Hi, Music Lovers…oh, and word lovers too.
This post is a tribute to my writing in general. I say this to prepare you in advance. There’ll be way more words here than music, most likely, and I admit, when I’m in “classical music” mode, my words can occasionally put people to sleep!
While I still can write the joyful and lighthearted pieces I’ve been doing for myself since I was little, I don’t do enough of them, and that’s unfortunate. I’ve become quite serious and operatic in my writing over the years, and that style of writing, as beautiful as it is artistically, seems commercially dated in the 21st century. It’s not that I don’t want to write pop songs for today’s performers and have these songs played on the radio. My problem is that my passion (or as I spelled it earlier, “pashion”) gets in the way, and the willingness to explore and be commercial often goes out the window. I just wanted to say up front that I like commercial pop music just fine, even if my passion goes towards much more “grand” ideas.
Here are a few pieces I’ve written, and I’ll also explain why I decided to write my own words and music initially in an old fashioned Frank Sinatra style. I’ll continue the old fashioned writing till I find a style of music and words that’s uniquely “Vincent Young”, something cool and commercial but also artistically satisfying. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Underwear Blues (2006)
2006 was the year the whole songwriting kick started. I rediscovered jazz, received my Mac from Uncle Pat, and using my music keyboard (in this case, a Yamaha Motif 6), I improvised, in GarageBand, the instrumental “Underwear Blues.” This is a song that’s closely based on the idea of “The Blues with Larry”, a VeggieTales song which spoofs many different styles of blues. I’m proud of “Underwear Blues” for what it is, a fun little tune, but I know in my heart that I’ve done better things since then. Just for fun, though, here it is for completeness, in two versions.
GarageBand project, 2006: piano, bass, drums, and saxophone.
Table 41, January 15, 2013.
My Stepping Stone for Songwriting: Lipton and Rosenthal’s “Sherry!” (2006)
Shortly after “Underwear Blues” was born, I received the world premiere cast recording of the 1967 musical, “Sherry!” with book and lyrics by James “Inside the Actors Studio” Lipton, and music by the composer Laurence Rosenthal, known for his film scores. The musical is based on the famous play “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” This musicalized version was a flop; in fact, the original cast of the musical never made an album, since the show didn’t even do well enough on Broadway to interest record companies into making one. The score was thought to have been lost, but some thirty-odd years later, the trunk containing the entire score was found at the Library of Congress, unused since the original run of the show. After the Bratislava Radio Symphony Orchestra (of all orchestras) recorded the orchestrations, Lipton’s dream cast of guest stars from “Inside the Actors Studio” laid their vocal tracks over the orchestral tracks, finally resulting in a lavish studio cast album. The cast for this recording includes Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Tommy Tune, Mike Meyers and others. It’s no long-lost masterpiece, so I understand why the show probably didn’t work so well, but taken outside the theater, the score is fun, enjoyable, tuneful, and not half bad. Much of it, in fact, sparks my jazz piano sensibilities, as some of the tunes would lead brilliant lives of their own, outside the context of the show. The ballad “Maybe It’s Time for Me,” sung by Bernadette Peters on the recording, served as my inspiration to write songs. At this point, I didn’t want to write songs for any big time performers. I wanted to write songs for myself and other aspiring young instrumentalists and vocalists interested in Frank Sinatra. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t know the names Gershwin, Rodgers, Porter, Kern, Carmichael or Berlin, not to mention the thousands of other composers and lyricists (and the few who did both). These types of songs have been done countless times, whether sung in the shower or played by the Boston Pops Orchestra! Their simple structure makes them easy to remember, and often these songs were written for entertainers who could merely “carry a tune.” I wanted to write these types of songs, because I still believe there’s a market out there somewhere for old fashioned melodies with new lyric ideas. Here is the result of that dream, in words and in music, starting in 2009. (Some day you’ll hear something commercial!). First, an example of “Maybe It’s Time for Me,” by Laurence Rosenthal and James Lipton, from the musical “Sherry!”, performed during my July 7, 2012 gig at the Remington Health Club. I use the string section part of the sound “Movie Ensemble,” which is the sound I use at my gigs for my orchestral selections. The sound is made up of strings, brass, tympani, and cymbals. Enjoy this obscure show tune, which hopefully will become a hit one day…Better yet, let’s see a fully-staged production of “Sherry!” The show may not be great, but the score must be re-examined for tunefulness!
You’re Gone, But That’s Okay (2009)
This is based on a Gershwinesque melodic idea from a friend formerly of Poway High School, Kim Monroe. Some months after recording the instrumental version (see “Before and After Voice Lessons…”), I finally put words to the tune. The song was to be written for a piece called “Somewhere Along the Way.” In the story, it’s sung about a fictional female character leaving for Hollywood to pursue her career as a lyricist for film songs.
You’re gone, but that’s okay
I thought that you would stay
While you’re up there in Hollywood
Rhyming your words
I’ll write new melodies
That nobody else has ever heard
Before you went away
Life was a cabaret
It may be hard without you here, but what the hey?
I know we’ll meet someday
We’ll make Broadway
You’re gone, but that’s okay
Here are two vocal versions of the tune.
Table 41, January 15, 2013
GarageBand project, July 23, 2013, with four tracks: piano, bass, drums, and guitar/vocals (inspired by John Pizzarelli). Admittedly, my vocals are not the best, as I was tired here, so I’ll do a re-take when time allows.
My Life, My Love (December 2011)
Scene: December 24, 2011. Cottonwood, Arizona. A holiday trip to our family friend Annette’s house. I’ve got my headphones plugged into one of the keyboards I always take on trips. I record an improvised ballad tune in tribute to my mother’s parents. After playing the recording for Annette the next day, she remarks beautifully, “That’s very singable – I can just hear the words.” In about an hour’s total time, working at various points throughout the day, Annette and I co-wrote the lyric and I finished off the melody. It’s the first slow song of mine, “My Life, My Love.” The idea of writing slow songs has haunted me ever since hearing the singing voices of many female stars, and after much listening, this is the result. It’s inspired by the mood of the Frank Wildhorn tune “Christmas Stays the Same,” even though Wildhorn’s tune is a waltz and mine isn’t.
Try as I might to live,
It has no meaning
Try as I might to love,
I don’t know how
How can I begin to understand
The where, the why, the now?
Why would I care about loving?
Loving means to live
Music is the language of love
That is why I love you
It gives meaning to my life
This is so exciting knowing you
You are the one, you are the one,
You are the one for me
You put the “and” in “me and you”
The “will” in “this will be”
Isn’t it incredible
Isn’t it a miracle
That we two have met
And merged as one?
Music is the way we fell in love
Because it’s you, my life, my love
Here is a live version from the January 15, 2013 Table 41 gig.
June in October (May and June 2013)
Here are some words I wrote this year, with every intention of turning them into a musical piece. The idea had been going around for quite some time, and lyrically, this is the work of which I’m proudest! This is still awaiting a musical setting, preferably a jazz waltz, but here are the words to whet your appetite!
Dedication: To one of my middle school teachers, June Stockbridge, for kindly and patiently taking the time to understand the world from a different perspective. Thank you for allowing me to share my world with you. Most importantly, thank you for accepting the position of director at a camp for people with disabilities. I love you. Finally, to all the great Italian opera composers, to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, and to the rest of the great songwriters, composers, conductors, and performers from all genres of music, for giving me the source material to describe my world in words!
There’s a time and a land, an ideal I’ve known
Full of joyful commitment and laughter and fun
It’s the one thing I value in all my life
And it rules every day till my time on Earth is done!
June in October, when singers arrive to sing
June in October, when jazz and the waltz have their fling
When orchestras play the music that makes us march in place
When performers put a grin on everyone’s face
When each voice steps out for their solo, I’m smiling from ear to ear
Will it be the bass, the tenor, or soprano I’ll hear?
Then I sing! I laugh! I play the keyboard!
I romp with the chorus and find a new friend!
At last! It’s June in October!
May the joyful music never end!
June in October, when legends from sports astound
June in October, when dancers can dance around
Where any kind of lover is made to feel welcome
Where hearts are always warm inside
When it’s June in October, you’re proudly displayed
And you’re set for a jubilant ride!
If drama would please disappear for an evening
If this weren’t a frivolous dream
Then June in October would always be
When gentle, joyous souls run free
When hearts would sing and dance with glee
When love would be made for you and for me
Where men, women, children and all would find
Some humorous, rhythmic peace of mind
Where no one is judged in a negative way
Where good things matter all night and day
Please, bring me back, and I know it would seem
That somewhere you’ll hear your lovely theme
June in October will always be when joy reigns supreme!
There’s Laughter in Everything
Music and Lyrics by Vincent Young (June 16 – July 20, 2013)
Here’s a song I wrote for my mother’s friend, who has become an important friend to my family. It’s my theme song for her, while at the same time paying tribute to a great entertainer whose speaking voice lovingly resembles our family friend in the best way.
Dedication: To our family friend, Leslee, with all the joy in my heart. I love you. To Carol Burnett, for a famous quotation whose joyful ending words served as the song’s title; specifically, I wrote the lyric in response to the final words of the quote, and the tune came about as I kept in mind the jazzy arrangements she so often used and the melodic inflections that I hear in her alternately confident and gentle voice, whether speaking, singing or, yes, even laughing! I give her many musical ear tugs (cue harp glissando). This song also owes a great deal to the sense of optimism conveyed in the words and music of Jerry Herman, whose several tuneful scores (“Hello Dolly,” “Mame,” “Mack and Mabel” and others) helped me overcome some major adversity in my life. Thank you, Jerry. Finally, a tip of the hat to Frank Sinatra’s favorite songwriters, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, and a nod to Ken and Mitzie Welch, a songwriting and arranging team known for the music and lyrics behind Carol Burnett’s specialty numbers. Without the individual gifts of these talents as my guide, this song wouldn’t have been possible!
Let’s make our lives a joyful song
There’s laughter in everything
We’ll make you feel that you belong here
Just by the songs we sing
If we all can smile and say
Things’ll turn out great one day
If we laugh more, come what may
We’ll make this world more livable, more forgivable
Take my hand and then
I’ll show you the joy of life
We can laugh
As we’ve not done before
When our world’s too sad and bleak
Words can fail us, laughs can speak
Hey, babe, if ya wanna live
Then humor’s the gift to give
I say life can swing
So long as there’s laughter in everything!
Here’s the GarageBand project of my latest song, with 5 tracks: piano, bass, drums, guitar, and vocals! Enjoy! Don’t forget to think of something that’s funny to you, and have a good laugh!