I played rock & roll as a teenager growing up in Iowa, but when I entered college, I gave it up for the theatre. I missed the music, though, and dreamed, literally and repeatedly, about getting the band back together. (Another recurring dream had me returning, with joy, to that Green Island farmhouse where I lived as a youngster.) Every once in awhile I'd pick up a guitar --- the drums were the only thing I'd ever been any good at --- play for a month or two, then put it down again. But when the younger of my two younger brothers died several years ago, the urge to play came back stronger than ever, and this time I stuck with it. It was the best way I could find to stay in touch with him, to mourn him. I started to write songs, and the first one was about him. Once I had the template, I began to write about others departed, including my father, grandparents, and then my other brother. Plenty to mourn, plenty to write about. My mother passed on after we completed this recording, so her song didn't make it onto this CD.
Not all these tunes are elegies, though. There's a paean to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, another paean to the Mississippi River, a jeremiad directed at the big city (guess which one), and a couple of pokes at masculine pride. So, not all elegies, but all preoccupied with mortality, for sure, and all huddled like so many drenched fairies under a toadstool named Gone Before.
Thanks, yes, many, many thanks to Steve, my friend since school days, and BJ, and Dick. To Steve's wife Carol, and their daughter, Esme. And to David, who really, really, knows what he's doing.
mh March 28, 2017
"I wasn't quite sure what to expect but was a bit surprised to hear songs rooted in Iowa. I probably shouldn't have been. I recall Michael's jeans from almost 50 years ago. They were full of patches sewn on with the tiniest, finest hand stitches I've ever seen. Grandma's work--loving work, slow work practiced in the comfort of home. Since time plays hell with fabric, the patches needed to be well matched to the old jeans. New cloth might be so stiff that it would threaten the old denim. So no--I really shouldn't have been surprised to hear an older Michael working from where he came, carefully stitching against the wear and tear of time."
Iowa City, IA
November 29, 2017