Jerry Velona

Japanese Film Crew, First to Last and Musical Resolutions

Well, first of all Happy New Year to everyone!  May you have your best year ever and, if so, please tell me all about it. I'm always looking for new ways to make good things happen.

I couldn't think of a good title for this blog entry; one which tied everything I wanted to say together in some clever way. So, I took the easy way and just made hash of it. One of my resolutions for 2014 is to procrastinate less. There's my rationalization for the title; just wanted to get right to it!

I remember reading an interview with Paul McCartney where he said he rarely would agonize over a song. He'd just get it down and recorded and move on to the next one. I guess that explains some of his less than stirring output but I kind of like that approach to a point. Then there was Mozart who also I read did very little editing but then most everything he put out was perfect. We can all strive to be Mozart I guess.

I just finished a new song called First to Last. It came about in kind of an interesting way. I decided to cover the song Looking for Lewis and Clark by the Long Riders. It's always been a favorite of mine and I didn't see that anyone else had covered it so I thought it would be a good choice. However after reading the lyrics, I wasn't sure I wanted to sing them. They were dated, somewhat obscure and self-referential. So I thought I'd redo the lyrics but after checking with some fellow songwriters, I realized you can't really cover someone else's tune and change the lyrics significantly unless it's a parody.

So after thinking it through a bit and getting some advice from Michael Anderson, the author of The Little Black Book of Songwriting and a guy who's become somewhat of a mentor/lyric doctor for me over the past couple of years, I decided to redo the song completely. Thus was born First to Last. It borrows a bit from LFL&C musically but contains some lyrics that mark one of the few times I've incorporated personal details. I've never been good at that but found it easy to write them in this particular song.  We recorded at Woolly Mammoth in Waltham with the estimable David Minehan at the board. Billy Loosigian plays most of the guitar parts with David throwing in some tasty tracks. Richard (the Great) Gates is on bass and I play drums, percussion and vocals. I'm very happy with how it came out and you can listen if you'd like.

Had a wonderful time in Germany over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Before I left I got another call from a Japanese film crew who wanted to interview me about my song parody of Sea Cruise entitled Koji on the Mound. The video has over 163,000 hits and it still seems to be big in Japan. Some show on Japanese TV was doing an interview with Koji and they wanted to include something from me and the song. They came over to the house on a Saturday night and we did the interview in my basement studio. Here and here are a couple of pictures.  As it turns out the interview never aired but it was fun to do.

I have a lot of exciting things planned musically this year. Among them are the release of another CD of original music including a bunch of cool rock tunes recorded at the mighty Woolly along with David.  I've also recorded a cover of the The Ghetto by Donny Hathaway which features J Ivy on a spoken word interlude which is just killing. J is a friend of my son Chris who shot some of his videos. He's a really talented guy and I'm honored to have him be a part of the recording. We've been trying to interest Lalah Hathaway, Donny's daughter and a very accomplished and successful singer in her own right to sing the lead vocal part (I wrote lyrics - the original is really just a vamp) but it doesn't look like she's going to do anything with it. Too bad but I'm very happy to release it on my own. You can check it out here.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on my idea for the Boston Rock and Soul Collaborative; a non-profit group that will mentor high school musicians and expose them to the music of the golden era of rock, soul and r&b. Stay tuned for more details on that - very excited about it!

Meanwhile I dream of summer while enjoying the brisk New England air. Take care and talk to you soon!

 

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