I thought I would add a little “track by track” analysis to better explain what I was thinking when I assembled this album.
“St. Germain Street” is the name of the Main Street of the hometown of my childhood. Though I have not lived there in nearly 40 years, I still harbor some fond memories of this street. These memories are largely comprised of sunny days riding my bike down this street or walking home from high school. This typically meant hearing passing car radios through open windows playing tunes by Burt Bacharach or The Beatles. I tried to give this song that same sort of “sunny ambiance.” The Beatles songs “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” were meant to be an homage to the childhood places of Paul and John and this is what I had in mind too.
“Sweet on You” and “Mary” are obviously for my wife. For years I resisted writing personal love songs and now, in one fell swoop, I put two of them back to back. Also, for years people remarked about how the majority of my songs were in minor keys and here there are two in major keys (E major and A major respectively).
“Astoria” is a minor blues set in Nuevo Tango rhythm. Initially the title “Astoria” was a nod to Astor Piazzolla, the progenitor of Nuevo Tango, but here the lyrics imply that “Astoria” is a place where peace and colorful scenes are all around.
“Amber Dawn” is an electric guitar excursion where I actually use guitar effects, which is rare for me. Again the tune is in a sunnier C major and E flat major.
“Butterfly” was inspired by nature. I wrote the song after observing the circuitous flight of a monarch butterfly and trying to write a line to match that meandering flight, ergo, the measures of 2/4 inserted against the 3/4 Musette Waltz. This undoubtedly is my most popular tune.
“Afraid of the Dark” overtly deals with Yin and Yang and cosmic duality. The lyrics point to the contradictions in all people and how dealing with darkness may be the only way to conquer it. Perhaps this is too big a concept to address in less than 4 minutes but it is, none the less, my intent.
“Beatnik Pie” is a sort of Gypsy Jazz/Bebop combo and is one of the more popular tunes in my live set.
“Up Town” was used as the main title’s theme for the documentary “A Life Well Played” and again is a tune those who attend my gigs may readily acquaint with my writing.
“Johnny Appleseed” deals with the ongoing quest of all songwriters and musicians, i.e. the hope that the music we make can connect with others and plant some small seeds of happiness. It fits nicely with the overall concept of “All You Can Do (is all you can do”).
“Bangkok Sunset” was literally inspired by a sunset I witnessed there in 1994 and ends the album’s arc with a sort of “James Bond” ending.