Once upon a time, I actually made something of a living as a performer. First, part-time for several years while working at WPSX-TV at Penn State then full-time in the Washington, D.C. area. It was something I always wanted to do and Sharman (bless her) was really supportive.
So, a year or so after moving to the Washington, D.C. area I was doing pretty well and one day about noon I was awakened by our Black Lab (Lightfoot) licking my face. It suddenly dawned on me that I was spending most of my life in bars late at night with drunks. Now, some drunks can be very engaging and entertaining. Others are, shall we say, "not performing at their highest level." So I got a straight job again.
I still find some time to play 12-string and 6-string acoustic guitars and sing for friends, family and my own enjoyment. (I can't really say how much the friends and family enjoy it!) With only a small amount of time to devote to this, most of my repertoire is of folk, country and pop classics, although I still find time to learn a new song once in awhile!
Ed on CD [TOP]
The Internet brings people together in some very unusual ways. While browsing the web several months ago, I thought to do a search to see if there were any sites about Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot is my all-time favorite song-writer and performer. I found what must be the mother of all such sites (see below).
While looking through the site I discovered that a compact disc had been produced with various performers (of varying levels, but all fans) singing Lightfoot songs. The first "Internet Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot" CD was conceived of and created by Wayne Francis of Prince Edward Island, Canada (appropriately enough). He enlisted the performers and promoted the disc over the Internet. I ordered a copy, liked it and sent off a complimentary email to Wayne. A mini correspondance ensued wherein I revealed my performance past and he offered an opportunity to submit a contribution to the second tribute disc with a due date late in February 1997.
The timing could have been better. After a couple of months of not being able to sing or play guitar very well due, first, to a smashed finger (putting up a new TV antenna for my mother) and, next, to various lingering cold and flu viruses, I finally got to rehearsing. My favorite Lightfoot tune (and perhaps my favorite song of any kind) is "Early Morning Rain." It was natural for me to submit it for consideration.
I've had periods of several years where my guitars (and voice) just gathered dust. And, being my own worst critic, I'd have to say that a lot of practice was in order. So I wound up singing that song over and over and over and ...
Take a listen to the song, preferably as done by Gordon Lightfoot. This can be a very depressing song! And, although I really love sad songs (other people's misery makes me feel better?), the repetition even started to get to me. A backup plan was in order. Especially since there was no guarantee that anything I did would make it onto the CD, let alone the cut that I preferred. And what did I choose? Another sad song!
Finally, I had to prepare an original digital tape of the songs I wanted to submit for consideration. After several futile calls around the northern New Jersey area to try to line up a DAT tape deck for loan or rental, I thought to call my brother-in-law John Rosenbaum. John is a professor of mass media (TV, radio etc. to us civilians) at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I thought he might know someone with a deck who might rent it to me. Well, through some unrecountable and magical means, John was able to arrange the loan of a deck for a day. All I had to do was drive to Ithaca (only about 4 hours) to visit John and Toni (one of my two sisters). SUCH A DEAL!
So, in February 1997 I made the drive, set up my microphones and the borrowed DAT deck in Toni & John's basement and spent the day singing the same song over and over and over. By the end of the day, I'd reached the point of diminishing returns and just couldn't sing "Early Morning Rain" any more. Also, I was starting to think that John might burst out of his office at any moment and run screaming from the house. So, I threw down a couple of takes of Lightfoot's "Same Old Loverman" just for the heck of it. Recordings done, I got a chance to visit with T&J and then drive back to NJ.
It's a lot of work to produce a project like this and it takes time. At the beginning of May 1997 I got word from Wayne that the disc was just about ready for replication.
Wayne chose to use my performance of "Same Old Loverman." John wasn't surprised. Sharman was, shall we say, vociferously indignant that Wayne choose someone else's performance of EMR for the CD (ok, she is, thankfully, a little biased). I, having a lower opinion of myself than my dear wife, was very happy to have my performance of SOL included on the disc. I mean, HEY!, "I don't care what you call me, just call!"
Actually, Sharman's happy too, especially because SOL is one of her favorites - much more than EMR. She especially likes it when I sing the line, "And I was born to bring you grief ..." (well, we won't go there.)
So, all in all, it's been a family event. And, I've promised myself that I won't get out of practice again - gotta keep singing!
The CD should be available around the end of May 1997, perhaps early June. The lineup as sent to me by Wayne goes like this:
$18 US for all overseas orders
Price includes first class airmail to your door.
Since I couldn't always have a few dozen other singers with me, I took up the guitar. It's more transportable than a choir.
You can click here to see a list of the songs that, at one time or another, have been in my repertoire. I remember a surprising number of them by heart, and can still play virtually all of them if I've got the words and chords in front of me. Or, click this link if you want to download the Excel file(31.8Kb).
Death of an Unpopular Poet by Jimmy Buffet (.mp3)
Sabu (the Elephant Boy Visits the Twin Cities Alone) by John Prine (.mp3)
Copyright 1997, Edmund J. Mullen