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Tears for Fearsssssssssss 

Back in the '80's, girls would come into the record store I worked at and would say, 

"Excuse me, Tearsssssssssss for Fearsssssssss." 

"Right here", I might say. 

"Oh, like... cassettesssssssssss..." 

"They're uptairssssssssssssss", I was known to say. 




Quiet songwriting method  

Tell yourself that you will write a song in the morning (when you are not busy. 

Wake up and make your coffee. Having that, grab your notebook, a pencil with eraser. 

Drink your coffee. 

No TV or computer on. 

Sit in silence.  

I find that after 10 minutes or so some words come to me.  

I write them down, but often suddenly I think of another theme and put brackets around those and write  3 or four lines for verse or chorus. 

Do not touch your instrument. Start tapping out a rhythm on your notebook with the pencil. And try whispering the words, spoken and find a cadence in them. 

Write (in parenthesis) the number of syllables next to each line of lyric and establish the general length of a line.  

When 3 or four lines get their cadence, then pick up your guitar. 

Your spouse, kids or house mates might be sleeping. 

By keeping it all inside and down to a whisper, there is an excitement created and the rest of the song can be finished. 

But be quiet.

Folk Expert 

For years I sold and reordered folk music records then CDs at Harvard Sq.’s Briggs and Briggs music. They referred to me as “Folk Expert”. We no doubt did our word play on that  (Tom Lehrer would listen in from the sheet music department. He came over and asked my name and what it was that I did. I said I wrote songs and had played some of his songs). 

I also played on the streets of Boston and Cambridge in my bands. Over 10 years we played for two million on the streets alone and the crowds we drew led us to bookings. 

And decades living at the legendary Old Joe Clark’s, where many an after folk concert party was held (right underneath my bed). 

Sometimes I’d be up in the morning and I’d share coffee I made with whoever had the concert. The guest room was tiny, but accommodating. We’d chat and later around lunch, they’d pop their heads in Briggs and Briggs and I would show them their albums and knew many catalog numbers by heart. 

All the while recording (at home since 1980). Many musicians visited and I would record them or with them. Sometimes I cooked dinner for them too. 

Those 23 years in that Cambridge house were amazing. Sandy Sheehan of Sandy’s Music and WUMB lived there!  

Every Thursday was a day off and I  would  write and record my originals. 

I lived music.

After my glory days 

After my glory days of playing on the streets of Boston and  Cambridge for 2 million people in ten years, not to mention the gigs we got when people saw the crowd around us, I would hang on my lunch hour with a street performer.  

I guess I was pushy, but he would not let me play along.I would say I could big out the mandolin, I would not need an amp for the voice and mando. Plenty loud enough, and this is when I still was in my prime, but between bands and working a fancy market doing everything: deliveries, catering, personal shopping, operations, banking, training….. 

All the while my mando wanted to get in there and play against his solid guitar playing. We saw each other a lot and it was heartbreaking that it did not lead to the magical way my bands sprung up from meetings on the sidewalks.

You know I love you 

"Today at work, my third customer was buying 14 oranges. I asked for her store card but as she searched for it I rang them in and they showed as full price until the card scanned.
This led to some very silly dialogue and she started kidding me about something.

I can't remember how I called her on it, but she replied, "Come on, you know I love you".

I stared at her smiling at me, beautiful, thirty something and well healed (tasteful).

I said, "Yeah, right. Run along now with your oranges. I have been handed quite a different platter".

Off she went with a glow.

It was a good hair day, I dunno."

New Squirrel 

When I worked at Briggs and Briggs Music in Harvard Sq. we would sometimes look out and observe the world. 

Directly across was Harvard Yard and specifically, The Widener Library. They allowed deliveries through the gate and there was a guard station. 

I believe, if my memory serves me right, two old men from Scotland worked the guard booth. I am sure of one. We would watch as he would get the Harvard Yard squirrels to climb up his pant leg and go into his pocket for peanuts. 

One day a squirrel climbed up and went in the pocket. Suddenly the old man jumped and let out a loud, pained shout. We were beside ourselves, laughing. 

A few weeks later the old guard was at our display window, obviously looking at a short wave radio. 

He came in and came to my counter right by the doors. 

"Looking for a new squirrel", I asked. 

"New squirrel", the old guard questioned loudly in his brogue.

Elvis Costello Fans 

I over the years have bought a number of CDs by Elvis Costello. 

Working at the famous Harvard Sq. Music store, Briggs and Briggs I got the employee discount. 

Two of my co-workers in the record department were opera guys. My other co-worker and I liked Elvis C. and we got laughed at. 

They were the types who got the freebie passes to operas, oratorios and the like and I remember them talking about the night before when they heard and met the great Swedish soprano, Anne Sophie Von Otter. She could do no wrong. 

Well, we would get booklets from the record companies of the new releases and what do you know? Anne Sophie Von Otter had a new one, a song cycle written by guess who? That’s right, Elvis Costello. 

Revenge is sweet.

Some Reality Original tracks story  

My song, "Some reality was written in 1975 and recorded ten years later. 

For years the cassette mix was my only source. I would wonder where the original 4 track reel of tape was. 

I guessed it was on the same tape as another tune from the era, both songs featuring  Anne Marie Hodges on harmony vocals, I did not have a reel to reel 4 track machine, so decades went by. 

 I happened to befriend  my buddy Guy and he had a 4 track machine. Trouble was it took 7.5 " reels and my tape was on  a 15" reel, PLUS it ran at 7.5 inches per second and my tape was recorded at 15 ips. 

I talked to Guy about the issues. We had taken small reels of tape of mine (2 tracks) and transferred to digital a number of times. 

Guy came up with a plan. He devised a kind of Lazy Susan to spool the tape from the big reel onto the one half its size and so we had two small reels with all the tape. We did this and that counted as a session. We planned getting together at my place with his tape deck. 

So we met soon and we listened (in the background) 3 1/2 hours of SLOW Bob Comtois, an octave lower than pitch as it was being fed through my interface onto Protools. 

I think I made a batch of really good pulled pork so we had repeat  servings as the tape dragged on. 

We called it a session when all was transferred onto Protools software. I knew there was a way to bring it up to speed with an alga rhythm called Vari-Speed. I just needed to do it the next day with a clear mind. 

I pondered a while the next morning and with a few clicks, Eureka! It played at pitch and correct tempo. 

I released it as a single. It's a beautiful song.


I was so tired last night. Got to bed early and the fireworks in town woke me.

So, I opened the blinds and there they were, obscured somewhat by the leaves in the trees. I pointed them out to Max and he saw two and wanted out, but I lay down sideways on the bed and had a reassuring hand on my feline co-pilot as I watched them go above the treeline.

store sing along 

I had a line at the register.

I said, "Here's something new. It's a store sing along. I'll start. Row , row , row your boat..."

A customer sang, "Gently down the stream".

"Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily", sang a third person and then someone walking from the back, "Life is but a dream".

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