My folks bought my first guitar when I was 16 and it soon became my best friend. I’m self-taught and learned finger style by watching folk singers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s like Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dillan, Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Noel Stookey, Joni Mitchell, Steven Stills and John Denver, all of which have influenced my musical tastes. The rhythm part just seemed to come naturally.
My Dad was a singer. He had a great voice and would break out in song every chance he got. My earliest recollections are of him singing old army ski songs with his 10th Mountain Division buddies. He had a love of classical music but also the music of his time, music full of melody and harmony. This was the home I was brought up in so I naturally gravitated toward folk music, first – because of the abundance of harmony and second because it didn’t hurt my ears. When I first heard Crosby, Stills, and Nash sing Suite Judy Blue Eyes in 1969 I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Loud rock concerts were never my thing but small venue live acoustic music…now THAT was perfect for me.
I have a penchant for ballads. There are ‘feel’ good songs and then there are songs that move the emotions. The lyrics of a ballad not only tell a story but exude emotion and pathos such as ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonny Raitt, ‘I Just Can’t Say Goodbye’ by Chet Atkins, ‘Conversation’ by Joni Mitchell, or ‘Desperado’ by the Eagles. But not just pathos…Joy as well. Songs like ‘How Sweet It Is’ by James Taylor, ‘Don’t Mess Around With Jim’ by Jim Croce and ‘Wild Rover’ an old traditional Irish tune are full of fun and gladness. I try to imagine what was going on in the heart and mind of the song writer when they composed the lyrics and I try to sing them the emotional investment they deserve. There are times I can’t get through a song without tearing up when one touches me deeply or a chuckle when one tickles my funny bone.