This will be an internationally broadcast FB LIVE CD Release Party for the upcoming record "SOUL RIVER"
PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 6th, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For most of his fifty year musical career, Charlotte based singer-songwriter Matthew Alexander has been in the “right place at the right time.” In the seventies, Alexander was co-leader of the group Moonshine who, by sheer happenstance, opened for Bruce Springsteen for five nights at Kenny’s Castaways in New York City while also auditioning for legendary songwriter Jerry Leiber. The year prior he opened for Billy Joel in Greenwich Village where Joel was premiering his first release Cold Spring Harbor. And at Harvard, Alexander hosted Bonnie Raitt at his yearly Songwriters’ Festival. So what has he been doing since? Making CDs every five years: “I got the recording bug when I was in high school and have been at it ever since.” In terms of his current geographical locale, Alexander states: “I feel fortunate to have relocated to North Carolina in 1984 because it has such an incredible acoustic music heritage.” Alexander counts his many influences as including: Doc Watson, Chet Atkins, Paul McCartney, Bruce Cockburn, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Jim Croce, many of whom he has been compared to. His latest album Soul River drops on October 27th, 2020 and features Alexander on guitar, piano and vocals with multi-instrumentalist and producer Fred Story on “everything else.” “The record has 19 tracks and a lot of influences including Chopin, Lightfoot and Dylan.” And as for all those future stars he once opened for, Alexander says: “I guess I was their good luck charm.”
Alexander’s music can be heard on his Pandora Channel Matthew Alexander Radio and all streaming platforms. He will be releasing a live concert video on November 7th, 2020 on Facebook and YouTube.
“His CD offers the breath of fresh air we often search for in our record collections but rarely find."
Mark Price, Charlotte Observer
“Poignant and prolific”
Debbie Jet, Rock Hill Herald
During the pandemic, Matthew Alexander will be releasing bi-weekly cell phone videos, live from his music studio. The songs performed will include themes related to the Quarantine as well as songs from his upcoming release Soul River. These videos can be found on his FB page (www.facebook.com/matthew.alexander.musician) as well as on the Gallery section of this website.
BY KAREN GARLOCH email@example.com
After Matthew Alexander’s mother lost much of her memory to Alzheimer’s disease, he communicated with her through music.
In the years before Hannah Alexander died in 1999, mother and son would sometimes sit in her westside apartment in New York City. He’d play his guitar and sing some of his own songs, and his voice seemed to calm her.
The experience taught Alexander, a Charlotte psychologist, that music is one of the best ways to connect with Alzheimer’s patients.
On Nov. 13, in honor of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, Alexander will perform at a benefit concert and release party for his new CD, “Three Minute Movie,” that includes a song he wrote in memory of his mother. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 8 at the Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. Tickets are $10 at www.eveningmuse.com.
Alexander’s song “If You Didn’t Know Me” was inspired by a patient he once counseled. She told him that as a child, she asked her mother, “Would you love me if you didn’t know me?” Her mother said, “Of course. You’re my child and I love you.” But years later, the patient said she got a truer answer when her mother, who by then had developed Alzheimer’s, looked at her and said: “I don’t know who you are, but you’re so kind to me, I love you anyway.”
The story stayed with Alexander, who had already experienced what he calls “the long goodbye” of Alzheimer’s with his mother.
A poet, Hannah Alexander had supported her son’s aspirations to become a folk musician even when his father, a concert pianist and composer of classical music, had not. When Matthew Alexander threatened to drop out of Harvard to focus on music, he said his father told him, “Music isn’t a living, it’s a starvation.” But he tried it anyway.
A native New Yorker, Alexander had been playing guitar since he was 8 and writing songs since he was 15. He did graduate from Harvard in 1971 and said he went on to co-found a folk band called Moonshine that performed in Greenwich Village and opened for future stars Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
When Moonshine broke up in 1973, Alexander moved to Los Angeles and became the rehearsal piano player for the famed improvisational comedy group The Groundlings. He also pitched his songs door-to-door on Sunset Boulevard. Some got published and some didn’t. He eventually got frustrated and returned to school in 1978. He got his Ph.D. in both education and psychology and became a licensed clinical psychologist. In 1984, he took a job at Carolinas HealthCare System and also started a private practice.
From Charlotte, he traveled often to New York City to help care for his mother after she began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s in 1990.
Many years later, he wrote “If You Didn’t Know Me,” combining his experience with his mother and that of his former patient who asked her mother the question. That song is one of 14 on his sixth album, with themes of betrayal and redemption, grief and love. He’ll donate 20 percent of the proceeds from the CD sales to Alzheimer’s research.
Alexander remembers fondly the times he’d sit with his mother in Central Park, when she would tell him, over and over, how she first met his dad. Instead of chiding her for repeating herself, he let her talk. “I was fully there with her,” he said.
Now when counseling others who are dealing with Alzheimer’s, Alexander said, “I recommend sitting back and enjoying the gifts of the relationship. … Try to engage them with the music they grew up with (and) it will trigger memories from their past, often the last memories to go.”
For more information: www.alexandertunes.com
Dr. Matthew Alexander knows a lot about Alzheimer’s Disease: as a psychologist counseling clients caring for loved ones with this condition, as a Professor of Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina teaching young health care professionals about the disease, and as a son who lost a mother to Alzheimer’s.
Out of these multiple experiences, Alexander, also an award winning singer-songwriter-guitarist who once opened for Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, has crafted a powerful song about the disease entitled “If You Didn’t Know Me” which he will showcase at an upcoming concert/CD Release party at Charlotte’s Evening Muse. Alexander timed the date of the release party to coincide with National Alzheimer’s month. As for the origins of the song, Alexander tells it like this. “A client told me a remarkable story about her mother. As a child, she had asked her mother if she would love her if she didn’t know her. When her mother developed Alzheimer’s many years later, she lost memory of who her daughter was but told her she still loved her because of her kindness. It’s the sort of ironic twist you could never make up. Her story triggered my memories of my own mother, the late poet Hannah Alexander, who succumbed to the disease in 1999 and led me to blend the two experiences into this song.”
Alexander teaches his health care learners and clients to be gentle with Alzheimer’s patients. “If they call you mother or father, don’t correct them…just go with it. If they become distressed, it is best to gently distract them rather than allow yourself to get agitated. Try to engage them with music they grew up with as it will trigger memories from their past, often the last memories to go.”
Alexander also educates his aging clients who express concerns that their aging related memory lapses are symptoms of early Alzheimer’s. “The signs of early Alzheimer’s have more to do with putting common items in uncommon places (i.e. placing one’s wallet in the refrigerator) and dangerous lapses of concentration (leaving the stove on) rather than things like forgetting someone’s name or misplacing one’s keys.” Alexander is optimistic that there will be an ultimate breakthrough in treating the disease but recognizes that researches still have a ways to go to identify early markers and test effective approaches.
Matthew Alexander will be performing with Ron Brendle on bass and Tim Murray on guitar at the Evening Muse on November 11th. Tickets are $10 for admission. His new CD, Three Minute Movie, which includes the song, will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the CD will be donated to the National Alzheimer’s Association. The song is available on I-Tunes and there is also is a music video of “If You Didn’t Know Me’ on You Tube. You can find out more about the show by going to www.eveningmuse.com or Alexander’s own websites www.alexandertunes.com and www.alexandertherapy.com
Caring for A Mother with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Son’s Story by Matthew Alexander, Ph.D., M.A.
If you're old enough to remember vinyl albums, you're old enough to remember liner notes. Long before music videos, Facebook and Twitter, liner notes were used to note the singer / songwriter / musician's reflections on the songs and lyrics. Here and now in the digital age, we should still be able to enjoy these musical musings. Generally liner notes were written by a music reviewer familiar with the artist's music. In this case, I enthusiastically offered to write the notes for Matthew Alexander's latest CD, "3 Minute Movie", because I have known Matthew and loved his music for 35 years.
He sang one of my favorite tunes of his, "Songs That Come From the Heart" at my wedding, and that's what I love so much about Matthew's tuneful tunes — they come from the heart, and go straight to the heart of his listeners.
Dog Eat Dog World – This is the lament of an underdog in the game of love about the over-privileged over-dogs who seem to have the resources to get the girls. Though happily married for nearly 20 years, Matthew has had the opportunity to empathize with clients in his psychotherapy practice who've been betrayed by material girls. The song is filled with playful music, snappy lyrics and back-up girls who seem to be teasing the protagonist. This is one of my favorites on the CD, and I've found myself playing it over and over.
Indigo and I – Yes, Matthew is a romantic, and in the best way. This "romantic" song captures the magical moments of childhood, where an adult can enjoy timeless time with his daughter. This is perhaps the most unusual and intriguing melody and arrangement on the CD, and has the feeling of a little girl running and skipping, hiding and seeking, watching animals and pointing to flowers. When "Indigo" flashes a moment of anger, the song implores her to let it go so that not a precious moment of childhood is wasted on a downer. This song is an upper, and will leave you with a smile on your face.
Beyond the Sea – One of Matthew's great gifts is as a song stylist and "interpreter" of classic songs. He says he always loved the original tune by Bobby Darin, and this love turned him on to the original French version, La Mer. Matthew's fast-paced and tuneful strumming is accented by concertinas that give the tune a French cabaret feel. Behind the breezy exterior of the tune, there is a wisp of sadness ... for after all, this is a song about departed lovers who may meet again, on the other side.
Lost in this World – Whoever hasn't felt lost in this world probably hasn't been paying full attention. For Matthew, there was a moment when he was living in LA in the mid-1970s, far away from home and family. There was a fire in the hills that day, and the sky turned black and rained down ash. He was talking to his family on the phone, and this song came out of it. As with so many other tunes on this tuneful album, Matthew lets his guitar picking licks "vocalize" his own redemption -- that in times of trouble and depression, music has been his sole soul savior.
Three Minute Movie – The crowning jewel of this CD and the title song, 3 Minute Movie sums up the elusive "hit" every songwriter seeks. With an up tempo country feel and a wailing electric guitar solo by Robert Dulin this is a hot and fast three minutes that grew out of an actual incident early in Matthew's career. He says, "While pitching my songs in LA, a producer told me I needed to write Three Minute Movies. When I asked what he meant, he told me, 'The camera is rolling right from the start…you have to pull them into the song with the opening line ... you show, you don’t tell ... you build to a lyrical climax and then resolution ... you write a great melody, tell the story in under three minutes and you have a three minute movie.' I walked out disappointed that he didn’t publish my songs, but thinking, 'Wow. What a great title for a song!'
Prison Of My Soul – As a psychologist in practice for more than 30 years, Matthew has seen depression from the outside in. This song -- written when he was 20 and in the midst of his own depression following his older brother's suicide -- expresses it from the inside out. Even in the pain, the heartfelt beauty of the music emerges -- particularly in the sad and poignant saxophone -- and thanks to the perspective of 40+ years, he upends the depression by giving the song an "up" ending.
Rainy Afternoon – A song of mystery and fantasy inspired by Matthew's childhood summer home on Long Island -- a place to dream and imagine and occupy rainy afternoons. While he originally strummed a rhythm guitar, he deftly picks his way through this tune as he invites you to be his companion. Think of this tune as "Rain on the Roof" -- with White Rabbit as your guide, a mellow trip that leaves you humming.
Racing Against Time – This would have to be the slowest "racing" song ever! Unlike so many other tunes on this CD that Matthew wrote toward the start of his "race", at 60+ he can now see "the finish line" and so he is looking to slow the process as best he can. So the music slowly meanders as Matthew lays out a litany of complaints that older folks have. And yet, the song is subtly humorous, emotionally detached, a slow motion paean to the slowed motion of aging.
Ramblin' Rose – Here is another of Matthew's unique interpretations with a lot more "ramble" than Nat King Cole's original. The musical bed beneath the lyrics has the relentless movement of a freight train thanks to Matthew's nimble fingerpicking fingers. He admits to being a "rambling dude" who met a lot of Rambling Roses when he was single, and you can hear the emotional longing in the vocals of a seeker seeking that which can never be found. I bet you will enjoy Matthew's ramble more than the original, a ramble that will take you South of the border to Mexico, and then back up with a pedal steel guitar riff that will have you thinking Grand Ole Opry.
If You Didn’t Know Me – Without a doubt, this is the most poignant song on the CD, not just because it was based on a true story, but also because Matthew's mom died of Alzheimer's. A client told him, “When I was a kid I asked my mother out of the blue if she would love me if she didn’t know me. She wouldn’t answer. Years later we lived together, and she developed Alzheimer's. One day she told me that she didn’t know who I was but she loved me just the same. I don’t know why I asked her the question as a child but I had my answer as an adult."
Matthew kept the story intact, although intentionally disguised the cities (the song refers to Chicago and St. Paul) and the emotional fuel for writing the song came from his experience with his own mother. "At the end, even though she didn't 'know' me -- she most definitely loved me, and I most definitely loved her."
Wind Blows High And Low – Have you ever noticed how the wind blows high and low? Neither have I. But Matthew noticed it once, and it obviously made a great impression. Once again in this catchy and somewhat mysterious tune, his articulate guitar licks follow the wind, high and low and all around. Think of it as a bluegrass shuffle. You could swear this is a folk tune you heard many years ago, and that's one of the things that makes Matthew Alexander's music compelling. Even his original tunes feel familiar.
Traveling Song – A wonderful "send off" as the last tune on the CD, this was written years and years ago, long before Matthew became a dad. It might have come from remembering his mom saying goodbye when he left for college, and now he can sing it to his own children wishing them a happy, safe and adventurous journey. This catchy and hummable song brings the CD full circle, and sends the listener off on their own adventure with a smile.
Celito Lindo – An unexpected "coda" added on to the CD (think the Beatles' "Her Majesty"), this accordion tune "stretches" the CD out another 30 seconds. It's there because Matthew fondly remembers a blind accordion player who'd play it outside his window in Manhattan. He says it reminds him of springtime, and so he springs a delightful surprise to end a delightfully surprising CD.
Matthew Alexander recently sat down with Caravan Records, Jennie Simon,
for the following interview:
JH: Tell us a little bit about this record and how it was first made?
MA: The album was recorded in Studio A at Reflection Sound Studio in Charlotte, N.C. In 1987, when the record was made, Reflection was the studio in town and had an international reputation; REM, Aerosmith, James Brown, Robert Plant, Whitney Houston, Marti Jones and Don Dixon had all recorded there. I met with their lead engineer Steve Haigler and played him some demos I had made in Los Angeles. Haigler immediately put me in touch with Richard Putnam, a successful keyboardist and producer in his own right, with whom he had just formed a production company. Richard asked me to give him my best songs and I gave him about forty. He narrowed that choice down to the ten original songs on the disc but informed me that his acceptance to co-produce the record was conditional on my agreeing to record one of those songs, Wishing I Had Wings, which became the title track. Quite simply, he loved that particular song and refused to take on the project without its inclusion.
Studio A itself was a cavernous room with a big grand piano and huge mixing console. In 1987, recording studios were still like cathedrals to musicians. These were places that evoked awe (before Pro Tools democratized and de-mythologized the entire recording process) and the engineers and producers who worked within their walls were demi-gods.
JS: Can you tell me more about producers Steve Haigler and Richard Putnam?
MA: Steve Haigler has engineered for and produced countless well-known artists such as the Pixies, Bob Mould, the Connells, Billy Bragg and Natalie Merchant. He currently lives in upstate New York where he continues to produce major acts. Richard Putnam is an Emmy nominated composer, keyboardist and producer who has worked closely with hit Nashville songwriter Rick Bowles as well as legendary artists such as Lou Christie and James Brown.
JS: Who are the musicians playing with you on this disc?
MA: Well known Charlotte musician and producer, Jaimie Hoover (of the Spongetones), is playing bass and lead electric guitar. Richard Putnam plays piano and synthesizer and Houston Roper, who along with Richard was on the road for years with Nashville singer-songwriter Rick Bowles, plays drums. Charlotte- based chanteuse Debby Dobbins sings backup (you can hear her singing a duet with me on the song Counting the Hours) and multi-instrumentalist David Johnson is playing 6 string and high strung guitar, steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin and dobro.
David rarely leaves the North Carolina mountains where he lives so having him in session for two days in Charlotte was a real coup. He would hear any song once and then play the most amazing tracks immediately afterwards. To me, he was truly a “mountain Mozart”.
JS Why did you decide to re-release this record after all these years?
MA: Only available on vinyl and cassette, few people had ever heard the disc. I had an audition with Warner Brothers Records in Nashville who agreed to listen to the record but when they “passed” on signing it, I got discouraged and began work on a second album (April Heart). Plus, as much as I had always like the music on the record, I thought the original mix was off…too much echo and buried vocals. More than two decades later, however, I heard that Reflection Sound Studio might be going out of business (not the case, as it turned out). This news panicked me as I suddenly feared that the original tapes which had been stored there for more than two decades could be lost. I called the studio and asked them to retrieve the 2 inch masters. It took three months for the tapes to be found as they had been misplaced behind a console. The only reason they were ultimately located was because a water leak led them to look behind the console.
Given all the new technology that has emerged since the original recording, it only made sense to remix and remaster the record once the original 24 track tapes were found. Because the songs had been in storage so long, however, they had accumulated mold and had to literally be baked, yes baked, three times before a successful digital transfer could be made. When I first heard the remix, I was floored…I could hear so many sounds that I hadn’t ever heard on the original record. The songs breathed. It was like releasing something from stone.
JS: Besides the remix and remaster, are there any other differences between the original record and this CD?
MA: I never liked opening the record with the rock-oriented song Crying and so decided to re-sequence (i.e. re-order) these songs. Most consumers these days don’t listen to a CD in its entirety but as a child of the 60’s I think that listening to a record from beginning to end is an important part of the art form. I spent many hours figuring out how the songs on Wishing I Had Wings would best go together and think the new order is much more compelling than the original. Also, some of the songs have portions restored that had been edited out of the original record and I have added three bonus tracks recorded in the years since the original record was made. Finally, world renowned photographer Carlo Pieroni re-designed the entire CD so as to better reflect modern sensibilities.
JS: Tell us about some of the songs.
MA: I Remember You is one of my favorite songs from my childhood. It was written by Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer in 1941; reportedly, Mercer wrote it for Judy Garland with whom he was infatuated. The song has been recorded dozens of times and was a hit by yodeling Frank Ifield when I was about 12 years old. I thought it was fitting to open the CD with this song. Interestingly enough, when Wishing I Had Wings was first released in 1987, country music disc jockey Dave Campbell opened his commercial radio show (WLTC) every morning with my version of the song.
The World Just Keeps on Spinning Round was written while riding on the D train on my way from Manhattan to my high school in the Bronx. It was published in 1967 and held for a while by the 60’s pop group the Turtles who, unfortunately, never recorded it.
Tulsa Tomorrow began as a title. I was planning to lead a songwriter seminar in Ann Arbor, Michigan and came up with that title to use as a songwriting exercise. Each student would be asked to use that title as a prompt from which to write a song. The class never materialized but I kept the title and wrote the song. MaryAnne, I Remember Well is a song that caught the attention of Los Angeles producer Emmett Rhodes who encouraged me to record it. Both songs speak to issues related to violence and retribution.
JS: This CD has a clear country influence. How did a New York native and folk music stylist such as you gravitate toward making such a disc?
MA: Believe it or not, the first records I bought in NYC were all country 45s. I heard these songs on some obscure AM radio station and then purchased them at the Colony Music Store on Broadway and 49th Street. The very first record I ever bought was El Paso by Marty Robbins. Another early purchase was Steel Rail Blues, a Gordon Lightfoot song recorded by George Hamilton IV.
Of course, folk music and country music are “country cousins”. As for popular music, I have always been partial to classic American pop groups such as the Eagles, Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds who incorporate country and folk sounds into their music as did the Beatles and Stones! I am also a fan of solo artists such as Allison Kraus and Lyle Lovett who merge folk, country and bluegrass.
JS: You previously referenced three bonus tracks on this CD. Tell me about those.
MA: Sentenced to Life, like Tulsa Tomorrow, began as a title. I was reading an article about the Civil War. It described the incredible horror that surviving soldiers experienced when they encountered the sheer volume of dead soldiers on the battlefield. The article made the observation that the soldiers who survived the War were, in fact, “sentenced to life” in that they had to carry these memories with them for the rest of the life. Their situation seemed similar to all survivors of violence.
Erie Mountain Dew was written immediately after hearing Bill Monroe perform in New York City in the early 70s. It was recorded direct to a Tascam MSR-16 track tape machine in 1992 with musical back up from my long time music partner, Click Horning, a brilliant singer and songwriter in his own right.
Finally, Somewhere Down the Road Not Taken, also recorded direct to tape, was written by long time friend Jeff Crossan, a hit songwriter based in Nashville; this is the first recording of this particular song.
JS: Is there a theme to this disc?
MA: It is up to each listener to decide the themes they believe are explored in this record. But since you asked, here is one perspective. We live in a violent world. The CD tells multiple stories having to do with violence and its aftermath...a murder of a young mother in a car jacking; an impulsive killing of a work supervisor; the long lasting impact of child abuse and an execution of a man innocent of the crime for which he is being punished. However, each of these songs is immediately followed by a song that holds out the hope of resilience, transformation and transcendence. The most powerful and enduring source of hope and transcendence in this world is ultimately found in the experience of love, whether that love comes from another person or from an eternal force beyond our understanding.
JS: The disc has 13 tracks. Aren’t you superstitious?
MA: No. I remember the title of an old Bert Jansch disc, Lucky Thirteen. That’s what I am hoping for.
JS: How does this record compare with your four other recordings (Early Recordings; April Heart: American Boy; Daredevil Angel)?
MA: It is more muscular. The bass and drum sound are fantastic and really ground the record. I also really like my vocal sound. I worked for a year with a singing coach, the late Harvey Woodruff, to prepare for recording this album.
JS: What’s next for you?
MA: We are planning a big CD release party later this year. I Remember You is going to be promoted as the first single from the CD and a performance schedule for the Matthew Alexander Band is being finalized. Also, I am currently writing instrumental songs for television and hope to do a vocal CD of brand new original songs sometime in the next year or so.
JS: Well, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. Best of luck with the re-release (24 years in the making) of Wishing I Had Wings.
MA: Thanks so much.
Singer-songwriter Matthew Alexander is passionate about his new disc, Daredevil Angel. “It has taken me four decades to have the skill and confidence to make this record…this is the best work I have ever done in the studio”. His disc, due to be released shortly was produced by Charlotte, N.C. jazz legend, Fred Story, and contains fifteen original songs in a contemporary folk genre.
To be sure, four decades is a long time. But the New York native turned Charlottean has certainly had his share of musical adventures during his lifetime.
“Discovered” at a New York summer camp in 1966 by Tin Pan Alley songwriter, Lou Stallman (author of the Yankees theme song and the R & B standard “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle”), Alexander went on to perform the coffee house circuit in Boston, headline at the Nameless Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and develop a friendship with Bonnie Raitt while attending Harvard University in the late sixties.
“At that time, Cambridge was a hot bed of folk music. During my freshman year, some friends came over to my dorm room and brought a singer from New York City. All I knew was that she had a big smile, wore long boots and sang with a group called the Simon Sisters. We spent an entire afternoon swapping songs. It wasn’t until years later when she had a big hit on the radio that someone told me that that singer was Carly Simon.”
Upon graduation from Harvard in 1971, Alexander moved back to New York City where he auditioned for another “Simon”, his idol Paul Simon, whose songwriting class he sat in on at NYU (Simon praised his finger picking). During this same time, Alexander opened for Billy Joel in Greenwich Village and fronted the folk-rock band Moonshine who opened for Bruce Springsteen on the Upper East Side for five nights in 1972.
“When Springsteen strapped on his electric guitar and started singing, we knew he was going to be huge. I have never seen anyone command the stage like he did with his E-Street Band. We went out to a bar after closing night and Springsteen ordered milk” Alexander recalls.
When Moonshine broke up after spurning a singles deal from Vanguard Records, Alexander spent three years in Los Angeles where his songs were published by Criterion Music, Warner Brothers Music and Four Star Music.
“I wanted to be where the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and America were recording. It was exciting to be in the heart of the music business, make the rounds of publishing houses and drive down Sunset Boulevard past billboards of all the latest singers”.
During his time in L.A., Alexander was courted by Elektra Records, performed at the famed Troubador nightclub, hung out with Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and had songs held by such well known artists as Andrew Gold. He also was a pianist for the L.A. comedy troupe, the Groundlings.
“The Groundlings was the launching pad for a lot of the Saturday Night Live comedians.
I played piano and made up songs on the spot with the cast members based on words shouted out by the audience” Alexander informed me.
Eventually, however, Alexander got discouraged by the fickleness of the music business and “packed it all in” to teach seventh grade at a school in Watts and eventually go to graduate school at the University of Michigan where he got his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1982.
“I remember the day I decided to go back to graduate school. I took the same song to two different publishers. The first one loved the verse but wanted me to change the chorus. The second loved the chorus but wanted me to change the verse. I knew at that time I had to get out”.
Relocating to Charlotte in 1984 to take a “day job” teaching resident physicians at Carolinas Medical Center and practicing clinical psychology, Alexander never forgot his passion for music. While in Charlotte, he started his own record company, Caravan Records, for whom he has recorded three albums: Wishing I Had Wings (1987), April Heart (1992), and American Boy (1999).
“My work as a psychologist and educator is extremely rewarding in its’ own right” says Alexander, “and occasionally provides inspiration for a song”. “Recently, I was making rounds in the hospital and talked with a patient with chronic pain. She wanted me to communicate to the resident physicians that all she wanted from them was one day without pain, just one day to walk around the block and feel the sun without the burden of her disease” Alexander told me. “I was very touched by her story and went home that night and started writing a song entitled One Day”.
One Day appears on Alexander’s new disc with accordion, bass and acoustic guitar accompaniment. It is a stand-out song. Daredevil Angel, in fact, showcases Alexander’s considerable gifts as a songwriter. His songs have the lyrical sophistication of his former instructor Paul Simon and the warmth of James Taylor, with whom he has often been compared. In addition to the aforementioned One Day, the disc contains the autobiographical song New York City Backwoods which references the suicide of Alexander’s oldest brother on the streets of New York, the Django Reinhart influenced title track Daredevil Angel, the eminently catchy America-influenced Joanna, the philosophical River City and the bouncy Chattanooga Boogie, the opening track.
With vocal and guitar tracks recorded live in the studio, Daredevil Angel has an intimate and accessible feel. Throughout the recording, Alexander’s acoustic rhythm and lead guitar work provide excitement and flair. Daredevil Angel holds up extremely well to repeated listens. The melodic songs are fleshed out by Fred Story’s tasteful keyboard, percussion and drum work.Daredevil Angel is truly the best work of Alexander’s musical career.
Four decades indeed. But this record is worth the wait!
You can find out more about Matthew Alexander and his new CD at his websitewww.alexandertunes.com . His disc is available at www.cdbaby.com/matthewalexander. You can also hear his song entitled Babies on an upcoming broadcast of the popular PBS children’s show Raggs Kids Club Band on WTVI and other PBS stations.