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All of the following recordings were made on a single sweltering hot summer day in Barcelona, with me both singing and playing acoustic guitar. There was no post-production; the tracks feature the natural reverberation from playing live in an extra apartment bedroom that had no furnishings. All but the first song – which is accompanied by a video I produced and uploaded on YouTube – are short samples of the full-length recordings.

Depend Not on Fortune

The lyrics to the first song were drawn from fortune cookies that I collected during many years of eating in Chinese restaurants.

Hasta Manana

I wrote the lyrics to this song in Spanish, right after the conclusion of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, which resulted in an economic crash that was popularly known as “La crisis.” “Hasta Manana” is about the simple Spanish philosophy of taking life’s hardships in stride. Here is the English version, in a loose translation:

We live for our dreams
But we see each other in reality
We search for good dreams
But many turn out badly
It’s difficult to create something original
When we want to make something new
What we search for in our fantasies
Isn’t always exactly what we can do

Well great
It’s no big sorrow
We can wait until tomorrow

Demon City

Former Downtown LA Loft, top floor of Victor Clothing Company

The chords for “Demon City” came to me while I was rehearsing on electric guitar with a rock band back in the early 1980s, when I had rented a loft in downtown Los Angeles. The loft looked out through the top row of windows of the building in the above photo, just to the left of the mural depicting a bride and groom. Unknown to me when I signed the lease, the prior tenant was a famous young painter, Andy Wilf, who had recently committed suicide. The song expresses my cynicism with regard to the oft-romanticized downtown LA arts scene that was just beginning to blossom. The arts scene was juxtaposed with a depressing community of homeless people, whose number mushroomed during the Reagan presidency. In the song I obliquely refer to former mayor of LA Tom Bradley, who at the time was running for the job of governor of California. He lost the election, upending expectations. While the downtown area has continued to redevelop a quarter of a century later, the huge homeless community remains in place and has become a major embarrassment.  

Lost Faith

“Lost Faith” was my response to what I saw happening during the ’80s Yuppie era, as many people I personally knew abandoned their dreams for safe careers.

One Track Mind

This song is about never giving up on one’s goals in life.

No Call Waiting

At the same time that I had a loft in the hardcore reality of downtown LA, I enjoyed a completely different reality in an apartment close to the beach, right at the border of Santa Monica and Venice. This song was written in that atmosphere. It is about a young aspiring actress I had met at the beach and the frustrating ordeal of attempting to reach her by phone afterward. This was the dawn of the high-tech era, when “call waiting” had just become a brand new feature:

The Grand Flip

This is a simple spontaneously written and composed song comparing the struggle of life to missing the balls with flippers on an old-fashioned pinball machine:

The Underground Cathedral

Entrance to the Warsaw Metro under construction in 1989

The words to this song were written seven years after my first exhibition of “The Underground Cathedral,” in 1986, and three years after I had been taken on a tour of the far from completed first line of the Warsaw Metro. The station under construction that I entered was directly beneath a new post-modern cathedral. Both were in the process of being constructed at a painfully slow pace, resulting in the lyrics:

The priest said to the foreman

We’ve got one thing in common

Neither may be finished before Armageddon

Most Poles I met felt that there was no hope for the future just as communism gave way to free enterprise and the invasion of globalization – many still have no hope, even today. The lyrics are directly inspired by scenes I photographed when the country was first liberated from communist rule in 1989. In the first chorus, I inadvertently sang the word “love” when I intended to sing “hope.” However, just as I often feel that creative impulses flow through me intuitively, I have discovered that mistakes and accidents in the creative process are often no coincidence.