Songwriting

Jacob Wake Up! | Spinning Like a Dreidel

The Original Synthy Pop-punk Hanukkah Song You Didn’t Know You Needed

I am a Boston-based ska and punk musician and songwriter and I’ve just released my original pop-punk Hanukkah song entitled “Spinning (Like a Dreidel).” Good luck getting it out of your head.

Fans of bands like Motion City Soundtrack, The Rentals, and The Cars will immediately connect with the synth hooks and crunchy guitars. I am a lover of all things bubblegum, and I’m more often known as the guitarist and songwriter for Boston ska band The New Limits, and bassist for New England post-punk act The Roland High Life. (more…)

More Acoustic Quarantainment: “Too Little Too Late (I Promise)” by The New Limits

I first wrote this song four years ago. It wasn’t meant as an apology, that ship had already sailed. That’s why the song is called ‘Too Little Too Late.’ This was about me publicly recommitting to something; about holding myself and other privileged folks accountable. At the time, in November 2016, it was also about processing my own thoughts. So much of my songwriting could be summed up as publicly sharing conversations I have with myself. Now, in revisiting the song, I think the message—that conversation I was having with myself four years ago—is just as relevant. The work of making this country a better place for every one of its inhabitants—specifically those who have been harmed by it—goes on.

I’m Not Stuck in the Past

I turned into one of those annoying friends or coworkers who seems to have a story to tell for every topic or conversation. Folks make fun of me and I have a sense of humor about it. I started off trying to write an ironic tune about what it might be like to be that guy who’s really trying to relive his glory days. The end result, this song, was far sadder than I intended it to be. This was my first venture into anything “folk.”

I first wrote this song for February Album Writing Month (FAWM) 2019. Listen to the 2019 FAWM Demo:

 

What is “Normal” anyways?

Watch me play an acoustic version of “Normal Day,” a song I wrote for my band The New Limits. This song has been a staple of the band’s live set for the last couple of years but has yet to be recorded. The song, written long before the COVID-19 pandemic, is just a wish for the mundane and uneventful. It served as a bit of a response to the cliche punk song praying away the 9-to-5. I wrote it in the midst of a particularly chaotic and stressful week at work.

The last thing I want right now is a return to “the way things were.” If we don’t walk away from this with better healthcare, stronger unions, and a stronger public safety net, we’ll have learned nothing.

February Album Writing Month Cover Art

What I Learned During February Album Writing Month

I… I… I did it?

This year I participated in February Album Writing Month. The goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days. And, I met the goal!

Now, admittedly, a handful of the songs I wrote in that period were built from ideas, hooks, riffs, and lyrics I had kicking around before February 2019. However, the month-long challenge was my motivation for finishing them. (more…)

Songwriting and Work Ethic Wisdom from Irving Berlin

Berlin has said that he “does not believe in inspiration,” and feels that although he may be gifted in certain areas, his “most successful compositions were the “result of work.” He said that he did most of his work under pressure. He would typically begin writing after dinner and continue until 4 or 5 in the morning.

This is wikipedia so I take it with a grain of salt, however, the sentiment still speaks to me. I would never dare compare my songwriting to that of Irving Berlin. However, I’m acutely aware that songs that don’t materialize out of thin air. (more…)

The Best Bass Line: A Tribute to Bernie Worrell

Photo By Manfred Werner / Tsui (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I played air bass in high school. Not in the air guitar championship sense (yes, that’s a thing), but when all of my friends were playing air guitar or air drums, I was playing air bass. I don’t remember when exactly I started, but it would have been somewhere between 6th and 9th grade. I couldn’t tell you why I chose bass. Something about bass lines in songs immediately grabbed me and it was what I wanted to imitate in the safety of my bedroom walls.

Parliament Funk EssentialsThere were three songs in particular that I used to loop ad nauseam and never quite lose interest in “playing.” One of these songs was the classic funk song “Flash Light” by Parliament. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard it, but I know that I was first introduced to Parliament, and P-Funk in general, at summer camp between 9th and 10th grade (Thanks, Matt!). I returned home and started collecting. My first CD was a greatest hits collection with “Flash Light” opening the album. I was hooked. Somehow the 5-minute jam (or the 10-minute mix from another compilation) wasn’t enough. Parliament had become one of my favorite bands with an unquestionable favorite tune. (more…)