I guess I have a recollection of endless
short bios of historical figures.
The “facts” of their birthplace, schooling, awards.
How meaningless all that was to me.
A quote of something they said or wrote with insight,
inspiration and clarity was worth more than
all the dates and diplomas and battles won.
If I tell you I was born in Chicago, what does that mean?
If your grandmother was born in Chicago and told you that,you’d forget it in a moment,
but you'd remember if you she told you
what an autumn day in Chicago felt like, how the trees looked
moving in the wind with their leaves falling off in basketfuls and how
she raked them and watched as her father carefully lit them on fire
and stood watch while the smell of the smoke filled the block.
If she told you of being a teenager and walking along the lake shore
when the water was frozen probably a mile out into the lake
and she and her friends walked out onto it and felt like
they must be a stone's throw from the North Pole
with nose and hands and feet numb…
then you might feel something of Chicago and her life.
If I told you I went to the Chicago Conservatory Of Music
what would that mean if you thought my music sucked?
If I told you I couldn’t stay for two or three or four years
at that conservatory because I felt like I was suffocating
after 12+ years of public schools and rows of desks
and I was in my own apartment sitting at the piano
and going into altered states,
seeing a child running in a field instead of
the dark wood of the upright and
I was playing that child running in the field
and not notes and counterpoint and classical harmonics,
that would be more my bio than any list of degrees.
I was playing what I loved to hear. It fit neatly into
no category of music. I had, since childhood, been drawing.
In high school I was the school newspaper cartoonist,
making up my own characters and doing weekly strips.
I also did artwork for various projects and had a humor column
and a record review column.
Within a year after graduating I was making part of my living,
then all, doing portraits in charcoal or pastel or oils.
This paid the rent while I was really learning the piano
and later guitar and writing songs both lyrical and instrumental
that often came to me in dreams.
I’d made attempts through high school at sax, drums and a guitar
because in 8th grade I’d written a song for my first girlfriend
and got some friends to sing harmony on it.
The second song I wrote was when we broke up
(that 15th and final time).
After high school I bounced back and forth between
Chicago and New York City doing what I called
the ‘Carny” circuit of traveling artists
who set up their easels at places like Greenwich Village,
the boardwalk in Atlantic City in the summer,
or in clubs or malls or sleazy galleries
where mediocre paintings are sold.
One gallery owner wanted me to paint clowns for him. I passed.
While this was going on I was beginning to play my music at loft parties,
coffee houses, events and a few weird times in-studio
at a radical independent radio station in New York City.
Although I loved so many musician/composers I never had a ‘god’.
I never learned to play note for note the songs of anyone.
If I wanted enough to learn a song I did,
but most of my time was given to playing this music
not quite like any other,
a spatial soundscape that I was free in
and that made the most sense to me.
I would often sit in a city apartment and draw from my imagination,
places in a forest as if I was seeing them.
While logic would say I should have stayed in that city and persist and get a record deal I was also dreaming lyrics like:
"Dawn you come so ugly in the city
Giving mock to my imagining
A pinker pink
A bluer blue
What did they do?
To make a hell like this a place to live
To try to grow
With every exit shouting “no”
You don’t know how to take the lake
The mountain life."
So a friend offered his farm to stay at, rent free, for the summer,
at the top of Michigan, acres from any other house,
a no longer active farm with decaying sheds and barn
and a house full of spiders.
But standing naked
outside in the moonlight
for the first time in my life
I felt the Earth as a home and as a living entity,
rich with stories to tell.
I discovered a whole other dimension of myself
that the music had been pointing to and
that I couldn’t quite get in touch with in the cities.
From there I went on to California and couldn’t stay in LA
or San Francisco. The mountains called and I went.
After one more abortive trip to NYC I found Sedona, Arizona
and have been here for over a decade.
My music has been heard by millions now,
though most of them never knew who it was that made the music.
Those that did have bought the CDs
and have been supporting my pursuit of the
incredible mystery that music is and that we all are.
So much for the short bio. The real biography is in the music,
both instrumental and lyrical.
If you like what you hear come back often.
There’s much more to come.