In his poetry collection "Leaves of Grass," Walt Whitman wrote about his own death for many years before it actually ocurred. Similarly, these are songs I'd love to be able to play at my own funeral. It makes using Whitman's title "Song of Myself" all the more fitting.
These are personal interpretations, just me at my piano. My voice lacks the strength, control and range it had before my lungs began to shrink and fail, but the aged quality of the vocal performance has a depth and poignancy a younger voice may not be able to achieve. One of the criteria I used to choose these songs was that the lyrics work with my "new" voice. I also wanted to pay homage to my favorite songwriters. I hope the simplicity of a weathered solo voice and warm acoustic piano lends to each song a special intimacy.
Two tracks are hydrid songs, grafting lyrics from related songs by the artist that I thought worked well as textual implants. "Blue Tattoo" combines material from 5 Joni Mitchell songs under a single emotional concept, using "Blue" as the organizing principle. The other hydrid, "I Have Been Decieved," combines 3 Elton John songs into a single story line, the main framework being his 1969 "The King Must Die." My version of "Blackbird" integrates a moment from Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," as well. In all cases, I'm trying to get at a deeper reading of specific lyrics. Sometimes I've altered the lyrics, is in Jon Anderson's "Let's Pretend." If you are familiar with his original lyrics, perhaps these changes will add a layer of hidden meaning.
"No Place Like Home," a fantasy inspired by Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow," is an instrumental, a duet for piano and soprano sax. Special thanks to my friend and collaborator Woody Mankowski for his marvelous playing.
The "bonus track" is a previously unreleased recording of my original song "Before There Were Gods," made following Michael Hedges' untimely death, with the blessings of his estate. It encorporates his amazing guitar work from "Lenono," with additions by me, including layered vocals. Unlike the other songs in this collection that are all recorded during 2011/2012, it was recorded in 2004, when I was breathing freely.
For additional liner notes, as well as lyrics and notes for each individual song, please see my official website.