I grew up in the 1950's surrounded by music, the youngest of four children in a middle-class family in northwestern Iowa. My parents loved Nat King Cole, Jackie Gleason and Dean Martin. One of my earliest memories is listening to Nat King Cole singing Christmas carols. My older sister loved Elvis and Buddy Holly; she played "Hound Dog" and "Maybe Baby" endlessly. My older brother was a huge fan of Dion, Roy Orbison, and the Beach Boys, so I heard "Runaround Sue", "Only the Lonely", and "Surfin' USA" constantly. Meanwhile, my other older sister loved Neil Diamond, Gene Pitney, and show tunes and musicals, so when she got the chance, she'd slide some "Solitary Man", "Only Love Can Break a Heart", or "West Side Story" on the spindle. Since we only had one record player in the family, there was constant competition to see whose music would get to be heard!
I remember that for my show-tunes-loving sister's 14th birthday, all she wanted was a promise from my parents that they'd let her watch the Ed Sullivan show that evening. She'd heard of this musical group called "the Beatles" and she wanted to know what they sounded like. That night in February 1964 I sat on the floor beside my sister in front of the TV, and watched as the Beatles performed. I was transfixed – I loved all their songs, especially ‘She Loves You”.
When the Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 1967 I became electrified by their music. I was astonished by the lyrics of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life". Before then, I had never heard a song that wasn't either a Christmas carol or a love song. I had no idea that you could write a song about being on LSD or reading a newspaper article about a fatal traffic accident. It blew my mind!
It was then that I decided I had to learn how to play the guitar so I could write my own songs -- and they'd be full of amazing imagery with unforgettable melodies -- just like the Beatles songs! So, I taught myself to play some basic chords and started composing. Naturally, all of those early tunes were terrible! But, I continued to listen to popular music, going back and retroactively collecting all the earlier Beatles albums, as well as acquiring in the process a taste for Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues, the Turtles, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, and the Bee Gees. And I continued to write songs.
I guess you could say that all of these singers and songwriters -- from Nat King Cole all the way to the Bee Gees -- have influenced the songs that I create today.
I don't write songs in a very methodical way. I don't usually decide ahead of time that I'm going to write a country-western tune for female vocalist that describes how blind love can be. I can do that, but some of my best songs have just come to me out of the blue. I wouldn't say I "channel" music but it's almost like that. All at once, a tune will just pop into my head, along with a line or two of lyrics. From that point on, it's a matter of figuring out what the song is about and coming up with the rest of the words.
I hope you will enjoy the songs you hear on my website. If you are a recording artist and are interested in covering one of my songs, please let me know.
Thanks for listening!