April 2011
ASCAP expo

ASCAP, is my PRO! (performing rights organization)


Often, I will be wondering how I will swing paying my band, or replacing one more fizzled mac book pro - If I'm lucky, there will be some money in the pipeline from the magic secret gnomes at ASCAP. They are my eleventh hour saviors. The more that record sales disappear as a steady dependable source, the more these various other streams save us all.


This year I was invited to be on a couple of panels, attend the "pop awards" and then to sing a few songs in the round with some of their monster songwriters. (Steve Kipner, Rick Nowels, Tommy Sims) Lucky girl. That's tonight.


Yesterday I got to sing my pal Eric Bazilian's song "One of Us," to help demonstrate this spanky new site "limelight" - Say you want to cover someone else's song. If you want to do the right thing you must get a mechanical license and pay the statutory rate for the use of that song. It can be a pain in the butt, believe me. This site makes it easy peasy.


Adam Parness, jb, Michael Kauffman from Rightsflow/Limelight.


I got to see my sexy pal Michelle Featherstone (we wrote "Me and You" for Nolwenn Leroy's last album)

(you can't beat 5 for $25)


I am again struck by the sobering of the industry. I don't mean anyone is drinking less, god forbid, I just feel, finally, like everyone is talking a little more seriously about how we are going to make a living from our work. That ridiculous notion that "the playing field would finally be leveled by all the internet opportunities, is finally giving way to reality. It's just a big swamp out there. And wringing money out of something that is (like it or not) free, is not going to happen easily.


Let me qualify a tiny: there will always be the top, pop 1% cranking out radio hits. And so far at least the majors will keep looking for and throwing marketing money at the latest 'big thing.'  I'm talking about the other 99% of working writers, musicians, artists.


(I soooo wanted to ask Dr. Luke what kind of Dr. he is, and where he might have done his residency!)


I got to listen to a beautiful panel with Van Dyke Parks and Rufus Wainwright. What eloquent men they both are. They spoke about the idea of being 'different' as something that used to be the whole point. Now?


Parks said, "It's not how big the gun, it's how good the shot." And that all you can do is "try to deliver and then live up to your own heightened expectations. Good songwriting" he said "is about creating a "non-suable" offense," because we're all thieving and deriving, whether we realize it or not.


I got to hang out a little bit with the always amazing Desmond Childs, I've gotten to see some old and dear friends, and, yes, I am still so grateful that I get to write SONGS and sing them.


Thank you ASCAP.

Julie's big adventure

Julie is my sister in law. She is also the angel of all time - my main caregiver helper with my mom. She is as intuitive now about "Stoney Baloney" as I am, and can spar with her like a champ. She also has the patience of Job, taking the majority of the very long night shifts.


Well, Yesterday Julie (who never ever complains about anything so if she even whispers or whimpers you know it's real) had a toothache.


I got on the phone right away. I LOVE my dentist. He said come right over.


Julie needs glasses, but often has misplaced hers just when she needs them. I think she looked great in mine, filling out the forms.


We only had to wait for a bit, even though the waiting room was packed. (Did I say I love my dentist?)


Well, Dr. Lowenberg took a quick look at the x-ray and said,

"Julie, you're in trouble, that has to come out - today. I'm sending you next door."


Of course she resisted, it was a little too much too quickly for our Jules, but we pressed her. And reminded her that she'd feel so much better if she just went for it, got it out of the way. She tried again, "Can't you just take that top part of the crown off quick, and we'll put some candy corn in there instead?" Now THAT's a true practical (julie) midwestern idea.


We went next door.



and Dr. Beller whipped that thing right out.



He was so gentle with the novocaine


Julie was thrilled. "NO PAIN!!! I can't believe it! And it went so quickly, I thought there would be hours of drilling and scraping and pushing and pulling. But it was so easy and I got a stitch!!" She wanted to show everyone on the subway on the way home too, she was so excited about the stitch.


I couldn't find any candy corn at Duane Reade. So for now there's a hole, but no pain, and most importantly no infection.


The best part? Mom broke a tooth a couple of months ago and we've been advised that to start fixing her teeth at this point would be a real nightmare. She complains often and convincingly "what kind of a dentist would just say to sit tight when there's this jagged broken tooth. I just don't understand." We all have to say we understand, and yes it seems strange but for now, you can hardly see it. As long as it doesn't hurt you, we'll (and this is her favorite line) "keep on keeping on!"


Well now Julie can just tell her the dentist told her the same thing. Their holes are in almost the exact same place! And you really can't even see it when they smile!

blurry photo week

What a whirlwind of creation it has been!! In musical news, JOY. OK it was a week of completely out of focus photos. I'm completely embarrassed, off my game. But it just may be that I am so damned excited about the tunes I've written with Joe Sample, that I can't hold still.



We are moving forward with our musical "QUADROON," and it feels like we're catching a little bit of a wave. (I know, everyone warns me, this could be a ten year nightmare, but I don't care. I LOVE our songs.)


rich mercurio stopped by to add some killer sexy drums to the mix.


tyley ross?



I can't believe what this guy can do with his voice. When I listen to the songs he's sung for us, I cry EVERY time.


Ann Marie Milazzo stopped by and knocked three more tunes out of the park. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. Oh My GOD. More tears.

Even Patrick is getting choked up!


The skylight in the lounge at MSR said it all. There's music in the air. Listen, and then frigging SING it.

really? part 2

Pull your damned pants up. Stop it with this shit.



All right, now that I've gotten that out of the way.


I've been working on this musical for a couple years now with Joe Sample and Marc Mantell. Marc wrote "the book" and Joe and I have been hammering out songs. It's taking on a bit of momentum now. Quite exciting actually. I can SEE the vivid scenes, the back and forth between our leads, the dancing, the pool-of-light, 11o'clock drop-down-and-weep moments.

 marc mantell, joe sample, jb


Joe is also in town playing at the Blue Note all week with the CRUSADERS. If you've never seen this band? You'd better go. If you have seen this band then you know. GO. Three of the four original guys are here - Joe, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson. They came up together in Houston, TX in the 40's and 50's. They have seen it ALL.


The stories Joe tells? Beyond colorful. The music they play? Deep, soulful, funky, greasy - the rainbow.

See you there! Pants off the ground now, you hear?

That's What I Believe

My mother woke up in tears this morning.


"I think I'm going to DIE."


I read her some of her favorite hymns. Poetry, "Blueberries for Sal" - (one of our best ever books.) Nothing helped. So I pulled up Donnie McClurkin on You Tube. "That's What I Believe" from his Live in London Concert. I get the spirit every time I hear his voice.


Julie and I were singing along at the top of our lungs, "I came for deliverance, and deliverance I'll receive..."


Mom: slowly coming out of her funk: "I wish your father could see you now. You know every word! But your skin is a little too light to fit in with the choir."

Me: "I'm gonna sing it anyway mom. 'Cause 'You said you'd deliver me Lord, and that's what I believe.'"


Mom laughed and smiled and made her sweeping arm gesture, like she was preaching "let it be so."


Nothing like a little Gospel in the morning.

There was a lady in our hotel with a huge white long haired dog. They could have been sisters. Stunningly similar in profile. It never ceases to amaze me how we come to look exactly like our dogs - or do we choose them because they are somehow familiar? I am convinced that I must have been a golden retriever in a past life. Why else would I be so thrilled with any kind of praise, and so willing to 'go fetch' tirelessly?

I walked around Paris for a bit just yesterday. Yes, a quick business turnaround trip. And luckily I got a perfect April day. The fashion? Full bloom. Two more ladies and their dog counterpart.



then, just a few paces later, mom and daughter. Sliding out of Christian Dior. Mom? full Burka. Daughter? patent leather lace-up S&M boots, Swarovski crystal rap hat, tight tight tight.... everything!



Farther from fashion central, color seemed to be the thing.


Pink pig tails by the Seine

green rock and roll hair.


Orange shades. (Hermes, i'm sure)



Even the trees got dressed up. I can see the shaggy face in the bark.


Oh Lavender!


Acid washed jeans! Really?

Always fashion forward, a pigeon hat.


And we had just enough time for dinner at one of my favorite tiny places. It is called "L'invitation." in the 16th arrondissement.

Merci Regis (chef de cuisine extraordinaire) and Alexia (sommelier, hostesse super-gentille)


Desolee que mon sejour soit si court. Mais rien n'est mieux que le printemps a Paris!!!!

stone and jules

Mom and Julie have started an editing company: "Stone and Jules." Mom loves the double entendre. She thinks that Julie's typing skills and their shared love of the written word will be a winning combination. I called her from my little getaway last week to tell her I would like to give her some of my poems to work on for me. 


mom: (very serious) "I didn't know you wrote poems"

me: "well, they're more like songs, really

mom: "well I'll have to see if I have any poems that could be songs too."     

me: "I think we'd make a great team."

mom: "You know, we could make a play about this whole thing. you should be writing this all down."

me: "You know, you're right. I will do that."


She was so thrilled I was "taking some time for myself." And then she proceeded, elegantly, and with wonderful dynamics to read me a poem of hers. Well, actually she isn't sure if she wrote it or if she has "re-worked" it. But she still takes such joy in the telling, the singing, the performance. I could tell she was punctuating the good parts with dramatic sweeps of her arms:


Dear William Shakespeare,

we are intrigued by all the stages of your world,

(as well as ours) where matters of imagination

like the tides of war, still play through melancholy

and deceit. Reports just in reveal there are yet kings

and governors who cry after each intermission "places

everyone;" and then deliver with offensive contumely,

excuses for another war including horrors like the

concentration camps foreshadowing more centuries

of greed, dark fears, pathetic cries "give us some light!"



Alas poor Yorick and poor Hamlet too,

and yes, dear Bard, alas for everyone like me

or you. Long hours of indecision, rude remembrance

mock "can this be all?" and were you serious

in claiming nothing good or bad exists without

the thought that makes it so? How do we know

which minds may yield to fear and set the stages

of the world for war and then more war?

Lives there a man able to play Polonius and keep us

steady in the winds?



We search for words whose shadows dance

where light has always been – as real as music  

in the cosmic sphere. Who dares interpret how

one touch could redefine our very center

and circumference, redeem the purposes of life

or prayer and poetry? The search continues, noble

Bard, for the divinity that shapes our ends, the

Word itself that beards the conscience of all kings.

(i think there is more, but it may have gotten lost in the piles and piles of papers mom shifts through each day)

And just like that, even though mom has no idea what's going on in the outside world, she has felt the pulse.


It breaks my heart a little bit each time I leave, and a little bit more when I see her again. I know this won't end well. So I am savoring the good stuff, and hoping, hoping we can somehow sustain our hodge podge system.


I am so grateful to all of you who comment about the stories that I tell here. I'm not quite sure where they will lead. But I am writing them all down. There is a lot that I cannot share, but perhaps I will find a way to delve a little deeper in to our strange world.


I do know that almost everyone I know, and everyone I meet has similar stories tucked somewhere. And I do know talking about it helps. Dementia touches everyone.


I have been so lucky to find some beautiful soulful caregivers to be with my mother. They have embraced her idiosyncracies. They will patiently have the same conversation, sometimes twenty, thirty times a day. They have laughed and joined in her singular silliness. And responded with amazement at her selflessness and love in the face of debilitating pain, and frustrating physical circumstances.


thank you