Tales of 14-Songs-in-14-Days: It Takes an East Village

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by Jan Seides
Monday 30th April, 2012, 12:53pm

Since I just did another workshop with Pat Pattison, that professor from Berklee School of Music that started all these 14-days projects, I’m going to tell you about another one of the resulting songs……  (Side note to someone who may be reading this: Hi Clare!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent the last three days of the first 14-Day Challenge in New York City.  Although I had liked some of the songs I’d written in the previous 11 days, I didn’t feel like they went very deep. And I knew they were going to need serious re-writing in order to make them into anything I thought worthwhile. I had to remind myself that the goal here wasn’t a finished, polished song, but 14 new ideas. But that was a difficult concept for me, as I’ve always liked to chew on the idea for awhile before presenting it to anyone. The most I could do in the case of these songs was hope that I got them early enough in the day so I could tweak them a bit before they had to be recorded and posted. Not comfortable at all!

When I went to New York, though, I had no way to record the songs, so I couldn’t post anything but lyrics. (I’ve since solved this issue by buying a USB mic and installing Garage Band on my laptop, but I didn’t have those things at the time.) I was very happy about the situation, because that gave me extra time to think about what the songs said. Consequently, those last three songs are my favorites of the 14, and all three of them will be on my new CD.

Speaking of my new CD, I’m about to do a Kickstarter campaign (or something like it) to raise the money for the mixing, mastering and manufacture of it. There will be more details about this in a later post.

So anyway, there I am in New York City, where I myself used to live. Only when I lived there, New York was a very different place. Danger lurked around every corner. This was the land of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death as people watched from their apartments, being too afraid and too inured to violence to interfere. Central Park was off-limits after sundown. Muggers thrived. Being very young, I was blissfully unaware of the danger.  I would regularly walk out after midnight to get something at the store or whatnot, and never think twice about it. Even though I was almost mugged once, and followed more than once, none of those episodes made a dent in my consciousness.  I was part of the “flower child” era, and a true believer. Needless to say, I survived both the danger and my hippie dreams, and here I am today. But the reason I mention it is that I lived on the West Side within a couple blocks of “Needle park” (a “shooting gallery” at 72d and Broadway), and I worked in Greenwich Village, which was, well, the Village.

The Village is divided by Broadway in the West Village and the East Village. The remnants of the Beat generation and the Great Folk Scare lived mostly in the West Village, with other random intellectuals. NYU is in the West Village. The park that is featured in “Searching for Bobby Fisher” where people play chess is in the West Village.

The East Village, and especially St. Marks Place in the East Village, was home to more than a few remnants of the Weather Underground, and various psychotropic and other drug devotees. I once had occasion to walk down St. Marks Place and even in mid-afternoon, it was almost deserted except for folks I did not want to know any better than this. Ever. My impression of the people I saw was that, if they could pull their act together, they would kill me, and probably eat me too. More likely they were perfectly harmless, but that was mainly, I thought, because they would never be pulling their act together again.

Well! My daughter’s apartment was in the heart of the East Village, about two blocks from where the Weather Underground blew up a house while trying to make bombs in my day. (Which served, by the way, to convince me that my role in the anti-war movement was to march and carry signs.) There are little mom/pop stores, upscale boutiques, laundromats, all the things you find in a settled neighborhood.  I was walking down St. Marks Place and thinking about my last sojourn to this neighborhood, and all those burned-out hippies I saw, and how they and their families, particularly their mothers, might have felt about their decline. The result was the song attached to this posting.

HIgh Hopes For You


Category: Music, This ‘n’ That, Uncategorized

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