Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Everything goes in roundabout ways. Several months ago I blogged about Dave Frishberg, a songwriting idol of mine. I got an e-mail out of the blue from Nancy Frishberg (his niece) who was guest editing a publication devoted to "Usability" for Usability Professionals.

It looks very interesting, but the online version is only for members. This particular issue is dedicated to aging, and Nancy wanted to reprint my lyrics to "Rumplestiltzkin: Dead at 95" -- this is appropriate as the theme of the song is getting older, and looking back.

Nancy let me know that they had lost some advertising pages, and had to cut some content, and my lyric was removed. However, they had accidentally left in a mention about the lyric in the editor's page, and so had to print a correction. So, in a roundabout way, the site now points to the lyric.

Welcome Usability professionals!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Somebody's Son

Not everything can be autobiographical. It's always a balance between fiction and feeling. I always say that writing is the process of telling the truth by lying about it. Every so often though there is a good solid personal experience that makes a compelling story.

My elder son had been hospitalized with pancreatitis. Not sure how he got it, but it was painful and disconcerting, and he had to be in the hospital for four days. At first he was fed with an IV drip and couldn't eat food. After a couple of days his spirit came back, and there was never any real danger -- just that feeling of not being able to control what was happening.

A few months later, my two sons and I were in the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and they were too young to really appreciate of the smaller or unflashy elements of the exhibits. While going through we found the mummified body of a boy who had been killed in a volcanic eruption, his body preserved. I had that flash of inspiration, on the one hand I was so worried about my boys getting hurt, and here was an example of what we will all be in a few thousand years time -- if we're lucky. This boy we were staring at, he was somebody's son when he was alive, with parents who worried about him as well.

From the above came a lyric, and since I was listening to Paul Simon's "Surprise" at the time, it was written in that style. Recently a musician named Billy Playle found it on Musicians Collaboration and wanted to work on it. He got the "Paul Simon" feel right away, but it took several tries to get the verses right, and more work to get the bridge feeling "different" --- the bridge being the flashback to the hospital.

It's a very personal lyric and one that I've wanted to hear for some time, and I'm grateful to Billy for making it happen. I hope you enjoy listening to "Somebody's Son"

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It's been a while since I could post a new song, and I'm as excited about this one as I can be.

Hopefully you've heard "Atlantic City" by Jordan Peterson (with my lyrics). Of all the songs on my website, I think it's one of the strongest. Jordan wrote while he was still in high school. After putting out a CD, he became a senior, graduated, went to college.....but stopped composing for a long time. We never quite got that second song done.

I had to get a quick piano demo recorded recently and asked Jordan to help out, and he enjoyed doing it. Got his juices flowing, and he found the lyric "Hummingbird" I had tried to get him to compose a few years ago. And he nailed it.

This song was based on a friend of mine who was at a point in her life where she couldn't quite settle down -- and I think there was a dissatisfaction with who she was and what she was about. An anxiety the manifested itself in activity. I might have been dead wrong, of course, but the song is about my impressions, of course (and it's written in the second person).

Jordan plays fluttery high notes to represent the girl in the song, and the upper notes don't stop moving. You absolutely have to listen to the very end of the song, just to hear Jordan on the keys.

Oh, and the person in the song? She's married with kids and extremely happy now. But the song plays on.