For as long as I have had conscious memory, I have heard music in my head and longed to get it into the world in the form of sound.
My mother used to say I sang melodies before I spoke words. And when I was all of about three and a half or four, the man who was teaching my brother guitar heard me picking out on the piano whatever song they were playing for his lesson, and he convinced my parents to give me piano lessons.
They did, so I read music before words, and by the ripe old age of six, had outgrown my first teacher after announcing that I wanted to play “real” music like my cousin Scott, who was three years older than me and playing classical music.
Words, too, were like music to me, with their own rhythm and melody and sound. So by nine, I was writing songs, and by thirteen I started playing and singing them publicly for people.
When you’re young and something comes naturally to you, you don’t question it. You go with it, without doubt or resistance. And that is why, though I have been fraught with many self-doubts in my adult life, I have always known in the core of my being that I can write songs. And for many years, it was the one and only way in which I defined myself.
So one morning, early in the process of making the CD, In Color, I heard a song in my head with both music and lyrics. I should tell you that these moments when something pops into a writer’s head like that can be fleeting. You have to catch them, record them, write them down, whatever you can. I don’t think there is a songwriter around who wouldn’t tell you that, or who doesn’t have the recorder nearby or the scraps of paper scribbled on with titles, or a line, or a fragment of an idea.
Why things speak to us the way they do, I have no idea. And I’m not sure it matters, aside from the absurdity in this instance, frankly…which is why when I sang it acapella for Tanya, my producer, I prefaced it with, “I can’t sing this on my album.”
It’s a gospel song, written by a white Jewish girl from Yonkers. Yes, I have always had an affinity for gospel music and Negro spirituals, in particular. An uncanny affinity for them. They speak to my soul in a way I can’t describe and makes no sense unless past lives really exist.
But here’s the thing – I couldn’t get the song out of my mind, nor could Tanya. It was catchy and stayed with us. And how do you not put a song on a record just because it’s completely out of your comfort zone? For me, the personal growth envelope pusher, that is exactly why I should do something. The more uncomfortable, the better.
So Tanya, whom I’d like to point out is also another white, Jewish girl from New York, heard an arrangement for this song in her head.
Of all the joyous aspects of making this record…and there were many…recording this song and hearing it come to life was a highlight. I was joined by Everett Bradley – the magnificent, Tanya – a genius in far too many arenas to discuss, and Lorraine Ferro, who was, is and will always be one of the greatest voices God put on the planet.
In addition to these people’s immense talent are souls that surpass their talent in beauty. So this recording makes me happy on levels both heard and unheard.
This song is a celebration of life and of joy and of our limitlessness and our propensity to move perpetually forward. I hope you like it!
Thanks for stopping by. And I give you…”Hallelujah Song.”