Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Filtering by Category: Music

Music Aids the Claustrophobe

I’m not happy in tight spaces, a characteristic that probably falls short of a clinical phobia, but still significant.  The box-torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty and the entire movie Buried stayed with me long after viewing, conjuring feelings of anxiety when I imagined myself in these dreadful scenarios.  (As I write this, I wonder if my public admission is akin to Winston confessing his fear of rats in Orwell’s 1984.  If ever the powers that be want to break me, they know what to do.)

Which brings me to the dreaded MRI procedures I had to face not once but twice last spring, a result of an immobile left shoulder.  Why my entire body had to be inserted into such a tiny tube to scan a small area of my shoulder I don’t understand – I’ll leave that to the sadistic medical experts – but for the first MRI I was in good shape.  I was given headphones, I asked for some easy-listening 70s hits, and twenty minutes later I was birthed from the cocoon transformed in neither beauty nor health, but with results that gave the doctor what he needed: permission to do another MRI, this time with painful injections before the procedure.  Yea!

It was this second MRI – twice as long as the first – that nearly did me in.  The technician offered me ear plugs instead of headphones, which immediately put me on edge.  The bedside manner that was so calming the first time around seemed to be lacking, and when I asked for headphones the technician seemed annoyed, which caused me to blurt out a fatalistically unspecific response when asked what kind of music I wanted to hear.  I said, “Something light and soothing.”  Oh, was this a mistake, for the technician put on the most banal, painful, incessant piece of new age piano rubbish ever to pollute the airwaves.  It was the formless expression of someone who wanted to make a living writing scores for independent film but who lacked the talent, an affront to all thing musical with meandering phrases and NO ENDING.  I mean it never stopped!  Meanwhile, my mind was focused on how much I wanted to scream and wiggle my legs and arms, and how much I needed to raise my head beyond the encasement whose ceiling hovered just inches from my forehead, and with each thought I became more and more anxious until I finally called out, “Can we take a break?”

Through the crackle of the distorted audio on my headphones, the technician seemed nonplussed by the request (and yes, I’m using nonplussed in the correct sense, not the sense that’s been promulgated recently, including by none other than President Obama). 

“We’re not even half-way through,” she said.

Oh no. “Just a break,” I said.

She conveyed me out, and we talked things through.  I said I didn’t know if I could finish, but maybe if we changed the music I could persevere.  This time I returned to my musical stalwart of easy-listening 70s hits, and as I was slid back into the tiny compartment, the piano intro to Al Stewart’s “The Year of the Cat” began to play.  It’s a song that I know very well, having seen Stewart play the tune at City Winery less than a year prior, and my son having played the piano intro off and on ever since.  The piece felt like a well-worn sweatshirt on a bone-chilling evening, it’s soothing message of mystery settling my nerves instantly.

To help me through my journey, I imagined walking around my residential block, but slowly, carefully, fully aware of each and every step I took and each detail my eyes observed.  Flower by flower, tree by tree, house by house, I strolled down Highland Avenue, then east on Fremont, then south on Oak, and by the time I reached half-way down that block, with “You Are the Woman” by Firefall accompanying me, the procedure was complete. 

The result? Nothing that couldn’t have been prescribed without the MRI! Physical therapy for a frozen shoulder. A complete waste of time, money and spent anxiety. But a reminder of the power of music, whether life-affirming or torturous.

Next spring my daughter will graduate with a degree in music therapy, and if her life’s work can help easy people’s suffering the way 70s rock did for me, it will be a career well-spent.

Now, can we discuss why the openings of MRI machines are so fricking small?

20 Greatest Keyboard Intros

If you’re a music fan and haven’t already heard of Rick Beato, I highly recommend you visit his YouTube channel and poke around a little, or – more likely – so much so that you jeopardize your job and marriage.  Music is a rabbit hole that’s easy to fall into, and Beato makes it all the more enjoyable by relating interesting aspects of music without dumbing things down and without condescension.  Particularly enjoyable is his “What Makes This Song Great”series in which he dissects classic rock songs, isolating tracks and playing along with amazing virtuosity, while revealing what makes the song stand out.

Rick recently made a video of the “20 Greatest Keyboard Intros Ever,” and since I’m a keyboard guy, before watching the video I quickly made my own list, inspired mostly by song intros that I learned (or tried to learn) starting back when I was around twelve years old to – most recently – intros I learned for bands I play in now.  Only three of the songs Beato covered made my list, but I kicked myself for forgetting to include Rush’s Signals and Genesis’s Dancing in the Moonlit Night, both of which I learned back in the early 80s.

Without further ado, here are my Top 20 keyboard Intros that I recall learning over the years:

1)     Bloody Well Right – Supertramp
2)     Foreplay – Boston
3)     Angry Young Man – Billy Joel

These overlap with Beato’s list, all essential inclusions, and although I thought I learned them all when I was a teenager, even performing “Foreplay” in the 1984 Brookfield Central Battle of the Bands, it wasn’t until I reached my 40s that I actually learned how to play these intros correctly.  All are great fun, highly satisfying intros that still mess me up from time to time.  The latter is a bitch to play unless you’re on a grand piano – I’ve found keyboards don’t have the action required for the rapid repeated notes.  Then again, maybe it’s just my playing.

4)     Another Man’s Woman – Supertramp

I could fill my Top 20 list with nothing but Supertramp songs (“From Now On,” “Take the Long Way Home,” etc.), but if I limit it to two, this has to be the other inclusion.  Another wonderful Rick Davies intro.

5)     Levon – Elton John

Buying the Elton John Greatest Hits album in the winter of 1979-1980, followed shortly thereafter by an accompanying piano book, was monumental for me, opening up a whole new world of piano playing that went beyond Michael Aaron lesson books.  I could easily pick twenty Elton John intros for this essay (“Skyline Pigeon,” “Idol,” “Take Me to the Pilot,” etc.), but “Levon” is the one that made the biggest impression on me.

6)     Nobody Home – Pink Floyd

That same winter of 1979-1980, Pink Floyd’s The Wall made its debut, and – prior to me playing by ear more frequently – this was another piano book that inspired me.  This intro isn’t earth-shattering, but it sets the melancholy song up so well.  Very tasty.

7)     Fooling Yourself – Styx

For a young keyboardist, this Styx song was highly satisfying, as it was easy to reproduce the original part note for note and even get the synth patch pretty close (often not such an easy task on a four-octave Korg Delta keyboard).  Nothing fancy here, but effective.

8)     Fire in the Hole – Steely Dan
9)     Aja – Steely Dan

My brother challenged me to learn “Fire in the Hole,” and I got it kinda sorta down before moving onto “Aja.”  Today, I could learn these songs with a bit of hard work, but I remember struggling mightily just trying to figure out the opening chord to “Aja.”  I didn’t even know what a major seventh chord was at the time, so I was at a distinct disadvantage!  I remember showing my piano teacher Fred Tesch what I had written out on manuscript paper, and he immediately wrote out a bunch of chords that I needed to master, which subsequently made learning songs a helluva lot easier. 

10)  Trilogy – Emerson, Lake and Palmer
11)  Awaken – Yes

These songs provided a different sort of challenge.  Instead of blues and jazz-based chords, these intros were more classically-influenced, and once the patterns were deciphered, they weren’t too difficult to learn.  The fast runs of “Awaken” are merely suspended chords and pretty easy to play.  But again, they sound really tasty.

12)  Trampled Under Foot – Led Zeppelin

Perhaps an odd one to include, as it’s a whopping two measures long, but in the days when learning a song meant placing down the needle on a record, lifting it, plunking out a few notes on a keyboard, placing the needle back down on the record (but too far to the right, so the fade out of “Houses of the Holy” was still audible), listening, lifting, playing, dropping, listening, lifting, playing, etc., learning even a two-measure intro wasn’t so easy!  Also, not understanding pentatonic and blues scales made it a lot more challenging. 

13)  Jungle Land – Bruce Springsteen

Roy Bittan’s handywork was a lovely work of art to reproduce, not only the intro here but the entire song.  Monumental.

14)  Abacab – Genesis

My high school band took on this song and did a pretty damn good job of it!  Once again, when I relearned this song about five years ago, I realized that my ears hadn’t picked up on a few things back in mid-80s.  YouTube set me straight as it always seems to do.

15)  Target – Joe Jackson
16)  Be My Number Two – Joe Jackson

The former’s Latin-based piano part is probably a joke to those who know the ins and outs of this style of music, but for my young ears in 1982, I didn’t understand what was happening here at all.  It wasn’t until the late 80s that I finally wrote out the parts to figure out the syncopation.  I never did master Latin patterns and rhythms the way I’d like, but I got this Joe Jackson part down pretty well.  “Be My Number Two” was more my speed, and I love hearing what Joe’s done to the middle section lately when he plays live, modulating every two measures or so before resolving back to the original key.

17)  The Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby

I can’t tell you how exciting this song was for a piano player in 1986.  In a decade awash with synth sounds, this was an honest-to-goodness piano track, and playable too!  The solo later in the song required more finesse, but even that was doable.  Bruce put piano back on the map.

18)  Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull

This is another one I kinda sorta learned until recently, when YouTube came to the rescue.  Slowing things down at half-speed sure makes the faster runs a lot easier to dissect!  I just played this intro last month at a gig and had a lot of fun doing it.

19)   The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – Genesis

This gets my vote for the best keyboard intro ever.  In typical Tony Banks fashion, the chord progression here is insanely odd – something I’d never come up with in a million years.  It’s also – like “Angry Young Man” – hard to play (for me, anyhow) without a grand piano, and even then I’ll still mess up the final run.  I learned this intro for a proposed Genesis tribute band that never came to fruition, but it was so much fun to learn.

20)   Year of the Cat – Al Stewart

There’s more to this intro than meets the eye, as after the initial memorably eight bars the piano delves into some interesting voicings that aren’t so easy to hear initially.  This intro captures the mood of the song perfectly.

So there you are – my Top 20 Keyboard Intros.  Oddly absent are any songs by Ben Folds, especially “Philosophy” and “Landed,” but only because I haven’t actually learned those songs.  Why?  I don’t know.  Ben Folds was a breath of fresh air when the debut album came out in 1995, as important to me in my late 20s and early 30s as Elton John was to me in my teens, but I still need to learn the tunes.

Some other honorable mentions:

1)     Sweet Dreams – The Eurythmics
2)     1000 Miles – Vanessa Carlton (it once again put piano back on the map in the 2000s.)
3)     Take on Me – Uh Huh
4)     Waiting for a Girl Like You – Foreigner (read about how Thomas Dolby came up with this intro – amazing!)
5)     Lady Madonna – The Beatles
6)     Don’t Do Me Like That – Tom Petty (the piano is sparse and simple, and the organ is perfect)
7)     Jump – Van Halen (of course)
8)     Atlantic – Keane (man, I love this eerie opening)
9)     The Great Gig in the Sky – Pink Floyd
10) Vienna - Billy Joel
11) Head over Heels - Tears for Fears

Lot of great stuff to choose from!  If you’ve got any others I should have mentioned, send them my way.

Art, Preservation and the Universal Fire

In the finale of Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451, society is left to rebuild after a nuclear explosion, and each survivor is asked to recall a piece of literature so that it might live on.  I’ve thought about this often since Jody Rosen’s remarkable article “The Day the Music Burned” first appeared in the New York Times last June.  The story provides an in-depth summary of a 2008 warehouse fire at Universal Music which destroyed between 120,000 and 175,000 master tapes of some of the most important music ever recorded. (If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so – it’s amazing, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking.  I also recommend listening to episode #709 of the music podcast Sound Opinions in which hosts Jim DeRogotis and Greg Kot interview Rosen). 

I won’t summarize much of the article, except to say that the treasure trove of lost recordings can hardly be overstated.  We’re talking about masters from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Count Basie, Patsy Cline, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Patti Labelle, Tom Petty, The Police, Sting, REM, Janet Jackson, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, No Doubt, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, and on and on and on.  Rosen concludes, “…in historical terms, the dimension of the catastrophe is staggering” and that “it was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”

I certainly won’t argue that this was indeed a catastrophe, but I think it leads to some provocative questions about the transitory nature of human creations, whether preserving what we create is important, and exactly what preservation means.

Today, we humans leave behind records of our lives like no other generation in human history.  For most of man’s existence, lives were lived and then ended, leaving little behind except for offspring whose descendants now roam the Earth.  Just think of how many people have lived on our planet for whom no trace remains! But now we humans are often obsessed with making our mark and preserving that mark – no matter how meager it may be – for generations to come.  But the reality is this: 1) nothing lasts forever; 2) not everything we create deserves to be preserved; and 3) much can be preserved in a form that’s different from what we’d prefer.

1)      Although we work hard to archive our creations like documents, photographs, home movies and audio recordings, even going so far as to store originals in one location and keep digital copies in another, these are only delaying the inevitable. Not only are tapes, photographs, and documents mortal, but – as Rosen states – so are digital recordings.  As part of an effort to thwart future catastrophes like the Universal fire, many masters are now kept on hard drives, but they may no longer function properly after decades in a vault.  We humans can do our best to preserve our history, but when it comes to photos, video and audio, as of now we have no permanent way to do so.  All we can do is preserve things for as long as possible.  I’m all for doing this.  In fact, I’ve spent a great deal of time tracing my family history, digitizing photos and videos, copying artifacts, etc., so I am by no means immune to the idea of preservation or the potential value it holds, but I’m also not fooling myself into thinking that somehow these efforts make me immortal.

2)     We can’t preserve everything, and we should naturally focus on the most impactful creations.  You may choose to digitize a copy of your grandparents’ wedding photo, for example, but not the photo your baby sister took that only reveals that backs of their heads.  Similarly, with regard to music, one can imagine exerting more effort archiving the works of The Beatles than those of Pat Boone.  But Rosen makes a counterargument:  sometimes we don’t know what art is impactful for years to come.  An artist may not make resonate until his or her work is discovered years later (he gives examples of artists like The Velvet Underground or Nick Drake). 

True enough.  But goodness, choices to have to be made.  Can you imagine if libraries had to house every single book published in the past century in the hopes that someone somewhere will check out an obscure romance novel from 1965?  And maybe, just maybe, over time we’ll come to learn that this particular romance novel actual has merit?  At some point, institutions have to make decisions to let certain things go.  All of us do.  My father is currently making the difficult decision to discard much of his life’s work as a marketing researcher.  He’s got binder after binder stored in filing cabinets in his basement, and while it’s possible that within these hundreds of work assignments there might be something important to note for posterity or even for mankind, is he to die having kept all of his life’s work for his children to manage?  And as his child, is it incumbent upon me to keep it all for the remainder of my life?  I think not.  Some of what we create is going to get lost along the way.  And that’s okay.

 3)     It’s important to note that even without originals, art can survive.  This is easiest with literature, which is why I’ve been thinking of Ray Bradbury’s book recently.  We don’t have the original Torah, Koran or New Testament, but we still have the words, and that’s far more valuable than a first edition (as cool as that would be).  With literature, it isn’t so important if the originals are burned, as mildly tragic as that might be, because literature isn’t a performance.  Copies can easily be recreated.  I argued nine years ago that with the advent of on-line books and the ability to backup entire catalogs of writings onto a thumb drive, censorship is no longer a threat.  Every physical book in the world could be destroyed, and yet nearly every book in the world would remain accessible, a fact that provides a small bright flame of hope in a world that’s recently devolved in so many ways. 

But while one could argue that literature is safe from harm, art and music aren’t as secure, because performances can’t be copied easily (even a painting or sculpture is an example of a performance).  I just read the memoir of playwright Neil Simon, and he talks about many of the amazing stagings of his plays with performances from Walter Matthau, Art Carney, Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashely.  None of these performances exist.  We can’t go back and relive the debut of Barefoot in the Park, because theater performances are ephemeral, just as they have been throughout most of humankind’s history.  But we still have the plays.  We can stage them at a local theater and enjoy them all over again, perhaps not exactly as they were originally intended, but viewed through our own lenses.

Similarly, while we may not have any recordings of Mozart playing the piano or of Beethoven’s works being performed live for the first time, their music still remains.  All you need is a score, and music can be recreated, perhaps not exactly as originally performed, but still providing a lasting legacy that can be reinterpreted by humankind for centuries to come.

Much of the recorded music that we’ve lost or will one day lose can be preserved in much the same way.  Even if recordings are ultimately eliminated, scores will remain, keeping some music alive.  Recordings for which studio gadgets were an important factor will have more difficultly being passed down than a piece of music that stands on its own merits of melody and harmony.  For example, it would be hard to argue that a song like “Yesterday” wouldn’t last even if the only remnant of it was a copy of sheet music (I haven’t seen the movie Yesterday, but I believe the movie indirectly makes this claim).  But a song like “I am the Walrus” or “A Day in the Life” would be harder for future generations to interpret because for these songs the studio was as important as the composition itself.  The recordings were, in effect, performances, and while all performances are subject to decay, those that rely on something other than melody, harmony and lyrics are especially subject to the dustbin of history.

Similarly, a reading of the screenplay to The Godfather might be very fulfilling in the hands of a gifted actor, and one could imagine a revised version of Fahrenheit 451 in which various survivors are asked to retell a movie that they’ve seen for which no known copies remain, but it certainly wouldn’t be the same as watching the original movie.

But that’s the reality we live with.  Our lives are fleeting, and while some of our creations will last longer than others, ultimately all of them are subject to the words of Ecclesiastes, the book that the character Montag is earmarked to preserve in Fahrenheit 451:

There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.

Scoring the film "Preheated"

My daughter Sarah’s animated short “Preheated,” which she collaborated on with classmate Luke Snedecor, currently has over 1.7 million hits on YouTube, which means that my film score has now been heard over 1,699,000 times more frequently than all of my other original compositions combined.  That’s the power of getting behind the right project!

Composing my first score was a challenge, and it’s the existence of digital recording that made it even remotely possible.  How the old-timers Franz Waxman, Bernard Hermann and the like were able to compose and record amazing scores for live orchestras, all within tight budgets and timelines, is mind-boggling.  I simply don’t understand how they did it.  The advent of soft synths and sequencers has opened up the world of scoring to countless composers who may not even know how to play an instrument, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy process, at least not for a newbie; the six minutes of music for “Preheated” took me about three months to compose and record.

Part of the challenge was getting up to speed on four new pieces of software: the new version of Cakewalk (now free!) by BandLab, Native Instrument’s Komplete 11, Passion Flute by Orange Tree Samples, and ProjectSam’s Swing More.  Sarah, Luke and I had all agreed that the score should incorporate jazzy and big-band elements, so the latter two pieces of software really came in handy, though I learned quickly that even really good software has its limitations.  I sometimes wanted more punch from the trumpets and I had to find workarounds to get the sounds I wanted, but Swing More provided me with a great pallet to choose from, and I was particularly happy with the Dixieland music for the film’s end credits.  Passion Flute was perfect for this project – very easy to use and it responded just the way I needed.

Another challenge was timing.  Sarah and Luke needed every minute of available time to complete the movie, so the final rendering of the film wouldn’t be available until just a few days prior to its debut on May 9th.  I clearly needed to start composing well in advance of this deadline, and this fact led to a lot of editing, as I’d complete a section of music only to find that timing had shifted or had been extended or condensed.  New music had to be created or deleted quickly when three or four seconds were added to or subtracted from the film late in the game. 

The one bit of software that didn’t cut it were the lead string instruments.  Soft synths manage to provide fairly realistic wind instruments sounds, but the expressiveness of viola and violin are really difficult to emulate on a computer, so my friend Uli Widmaier brought over his instruments, spent an hour recording his parts, and we inserted the real thing for a much better product.

Overall, scoring for film was a hell of a lot of fun, and I’m generally pleased with the final result.  I’m even more pleased with the way the film turned out and the wonderful response its garnered.  It’ll be neat to see where the careers of Luke and Sarah lead and whether this short film will one day be looked back on as the beginning of something special.

 Shortly after “Preheated” was made available online, I received an email from a high school music student asking me to describe the process of scoring “Preheated” for her class project.  In case you’re interested, some of my response follows:

I saw the original storyboards for “Preheated” as far back as last fall, and this led me to first compose the film’s climax, the moving theme in 3/4 when the father and boy work together to light the candle.  I incorporated the same theme for the end credits, but switched to a Dixieland band and changed the timing to 4/4 and modulated the key to give it a fun, bouncy lift.

From there I tackled the beginning motif, which then helped guide the rest of the score.  Luke and Sarah decided that the clarinet should more or less represent the boy, and the violin and viola more or less represent the father.  For the first 30 seconds or so, I established an easy-going introductory tune that includes a 7-note motif that’s used throughout the score:  G G# E D E D C#, first with violin in the opening segment, and then with clarinet as the boy comes into full view.

When the downtrodden father enters the frame, the viola begins with an entirely different theme: a weepy, melodramatic tune to represent melancholy, but the 7-note clarinet motif comes into play when the boy tries to get his father's attention, and once again at the end of the section, this time with piano.  None of the other melodies in the section appear again because this is the only section of the film that has a melancholy feel.

When the boy has an idea to make a big birthday celebration, the music picks up into a sort of flute/big-band Latin piece, but because the boy is constantly met with obstacles, the music has to break rhythm regularly.  These were the most difficult sections for me.  For instance, the curiosity at 0:32 conveyed with pizzicato strings, the curiosity at 1:35 expressed with bass and flute primarily, or the confusion conveyed at 2:30 with piano and bass.  These little transitional pieces of music were challenging.  The main sections were much easier.

The "spooky music" section at 1:57 was originally overdone, and I threw in the 7-note theme again – this time with flute – just to keep the audience grounded.  This isn't a horror film after all, and we wanted to keep things anchored in playfulness.

As the boy realizes his predicament, the tempo increases and the instrumentation gets slightly more complicated to increase the tension as he opens the refrigerator and scrounges for something to cool off his hands, once again using a variation of the 7-note them from before, and culminating in a diminished 7th chord run as he struggles to figure out where to put the melted butter.  The piano does a sort of "ah ha!" moment as he discovers that the recipe calls for melted butter, and then again as he sees the melted butter in the bowl.

The boy seems back on track!  I returned to the fun Latin big-band motif, but the boy immediately hits another barrier, ending the music abruptly, and I used an aggressive flute sound to depict frustration (and to add a dose of comedy).  Once again the boy needs to think for a moment, so I composed a quick flute and piano section, playing a sort of flat 2 diminished 7 interval that resolves to the one chord, a phrase that will be used again when the father walks in to see the mess.

Instead of going back to the same Latin big-band theme, I kept the same feel but changed the melody, altered the time signature to 6/4 and made the acoustic guitar the lead instrument.  I can't say why I decided on this except it kept things from getting too repetitive, and the 6/4 rhythm gave it a sort of unsettled feel, like the boy was going to really have to focus to overcome his obstacles.  Even when he hits barriers within this section, I kept the rhythm going to keep the music from having too much of a start/stop start/stop pattern.

As the boy proceeds, things become more hectic and loud, with a few modulations until the boy achieves his goal of making the cake, and then halts abruptly as the father comes back in the room.  The sheepish looking boy is supported by the same 7-note motif with clarinet.  The father's anger is conveyed with the same flat 2 diminished 7 motif discussed a few paragraphs ago.

So there you are!I hope I get another change to score for film one day, and with any luck, it will once again be for my daughter’s creation.Thanks Sarah and Luke for the opportunity

Paul Carrack's Amazing Feat

Here’s one for you music trivia buffs:  can you name a singer who performed lead vocals on hits with four different musical acts?  If you read the title of this post, you can!  Paul Carrack may not be a household name, but he achieved this amazing feat in the span of a decade and a half all while flying somewhat under the radar and gaining the respect of his peers for his outstanding musicianship.

As part of my effort this summer to fill in some of my many musical blind spots, I’ve been listening to songs I’d forgotten about over the years, or songs I knew only by title but not by artist.  Part of this search exhumed the hit “How Long” by Ace, composed and sung by Paul Carrack – a great tune that’s still played from time to time on the radio.  I knew nothing about the band, but after looking them up and digging around a bit, it didn’t take long to find a short interview with Carrack, the introduction of which contained a stunning revelation: that Carrack had not only sung the Ace hit but had also sung lead on Squeeze’s radio mainstay “Tempted,” the Mike + the Mechanics hits “Silent Running” and “The Living Years,” and a solo song I’d forgotten about (and that currently isn’t available on Spotify), “Don’t Shed a Tear.”  That’s five hits with four different musical acts.  Added to this impressive repertoire are stints with Roxy Music (he played keys on my favorite Roxy album, Manifesto), Clapton, Roger Waters, plus over fifteen solo albums, and you wind up with an amazing lifelong musical career that wasn’t consumed by the pitfalls of fame.  If I had to write my own ticket, a life like Carrack’s would have to be in the running.

I’ve searched a bit online and paged through my Billboard book of hits, and as far as I can tell there aren’t any singers who have matched Carrack’s feat.  I thought Steve Winwood, Paul Rodgers or Eric Clapton may have matched the achievement, but unless I’m missing something, none of them did despite reaching a level of fame that far exceeds Carrack’s. 

Hits with four different acts.  Add this little nugget to feed the souls of music nerds everywhere.  All hail, Paul Carrack!

Copyright, 2017, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved