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
Dear Adam Cole Watchers, what were you doing when you were 18? What did you wish you were doing? If you're younger than 18, what do you hope you'll be doing at 18? About five years ago I got this piano student, this kid named Luke McGinnis. Nice kid, quiet, looked like he wasn't quite sure he wanted to be there. He played me some stuff he was working on, we talked about how important it is to practice, and he left. He came back next week and we did the same thing. That lasted a few months, until he stopped, having never really agreed with me that it's important to practice. They came back for a couple of lessons about a year later, and he seemed much more interested in what I had to say. All I could do was give him a little pep talk, because he was here and gone again. But he had gotten a good bit better. Flash to several weeks ago. I get this e-mail from him that he's heading off to Berklee College of Music this fall, which is where people go when they're so serious about music that most of them leave to be professionals after a couple of years and never graduate. He says he's in a band, King Richard's Sunday Best ( and they're having CD release party. Can I come? I don't go to concerts much. With my family life, it's hard enough. But my expectations for "good concerts" are so high that I usually stay away from concerts because most of them disappoint me. Still, I thought I owed it to him to go. After all, he came back to see me, so he must have practiced a little. I just got back from the concert. Have you ever wished you could have been there at the club when Crosby, Stills, and Nash first got going? Or how about being there when the New Pornographers decided to do a concert? You'd feel like you'd hit the jackpot, like you were at something very special. Yep. They were that good. Even if the songs hadn't been wam-pow-beautiful and interesting, which they were, I still would have been knocked out. There's something astonishing about the level of work they've done, the tightness of their harmonies, the well-thought out arrangements, the audience participation bit, and the element of comedy to keep themselves honest. All I could think was, "Boy am I lucky." So if I were you, I'd keep track of Luke McGinnis. I'd buy that CD. If you hear the band is playing, I'd go. Because I wish I'd been that good when I was 18. Love, Adam
Hi, AC Watchers, If you're still sad because you missed our Songwriting Parties, you can now experience a little of it vicariously! Esteemed artist, author and videographer William Rossoto attended the events and created a documentary. Please forward this link to everyone you know that's interested in songwriting! We want to spread the love about the RPM Challenge! Your friend, Adam

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