Songwriting

How songwriting has shaped my life

I was fortunate to have found my home early in life. This place where you know who you want to be and what you want to do; the vocation, the call.

I grew up in a house with a radio always on. As a child, the voices of the great Italian-American singers came out of the loudspeakers. Vic Damone, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and perhaps most importantly, Jimmy Rosselli. My father Lou had a beautiful voice and sang heartily with all the poetic lyrics and soaring melodies that those songs from the late 40’s and early 50’s had.

They were songs of life and love, and I got involved long before I could understand their deeper meaning, quickly learning the words and memorizing them.

They were voices with a tone and scope I could never reach; but the poetry, the stories, the melodies, that was where I could go to build my house.

Subsequently, shortly before my teenage years, my father bought a jukebox course. Suddenly, every week, he came home with 45 rpm (records) that he changed and exchanged in his jukeboxes. For the most part, if I remember correctly, it was early rock ‘n’ roll: Elvis, Bobby Darin, Loyd Price, Dion and the Belmonts, Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Skyliners, the Chantels, the Everly Brothers . I devoured them all on a little pink and white Victrola in the basement.

And there, while listening, I developed a new habit, reading record companies. I considered them to be a wealth of information and unwittingly studied them until I basically knew the facts around the song almost as well as I knew the melody itself. Beautifully crafted labels with company names in mind like Laurie, Cadence, ABC Paramount, Roulette, Chess, Decca, the staidest of the time, Columbia and of course RCA.

Further down, under the hole, the title of the song, the name of the artist, on the sides, the publisher, the producer, even its duration appeared on the label. But for me, the most intriguing and inspiring credit appeared (in parentheses) right under the title itself. This is where you discovered songwriters.

It was the involuntary homeschool that accompanied my Catholic education, where the Sisters of Charity and later the Jesuits refined my appreciation of the beauty and power of the written word. It was the English and Literature courses that easily grabbed my attention and grabbed my attention. It was then that I started to write poems rather badly, sitting down on other subjects. It quickly evolved trying to put them into melody, a game that I really liked. Here is a riddle I needed to solve. It swallowed me up. I was under her spell and slowly began to realize that there was nothing I would rather do than write a song.

It was this revelation that moved me forward, gave me identity and direction. A dream I could believe in. Something in me that said it was my exit from the confines of the everyday world around me. The question of talent has never occurred to me. I had a natural affinity and I was in love with the idea.

Once in my teens, I started putting together groups with other kids in the neighborhood, and even though I wasn’t the lead singer or the best musician, I continued to promote the idea that we had to. write our own songs and did my best to deliver. I wrote or co-wrote many songs for the many bands that have evolved and changed over the years. All in the hope of entering the studio, making a record and hearing it on the radio. We kept repeating. There were a lot of concerts: parties, church balls and small and large clubs along the way. There were managers and agents, contracts and demos. There were false starts, dashed hopes and situations that caused animosity among friends. I was motivated and at times ruthless in my efforts. Through it all, I continued to write, listen, try to learn and improve my skill level as a musician and lyricist.

I didn’t know at the time how much being a songwriter would affect and shape the rest of my life.


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