Behind the album, 'Stages'
The most interesting thing about life being a journey is that you really never know where you will end up despite your best laid plans.
'Stages' began as a collection of songs about that journey but, whether consciously or subconsciously, it really was a retrospective glance, a pause, to take in some history.
Despite its intent at inception, this album became something else, almost immediately. Within moments of its birth it sprang up on its feet, looked around, and said, “yeah, right… forget this, follow me!” And I did.
And the winding road it lead me on took me to late-night Athenian cafes, secluded Mediterranean beaches, slow waltzes on Beirut rooftops, desert hikes to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the loss of loved ones, tender kisses, and lasting new friendships.
So this album opens with the questioning thoughts that begin all our “thens”, winds through the confusion in between, and ends with a lover’s embrace, which is a worthwhile “now” indeed.
“Stages” is about “thens” and “nows” and “in-betweens” in the only language that has ever spoken to me about these mysteries: music.
Behind the song, 'Alone With You'
So I stood in a circle of people at a party one night and looked to the other smiling faces and wondered if they, at that very moment, felt as alone as I did. "Friend", I wanted to say to the handsome man with the winning smile, "is that shadow next to you cast by my solitude or yours?"
But, while still wondering whether the question would spark a newfound kinship or just derisive laughter, I noticed a second shadow grow beside the first, this one cast by doubt. So, I decided the query be better left unasked.
So, with Solitude's companion, Doubt, the party got very crowded indeed. I sat on the couch and Solitude and Doubt joined me. I sat listening to the party's chatter as it blended together into a simple tune, conversations setting the beat and laughter singing lyrics in the most human language of all.
I smiled to all an inviting smile and I let myself wish someone would come speak to me about what I heard in their conversations, to guide me through this strange evening's adventure, but Solitude reminded me that the couch was already crowded and could accommodate no more.
So I sat, without a guide, seated between Solitude and Doubt in a crowded room, when I heard the whispers of a voice. It spoke about my fears of loneliness and my uncertainties about everything, describing them as only I know them. I thought this voice may be my conscious, or even my subconscious, but really I did not want to know. Secretly, I wanted this voice to be an angel, guardian only to me, or even God, taking a moment to acknowledge his more questionable creation before he returned to the task of overseeing all that there is. I wanted to know that the voice was the guide I sought.
Was I vain to think myself worthy of such attention from the universe or was I just afraid I really was not? I had no idea but the voice did indeed guide my fingers over the guitar when I sat hunched over it after the party, at four in the morning, trying to capture that moment when I wondered about it all. When I was done, hours later, exhausted and sleep deprived, I sat back and listened to the recordings trying to decide if I should share this song with the world or if I should just keep this, my own little madness, to myself. Solitude smiled and said "go for it", and Doubt laughed and refreshed my drink with a little more whiskey.
And so the song is titled 'Alone With You'.
Behind the song, 'Hold Back the Night'
In August of 2005, a good friend of mine, Susan, faced a very difficult time. Her mother passed away unexpectedly.
A late night call had Susan rushing to the hospital, where she spent the night by her mother's side but sadly by morning she had passed away. Over time, she found comfort through writing poetry.
She shared with me her most private poem that she wrote about that night.
The poem describes what Susan felt at her mother's side. How she felt the first morning waking up after her mom had died and realizing that she was no longer with her. How it felt surreal and wondering if what had just happened was actually even real. How she wished to have the evening back when her mom was still alive and not have to deal with the first morning of emptiness and loneliness. Further into the poem, she eventually accepts what's happened and decides to keep what she has left - the memories of her mother. Finally moving forward and embracing the new day.
As I read the words I could hear the melody behind it, the musical notes that took the surreal and brought it into the real, the horrible, painful, real. The final verses tapped the piano keys for themselves, I was just the conduit.
Days later, I sat Susan in front of my piano and shared with her the music I heard in her poem. She stayed with me, as she stayed with her mother, and helped me sing her words.
The song is titled 'Hold Back the Night' and it is dedicated to Susan's mom, Marion Mercier, who has touched me deeply through her daughter. Thank you, Susan, for finding the words for my recent losses.
Behind the album, 'Wheels of Time'
This album was my enlightenment. While the album 'Stages' was the journey to this enlightenment, 'Wheels of Time' was the accumulation of the many continued experiences and travels that opened my eyes and mind to the more beautiful color tones of life.
Yes, there were tragedies and personal failures followed by moments of questioning the meaning of it all. There were days of sitting on beaches and gazing beyond the horizon wondering whether I was really so insignificant or was it just the ocean's vastness that was making me feel this way?
The song, 'Alone Again' was the question. 'If You Want' was the hope to an answer. And 'On My Knees' was my distraction.
In the end, it was the obvious realization that time can only move forward and making every second count is the only thing that really matters.
Behind the song, Lost
The time between the separation and the road to finding ourselves again.
Behind the song, A Story
When you wonder if what you feel is true love, or if it's just another story we tell ourselves to believe life is a fairy tale.
Behind the song, Blame
Written for someone who shall remain nameless.
Behind the song, Egyptian Queen
I had returned from a beautiful journey in Egypt and felt it was time to write one final song, an hommage, for that special person that was no more. Having just explored the sites and landmarks of an ancient civilization, I was inspired to use this experience as a romantic backdrop in the lyrics.
Behind the song, '2 Weekends in Beirut'
In the summer of 2005, I took a hiatus from recording 'Stages' to explore a little bit of the world and for two months I traveled around the Mediterranean. Each stop a story and every day a song. It was fabulous.
And then, I came upon Beirut, Lebanon. I didn't know what to expect when I got there. After all, through the television one can get a pretty gloomy idea of that part of the world. What would I find in a city that has seen so much violence and strife? What could I expect from a people that have lived through so much?
What I found there was warmth and friendship. Yes, there were a few uneasy moments involving gunfire, demonstrations, and even a bomb exploding blocks from where I was staying, but Beirut just shrugged it off with a vibrancy and zest for life I had never seen. No one there had forgotten how to laugh and enjoy the day, and they welcomed me as if they had known me all their lives.
On my last night there, my newfound friends took me out and we ended up on a rooftop nightclub where we danced until the sun came up. By then, the only people left was my little party and we just danced while watching the most spectacular dawn view of the city.
In moments like this I realized that life is about a string of moments and that nothing is eternal. I understood that each moment is a finite thing and that one must absorb it, appreciate it, and when it ends not to look back with regret or hope of reliving it.
That moment is this song. Written mostly on the plane after leaving and completed upon my return home, it is the first song I chose to record when I came back from my trip.
Titled '2 Weekends in Beirut', it is dedicated to all the people I met in that city.
Behind the song, Forgive Me
That time when we heal and our perspective changes.
Behind the song, Joking
The moment you realize the person you've known for many years seems like somebody you never really knew at all.
Behind the song, No Memories of Me
A song about the forgotten victims of our wars. World leaders always leave a legacy and their names remembered, whether they were on the right side or not. Who's to say? The victims however are almost always forgotten. My father and his family were victims and this song was inspired by his incredible stories.
Behind the song, Crazy
A song about all the different people that come into our lives only to drain us, then leave once they've gotten what they wanted.
Behind the song, Wheels of Time
The inevitable and unstoppable clock reminding us, with each tick, of every moment we can never get back.
Behind the song, Mad Beauty
The death of a loved one and the anticipation of being with them when dreaming only to wake up to the reality of the loss. The few seconds after we open our eyes and just before that sinking feeling when we realize we are awake.
Behind the song, Alone Again
It's not you, it's not me.
Behind the song, If You Want
Leaving it all behind and chasing hope with the promise of a beautiful day.
Behind the song, On My knees
Behind the song, She's My Queen
Written for someone very special and dear. I can never do it justice in words outside of the lyrics.
Behind the song, October
Despite all of our disappointments and depressions, life always has a silver lining visible only if we choose to see it.
Behind the songs, Black Cats and a Few Regrets
Co-written and performed with the lovely and talented Rosie Komadina, it is about bad choices and unfulfilled dreams.
Behind the song, All You People!
A simple song written simply to celebrate life's simplicity. It's really that simple!
Behind the song, 'Life Seems So Real'
A song about our fleeting time. Embrace every moment with everybody you love now because one day all of them will be gone.
Remind them you love them. Let go the small stuff. Overcome the big stuff. cherish the good times, even the bad, and hold on to both those memories. Make a small difference in someone's life. It's big for them. Smile more. Cry often. Drink regularly. Dance. Travel. Meet new people. Learn new things. Scare yourself. Compliment a stranger. Help a friend. Kiss somebody. Forgive. Never forget. Don't go where you're not appreciated. Leave when you're no longer wanted. Above all else, be grateful and keep moving forward being the happiest you possibly can. We are all running to the same finish line.
Behind the song, 'Mono Esi'
A Greek remake of my original song, 'Lost'. The themes of loss and longing for a loved one remain the same however, the title and chorus translates to Only You.
Behind the song, 'Magic'
I heard a beautiful song called, "Magic," written by my longtime friend, Dags. I immediately fell in love with its character and lyrical depth. Pure poetry.
A couple of weeks later, and a few drinks in (always the creative fuel), we were laying down the first tracks of the song.