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For folks who come to this page with some interest in learning a little about the man behind the songs, well, thank you!  It’s kind of you to take an interest. It’s awkward to talk about yourself.  That’s part of what is so appealing about songs and other kinds of art.  You can express in them aspects of self or observations and feelings about life that maybe can’t be said in other ways — but you can also hide behind them.  I will let you draw what you will about me from listening to my songs, which contain some of these lines:

I’ve been stumbling all my days
Tryin’ to find my better ways
Been humbled sometimes by your grace and love

Sometimes I’m walking,
My thoughts wander down
Where the ghost locomotives go

Well I wrote a letter, I wrote it long
Then I tore it up and I wrote this song
When I go to sing it, the chords sound wrong
But that’s all right: what’s chords to a dog?

A forthcoming song has one of my favorite lines — pretty much my mission statement:

By the time I die I hope to have a code to live by

Me?  I am a sort of writer on a kind of quest: looking to find and communicate some truth and atone for real and imagined sins.  I’d also like to be of some help to folks who suffer with depression.  I have what you might call a songwriter’s voice and a radio face.  My keyboard chops were best as a kid, when I played most all the 20th-c. standards for my granddad on a B-3 and was a church organist for a small Presbyterian church in Lakehurst, not far from the site of the Hindenburg disaster. 

I was born in San Diego while my dad was stationed in the Navy there as an aerial photographer.  My parents’ first child being a dog, I was their second, kind of, and did my dad the favor of being born on Father’s Day.  I was brought up with my four younger siblings in New Jersey, just outside of Bruce Springsteen’s Freehold, on the edge of a big tract of scrub pine, truck farms, and horse farms right near his Route 88 and “Greasy Lake.”  We lived next to and across from chicken farms doing business in fresh eggs, and some of those summer breezes were fairly interesting.  While not far from the developments that contained the lion’s share of our citizenry, we were on a long, winding, rural road with a small bridge over a smaller creek and hard by a medium-sized campground.  My parents thought we were the Waltons, and despite our working class resources we somehow had lots of dogs and cats, as well as ducks, rabbits, birds, a pony, and for a time a rather strange and angry little squirrel monkey.  I remember spending a lot of my boyhood raking leaves and carrying them with my brothers in huge tarps to the woods — and doing similar things with the results of the kennel and pony stall.  My brothers and I enjoyed riding dirt bikes through the woods and playing field football, while my sisters did what sisters do, which I still have not entirely figured out — something to do with giving cats funny nicknames and memorizing episodes of TV comedies depicting odd forms of domestic bliss.  (That and cooking lopsided cakes with too much food coloring and hiding Hostess products from us boys so they had a chance in hell of having any.)  I still miss that little island of family, and Lord help me I still crave my mother’s pot roast.  I had a nice time in high school, and then for some reason they let me into Yale University, where I mainly learned how little I knew — that and how to paint nude women and take aim at El Greco and Cezanne rather than the Abstract Expressionists.  I also learned a whole lot about life and good music from my roommate, Mark, who gifted me with a deep appreciation for The Band, Nashville Skyline, the Gram Parsons Byrds, Neil Young, John Prine, and all manner of other musical artists who have come to form the foundation of my own writing.

For many years I have worked 9–5 to support myself and my music and art habits, and I have experienced numerous gains and losses and learned a lot the hard way.  I picked up a guitar very belatedly in exchange for helping a friend gut and reframe a house, and while we don’t learn as fast as we once did as we grow older, I do passably well for writing.  You get different songs out of a guitar than you do a piano.  I like to write on both, and usually mainly do the lyrics first.  Aside from wanting to be a better human being and to increase the quotients of happiness for myself and my friends, man would I love to write a song someday that might get anywhere near the idiosyncratic lightning-in-a-jar ones I love best, such as: 

Blue, Lucinda Williams
Greenville, Lucinda Williams
Mellow My Mind, Neil Young
Albuquerque, Neil Young
A Song for You, Gram Parsons
Juanita, Parsons/Hillman; Emmylou H. & Sheryl Crow
Sky Blue Sky, Wilco
Julia, Beatles
Wild Horses, Stones
No Woman No Cry, Bob Marley and the Wailers
Ghostyhead, Rickie Lee Jones
For the Good Times, by Kris Kristofferson;as sung by Ray Price
Help Me Make It Through the Night, Kris Kristofferson
I Can’t Make You Love Me, by Reid/Shamblin; as sung by Bonnie Raitt
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams
Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain, Willie Nelson
I Shall Be Released, by Bob Dylan; as performed by The Band
Four Strong Winds, by Ian Tyson; sung by Tyson or Neil Young
She’s Already Made Up Her Mind, Lyle Lovett
Let It Be Me, by Bécaud/Curtis/Delanoë; by Everly Bros.
Caroline, No, by Brian Wilson; the Beach Boys
Tomorrow on the Runway, Innocence Mission
How, John Lennon
Long Monday, John Prine
San Francisco Serenade, Tom Waits
Same Road, Mary Gauthier

If a man is about what he likes, I am about those songs and a bunch more I could mention if you had all day — plus a lot of novels and films and so forth.    

One of my favorite things to do, most of my life, has been to go to a diner, have breakfast or coffee and pie, and listen to “For the Good Times” two or three times on the juke box.  Some songs can really take you places.  I want to come up with one like that.  I can’t seem to find it much anymore, and it may be that I ought to move to whatever town in America still has a diner that does have it.  That and good pie, both.  As for my sins: I’ll keep them to myself.  They know what they are.

Thanks for listening!

Leejay