Combining the art of music with the art of language results in unfathomable possibilities, and exploring those possibilities can be challenging- and rewarding. Here is a sampling of (complete) songs in various genres; those marked with an asterisk are either mono or alternate versions of songs available for purchase (I don't want to shoot myself in the foot! Visit the "releases/buy music" page to hear samples of the album versions, and to hear excerpts from the many songs that are not included here).

"Natural" was begun in 2003, at which point the melody and rythm was composed. The lyrics were tossed about for a two-year period and the song was completed in June 2006. Structurally, the verse and chorus elongate until the bridge is reached (bars are continually added at various points). The bridge is very straight- to contrast- and then the last verse and chorus are abbreviated and fold into one another, which meant devising a lyric line that could end one idea and start another simultaneously, thereby connecting the verse and chorus in a seemless fashion. Because of the specifuic structural device, I found it neccessary to address subject matter in the lyric that I could relate to it- specifically, our dichotomous perception of time and the inevitability of change.


(from the Everything Is Gonna Change EP).This song was begun in Los Angeles while I was visiting Jack Lee in the Spring of 2003, and finished in Austin. The very simple chorus bubbled out of my subconscious, and I found a particular episode from my past that created an interesting context for it- I often work in this fashion (as I think many people do). As an analytical person, I tend to think that there is a reason for everything; and as a songwriter, finding the reason behind a sudden idea (in this case the chorus) is the first step in turning that idea into a song.

You Didn't Love Me

This is the original version of "Don't Shake Me", a song that was abbreviated and rearranged for the Everything Is Gonna Change EP. It is somewhat off the beaten path, in that it has two seperate and distinct choruses. In the first the character is hoping to escape (and the fact that it is a chorus gives the implication that he tries to escape regularly); in the second we find the character- once again- unable to escape his fatalistic attitude.

Don't Shake Me*

When I was living in Texas, my wife and I went to the rodeo a couple of times and always got a kick out of it. One thing that you invariably see are groups of girls having a night out, and I thought that it made a nice premise for a fun, upbeat country number. After sketching out the original idea, I tweaked and rewrote over the course of a year until I was satisfied that it was seamless.

Girls' Night Out at the Rodeo

I wrote this song as a gift for my wife in 2004, after consuming heavy doses of Brian Wilson. I was inspired by his use of pedal tones as a means to anchor interesting melodic and harmonic content, and his varying use of contrast from section to section (and a whole lot of other stuff that would require writing a thesis, which I'm not up for right now). The idea of using a secondary bridge is one I got from BW as well ("Good Vibrations" is a perfect example). That sort of thing is somewhat Beethovenesque, to take you to the edge of expectation and then push it up yet another notch. Great idea. Another thing- does anyone know of a Christmas food that rhymes with pecan pie?

All I Want for Christmas

I've written many hip-hop "beats" for other artists to rhyme on, but this track is one of only two that I have thus far voiced (the other is "Bo Peep", that appears on the Rock Stardom album).The music track began from a sample taken from "The 25- Year Retrospective Concert of the Music of John Cage" (on Wergo Records), specifically from one of the prepared piano pieces. I had a number of little loops that I had constructed from those pieces that I was dying to use, due to their unique and somewhat otherworldly sound. I remember writing a significant portion of the lyric on a flight from NYC to LA in 2000; diving into something as lyric- intensive as this track was necessitated by my being tied to a chair for five hours.

The Insidious Dr S.

(mono; hi-fi version available on the Everything Is Gonna Change EP) An older version of this song, entitled "Wakey Wakey", appears on the Rock Stardom album. In that version, instead of a chorus there is simply an instrumental refrain of the opening riff. Also, there are two long verses instead of four short, the new vocal chorus having been inserted into the middle of each. This resulted in the first and third verses having one progression, and the second and fourth another- which really keeps up the momentum, as well as raising the expectation level for the fourth verse. This track (in addition to "Midnite Motel" and "Don't Shake Me" from the EIGC EP) was co-produced by Jack Lee (best known for writing Blondie's "Hanging On The Telephone" and Paul Young's "Come Back and Stay"), who inspired me to let function be the master of form.


My favorite spot in NYC was the roof of the brownstone where my wife and I lived. It was in Carrol Gardens, Brooklyn and there was a view of the lower tip of Manhattan in one direction and New Jersey in the other, where the pollution and smog would create the most stunning sunsets. Living on the top floor, it was just a short hop up the fire escape- although often precarious with a guitar in one hand and a beer in the other. "Runs So Deep" was written on that roof in the Spring of 2001, not long before we moved away to Austin and not long before the view of lower Manhattan was forever changed.

Runs So Deep

(mono; hi-fi versions are available on the Rock Stardom and Everything Is Gonna Change albums- and these two are slightly different) This track started as a hip-hop beat tha I constructed for rapper Tony Tone (whom I was working with in NYC), but I instead decided to work it up as a song for myself (the same is true of "Tic Toc" and a number of other tunes). It had a very specific mood that inspired the choice of subject matter, and a cinematic feel that lent itself to using many visual references in the lyric. I have a special place in my heart for fleabag motels; the interesting ones make you feel like you have somehow been in a freak accident, are dead and unaware of it, and stuck in limbo. Reality is questionable. Out of my experiences at some of these places I built my own, the Midnite Motel, and checked in.

Midnite Motel*

My first crack at a two-verse form, with the obligatory set-up. After the lyrics were FINALLY finished I wrote the melody, working closely with my voice and how the motion and timbre communicated the words. That being the big numero uno for this piece, I added the harmony only after the melody was set in stone- not always an easy job, but well worth it. Arranging and singing the piece ended up being the easy part. At the outset I thought "two verses and an intro? piece of cake!". Was I ever wrong! Some people say that "less is more", but in many cases "less is more work"; this song was begun in January as a Valentine's Day present, and ended up an Anniversary present in June!

I Used To Get A Little Crazy

"I Wanna Know If You Love Me" was written for a dance performance entitled "The Wedding Journey: Vows In Mid-Air", and is part of the score of the show. During the performance, which took place at LA's Wilshire Ebell Theater in June of 2004, the two dancers who created the show were married on stage. This happened on a cherry picker about thirty feet up, after which they took the lovers' leap onto a crash pad dressed as a bed. For the moment after their landing, the couple asked for an R&B flavored, celebratory pop song to get everyone on thier feet as large ballons were thrown into the audience from the balcony. Lucky for them and lucky for me, this piece did the job (it would have been a terrible moment to flop!). The lyric describes (what I imagined as) the initial flowering of their relationship, in a non-specific way. Since the couple became involved while working together as members of Diavolo Dance Theatre, whose choreography involves lots of acrobatics and hanging from ropes and that sort of thing, I got an easy two-fer in the chorus: "you're always hangin' around me"- figurative and literal. The complete soundtrack album of "The Wedding Journey" is available on iTunes.

I Wanna Know

One of my favorite country singers is George Strait, and in 2000 when I had a bug for writing some country tunes I picked up his latest album, the self-titled George Strait. That album has several good numbers on it (and, as always, great vocal performances), but what inspired me the most were the arrangements and the wonderful production by Tony Brown. Listening to that record was the jumping-off point for writing "Something In Common".

Something In Common

(a previous arrangement is available on the Rock Stardom album)"Tic Toc", as mentioned earlier, started out as a hip-hop beat that I was collaborating on with rapper Tony Tone in NYC. I really loved its bouncy, quasi-reggae feel and commandeered it for myself. I believe I first wrote the chorus over the initial beat, then composed the rest of the music (mostly by chopping up what I had- the chorus and verses are from the same material, the bridge is different), and finally the lyric. The contrast between the light music and the heavier subject matter is the narrator's attempt to lessen the blow of the situation; a common and useful device in songwriting and a cornerstone of the Blues tradition. One of my favorite Blues artists, who I was listening to heavily at the time I wrote "Tic Toc", is Blind Willie McTell. I'm sure that his influence played a significant role as I was writing this piece.

Tic Toc

This one is a cookie-cutter ballad, and though I regard it as I would a red-headed stepchild, I get a lot of compliments on it. I'm sure a lot of songwriters have songs they feel this way about (more than will admit!) that have made them lots of money. Isn't it ironic...don't you think?

It Has To Be Love

(mono; hi-fi version available on the Fearless EP Panic Immediately!) I had to include at least one of the Fearless songs on this page- it was tough to decide which. Since this particular track recieved play in the UK, I guess it wins the vote. It started as a four bar guitar riff (that which compromises the first half of the verses) written by Fearless guitarist Scott Denett; I then composed the remainder of the music and the lyrics. At the time I had recently seen a documentary on boxer Muhammed Ali, who inspired the lyric. I loved the footage of him promoting a fight and taunting his opponent with the words "I'm so pretty." Brilliant.

I'm So Pretty*

The following songs are primarily sixty seconds or less, and are jingles, TV show themes, PSAs and other commissioned works. Working within a specific time costraint and with a distinct purpose provides many "opportunities for excellence" (as an old professor of mine used to say, right before he gave us some very arduous assignment). It's like being the guy down at Venice Beach who will write your name on a grain of rice for a couple bucks.

This sixty-second radio PSA for Texas Department of Health was comissioned to be a sister to a :30 animated television spot. My goal was to tell the the same story in song as what was being being portrayed in words and pictures. The campaign's mascot/ hero is a cartoon duck who discourages kids from smoking; his motto is "Tobacco Is Foul" (fowl/ foul- thus the duck. Somewhat convoluted.). I was given access to the voiceover that had been recorded for the TV spot, which included a little "rap" written by spot producer Sara Beechner and voiced by Tony Rock (comedian, actor and star of the UPN show "All of Us"), who voices the duck. I overlayed and lined up several takes of this rap (as they had not been recorded in tempo), and this became the centerpiece of the composition. From there, I constructed the sceneario/ set-up, and then the resolution. I later heard from the agency that the piece had been suh a hit that people were requesting it, and DJs were playing it at their own discretion as though it were a record. Mission accomplished!

It's Your Call

Also for the Texas Department of Health, this song was written for their anti-smoking campaign. The punchline for the spot was to be "there are over 4,000 chemicals in one lit cigarette", or something approximating that. The agency gave me a list of about 1,000 of these chemicals (98 percent of them were not actually chemicals but chemical compounds, but I suppose that precision wasn't on the agenda; it was also true that the majority of these were harmless, and most were in the air anyways). My wife had the great idea that I should write a "list song", much like the old burger ads- "special sauce, lettuce, cheese...", or "hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.."- and then add a twist at the end by hitting them with the hook: that all this stuff you'd been hearing sung so happily was bad for you. After writing the full melody and accompaniement (which I decided I would not deviate from in the lyric-writing process), I then set out to fit in words from the list, with everything happening in the right places. It was like putting together a massive jigsaw puzzle, sorting out chemical compounds by rhyme and numbers of syllables (at one point in the song, I was able to use an eleven syllable word- it was quite a mouthful). The song ended up as a Gilbert and Sullivan- style tongue-twister, and I can't believe I managed to sing it, mostly because I couldn't keep a straight face.

Worth It?

Every year the Food Network (part of The Discovery Channel Networks) resurrects their "Season's Eatings" campaign for the holidays. When they initially launched the campaign they thought that a song might be the ticket; but for whatever reason (probably because it takes up too much valuable ad time) they would just have a card, jingle some bells, and have a voiceover state "Season's Eating's from the Food Network", which takes all of five seconds (boy! that's a lot cheaper, too!). That year I was asked to write a "Season's Eatings" song that harped on family, friends and (of course) food. It was actually a good idea- too bad they nixed it. I think I was really on the ball with this one, as I managed to set up the whole thing pretty well with the opening line:"Outside the kitchen window the snow begins to fall". The backup vocals, sung by my wife Amy and my friend Scott Denett (neither of which are trained singers) gave the tarck a bit of a Mamas and Papas feel; since it was already getting a little hippy-dippy from that, I put a Jerry Garcia-style modal solo on the vamp for shitsngiggles.

Season's Eatings

In 2002 NBC had a series called "Hidden Hills" that lasted just a few episodes, a comedy about yuppies with hectic lives (sounds funny, right?). This short verse/ chorus song was pitched as a themesong. The producers liked "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (Carole King) and were entertaining other options in case they couldn't get the rights to use it. In the end, they did get the rights and all the various writers- like myself- who worked so hard got diddly. So if you happen to know anyone pitching a comedy about yuppies with hectic lives, I have the perfect themesong.

Everything's Alright

This simple chorus/verse/chorus song was written as a station ID for WMOR-TV ("More TV") 32 in Tampa, Florida. "More TV" jumped at me as the perfect "shout chorus" (I'm a big fan of the AC/DC-style chorus, with a simple phrase repeated multiple times by group vocals- an extremely simple and effective way to deliver a hook). This spot won a PROMAX Award for best song, but what I am particularly proud of is that it won "Most Annoying Ad" by a Tampa radio station's listener poll. The picture they put together for this spot has some guy lip-synching my vocal; I wonder if anyone thought that he was the actual singer? (if you're wondering about the whistling and the parrot voice, WMOR's mascot is "Salty the Parrot"- God only knows how they came up with that one).

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