couldn't work the story out  in only one song... As a matter of fact , I was just getting started! I've always written lyrics about people and managed to find rhymes for their names- It's a fun challenge.  I hear it said  that songs should be "universal" and that writers shouldn't use specific names, places, dates, etc.,  But rules are made to be broken, and that rule has been broken by the best of 'em many times over from A-Z! After the fact, I did start to second-guess that maybe I shouldn't have used the name as the rhyming hook, and immediately a bunch of famous songs came to mind that have  names in them that aren't rhymed with anything... but... then I started to think of ones that do "Michelle, ma belle. these are words that go together well..", (Beatles) "If you knew, Peggy Sue, then you'd know why I feel blue..." (Buddy Holly) "You're still my favorite girlfriend, Alice Long. And I don't forget about you when you're gone..." (Boyce & Hart)... Can you add to this list?


9th Street


This song is even older than "Last Hurrah". At least its initial composition.  Back then it was called "The South 9th Street Waltz",  in the 60's/70's tradition of  song titles that mean something to the writer, but don't appear anywhere in the song lyrics.

The song's "birth year" is 1978. Somewhere in the dusty archives of the Library of Congress is a 1979 copyright registered to co-writers  Janet Bressler and Frank Levine. The version on the upcoming album is "only" the 5th reworking of this same song! It now boasts an additional part- a new chorus (or bridge- you tell me!) with chord sequence created by Bill Barone.  It's gone through many titles throughout its permutations.  For simplicity's sake or because it's no longer a straightforward waltz number, it'll be called Ninth Street here.

I've noticed that the song's namesake address has undergone changes over the years. Upgrades and renovations to the building's exterior. There's an iron gate blocking access to the alley. Second and third floor balconies obstruct  the trajectory that a set of keys would take when  dropped from a fourth floor attic window.

The rent back then was $275. I just checked Craigslist and found a listing at the exact address. It's not the same apartment; that would be too much of a coincidence.  The one in the ad is a studio. The rent is $880. Without going on a rant about economic disparity, I'll just say that the pay for bands playing original music has not risen accordingly.



Summer '76


It was my last night in NY. My friends and I were looking to hear some  live music. We stumbled down the stairs of 145 Bleecker Street  The Dugout was a little basement  club.

We took a table at the far corner. In the low-ceilinged room, I turned in my chair to watch a boy singing and playing acoustic guitar on the tiny stage. When he launched into the Flying Burrito Brothers' version of the Stones song "Wild Horses" , I couldn't help but sing along. It's one of my favorites.  I added a high soprano part over top the choruses.  It was noisy in there- I doubt I could be heard. 

At his break , he walked right to my table. He was easy to talk to.  I told him of my own musical aspirations. In a deep southern accent he said "I believe you can sing."  

I said I was still in school. .

He shook his head. "Join a band! Any band! Even if they're doin'  f*ckin' Bachman Turner Overdrive!"

 He told me about a Tuesday open mic , "A lot of musicians go there, you could meet people."

And then he went back on to do his next set.

My friends wanted to leave. As we headed towards the door, the boy leaned away from the microphone and called after me, "Come to Folk City Tuesday night!"  Did I consider it? Maybe for a moment.  But by morning, New York would feel like a million miles away.

I remembered his name.

Two years later, I was out of school, back in Philly, on my third band, playing  original songs.  Was it a Sunday? There, in the New York Times, was a glowing review of the boy's first album! It was called, "Alive on Arrival".  I met that guy! .  I was truly happy for him.  I knew with certainty, as I held the newspaper in my hands, that I'd have my album, soon, too.


It would be over 20 years until my first album. And just  a self-released CD, besides.  A long way and a far cry from major label vinyl dreams.




Last Hurrah


Here I go again... Over the next weeks, I plan to write something about each of the songs on our upcoming album... Starting with the one that I've been considering for the title song...


The Loneliness of the Long-time Indie Artist


So many executive decisions in a dictatorship-parading-as-democracy band structure! What's a girl to do? The suggestion box is open.


Last Show (Not!)


I stood in a spotlight (wow!), in front of a full (-ish) house, the band behind me.  The haunting sound of Charlie's English horn trailed off.  Bill fingerpicked the delicate acoustic guitar intro to "Final Testament", and I began to sing.


Blog vs Diary


it was a little brown leatherette book with  "My Diary" in gold-colored writing embossed on the cover. It even had a lock and a tiny key