The new year—and decade—is off to a pretty good start, although I would have preferred if I sent this out a couple of weeks ago. The big news is that (fingers crossed), for the first time since 2017, a half-marathon race is going to be run in Trenton, NJ, in 2020. Also, I was able to see two favorite music acts of mine, China Crisis and Midge Ure, at an intimate venue just 15 minutes from my house.
Well, I kind of stumbled into this decision with this update being so delayed, but from this point on, I’ll be sending these emails out every other month. Read on to find out what’s been going on since April…
“Time Takes Over” is the first complete song I ever wrote. I was 17 at the time and it was strangely inspired by a co-worker of mine at the time who was only a year older than me, but had the personality and outlook of Archie Bunker.
Anyway, we worked at what is now a long-gone Pizza Hut in Point Pleasant, N.J. It was summer 1988 — in between my junior and senior years of high school — and the older sister of one of my classmates got a summer job as a cook/server/hostess with us. I had known her brother for years and knew her a bit, and never would have imagined her wanting anything to do with my overtly racist, sexist co-worker. But they wound up hooking up that summer.
Of course, she went back to college in the fall and since our business dropped like a stone when the summer tourists left, that left a lot of downtime for my co-worker and I to talk. And, for the first time, he sounded human. He really did care for her.
Shortly after she returned to college, my co-worker went to visit her. He expressed to her how he wish they had more time together, and — this is what he told me — she said to him, “Well…time just takes over.” And, at that, she suggested to him they just stay friends.
So, that’s the story behind this song. And it’s weird that one of the most stoic people I have ever known opened up his heart to me and inspired what I think is a pretty emotional song.
Anyway, the following summer he hooked up with another summer Pizza Hut employee and wound up marrying her (even though my classmate’s sister also came back to work with us that summer…which was awkward). I’ve Googled the guy in the past — and just did before posting this — and it appears he’s living in central New Jersey and married to the woman he met at Pizza Hut in 1989. But I haven’t seen him since the early 90s…well, except for one time when I drove by him when he was a cop in a Jersey Shore town a few years later.
Regarding the song itself, most of the instrumentation you hear on this track is from a cassette of the original instrumental demo I recorded in October 1988 using sounds from my old Roland U-20 synthesizer. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I got around to recording the vocals, but by then the arrangement had changed a bit (so I spliced and rearranged this a bit to fit the finished version). I recently added the vocals, wind chimes/shaker track and augmented piano/bass parts to this version, so I would have a complete recording of the original version in time for the song’s 30th anniversary in October.
Now, obviously, this milestone means nothing to anyone but me. My music career went nowhere, and I’m not really a musician anymore except for when my friend Christian Beach* needs me to be one or when I’m inspired and motivated to compose/record something. But I’m still proud of this song. I’m not sure how many 17-year olds were writing songs like this in 1988, but it couldn’t have been many. I mean, at its base, it really is a bubble-gum song about young love that is ultimately unrequited. But it sounds and feels so much bigger than that.
*Speaking of Christian, during our time in a band together from 1989-91, we actually played “Time Takes Over” in one of our live shows. Here is video of that performance (from 1990?), which features my trying — and mostly failing — to sing with a terrible head cold.
A compilation of some of my favorite songs celebrating Christmas and the holiday season, in general. The playlist starts with the latest “demo” version of a Christmas song I originally wrote in 2011, “It’s Christmas Time Again.” Enjoy…
If you listen to the Technology and the Arts podcast I do with John LeMasney, then you will know that I’ve mentioned 99% Invisible, a fantastic podcast and public radio program about design and architecture hosted by Roman Mars, a few times this past season.
While season 4 of the 99% Invisible podcast has been successfully funded through Kickstarter, the fundraising effort is currently into its “stretch goal” phase. One such stretch goal comes from one of the podcast’s sponsors, MailChimp, which has put up a challenge grant of $20,000 should the podcast reach 10,000 backers on Kickstarter. As I type this, they are at 7,383 with 13 days to go.
If you are interested in stories about design and architecture told in fascinatingly interesting ways and are unfamiliar with 99% Invisible, go the podcast’s web site right now and listen to a few episodes. I am sure you will find it as entertaining and informative as I do…and if that should encourage you to help 99% Invisible reach this stretch goal, just go to the podcast’s Kickstarter page and pledge as little as $1. Just a buck and you will be counted as a backer toward the stretch goal of 10,000.