I write songs that tell stories, with a roots rock influence and evocative lyrics about love and fear, resignation and resurgence, in the tradition of Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen.
My 2012 - 2013 project, inspired by the preventable suffering of so many during our current hard times, is a series of songs based on photographs from the Great Depression.
I am a forty-something technology executive and musician. I live with my wife in Seattle, Washington, and through my art I hope like to strike at least a few small blows against the meanness in this world.
I have never gone hungry: but I have been afraid. Afraid that no matter how hard good people with the best intentions tried, things might not turn out OK. I learned to make music because of albums that captured those moments when life cracks open to show you both blood and beauty: Neil Young does it Tonight’s the Night. Van Morrison does it in Astral Weeks. Woody Guthrie does it time and time again with short, simple poignant songs. But nothing moves me as much as Springsteen’s Nebraska.
I want to recapture and give back a little of what I felt listening to the first minute thirty for the first time before I die. Probably won’t, but I’m going to try.
Fast forward to 2008: I’m at a technology conference in San Francisco as the financial crisis unfolds. I’m watching deals get made while millions lose jobs. So I start writing a song about these new hard times…and as the new hard times go on and on, I start to think more deeply about previous hard times: how the Great Depression left an indelible impact on my grandparents, and, on reflection, my parents too.
I discover a treasure trove (so to speak) of photographs from the Farm Security Administration and Works Progress Administration available online through the Library of Congress. And I’m struck by the fact that back then we invested public funds in documenting the suffering of real people across America: while in contrast one of the big debates in our own times is whether people making a quarter million to a half million dollars a year can possibly afford to pay a little more in taxes.
So my mission became exploring the wonderful and poignant archives of hard times past in order to give voice to resignation and resurgence, hope and fear, anger and kindness, love and justice: songs based on photos of life in hard times.