I am absolutely blown away by your latest album Real Life!Jerry
…there is a common thread of your life story moving throughout each songTony
It is great, obviously, love your candor in the notes.Pat
Your CD is amazing! … The sound is terrific, the instrumentation sounds top-notch. Listening to it requires more than listening; it requires thought and even a little meditation, as the words are so engaging …Thanks for letting me and the rest of the world in like that.Bruce
“Real Life.” I’ve got it stuck in my head at the moment.Lynn
Your way of singing your thoughts, sometimes just listing them, is an unmistakable signature.Bob
This record is incredible!Ryan
Great job. Nice singing, great unique song [“Ain’t Gonna Watch No News”], pleasant mix, very musical. Really great Lee!Corky
When I was a kid I wanted to be a priest. I had a serious altar in my bedroom. I said the rosary. I had a nun doll. Why a priest? I’m not sure, but:
- I was an earnest boy who believed authority figures (nuns), and
- the most educated men I knew were priests, and
- maybe I knew I was gay and my only single male role models were priests.
Better yet, I imagined becoming a monk—isolated, I believed, from the real world with its bullies and other torments.
Then came algebra. Math actually made sense to me. Instead of tying my head in knots trying to believe the incomprehensible, I could understand and believe in equations. Answers that were true. Answers that were certain. It was a long road to completely surrendering my Catholic faith but ever since doing so I’ve lived in mathematical heaven.
I still love the trappings of religion, however. I still watch Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Vatican every year. My family gave me a robe. And I finally bought a real, albeit deconsecrated, chalice.
The Real Life cover represents my arc from monk to math. The expression on my face? General disgust with the state of the world, especially our beloved America.
Stream the full album here
or selected songs with commentary and lyrics below:
Real Life (2018) : My friend Josh plays brilliantly on this succinct elucidation of all I know about the real meaning of life.
Ain’t Gonna Watch No News (2018) : This was a wise resolution. I haven’t kept it.
I Can Tell (2019) : Noticing that, for a while, the only things I ever talked to my husband about were my diet, my new car’s features, and my sore back, I realized he might be getting sick of those topics and sick of me.
I Know I Annoy You (2019) : Bob and I have been together 28 years. In real life we don’t annoy each other very much. Also, Sondheim would not approve of “rhyming” “mean to” with itself.
Couldn’t Go Wrong (1978 & 2019) : At a songwriting workshop I mentioned that I’d written a self-referential song a long time ago and sang the first few lines. Two fellow songwriters (Erik Dionne and Elise Adelmann) loved it, so I dug it out of the archives. It was mostly crap but had some good elements, so I reworked it.
Outside / Inside (2016) : I’ve always been baffled that we put so much work and resources into building buildings and then want class to meet outside on the quad. I want to meet inside.
I’d Never Get Up (2017) : I’m good at sleeping. I like bed. Sometimes I’m depressed; usually not. Lots of Fermilab references.
I’m Not Bald (2019) : On my family’s Alaskan cruise we saw several bald eagles. I had to wonder what they think about being our national symbol.
You Think You Know Me (2019) : My life is good. My worst complaints are utterly first-world. But part of me sometimes wants to break out and do something wild.
Last Night Meant Something (2014) : OK, this was 2014’s unrequited love song, I guess.
This Love (2019) : I wanted to enshrine one of my favorite clichés, “Scientists are baffled,” but not write about things that actually baffle scientists.
It’s Time (2019) : This is the only “live” recording on Real Life, inspired by the boss of my writing group, “Words on Water,” deciding it was time for a change in the organization’s structure. She made that a prompt.
When You Just Don’t Care (2017) : In preparing this album I noticed a mistake in this song. It would have been cute to leave it in because I just don’t care, but I do care. Although the original files are mysteriously lost, Ahren and I were able, with much archeological and surgical effort, to reconstruct it. (My rhyming dictionary got a real workout here.)
The One Thing I Want (2016) : I always tell people my songs are usually inspired by my real life but are not my diary—I make stuff up. This song is the perfect example. Bob and I went through a doing-crossword-puzzles-together phase. He got sick of them before I did so I did them alone for a while. It occurred to me that this would make a good symbol for a relationship slowly deteriorating. Bob and I are fine but the couple in this song is not.
I’m Doing the Best I Can (2019) : As I was leaving physical therapy a voice in my head said, “I’m not confused, but my brain is.” Who said that? I’m confused.
Whadda You Care (2019) : I used to hate fashion. Now I appreciate a cool runway show. But who cares what I wear?
Self-Loathing (2017) : There’s a little bit of cute logic in this song. If the listener isn’t thinking he or she won’t get it. (I’m holding out against the singular “they”; and yes, I know, Shakespeare used it. But Sister Mary-Whatever definitely did not.)
I Don’t See You (2018) : I’ll never understand why I didn’t want to say “hi” to my high-school friend when I ran into him. (In real life we never kissed—I added that to make the song better. My songs are not my diary!)
Real Life Has Begun (2004) : Bob and I used to perform this but it was not popular. I think the reason may be that we played it too fast; this is a greatly slowed-down version. This song is meant to be a splash of cold water in the face of people who are always waiting for the next phase: in grade school waiting for high school, in high school waiting for college, then waiting for a career, then retirement, never realizing that real life has already begun.