I have thought many times about doing a new record since releasing “The Watcher.” I stepped away from music altogether for several years after the untimely passing of my frequent musical collaborator and best friend, Roger Taylor. The “Legal Bytes” project brought music back for me. So did leaving the daily corporate grind to join Vertex Advisors in 2019. I have found a better work/life balance as a result and some limited time to pursue creative projects.
As management consultants, we sometimes advise clients to take a reasonable risk and step lightly outside their comfort zone to achieve real results. The ones that do enjoy great success. Many are afraid to do so. I took our own advice on this project – everyone I worked with over the last two years on this production was totally new to me as a collaborator and all are many years my junior in age. They really pushed me artistically on this project which I think led to the best result. You can find brief information about each song below. I sincerely appreciate the time you take to listen and/or share these songs with others.
Thank you especially to my wife, children, mom, brothers, extended family, close friends, and colleagues who put up with and support the mercurial life of an artist. Nobody can create anything alone. Putting yourself into a piece of art and sharing it with the public is always intimidating. This project is dedicated to the memory of my dad, Sam Gillman, who always believed in my musical ability so fervently, so irrationally if truth be told, that I never stopped believing in it myself.
“While The Radio Plays
“The Party Man”
“King’s Head Harbor”
“Chardonnay At The End Of The Road”
“Greet Another Dawn”
“Life Through Windowsills”
“A Song For Joy”
“Prayer For The Man In The Moon”
I wrote this song two weeks after giving notice at my law firm job and thinking about what my life could be like moving forward. I unofficially view this as the Vertex Advisors fight song! This foundational change in my life took place well before the pandemic. It has been interesting to watch so many people and companies go through a similar re-evaluation of priorities throughout the last two years.
This piece was written during the rocky financial times of 2008 after the housing bubble burst and Wall Street crashed. Our family struggled along with everybody else for months. The lyrics are about the good and bad aspects of money, about chasing it, needing it, sometimes wasting it, etc. Life’s a party up until the day that it isn’t.
This is a topical song that doesn't take political sides - a task harder in some ways than layering all the many vocal tracks that comprise this particular track. While art has often proudly provoked significant societal change, artists too often forget it can serve an alternate purpose -- that music in particular can unite as well as divide, can promote healthy debate and thereby illuminate within each of us our shared humanity. That's what I'm going for here. Borrowed the title from Thornton Wilder.
Like most families in suburban Maryland where I grew up, our family went to Ocean City Beach for vacation at least one week every summer. We'd usually run into the same families we knew from the neighborhood while there. I continued to go with some of my buddies as a junior and senior in high school, as well as for the first few summers home from college before staying in Boston and later moving to LA. This is about those early days. My family often stayed at a hotel called "Castle in the Sand" where my two younger brothers and I could roam about on imaginative adventures.
This song was inspired by a trip to New Mexico I made with a work colleague and dear friend many years ago. We drove out into the desert for dinner and for about 45 minutes there was literally nothing as far as the eye could see. We drove around a sharp corner and suddenly saw this gourmet restaurant sitting by itself on a large butte, lights twinkling. It was stunning. My friend was older than me. During dinner she paused for a second to collect herself, then remarked how great it would be to someday find herself there toward the end of her life, enjoying a glass of Chardonnay, accompanied by five-star cuisine, peacefully surrounded by only the natural beauty of the world.
I didn't quite get it back then. I'm old enough to better understand it now. That memory and that story inspired this song about a woman taking account of her life, the loves she found, the loves she lost, and most important of all, raising a glass to celebrate the sweet journey she traveled.
I've been trying to best formulate the production on this one for several years now. It's about the messy end of a childhood friend's marriage. The challenge was how to present such an emotional conflict within a compelling musical structure. The older versions were moody and atmospheric, but they didn't work for me. I finally cracked the puzzle thanks to the work of Jean Fraus who plays trumpet on this track. It's essentially a musical duel between guitar (husband) and trumpet (wife) with a driving beat and an Ed Sheeran inspired keyboard riff pushing it forward.
This is one of the most personal in terms of subject matter on this record. It's about the major health event I miraculously managed to survive almost ten years ago, hard as that is to believe in terms of time passing by. That scary struggle is what the song is about for me. Interestingly, one of the artists I worked with had an entirely different reaction to it. He saw it thematically as a timely and important message to anyone contemplating suicide, a worrisome trend nationally, that no matter how dark the day, there is always hope around the corner so as the song says, take a breath and greet another dawn. Fine by me. If something I write can help anybody struggle through a challenge, then all the better.
This song actually started as a poem written shortly after a colleague passed away from Covid complications. The lyric "the liars and their lies," - along with other lines in the song - will likely resonate differently depending on one's point of view but that's the great thing about the promise of America. The key is to ensure that someone with an alternate view is rightly perceived as only an adversary as opposed to an enemy. After all, if there's one thing we've learned over the past few years, it's that life can certainly look different while leaning on a windowsill.
One of the things I promised my darling Mrs. when I told her of my plan/desire to devote some limited personal time and resources to this project was that I would most definitely record the song I originally wrote and performed for her with an orchestra on our wedding day, 25 years ago come September 28th. It was written to be, and remains, an open letter to God. To make it more special, a few of the acoustic guitar parts on this recording are performed by our daughter, Maddie, the one of our three magical children who aspires to pursue a musical journey of her own someday - so long as she goes to college at the same time! This was Maddie's first time in a real studio and a father/daughter memory for sure.
Since this is the lengthiest song on this record - and also the oldest in terms of when I wrote it - kindly indulge this detailed backstory: back when I was in college playing countless coffeehouse gigs around the Boston/Connecticut area, my buddy (the late great John Winske) roped me into performing Christmas shows for charities at local hospitals. I got a Santa suit and would do three or four per year. I did several more my first two years in LA.
It was easy for me to sing holiday standards like Rudolph, Holly Jolly Xmas, Winter Wonderland, etc. but as someone of a different faith, I candidly felt a little uncomfortable singing the more religious hymns. As you might imagine, people in hospitals requested religious songs about Christmas miracles more often than not. I solved the problem by writing a song about a Christmas miracle of my own that I could sing without reservation.
I wrote this more than thirty-five years ago, perched in the window of my tiny little apartment on Commonwealth Ave. It was my last winter in Boston, and it was after encountering a group of homeless folks while walking home one night in the snow from the T station in Kenmore Square. All these years later there are more homeless people than ever before. Many are in desperate need of a miracle. Other than years ago at hospital Xmas shows and for my immediate family, the only other time I've ever performed this song publicly was at an Allen Matkins Xmas party in 2001.
As always, I performed it on an acoustic guitar. Like much of my earlier work, this song is more of a folk/rock story style, but it's always been one of my personal favorites. The orchestrations - including the cello and violin parts - have played in my mind forever even though no one else could ever hear them. Finally producing and recording it with a full arrangement has been a genuine gift to me.