MIDNIGHT DREAM STATION

13 SONGS

RELEASE DATE: May 9, 2023

THE STORY BEHIND EACH SONG

 

MIDNIGHT DREAM STATION CONTAINS 12 ORIGINAL SONGS BY MATTHEW ALEXANDER AND A COVER OF "SPANISH HARLEM"

 

BELOW YOU WILL READ THE STORY BEHIND EACH SONG!

 

 

“ A FEELING IN MY BONES” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

There have been times in my life when I knew I was on the right path because I had a deep intuition that I was doing the right thing – a feeling in my bones. The more I practice mindfulness, the more I am able to tap into this energy. Sometimes it emerges in my dreams, sometimes during my walks. But what I feel when I feel it… is that whatever the thing is that I am doing, it is the right thing– I can feel it in my bones. 

Hope is something we can feel in our bones. Hope is an activating force that propels us forward. The loss of hope is debilitating. I lived in Los Angeles for three years and while there, was in an unhappy relationship with a toxic live-in partner. While she was traveling, I had a brief romantic encounter with a fellow singer-songwriter who had been a friend. This brief blossoming of our friendship filled me with hope that I could exit my doomed relationship and break free and eventually find happiness with another partner. Many months later, a career opportunity emerged on the other side of the country and my hope was realized. I could feel it in my bones. 

 

“AN APOLITICAL MAN” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

Mask or no mask?  Insurrection or protest? Democrat or Republican? CNN, Fox or Newsmax? Climate activist or climate denier? An endless assortment of black and white choices in constant conflict with each other. 

But what about those who just want to be left alone, refusing to be pigeonholed into taking one side over the other? Those who really don’t give a damn about empty slogans such as “the Brotherhood of Man”? Those whose hearts have been shattered a long time ago?  Finding comfort and solace in the endless distractions offered by Netflix, Showmax, HBO, Prime, Hulu, Philo and fubo, the misunderstood and maligned “Apolitical Man” retreats into the comfort of the couch. 

Personally I don’t like to fight. I would make one hell of a lousy soldier. When my son Ethan was a child, he and I would look at maps of Civil War battles and fantasize about observing from a safe distance – the house at the end of the field, for example. Cowards? Pacifists? Only Siri can understand! 

 

“A MOURNING SONG” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

My first experience of death was when my grandmother died. She was a kind and loving soul who used to spend hours playing cards with her grandchildren and listening to us practice the piano. At the time I couldn’t understand or grasp the utter finality of death. 

Many years later, my mother was slowly vanishing from Alzheimer’s disease. I remember sitting on a park bench with her on Columbus Avenue in New York City and trying to slow down my awareness of time to make the moment last. I refer to this as “vertical time”, stretching a moment vertically so that it lasts for a long time. After all, if we were to view Earth from Pluto, we would currently see Columbus discovering America. 

During the pandemic, almost everyone has either lost someone to COVID or knows someone who has had a loved one die from this disease. We certainly can’t escape the reality that in this life, everyone eventually dies. What lives on after death, however, is the memory of the person we lose – and if we are lucky, the love that they showed us. I feel my mother’s love every time I interact with my own children, trying to show them the same love that I remember receiving from her, my father and his mother, my grandmother. 

As for the title, my most profound insights occur to me in the morning. And thus a song about grieving i.e. mourning contains many references to the earliest part of the day. 

 

“MOONSHINE” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

There have been times in my life where I withdraw from the world and resurface after a period of isolation and internal reflection. The re-engagement is happy; being in the presence of people I love and, often, playing music with them. Sometimes these social re-engagements are enhanced by the consumption of chemical substances. Often they can be further enhanced by being in the presence of nature. 

I have always loved the moon and named my publishing company Rising Moon Music as a tribute to the beauties of that orb. Being with friends and playing music outdoors under the evening moonlight is certainly one of the great pleasures of my life. 

As for references to the “Lord” in the song, I have no idea as to whether or not a higher power exists. I certainly do not believe that we are judged by whether or not we believe in such an entity. Historically certain religions have played on people’s fears of going to Hell by promising eternal salvation if they subscribe to the tenets of the religion. I am not one of those souls. If I end up in Hades, then obviously I was wrong (although I also believe I would be in good company). In the meantime, I will continue soaking in that precious moonshine. 

 

“COOLING DOWN” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

I have lived in the South for almost forty years. There are many aspects of the South I love - the friendliness of the people, the charming small towns, the proximity to mountains and ocean. But the one thing I do not love is the humidity. Maybe it is because I grew up in the North, maybe because I have hair all over my body (except the top of my head) which is like a fur coat in some ways. I have struggled to find ways to survive. 

One way I have learned to  survive is by reframing the heat by recognizing its benefits, namely that because of the humidity, the forests are green and the ocean is warm. 

I spend many weekends in the summer at Holden Beach in North Carolina with my family. Because my extended family owns a beach home, we get to see the weekly renters come and go. When my children were teenagers, they would form close connections, sometimes romantic, with these renters and not see them again for another year. 

When autumn comes around, I am delighted as the weather starts cooling off and the humidity disappears. Autumn means campfires in the backyard, down jackets and anticipation of the cascade of holidays between late October and early January. If we are lucky, it also means a few snowstorms.

 

“AWAY FROM YOUR HEART” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

They say that Irish music rests on three pillars: love, loss and longing. If so, then I must be part Irish as all three of these elements make their way into this song. A rejection from a lover, the pain of separation, the fervent desire to be reunited and the longing for a connection that is past. They say that nostalgia is the pain associated with not being able to return to the past. If so, then I am guilty as charged. This may be an uncool thing to say – but this song reminds me of the songs of the 60s group BREAD. 

 

“MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

As a late-in-life father, my children are more like others’ grandchildren. In other words, I have a very hard time saying no to them and instead lavish attention and gifts on them. One can only speculate the excesses to which I might go with their children! In this song, I call out to my potential grandchildren to be kind and to be good stewards of the earth. If we are to save this planet from climate catastrophe, our children’s children will be the ones who will have to make it happen. In the final analysis, only if our planet survives can all of our hearts dance, and all of our spirits sing. 

 

“H.A.P.P.Y.” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

I married late in life. I am glad I did so because as a late-in-life husband, I had a more realistic view of love. It IS hard work to sustain a relationship. Scientific studies show, however, that couples who stay together and work through their issues are happier later in life than those who throw in the towel. This ditty espouses the joy of committed love, perhaps an unpopular subject these days given our throw-away-culture, and touches on several key aspects of successful partnerships – knowing how to fight fairly, committing oneself to building up rather than tearing down one’s partner and engaging in rewarding physical intimacy. Combine these ingredients and add a little luck (“I guess I'm a lucky man”) and you have a winning recipe for meaningful monogamy. 

This is one of those songs that began with a title. I saw it as a challenge to figure out how to expand on H.A.P.P.Y. so that each letter begins a new word that describes my positive feelings toward my spouse. 

 

“LOVE WAS” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

I was on a songwriting tear during the pandemic and wanted to write a tune about love – focusing on what love is. And then I realized that that particular topic has been done to death. I thought, instead, about writing a song focused on what love was.This song combines three different “failed love” stories in my life. The first was a teenage crush who broke my heart right before I went to college – leading to months and months of painful days and nights filled with remembrance and longing. The second was an ill-fated rendezvous with a former love who drove to Washington DC to meet me for a romantic encounter and then left early. And finally falling for a girl at a conference in San Diego who was off-limits because I was married. These images do continue to haunt me to some degree, even though I consider myself to be happily married. Like all of us, however, I occasionally wonder what would have happened with love that… once was but was never realized! Like songs from a jukebox, I can take these memories out of my memory bank and relive them before they recede back into my  brain. 

 

“SPANISH HARLEM” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

I grew up on the West Side of Manhattan. There were many Puerto Rican immigrants in my neighborhood. Rather than fighting our cohorts with knives and chains, however, we would throw eggs at each other. 

To me, this song evokes the romance of the fifties and sixties in America. Black and white tv, “see the USA in your Chevrolet”, Ike and Kennedy and pop songs all rhymed and filled with innocence and romanticism. 

The lyrics to this song make that “long ago” world come alive in my mind’s eye. I imagine the golden glow of sunrise in Spanish Harlem, the shouts from the boys playing stickball, the families hanging out on the stoop and the black eyed beauty that radiates deep into your soul. “Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la”. 

 

“GRAY SKIES” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

I have struggled on and off with depression and loneliness throughout my life. A few years ago I was at the beach during the fall which, for me, is a very evocative, moody time. There is, after all, much melancholy once the summer revelers have gone home and the days start to get shorter and colder. I have always been a fan of the Irving Berlin song “Blue Skies” and thought I would write a downbeat version of that song based on how I was feeling at the time i.e. “Gray Skies.” 

I had been working on the song for several days, completing three verses, but didn’t know how to end it and went to bed. During that night, I had a vivid dream in which my wife came to my side and lay down beside me as if to say “it is OK, you are not alone.” I added the fourth and last verse the next day. The diminished chords in the song and the coda remind me of a French love song. 

 

“WINE FROM BORDEAUX” 

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI) 

My son Ethan grew up with a UK flag over his bed. I enjoyed taking him, my daughter and my wife on trips abroad as part of my job as a medical educator and lecturer. We had wonderful vacations to England, France and Switzerland. By doing so, I was taking seriously the advice I had been given by a colleague to take as many family trips as possible with my children when they were young as these would generate life long memories and family ties. What I didn’t anticipate was that I might have gotten them hooked on international travel. A great example of “unintended consequences”. 

My son chose to go to college at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Because airfares in Europe are cheap, his real education was traveling to over 16 countries when he was in college. He now lives in London with his French girlfriend. A few years ago, he was traveling to Bordeaux, France and told me how much he loved this city. He vowed to send me and my wife a bottle of wine from Bordeaux. He never did…but his promise inspired this song. 

 

“ON A PERFECT DAY"

Words and music by Matthew Alexander 

Rising Moon Music (BMI 

I met with a very learned minister once and asked him what he made of death. He told me that he considered death a placeholder between two mysteries – the mystery of life and the mystery of life after death. I have never forgotten this conceptualization. 

We are the only species that can contemplate their own individual demise. What does it all mean? Where are we going? The best answer I can come up with is that there is a continuity beyond death. And furthermore that time itself is an illusion and that all that exists is the “eternal now” (“there is no beginning, there is no end”). When we slow down time, we can tap into a transcendent state and notice signs of and windows into eternity…the voice in the wind, the beautiful colors we see with our eyes and the love that we feel for one another. 

My hope is that our soul remains intact after death. And that if our soul remains, my further hope is that we can in some ways reach out to those who we love who are still on this earthly plane.

5/21/22

Midnight Dream Station has been mixed and mastered! It is scheduled for full release on May 3, 2023. The first single and video from the album "An Apolitical Man" will be released on 10/4/2022. Video is being produced by Jim McGuire in Charlotte! More to follow!!!

12/27/21

I am currently working on a new CD entitled Midnight Dream Station. It features 13 songs including a remake of the fifties classic " Spanish Harlem." Unlike my other CDs, this one is piano based and I am playing all the instruments except for drums (Al Sergev IV) and bass (Ron Brendle). It is being recorded in Charlotte NC at GAT3 Studios and produced by Matthew Alexander and Chris Green who is also engineering the project. 

8/14/21

On September 9th, 2021 I will be a featured performer along with such notables as Alanis Morissette and Pete Buttigieg at a conference on resilience. To attend, please go to www.ResiliencyandHappiness.com.  Health care professionals can receive continuing education credits and the attendance is free.

SONG SELECTION ON SOUL RIVER

6/20

SOUL RIVER This collection of songs includes ones recorded in each of the last three decades: the 90s, the Aughts and the Twenty-Tens. Two of these songs, "I’m a Missing’ You" and "Steel Rail Blues" are duets with New Hampshire singer-songwriter Click Horning. A theme? Perhaps what it means to love and be loved. By one’s parents, by one’s mate, by one’s friends, by one’s pet, by the object of one’s infatuations and finally, in my case, by a fan who claimed to be a bona-fide angel. Love is what we most need...although it doesn’t always work out the way we might want it. But if you are lucky and put in the work, it often does. This record is dedicated to the romantics who walk among us. Long may you love!! 

Soul River 

1) “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” -- “... and a brand new world began” 

I am a big fan of the pop music of the Fifties and early Sixties. Born in 1950, I have many fond memories of the songs of that era, particularly their over the top romanticism. Whether it was slow dancing at a house party to “All I Have to Do is Dream” by the Everly Brothers or listening to Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care of My Baby” on the transistor radio at Westhampton beach, these songs inspired me and fed my romanticism. 

  

I was encouraged to write songs by my mentor Lou Stallman, a Brill Building composer/lyricist who, himself, was co-writer on many great songs of the Fifties and early Sixties such as “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” and “Round and Round.” Lou had heard me finger pick at a sleep away camp where I was a counselor (and author of the camp song.) and where he would come every summer for one week to co-write and produce an original musical with the teen campers.  After hearing me play guitar and perform the few instrumentals I had composed, he encouraged me to contact him in New York City when I returned from summer break.  

Lou was co-owner of Bornwin Music, a music publishing house in New York City, along with Stanley Catron who later became a Vice President of BMI.  Lou and Stan had assembled a “stable’ of writers and singers whose careers they were shepherding; some of the talent they had put together included singer-songwriters Click Horning, who became my playing partner of many years, and Robert John who had a big hit with the song “Sad Eyes.” Lou published and produced many of my first songs with Bornwin Music, some of which were submitted to and “held” by such groups as the Turtles. 

“A Hundred Pounds of Clay” is a prime example of the romanticism of 50’s and early 60’s pop music that I loved as a teenager and still treasure as an adult. It was a hit by Gene McDaniels in1961. 

2) “Talking to the Wind “... leave me lie under the sky, I’m talking to the wind” 

Some songs take a long time to complete. “Talking to the Wind” is one of those songs. It began sometime in the fall of 1972, just a year after my graduation from Harvard. I was visiting my friend Mike at his rural commune in Vermont, took a walk in the woods and ”had a puff.” Before I knew it, I was in a world of my own, deep in “dialogue” with the natural world, surrounded by the glorious colors of a New England fall. I walked back to Mike’s house and wrote the first two verses which had to do with the wish to be undisturbed while experiencing the joys of being in nature. For years, it remained an unfinished song. Many years later, I had a crush on a co-worker with stunning “rainbow” eyes. Before I could figure out what to do with my feelings, she moved away to get married, vanishing with “the wind.” I translated this experience into the bridge and new third verse of the song. All of a sudden the song had a motive -- my dialogue with nature was, in fact, a plea. After all if the wind took her away, perhaps the wind could bring her back. 

3) “Buckets of Rain” -- “I ain’t no monkey but I know what I like” 

I was first introduced to the brilliant songwriting of Bob Dylan through other artists who interpreted his songs. It all began with “Blowing in the Wind”, tenderly sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. Then Judy Collins recorded a haunting version of “Tomorrow’s Such A Long Time.” By the time the Byrds sang “My Back Pages” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” I, like so many of my generation, was hooked. My favorite Dylan songs, sung by the bard himself, tended to be the more tender ballads - “Love Minus Zero No Limit” and “She Belongs to Me.” Then Blonde on Blonde blew me away with “Stuck Here in Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” and, in my opinion, the most beautiful song ever recorded, “Just Like A Woman.” 

“Buckets of Rain” appears on Dylan’s “comeback” album, Blood on the Tracks.  The song is the last one on the record, full of longing, contradictions and insight. This is Dylan at his best. Fans of the original song may notice that I took liberty with the opening line, singing “buckets of rain, buckets of beer” rather than “buckets of rain, buckets of tears.” 

4) “I’m a Missin’ You” -- “...turned with my eyes and realized, I’d be missin’ you”” 

I got the serious bug to be a performer while an undergraduate in college. I was a headliner at the Nameless Coffeehouse in Harvard Square and was writing songs at a breakneck speed. Upon graduation, I moved back home to New York City to pursue my musical dreams. I did a few solo gigs and soon was performing with fellow singer-songwriter Click Horning and guitarist Dan White in a group called Moonshine. While we were attracting interest from record companies such as Vanguard (and opening for such future stars as Bruce Springsteen), gigs were few and far between. At the time, I was living with four roommates on West 110th Street near Cathedral Park. Sadly, my room, which I shared with my girlfriend Stephanie, looked out over a dark and lonely air shaft. I soon needed a break from NYC (no wonder with such a gorgeous view!). I hitched a ride to California without Stephanie who stayed behind at her job. When the car’s motor blew up in Iowa, I was forced to take a Greyhound bus the rest of the way. On a long and lonesome layover in Santa Barbara, Ca. I found an alcove near the beach, took out my guitar and wrote this tune. The song was recorded many years later at Fred Story’s Concentrix Studio in Uptown Charlotte. It was a one-take job, recorded live with Click Horning backing me on rhythm guitar and vocals. As for Stephanie, she too abandoned the room looking out on the air shaft and I never heard from her again. 

5) “Dodgeball” 

When I was a child, my favorite gym sport was dodgeball. This instrumental song has the erratic tempo of a dodgeball game where you never know who is going to be the next target of the ball! It is recorded with me on 6 string guitar and 12 string guitar. Fred Story plays the piano, bass, drums and synthesizer, all of which give the song, to my ears, a “Love is Blue” feel. 

6) “Angel without Paradise” - “you were living on a rainbow, you were walking on air” 

My mother was a talented poet and huge supporter of my songwriting. I once asked her for some titles to write from and she gave me a list of over 40. This was one of them. Once I had the title, the song itself came fairly quickly. I was not, however, prepared for what would happen when I performed the song in Atlanta, Georgia. 

I was the featured entertainer at a “New Age” weekend retreat led by motivational speaker Arnold Patent. After playing this song, a woman came up to me and told me the following: “I loved your song “Angel Without Paradise” and wanted you to know that I think the song was written for me. You see, I am a “walk-in” from another planet. I was told on my planet that I needed to come to Earth and inhabit (i.e. walk into) the body of someone who lost their love of life. I left a beautiful world behind to come to your planet. My name is Angel.” 

Stunned, I realized I had three choices of how to interpret her story: 

She was schizophrenic 
She was lying so as to impress me 
She was telling the truth 

I chose to believe #3 and spent the rest of the weekend with her! 

 7) “Go”...“ why I had to leave, I’ll never know, something just told me to go” 

After two frustrating years in New York City trying to land a record contract, I decided to set out for the West Coast and explore the burgeoning music scene in L.A. At that time, the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt were both based in Los Angeles and were huge stars. Following an ill-fated road trip to Mexico, however, I thought it wise to spend some time in San Francisco before I moved to L.A. My year in San Francisco turned into a year long detour from pursuing my dreams in the city of angels; while San Fran is a great tourist town, as a resident I found it to be depressing. Far away from home with little rhyme or reason as to why I was there, I spent hours wandering aimlessly around Golden Gate Park asking myself, “Why am I here? “Who am I?” and “Why did I leave the comfort of family and friends on the East Coast?” This song emerged from these feelings of heartsickness and homesickness. 

 8. “Forever Eyes “... “never thought I’d see a color bluer than the skies, till I saw forever eyes” 

When I was dating my future wife, Elaine, we took a trip to New Mexico. While driving to Taos, she and I stopped by the side of the road where I took a picture of her with a backdrop of snow in the desert. Her eyes looked magically blue in her blue jean shirt. This was the original image for the song. Our getting married two years later spelled the end of my single years, a turn of affairs that was woven into the second verse of the song. Over time I added a bridge and third verse to make the song more universal. “Forever Eyes” could as easily apply to a higher deity as to a human being.  

9) “In This Together” …”it won’t do to run up to the attic and hide” 

Click Horning is my favorite “unknown” songwriter. He nearly made it big in the late 60s when he was produced by Tom Wilson (the same producer who made Simon and Garfunkel a household name) and released a record on Laurie Records. His deep baritone voice, steady flat picking and lyrical depth of his songs have always moved me. In the summer of 1970, I was considering dropping out of Harvard to pursue a career as a musician and was spending time in New York City working as a cashier in Grand Central Station. At night, Click would play his beautiful songs at the apartment on West 10th Street where he crashed with his sister and her husband, owners of one of the first bar/restaurants in Soho. There were drugs being passed around and the nights were rich with song, laughter and the longings unique to being a 20 year old on summer break in Manhattan. Click was like an older brother to me and to his eternal credit, he encouraged me to finish my college education before pursuing a career in music. This is one of my favorite songs of his, written by a father to his daughter. 

10) “Days of Old San Juan”  …”if I knew then, what I know now” 

I once found a letter that my mother had written to a good friend of hers, decrying the fast pace of life in America. She longed for simpler days associated with her youth. That letter was written in the 1950s! Of course, in comparison, the 50s seem like a much more laid back and uncomplicated time than our current era. But I think the point is made that as we age, we all seem to long for halcyon days we associate with the past. 

Growing up, my family had a beautiful summer house near the water in East Quogue, Long Island. There were only a couple of homes around us and we had an uninterrupted view of Shinecock Bay. Because there were no fences and few cars, our dog Blackie was free to chase rabbits undisturbed while we looked on from the porch. Fireflies filled the night air and laughter was a common currency. 

Over time, our view was blocked by new construction,fences were built and our pastoral Eden was slowly tarnished and lost. Eventually the house was sold after my parents died. 

This song is about our universal longing for simpler times. It is also about the wisdom that comes, too late, after the breakup of a love affair.  

Ironically enough I have never been to San Juan.  

11) “Twilight Dream” 

This instrumental was born from a theme written by Click Horning. He called it “The Gypsy Song.” I took the theme, which can be heard in the very first verse of the song, and expanded on it. I love the way the final recording swells and recedes and think it would make a fitting song for a movie soundtrack (Hollywood are you listening?). 

12)  “Right to be Wrong” -- “won’t you take off your mask, your disguise” 

This song emerged from a line I once read in the newspaper, the author of an Op-Ed declaring that he had a “right to be wrong.” This line resonated with me. I believe that if we were all less afraid of failing and looking bad to one another, we would have more fun and exude greater authenticity. I am honestly not sure to whom I was referring when I directed my lyric to “you, with your watery eyes.” Not even sure what I meant by watery eyes. I guess it is up to listeners to determine what this line means to them! 

13) “Couple of Hats Boogie” 

Click and I briefly performed with Fedora hats using the name A Couple of Hats. This song is an up-tempo boogie we recorded with Fred Story on electric bass. It was largely influenced by the guitar work on Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. 

14) “Sembolina, Kumbalina” ... “a whimsical song for the afternoon” 

While in college, I made friends with a commune of hippies who lived nearby in rural New Hampshire. I adopted an adorable white Husky pup from them shortly before graduation and took her with me to a tiny apartment in New York City. How I loved that little dog! However, I felt guilty keeping her cooped up in the apartment while I went to work in Greenwich Village where I sold bean bag chairs at a Pier 16 store. Although it broke my heart, I soon gave her back to my friends in New Hampshire where she could roam freely with her canine family. “Sembolina, Kumbalina” was my nickname for her. Click and I initially recorded this song as a demo for Vanguard Records. We were offered a contract for a single but turned it down in hopes of securing a deal for an entire album. 

15) “Steel Rail Blues” ... “went into town for one last round and gambled my ticket away” 

Next to Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot is my favorite troubadour. When I first heard this Lightfoot song recorded by George Hamilton IV in 1966, I immediately bought the 45 disc at Colony Records on 49th Street and Broadway, took it home and played it non-stop. This was a rare occurrence at the time since the version of the song is decidedly Country and I was a Jewish kid growing up in NYC. It is beautifully sung by Lightfoot himself on his first LP released that same year and has always been one of my favorite story songs. Click Horning and I trade lead vocals and Fred Story adds a stand up bass. This take was recorded live without overdubs. 

16) “When All the Sand Castles Fall” 

I was about 6 months old when I was a sidebar in the New York Times. My composer father Josef Alexander was about to have his first symphony performed in Carnegie Hall and the newspaper did a feature on him. I was in a baby carriage in the photograph which showed him composing at the piano. 

This image coincides with my first memory in life which is not visual but auditory. It is Bach’s C Major Prelude which my father often played as a warm up piece and which I undoubtedly heard when I was a baby. Hearing this magnificent piece brings me back to a serene, watery, pre-conscious place. 

This instrumental song was inspired by a brief love affair and is my humble attempt to write a piano prelude. It was performed by me on the piano at Jay Howard Studio in one take. 

17) “The Poet’s Soul” ... “you loved us all, with the poet’s soul” 

My mother had four sons. She also wrote four books of published poetry and had many other literary pieces published in the New York Times. She was the most loving mother one could imagine, never losing her patience and bestowing great kindness on us all. She and my classical composer/pianist father were quite the bohemian couple. Parties at our Manhattan apartment included many of the top artistic figures in New York City ranging from Leonard Bernstein to Walter Matthau.       

My mother also suffered greatly. She lost my oldest, mentally ill brother to suicide, my father to a heart attack and she herself eventually succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease, the most cruel fate for such a loving, literate soul. I was in California when she died and wrote this song on the bus and flight back home, planning to sing it at her funeral. While I did not finish the song in time to do so, I recorded it soon thereafter at the end of a long recording session, live and in one take. Fred Story added a haunting piano track years later.  

18) “You’re Not the Only One” ...”don’t complain, about the fire and the wind, smoke and rain” 

This is another song that took years to finish. It started out as a reproach to a friend who complained a lot about her love interest. My point to her at the time was that we all suffer from love’s indignities so why not make the most of the situation? Years later, it occurred to me that the song would be more interesting if the protagonist was actually in love with his friend, longing to have a romantic relationship with her but keeping his feelings secret the whole time she was complaining about her dead-beat boyfriend. I love the folk arrangement of this song, the only waltz on the record. 

19) “Soul River”... “sing me a song, I can call my own” 

This song has its origins in the metaphysical novel The Alchemist. We all rest upon the souls of those who have come before us. Life itself is a great adventure. Only when we become silent, can we glimpse the mystery of it all…”the scent of the pines, the spark of a star.” As we age, the desire grows to be a child again, innocent, wide-eyed, rocked to sleep by the lullaby of the ancients.