This World Is A Playground

I wrote this song a while back for another artist. It never really got off the ground, so I kind of shelved it. At first it didn’t seem like the kind of song that I could deliver convincingly. When I first wrote it, it was more like something Michael Frante would do. More world music influenced & not quite my style.

But over the past year I’ve played it here and there in my living room and just the other morning I found my “in”. Something just clicked. I was strumming it in different keys and through some combination of chords & a capo I found the right sound. And I realized it was kind of like “Imagine” and that gave me the touchstone for where to take it.

So that was how I figured out how to play it in my own style. That’s the whole trick about playing a song, to find a way to relate to it. Finding all the things in your past that allow you to connect the dots and then do it in your own way. And mean what you’re singing. Here it is, I hope you enjoy it. It’s called “Playground”.

Download “Playground”

Lyrics

 

 

 

 

Which Show Is Right For You?

brother paul drawing rooms

Photo by Jim Pusterino

You might be thinking to yourself,

“Gee I really would like to see Paul perform sometime this June. It would make me happy and I just feel like it’s the right thing to do. But… which show is right for me?”

Well, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a little guide to help you make this decision.

Without further adieu…

WHICH SHOW IS RIGHT FOR ME?

SHOW #1
Friday, June 6th
Drawing Rooms, Jersey City

This might be for you if…
You like drinking wine from a solo cup.

I’m playing at an old schoolhouse on Grand Street, about a 10 minute walk from the Grove St. Path Station. It’s an art gallery now, run by my friend Jim. I’ll be there from 7-8:30 playing solo as part of “Jersey City Fridays”. Free admission. I’m pretty sure they’ll have some wine, cheese and pita chips there too. Afterwards you can walk one block to the Golden Cicada, a bar that transforms ordinary life into a Quentin Tarantino movie.

SHOW #2
Thursday, June 12th
Lamp Post, Jersey City

This might be for you if…
You liked Death Cab For Cutie until Zoe Deschanel got involved.

The Lamp Post is a sweet little dive bar in Jersey City. Unlike more polished venues like Maxwells or The Mercury, you can actually get up close and personal with artists who are developing their craft. No cover for this show. New Brunswick’s Sink Tapes are playing. So is Tri-State, friends of mine who you’ll want to check out if you like 90’s indi in the vein of Pavement, Built to Spill, or Archers or Loaf.

SHOW #3
Tuesday, June 24th
The Saint, Asbury Park

This might be for you if…
You own a turntable.

Psyched for this show. I’m opening up for Wreckless Eric, who had a single come out in 1977 called “I’d Go The Whole Wide World”. Great fucking song. One of those songs that’s just so simple and pure. Kind of like Wild Thing or Louie Louie. And now you get a chance to see it live for just 12 bucks. Ron Santee is also playing, he’s a talented dude who is making a name for himself around Asbury Park. Amazing show, don’t miss it!

 

And there you have it. Pick a date, toss it on your calendar, and I’ll see you out there.

Paul

You Don’t Always Get To Choose

You don’t always get to choose.

But you always get to play.

Besides, life would be pretty boring if you always got your way, wouldn’t it?

There in between what you want and what you can’t have…

Well, there’s your story.

 

WILLOW BRANCH (Download)

Recorded in a 2008 Toyota RAV4

A dress in the mail
A suit from the mall
Hung some crystals on trees
All we had was three days

Some nails and some wood
A few potted plants
Dad knew a judge
Who could help with the plan

This is where it all began
Under that willow branch

A few folding chairs
a bright autumn day
the boys cleaned up nice
uncle don brought a cake

john took some pictures
of us with our folks
jess caught the bouquet
paul gave a toast

This is where it all began
Underneath that willow branch
Hand in hand
We’ll start again
Underneath that willow branch

 

 

How To Be An Artist When You’re A Total Nobody 

I should know. I’m an artist. And a nobody.

But guess what? If you’re an artist, obscurity is your best friend.

When you’re anonymous you can develop your art without answering to any expectations other than your own.

But to develop, you have to cash in every day.

What I mean by that is, you have to get today’s art out of yourself because tomorrow it will no longer be there.

One way to look at it: Magic Dollars

Your ability to make art is like a stack of magic dollars that disappear at midnight. You’ve got to spend them or your lose them. You’ll get new magic dollars tomorrow.

Another way to look at it: Speeding Train

Imagine yourself in an open field, looking at a freight train racing across your field of vision.

That train is your artistic identity.

Always moving, never the same.

If you sketch (write, sing, paint, invent, sculpt, design, build) the cars you see today, you capture who you are in this moment.

If you wait for better cars, they will surely never come.

The way you feel today is a thing.

Seize it and draw upon it! Melt it down and form it into something.

Do you think Springsteen could ever write another Darkness on the Edge of Town?

Of course not. But I bet he wishes he could.

Life moves forward, and our insides evolve with every day.

That’s why we have to always be taking pictures of what we see.

Every day, a snapshot.

Someday you will be wiser than you are right now, but you will have paid in innocence.

The innocence is what makes your art great.

Enjoy your innocence. Revel in your obscurity. Spend your magic dollars.

TODAY! GO! NOW!

Confessions of a Third Grade Nail Biter

I’m nervous.

I’ve read lots of books that give me mental tricks and strategies for pushing these nagging thoughts to the side.

But the nervousness just seems to follow me around.

I bite my nails. I’m trying to stop. Been trying for… ummm. 20 years?

It all started back in third grade. Jonathan had these trading cards. They were all kinds of different creatures, like lizards and bugs and duck-billed platypusses.

He also had a robotic arm at his house. I envied this deeply.

Jonathan’s father was a scientist. His mother only had one arm.

He was a good buddy and he got me hooked on bugs and biting my nails.

My parents did that thing. “Where did you learn that?”

I learned it from Jonathan.

Anyway, we drifted apart but I’m still a nerd and he probably is too.

I just wish I could stop being so nervous all the time.

It’s getting better. The books, the strategies. I’ll get there someday, I know I will.

That’s what I like about life. The feeling of hope. It’s not always visible, it is often tucked behind a cloud.

But for the time being, it’s still there. I hope it stays.

Young Junkie (All Your Dreams Come True)

…inspired by a girl i saw walking down 23rd street in the city one day on my lunch break. She was one of those “crusties”. Young, pretty. I used to see them all the time around my place by Tompkins square park. It bummed me out tho because their thing was just begging for heroin money & being proud to be homeless. I dunno. Seemed like it was probably a pretty romantic life for her anyway. Ah youth. Anyway, the “young junkie” line came right away and it seemed like a lou reed kind of thing, new york and all, so I went that way with it.

Download mp3

LYRICS

young junkie look so cool
young junkie on the avenue
don’t have nobody to care about
don’t have no reason to work it out
young junkie she’s a beauty queen
young junkie new york city scene
wild, wild times… tales of sin
and in her story she’s the heroine

oooo keep dreamin
oooo keep dreamin
oooo keep dreamin
all your dreams come true
yes they do

young junkie street urchin style
hung over with a half smile
oh so charming, she’s got to be
invincible at seventeen
young junkie stays forever young
and when she dies she goes straight to the sun
love is a pearl and we’re all divers
life is a war with no survivors

oooo keep dreamin
oooo keep dreamin
oooo keep dreamin
all your dreams come true
yes they do

The #1 Secret To Getting Better At Any Musical Instrument

It’s actually really simple. Stupid simple.

That’s what drives me crazy about life. The answers are all right there, right in front of us.

But we can’t see them.

Were too worried, paranoid, sad, disappointed, guilty, fearful, and afraid to die to notice them.

Or maybe that’s just me?

But there are little tricks… ways of escaping the corners life wants to box us into.

Most of them have to do with altering the way we see things. Changing our approach.

That’s what this little secret is all about.

It was taught to me by the legendary Tommy Gryce back in my days at arts high. He said to me…

“Leave your horn out.”

That’s it. That’s what he said to me. I don’t even play a horn. I was playing an upright bass at the time.

But what he was saying was universal to any instrument. If you want to get better, don’t ever put it away. It’s that simple.

It makes sense. When you leave your instrument in its case, or under the bed, or in the closet, there are too many barriers between you and the instrument. Playing becomes a special occasion. A rare treat, for when you have time.

You could just open the closet and take it out of the case when you want to play it. But you won’t. There are just too many mental steps. It’s a psychological thing, not a physical one.

Keith slept with his guitar. That’s a guy who knows how it’s done. Speaking of the greats, what about Miles? He said could tell about a player just by the way he picked up his instrument—just by his approach. What better way to improve your connection with your instrument than by making it more approachable?

Keep it on a stand in the corner. Hang it on the wall. Put it in the room where you spend the most time.

Leave your horn out. It’s worked for me, and I hope it works for you too.