Well, this is hard to explain. But I don’t question the muse when she visits, I just whip out the guitar and start singing. Sinatra’s That’s Life was used as background music to a video montage of football plays at around this time and I always thought this would be good for that as well. James Halpern is singing lead. I mean, I do agree with everything in the lyrics but…
Written for Tina. I asked James Halpern from Willow I to do the vocal as I always loved the soul in his voice. When Janie came in to lay down the piano track, she got stoned and sat down and started to play. After a while, Elliot leaned over to me and said: She thinks she’s playing a piano concerto. Whatever, her piano part is clearly the best part of this recording.
Written after I had broken up with Susie Sherman, I can still picture the bench I sat on as I wrote this. From the beginning it was meant to be in the style of The Righteous Brothers, but it was another dozen years until I worked out the bridge with Willow II. The original chorus was: “Susan I’m losing my mind.” Well, I was just 20.
Really a blast to sing back then; I doubt if I could sing it today.
If ever anything I wrote speaks for itself, it’s this song, both in the lyrics and the sadness. When Rosalind and I parted, it took me a long time to let go. And I don’t think I ever entirely did.
In the late ’70s I met a lawyer named Sarah Thorne who was clerking for one of my alltime favorite people, Judge Ira Gammerman. I developed a crush on her (unreciprocated) and at the end of her tenure with the judge, as she was about to embark on a trip to Africa, I wrote this song. But whatever I thought I was writing when I wrote it, it clearly is about Rosalind. There is another recording of this tune done by Willow III on the album we recorded, with some wonderful guitar by Elliot.
I sometimes discover when I’ve written a song that I’ve “borrowed” (or gleaned, as Theodore Bikel said in an amusing observation on one of his albums) my melody from some other source. In this case, I actually picked the melody first and then morphed it into my song. The chorus is based on Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. It was only long after I had written the tune that I realized that the verse is actually a working over of Wouldn’t It Be Loverly from My Fair Lady.
A song written about Carolyn, sung by both Willow I and II. This recording is by Willow II. I always tried to channel the Bee Gees when I performed it.
One of Carolyn’s dreams was to go to Africa, and she did go in the early 70’s and rendezvous’d with her off again/on again lover Keith in what sounded to me like a wonderfully romantic tryst. But when I spoke to each of them after they returned, their tone was somber and they each spoke of disappointment and disillusionment (if there’s any difference between those two things). Since I was in love with Carolyn and would have relished meeting up with her anywhere, even in Queens, I didn’t really get it. Maybe that’s why she preferred him to me. The song title of course leads people to think of the Benny Goodman classic – talk about disappointment. And some of my friends who were avid followers of Willow II told me they would always skip over this song on the Willow II cassette. Sigh. But I love it, I love the lyric, and it totally nails what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Lenny Pogan suggested the reggae beat.
One wouldn’t think listening to this song which is sort of about reincarnation that it was inspired by a woman. But in the 70s I religiously listened to Margot Adler’s drivetime show on WBAI, Unstuck in Time, and developed a bit of a celebrity crush on her. I actually got to meet her when BAI did a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore and I volunteered to sing in the chorus. She was very friendly and interesting and I remember at one rehearsal sharing marzipan which I had brought for her. I sent a poorly recorded version of this song and another one of my songs, Where the Wasteland Ends, to her and she wrote back and said if they were better quality she would definitely play them on the air. Years later I ran into her on the Upper West Side, she remembered me, my name, and the songs. BAI changed my life in many ways, and Margot was one of the reasons for that, her show that is. I was quite heartbroken to learn that she died in 2014. This song would have never been written if not for her, which would have been a shame, since it’s a sweet song, and underscores for me how I can write with conviction about things I don’t believe in (although it’s usually to get the attention of a woman).
I did most of the arranging of this song which I take some pride in, as it sounds exactly like I wanted it to sound.
Written for Tina Jacobowitz to whom I was married in the mid-80s. Many of my songs are written when relationships have gone sour, this one was before the relationship started in an attempt to get it to start. I have to think it helped make that happen (although the result of that, at least for Tina, was not felicitous). I intended the song to be somewhat light in tone with a lot of wordplay and some humor. But when a friend who had never heard the song read the lyrics she commented on how beautiful they were. Not sure about that, but clearly no matter how lightly I intended to treat the song, my deeper feelings came through. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t drink, but I liked the image and the rhymes)