It was my high school English teacher who encouraged me…
to put one of my poems to music at age 16. I was listening to my hero songwriters of the day like Lennon and McCartney, Dylan, Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchel, Marvin Gaye and James Taylor. My passion was born. I lived in a spiritual ashram in my early twenties, meditating and finding my inner Self before finishing college and becoming a CPA of all things. I wrote songs that mirrored my experiences at the time without knowing anything of the skill of songwriting. The 80s were spent raising 4 kids and building a business and barely touching my guitar or writing songs. One day a close musician friend exclaimed to me after playing him an old song, “H, you are a musician and if you are not playing and writing every day then your life cannot be fulfilled.”
I was stunned and realized the truth in his words…
I met Paul Reisler, a master teacher, in 1998 who mentored and guided me in the craft of songwriting. Many songs later I am living with my wife, Maureen, near Asheville NC writing and playing songs every day. I love to write at dawn, pen to paper in my notebook. I was once told “a song is a story and a story is a song”.
When I was 6 years old I was already singing a lot…
My dad who was a clarinet player in his youth started me off with piano lessons. In hindsight I’m very grateful to him for nudging me along. I took piano until I was 12 when I rebelled against him and his imposing presence whenever I practiced. I struggled in school but always got an A+ in music. I sang in the choir at church and began listening to early rock and roll on the radio in 1962. This is around the time of being sexually abused at church by an older boy which altered my life completely. My song “Stood There Frozen” on my Journeyalbum has been healing for me.
At 16, my musician friends asked me to join their band and become the drummer. Drumming? Wow, I was excited and turned on! I bought an old drum set and to my surprise playing came easily to me. Soon we were playing for our high school friends at parties and events. One day at an afternoon band practice I asked my friend Scott if I could fool around on his guitar. I was immediately hooked and he began teaching me. My parents sent me to New Hampshire to school the next year which was another life changer. I gained some self-confidence and began to write poetry while playing football, skiing all winter and continuing singing and playing guitar. My English teacher in 11th grade suggested I put a melody to one of my poems and I wrote my first song.
At times we are lonely
Everyone deserves a chance to cry sometime
Go on and cry sometime
You never know it may help the bad times pass
I’ve found a friend that makes me laugh
The day may be far away
When you’ll see your loved one again
It’s not the end
Go on and cry sometime
I was madly in love with Lisa, my first real teenage girlfriend…
She was back in Philly and I was in the woods of northern New Hampshire. I wrote lots of poems of loving and missing her. In 2005 I was told by a medical intuitive to write a song of the story of our love and heartbreak. It took me 26 years to release the scar by writing “Lisa and Johnny”.
My first “spiritual” awakening occurred during
Thanksgiving vacation of my senior year. My good friend Ned was killed in a car accident the weekend before and my mother called me at school to give me the news. I was totally shocked and perplexed. “Where did he go?” “Why am I here?” I couldn’t stop asking myself this burning question. The following Wednesday evening I was visiting my new girlfriend Bryn and while driving home at 1 am I fell asleep at the wheel of my mom’s new blue Ford Falcon and slammed through a bridge and into a cold creek below. My song “Route 202” tells the story. Trapped in the car with water flowing all around me, I kept thinking of Ned being gone and I was still alive. There had to be a purpose.
I graduated from high school in 1969 and began seriously partying through the summer and went on to college. Woodstock happened that August while I traveled across the country with my friend David in his dad’s yellow convertible mustang on our own magical mystery tour. My world was exploding both within and without. I had an old guitar with me and continued writing songs.
For 3 years in college I moved through the drug experience like everyone
else. I remember listening to The Who’s Pin Ball Wizard in the Tommy Opera with 2 stereo speakers planted on my pillow and my head between them for hours, blasted on something. I had a great time for those three years, but a deeper question was brewing. In the fall of my junior year I read “Be Here Now” and “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
One evening I quit all substance abuse and my friends were in disbelief that a stone head could make such a change. In January 1972 I saw a poster about a young 14 year old teacher, Maharaj Ji from India who was touring the US. I soon became one of his followers and later joined his Ashram (monastic community). I traveled to India and with thousands of disciples and meditated on the Ganges for 2 months.
I lived a life of service and meditation
for 4 years in Philadelphia and Denver. During this time I wrote many songs, my favorite being “Coming Home to You” in 1976 which is on The Journey album. I still perform it because some songs have a life of their own. Near the end of my monastic life I met my first wife Jodi. We shared the same spiritual outlook and I decided to return to college. I was intrigued with numbers so I studied accounting and became a CPA. In 1977 Jodi and I were married and we raised 4 amazing kids.
After 23 years we separated amicably to follow our own paths. My song “Now the Time has come” also on the journey album speaks to our moving onward.
I wrote “Father and Friend” after our divorce chronicling the powerful parenting piece of my life with 4 growing kids.
Father and Friend
You were born in front of me after so much labor
The shock of the new world didn’t bother you
Dazed and delighted I longed to be a good father and friend
Your mom and I were exhausted by of four of you
2 girls and 2 boys oh that love’s so deep
You’d climb into our bed in the middle of the night
I’d watch you fall asleep
You were standing up, taking steps, crying out and laughing too
Growing strong, playing hard and I was singing with you
I taught you how to ride your bikes
And helped with your homework at night
Sometimes it was hard and you’d get mad at me
Then I’d wrap you in my arms and we’d set ourselves free
You entered your teens with no fear ready for anything
Young love and temptation filled your world
The struggle began as it always does and I knew I had to let you go Because you must rebel, try a bit of hell, and live to tell your own story
Tell a lie, apologize and recognize the truth
Now you’re out there blazing your own trail
Don’t forget the place within yourself
Where you’re safe and you’re free
Be still and be free
Find your love, and live the life, you’ve always dreamed
I’ll be right there like I’ve always been
Your father and friend
In 1998, I dove into the craft of Songwriting
and I went to the Song School in Lyons Colorado where I met my songwriting mentor, Paul Reisler. Paul is a true master and he has perfected his unique method which I have embraced and use for my own songs. I have attended workshops with Paul for more than 10 years and he has become a great friend.
In January 2000 I fell in love with Maureen my amazing wife. We’re were married in June 2006 and now live in a log home in the mountains near Asheville, NC. We have six children between us and five grandkids. We’re lovin’ life.
The rest of my musical story is throughout this site.
Everyone has stories…
about events that changed their lives and within those experiences there’s a song. I like to say that I’m remembering a song that already exists in the universe. Getting past the chatter in my mind, I pay attention to what’s coming through. I pick up my guitar only after I’ve written a verse or two, so that the music finds the story. Making my own emotional connection to the story, I allow the song to take shape and feel the amazing fun and flow of songwriting.