…about the songs on “The New Wrong Way”
Living Rock – About a trip to Nashville, life’s ups and downs, and the ability of rock to pull me through pretty much anything.
The Cat That Can Be Alone – I was super-inspired by jazz singer Anita O’Day’s autobiography, so I wrote a musical version of it!
Tenderly – At that weird record store in the Times Square subway station (it’s still there), in the early ’90s, I bought “Anita Sings the Most.” I guess I vaguely knew who Anita O’Day was, and wanted to beef up my collection of jazz/standard singers. I fell so in love with this record, and especially “Tenderly.”
Water Shoes – When I moved to the ‘burbs in 2003, I left much of my musical landscape in NYC. Then I met Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, two of earth’s nicest humans, and I was able to build one in NJ. Together with Scott, we created and hosted the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap, a performance series for songwriters. Our little world merged with other musical worlds in NJ and also with the old NYC world, tying a lot of people I love together. Case in point: Another one of my favorite NYC people, Philip Shelley, moved to Maine, and one day we were visiting him and he played us a bit of a song he had written and wondered if I wanted to do anything with it. I had been hoping to come up with a song for J. & D. for their birthdays, so that became “Water Shoes.”
Cassandra – This song is about a Miranda Lambert show I saw at Terminal Five in September of 2010. One of the best concerts I have ever been to. (She covered “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Coo,” flawlessly!) I am a huge country music fan, although I have drifted more and more away from mainstream country, over the years, but I will always love Miranda, who for sure keeps one foot firmly planted in “outlaw” country, and is an inspirational rebel.
Idiot – I derived much joy from Vin Scelsa’s long-gone radio program “Idiot’s Delight.” I cried listening to the last episode in May 2015, especially because I had fallen out the habit of listening to it, and realized how much I had missed. Luckily, there still are plenty of other great DJs and shows, and thanks to streaming, I can listen to them whenever I want.
Free the Rose – In 2013, Myrna Marcarian brought a potted yellow rose to my mother’s memorial service. I planted it and it managed to stayed alive for a long time, sitting in the yard being symbolic, during which time I wrote this song. I have never been a good gardener, so I was pretty impressed with myself. Of course, as soon as I wrote this song, the damn thing died.
Sun in My Morning – One day when Scott and I were merging our 45s, he discovered among his (he doesn’t know where it came from) one with this song, b/w “Tomorrow Tomorrow.” I love the Bee Gees but am not familiar with a lot of the super early stuff (“Main Course” is my era). I fell in love with this song and we covered it a couple times, and Rich Feridun pretty much insisted we do it on this record. It was magical to record it at Ardent studios, with Rich’s amazing sounds coming from the world’s most wonderful borrowed guitar, and Sue’s angelic harmonies.
Circumstances – The first couple lines are old lyrics I had lying around for years. (People, hang on to all those old lyrics!) I dredged it up and it became a sort of angry suburban country love song, wherein a fictional girlfriend berates her songwriter boyfriend (a composite of myself and many others) to get crackin’. (Kind of like I finally had to do to finish this record.)
Sawtelle – Scott is also a Kundalini yoga teacher, and this song grew from a Kundalini mantra, “Sa Ta Na Ma.” (A great way to calm down, by the way.) We tried to create a song with words starting with S/T/N/M, rotating line by line. It turned into a sort of story (at least I think so.)
What If Music? – Have you ever become so obsessed with a song that it kind of turns bad on you, and you have to get it out of your head? Especially when that song is functioning in your life as a way of exacerbating another situation. That used to happen to me all the time. It doesn’t happen so much now; music doesn’t always have the “teeth” for me that it used to, except for every once in a while, when it TOTALLY STILL DOES. Anyway, that’s what this song is about.
Tom Tom – My friend Tom Lucas and I were talking one night at a Rent Party show (another great NJ musical institution). He was telling me about going to Japan and visiting his family when he was in college, and how he didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language, but ended up buying an XTC video VHS tape that got him through that whole time. I love stories of musical obsession! Not long after, I merged some of a song he had started with my narration of his adventures.
Your Job – About when work is difficult, or you can’t sleep and are just staring at the ceiling there worrying and obsessing and you feel like, I don’t have time to sleep, or perhaps I don’t deserve to. You do.