This is a hard song to share for several reasons. It's about as unprotected and raw as I could make myself in a song. It's also so vulnerable that it verges on the silly. It walks the line between "truly sad" and "pitiful." It's the balancing act that I find interesting. In my mind it teeters again and again, but there's something true in the song that keeps it from toppling. The title is a case in point. Most people don't associate Bruce Springsteen with tears. The association is extremely personal and might not even translate out. What I meant to indicate was that there was something vulnerable in the way he presented himself that was okay somehow, powerful and yet safe and acceptable. It was superior to the way I had been presenting myself as vulnerable, which left me very exposed and was unattractive. I was saying that I learned "how" to cry by watching and listening to him, that I found a safe way to cry by emulating him, but that it didn't answer the deeper question of what I was crying about. You might notice that the lyrics deviate from the refrain, changing Bruce Springsteen to "my Mama" and finally "your letter" in the last verse. That was my solution to the overly strange / silly vibe the title gave off. But in the recorded version it stays "Bruce Springsteen" throughout. Which one do you think works better? As for the rest of the song, it was definitely a Johnny Cash vibe. Guitar-like piano, low register. I really like the wordplay in the lyrics. They may be too clever for their own good, though. But the painful honesty of them balances them. Like I said, the song is a real balancing act. I don't think it's a successful song, and it's hard to share, but I do it for you!

Hi, AC Watchers, One of the great privileges remaining to us in this modern world is to watch unrepeatable events as they are happening. You can watch replays of amazing events all day long on YouTube, but to say you were there...

Last night I attended a unique event: A live CD recording by Joe Gransden's Big Band, a 16-piece jazz orchestra. It'll be called "It's a Beautiful Thing at Cafe 290." It'll be available at You're going to want to buy this one.

For the last year Joe's been holding sway at Cafe 290 on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month. He's been getting his group tight enough to pull this stunt off. Hard, you say? To record an album in a month is hard. To record an album in a night is suicide! You'd need the best recording engineer, the best sound guy, the best audience...oh, and you might need the best musicians in town. Well, let's see:

Among the saxophone players was Grammy Award Winning Mace Hibbard and Atlanta Legend Sam Skelton. Trombonists included the patriarch of the entire Trombone community, Dr. Tom Gibson, and young Wes Funderburk, whose brilliant big-band arrangements made up most of the music played. In the trumpet section was Gordon Vernick, director of Georgia State University's jazz program. The rhythm section included three of the finest session players in the country, Justin Varnes on drums, Neal Starkey on bass, and Dr. Geoffrey Hayden (my teacher) on piano. Hey, that's just half of them.

What blows one's mind about this situation is that you have a room full of LEADERS all playing together. Where were the egos? Nowhere to be found. Here we have a situation where all these top-notch musicians are cutting gems out of pure diamond LIVE. They'd be forgiven for just sounding clean. But no, they were sweating bullets! They wanted to sound good for Joe. No, wait! They wanted to make Joe SOUND GOOD.

That says a lot about their fearless leader. When you're doing something crazy like recording devilishly difficult music in front of a live crowd, the temptation is to play it safe because any mistakes are going to be there forever, or are going mean hours of correction work in the studio later. Most leaders would lose their lunch in that situation, or at least their sense of humor. Not this guy, Joe. He never forgot it was supposed to be fun, swinging, a show. And it was! When the band didn't do it perfect, he just let us know they were going to do a piece of it again, and he asked us to help him out. It was exciting being part of that process, like being in on the game. As an audience member, I wanted to help Joe sound good too!

This session was hot, fun, and LIVE, and all that will come out in a couple of months. Pick it up! You're going to feel like you're there.

Dear friends, Thanks to my summer and the cooperation of my lovely wife, I've had time to get to long-awaited projects. I've completed the editing on two new novels: my science-fiction nightmare, A Thousand Points of Darkness, which is almost ready for press; and my adult fantasy The Childbearer, sequel to The Myth of Magic, which I expect to be ready to go in about a year. I'm also contemplating how to present Unplayable Upon the Harp, my music murder mystery. Most likely I'll let you read it in segments here on the site in advance of its publication. Please let me know your interest! I may even have a contest to see who can guess the ending! Nice talking with you! Love, Adam
Hi, friends, Tuesday night I attended a jazz jam session. I used to go all the time, but since I started school 7 years ago I've let my jazz activities slide. It's been years since I've jammed. I chose the friendliest session in town, Joe Grandsen's Tuesday night session at Twain's. Joe's amazing. He makes everyone feel like they're the most important person in the room. On top of all that, he's a consummate musician and a virtuosic player. That really helps, because jam sessions aren't easy things to go into. Typically you wait around, listening to other people play, never knowing when you're going to be called up. Once you get up there, if you're a piano player, you don't always know what you're going to play, because a lot of times the sax, trumpet or singer is choosing. If you're lucky, you get to play with other good players, but sometimes you wind up with folks that can't play, or don't play well with you. Worst case scenario, you'll spend three hours waiting to play five minutes with a bad combo on a song you don't know! As I said, though, Joe's session is the best. He made sure I got up there; in other words, he remembered me when there were five other piano players ahead of me. He asked me what I wanted to play, which was very generous of him! No matter who was playing, he was making sure everybody had what they needed, was all together, and that the audience was having a good time. And what an audience. Loud, appreciative. I haven't seen that kind of audience for jazz in a long time. Probably because everyone was having fun! That's important. Thanks, Joe, I'll be back. Adam
Cold Kind of Comfort When I was a young man I used to write songs like these all the time as a way of dealing with my frustrations with certain women. Now that I'm married and never get frustrated anymore, I write songs like these for fun, just pretending that I'm frustrated. Yep. I envisioned this as a guitar-song, but I don't play guitar well enough, and don't even own an electric. Surprisingly, the stride-piano thing actually worked. There's a rockabilly connection that seems implied. It really needs two vocalists, especially for the end of the song, but remember I did this with a cassette recorder. No overdubs. For the new version I added a flange/chorus in the voice which does add to the rock'n'roll feel a little.
Dear AC Watchers, The next song from Demo Listen Up is "He's Gonna Walk." This song was inspired by my son Samuel, who was just a baby when it was written. He still hadn't started walking and we were concerned. I wrote this song as a show of optimism, though it's disguised as a gospel tune. I'd love to hear a real gospel performance of it someday! Love, Adam
Don't forget, in addition to HEARING the songs, you can READ about them! Just click on the title of the song to learn about it, read the words, and so forth. Love, Adam
The first Lost Song is available at
Hi, AC Watchers! I have a strange habit of writing songs and then abandoning them. I don't have much inclination to perform what I write, lacking the opportunity, the freedom, and/or the ambition. I also don't have much money or time to create brilliant studio creations. And since I have many more song ideas than I have time to really flesh them out I try to get a listenable version down, and then leave it behind so I can get to other things. So my "finished" recordings rarely sound finished. A number of years ago I was ready with a new batch of songs, but I was stuck. My trusty Tascam 4-track cassette recorder had died long ago, and my friend Ben Coker who had helped me record more recent stuff in his home studio had joined the Navy and moved away. That left me with not many options. The songs were burning a hole in my brain, so I got out a cassette recorder, a mixing deck and some microphones and set up a very poor studio. Then I turned on the tape and got as many of these songs down as quickly as I could, recording vocals and piano at the same time. I called it Demo Listen. I really liked the songs and thought that some of them were among the best I'd ever written. But when I listened to the recordings I realized that the sound quality was just too poor to share them. There was an unacceptable amount of hiss from the cassette tape and the whole thing sounded very amateurish. I was disappointed because I thought some of the performances were quite enjoyable. I tried to get someone to master them, but his response led me to believe it wasn't worth it. Other projects came along and I left Demo Listen behind. Years later I've gotten familiar with Garage Band, which has a few nice features like compression and effects-processing. It occurred to me that I might be able to soup-up those old recordings, especially now that cassette tapes are experiencing a resurgence (!), and that folks might enjoy them. Not all the songs are good. Some are definitely bad. I may not share all of them. Then again, I might just let you have a laugh or two. But they've all been compressed and boosted, and in some cases I've added some fun effects, something I haven't done with my songs since I was 20. I'm calling the revised version "Demo Listen Up." I'd love your comments on the songs, and I'll be sure to warn you about elements of them that might embarrass or irritate you. Love, Adam
Dear AC Watchers, I've been thinking about it. Here's why Generation X is all mixed up. When we were little kids, there were tons of sugary cereals to eat for breakfast, lots of junk food all around, and we were all set to go nuts like the generation before us did, but then they told us how bad all that sugar was for us. Unfortunately, at that point, there weren't any alternatives, so everyone just ate the sugar and felt bad about it. When we were teenagers, there was lots of sex and drugs on TV, in the movies, and all around us, and we were all set to go nuts like the generation before us did, but then they told us how dangerous all that stuff was, what with addiction and STD's. Unfortunately, at that point, with cities at their lowest ebb and suburbs isolating everyone, there weren't any real alternatives, so everyone just did their thing and felt bad about it. Now we're grown up, we have to drive our cars everywhere to keep a job, use lots of fossil fuels to travel, create an enormous amount of waste, plastic, etc. just to keep our environments clean enough to survive. And we're doing the best we can to keep sane and raise our families, just like the generation before us. But they're telling us how all the fossil fuels and plastic are killing the planet. Unfortunately, at this point, there isn't any real alternative. I predict that in thirty years, when the bulk of us will be ready to retire, they'll tell us that retirement is a bad thing, that the world needs us now more than ever, that we'll be a drain on resources other people need. But at that point there really won't be any real alternative... Are you getting the picture? So this is my theory: We're just out of luck, us Gen X'ers. But we have a mission, and I think we're doing it the best we can. I've been told that our generation are super protective of our kids, even overprotective. I think that's because we're trying to nurture a generation that will create the alternatives we didn't have, but were expected to enjoy. That's what I'm doing, anyway. It's the only way I can keep going, as mixed up as I am. Love, Adam

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