I had a very happy childhood, but I had so many friends who couldn’t wait to move out. I wrote this song about that and with the added message that if a young person is having suicidal thoughts because they feel trapped, break free instead – it’s better than letting the oppressive family win. Pretty naive, I suppose, but that was me in my thirties – sure of my points of view and preachy as well, which is more or less what being thirty-something is all about. It’s how you make thousands of snap decisions every day to build your own family, which in turn can make the kids feel oppressed, so they have to leave to grow up to be their own person in their thirties and then do it all over again to their own kids. That’s how the species survives. You ever stop to think just how many of your attitudes are biologically driven by your age, rather than by personal growth? I suppose you do, if you’re my age…
Back in the 1980s I was hired to edit a documentary on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple mass suicide. 900 folks killed themselves in their settlement in the jungles of Guyana. Heavy stuff to work with each day, and my outlet was that it inspired this song – Guyana Dreamin’ – Loosely named after the Mommas and Papas song, California Dreamin’. I interviewed one of the survivors – an NBC cameraman who came over to Guyana with the congressman who was investigating Jones and precipitated a massacre at the airport by Jones’ henchmen that led to the mass suicide. Man, he was still wrecked by the experience and very bitter that he couldn’t get hired any longer because everyone thought he was in his words, “damaged goods” due to his experiences. And then there was the Super-8 sound footage we got a hold of that had been shot by Jones’ people in Guyana to use for fundraising back in in the States. There’s an unbelievably ironic scene where they are holding a feast with entertainment in the dining hall in Guyana and there’s a fellow playing guitar and singing the theme from M.A.S.H. which, if you don’t know, is entitled “Suicide is Painless.” And even more ironic, as you may recall, almost all of them died, men, women, and children, from drinking Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide. So we have this footage of Jones himself taking us on a tour of their food stores, and in one scene he stops and points out some supplies saying, “And this is where we keep the Kool-Aid.” So, as you can see, the weird, strained, discordant tones of this song, as well as the dark lyrics, were my way of getting my head around the stuff of tragedy and shedding it into the art. Now it’s yours! 🙂
This is one of my favorites of the songs I wrote in the 1980s. Very simple pop music compared to the things I write these days, but it does have some ambitious harmonies, and I particularly like the change-up in musical theme in the chorus.
Twisted the Beatles song title around and found a great inspiration for a song of my own. Wrote this one in the 1980s.
Intended as an experiment, in this very subtle slowly building piece, instruments are gently and gradually added to the repetitive theme. Each iteration almost imperceptibly deepens the richness and complexity. It may sound like an exercise in competitive redundancy but if you compare the last bars to the first, there is quite a difference that snuck in under the radar. From the 1980s
Wrote this one in regard to a 1980s horror film I directed called The Strangeness, but never used it in the movie.
The one has a spiritual bent. Though my mom and dad were getting all “born again” in those days, I found myself in my teenage years not finding traditional religion a comfortable fit. I wrote this song somewhere in the early 70s, then recorded this version a few years later when I wanted permanent copies of my previously composed songs. I’m rather proud of the lyrics on this one. I wanted to put a twist on things to avoid cliches and traditional ways of looking at the path to salvation, and this is what I ended up with.
I have no idea why I wrote this weird little ditty, much less recorded it, yet here it is. Make of it what you will. And when you speak of this in years to come, and you will, be kind….
This one started out as a poem about folks who get lost in the past, sucked out of the moment and into reverie. Written in my twenties, I saw a lot of old folks drifting away from involvement in the here and now and wanted to pen a tome about the dangers of dropping into that rabbit hole. So, now that I’m an old person, here I am spending all my time recycling my old artistic creations instead of making anything new. How’s that for poetic irony. Hmmm… “poetic irony” – that’s a new creation. WooHoo! Not Dead Yet! (Mostly).
I was still in high school during the summer of love in 1968 and didn’t graduate until 1971. So, though I adopted the hippy dress code just a little bit, I was a tad too young (coming from a loving family) to run off to Haight Ashbury. In fact, I didn’t get involved in much anything in those days, preferring to keep to my own company other than organized events my parents got me involved in (with a few exceptions). And looking back years later, once I had developed more of a social conscious, I wrote this song as a mantra against lack of involvement. I originally called it Tarnished Karma, but when I decided to take that for my performance name, I changed the name of the song to Straight As An Arrow, which seemed very Republican somehow, and (from what I’ve seen of late) was not all that inaccurate. Anyway, here ’tis…