Music Is My Muse!
I am a writer, first and foremost, but if I could be anything I wanted to be, I would be a musician. When I was much younger, and after I had moved to California in the United States, the school district sent out representatives to see which students had an affinity for music. The test was auditory and involved headphones where they played various notes and melodies and asked students to determine if they were the same or different, and while I had a perfect score, it did not reflect that I have nearly absolute pitch, which is a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone. It was not surprising since my visual, audio and olfactory recall are abnormally high, and it lent well to my exploration of music.
My older brother, Dean, was my inspiration musically. Three years older than me, he took up the coronet at eleven years old, eventually transitioning to the trumpet. The instrument I chose was the alto saxophone, which I really liked and worked very hard to master. To my consternation, however, I came to the slow realization that as much as I loved music, it wasn’t my gift. The best I would ever be was “good,” and that wasn’t enough for me. Dean had also inspired me to write, so I pursued a more natural path for me. Yet since that time, I have never abandoned my passion and appreciation for music, and specifically with wonderful arrangements and great singers—virtuosity throughout.
Recently, my brother has encouraged me to start playing the saxophone again, which I resumed in late 2015. It is a much better fit for me the second time around, so If I ever muster the courage to play somewhere live, I will record the session and post it on this page.
My favorite song of all time is Stardust by Nat King Cole, written by Hoagy Carmichael, performed by the “unforgettable” Cole in 1957 and arranged by Gordon Jenkins. The lyrics are beautiful, artful poetry and the arrangement allows Nat to display his incredible genius at song. This song plays to the hopeless romantic in me. (lyrics below the video)
Stardust (lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael)
And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by.
Sometimes I wonder, why I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song
Haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation is in the stardust of a song
Beside a garden wall, when stars are bright
You are in my arms
Tells its fairytale
Of paradise, where roses grew
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain.
The second song that I will share on this opening page is by my favorite female vocalist, the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Although I like so many of her interpretations, I chose Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered from the play Pal Joey by Rogers and Hart (1940 Broadway musical), which featured an older, wealthy married woman in an affair with a younger, manipulative nightclub performer (I Could Write a Book came from the same musical). It was recorded in 1956 on the Verve label. I was nineteen years old the first time I heard the song and fell in love with the clarity of Ella’s voice and her signature style. Beyond that, the song is the touching story of a journey to resolution. This song is featured in a scene from my thriller, Murder From the Grave.