Time To Sing Some Songs!

We celebrated Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts earlier this month.

As you probably know, Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles fought nearby in Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy (now part of Arlington) at the start of the American Revolutionary War between colonists and British forces.

All of these events happened quite near where I live — in fact, British soldiers marched past the end of my street (about three houses away) en route to these battles.

And there are historical markers up and down Massachusetts Avenue which document the skirmishes — and often the deaths — which unfolded two hundred and forty eight years ago in my neighborhood.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

I wrote today’s song, “Democracy Is Under Attack,” a couple of years ago after participating in a big march in Boston.

I was inspired by some of the chants I heard during the course of the day.

I am guessing that most readers of my blog are well aware of the astounding political events unfolding these days in the USA.

I had compiled a long list of them to include in this blog post, but today I realize that I do not need to burden or discourage readers in this manner.

I can let my song speak for itself.

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

The great lyricist Yip Harburg — who co-wrote classic songs such as “It’s Only A Paper Moon,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? — once said the following:

“Words make you think thoughts. Music makes you feel a feeling. But a song makes you feel a thought.”

I love this idea.

He continues: “Songs have been the not-so-secret weapon behind every fight for freedom, every struggle against injustice and bigotry.”

“(Think of) ‘The Marseillaise’ (or) ‘The Battle Hymn Of The Republic’ or ‘We Shall Overcome’ and many more.”

“Songs are the pulse of a nation’s heart — a fever chart of its health.”

“Are we at peace? Are we in trouble? Are we floundering?”

“Do we feel beautiful? Do we feel ugly?”

“Listen to our songs.”

Thank you, Yip!

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

When I am feeling overwhelmed by the news, I often turn to music for comfort, inspiration and balance.

I also turn to two writers: Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell.

Each of them shares a very thoughtful — and free — essay on an almost-daily basis which reflects upon what is happening in the USA as well as other parts of planet earth.

I am astounded at how many articles each of them is able to read and then synthesize into a cohesive and uplifting essay.

If you are curious, you can sign up for Heather’s newsletter by clicking here.

And you can sign up for Robert’s newsletter by clicking here.

As I mentioned above, one doesn’t need to pay to read their work, but they DO accept financial contributions to support their work if one has the means to do that.

Here’s an example of Ms. Richardson’s writing from 3/23/23:

“In a democracy, the way parties are supposed to win elections is by making a better case for being in power than their opponents do. Losing elections is supposed to make leaders think deeply about how better to appeal to voters.”

“That system keeps all parties constantly honing their policies, thinking through problems, benefiting their constituents.”

“Our election laws are designed to try to hold the playing field level, and a party should want to keep the system fair in order to keep itself healthy.”

“But if a party is willing to cheat to win, it no longer has to work on policies that appeal to voters; it can simply game the system to dismantle the competition on which democracy depends and instead create a one-party state.”

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

Here are some thoughts from Mr. Hubbell’s post on 4/17/23:

“Americans are fed up.”

“A recent survey by the Navigator Group finds a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who believe gun violence is a top national priority. For tragic reasons, concern over guns is now the third-ranking priority among Americans—behind only inflation and jobs.”

“Strong majorities of Democrats and Independents believe that gun laws should be strengthened — as do 38% of Republicans.”

“The numbers are turning against Republicans on the gun issue. Combined with reproductive liberty, the climate crisis, and attacks on LGBTQ rights, MAGA extremists have picked the wrong side of nearly every major social and political issue challenging America. Although they can control legislation through gerrymandered legislatures, that is a losing game over time.”

“Democrats can win at the statewide and national level—where they can block G.O.P. lawlessness and enact gun reform.”

“We have a path forward — through grass-roots politics. It will be long and arduous, but we have a path forward. Let’s take it.”

Their essays are a welcome antidote to the firehose of information —and seemingly endless speculation — blasted at us by our media

Yet another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

So what to do?

I keep singing — with my Music Together families, with my friends Carole and Molly, with the residents of retirement communities and assisted living facilities, while I am washing dishes at home, and while I walk around my neighborhood.

And I keep giving tiny amounts of money to politicians — like the two young representatives in Tennessee who were recently kicked out and then reinstated — as well as organizations devoted to preserving/expanding our ability to vote.

And I keep reading my fellow bloggers posts.

And every now and then I write one myself.

I will end with a couple of quotations.

One is by President Joseph R. Biden (and/or one of his speechwriters):

“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.”

The other is by Mahatma Gandhi:

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”

Thank you to the photographers at Pixabay for the images in this post.

Thank you to Doug Hammer for his tremendous piano playing and expert engineering skills.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who sings-along — with this blog post, in my Music Together classes, at my gigs, while listening on a streaming platform, etc.

Thank you to Heather Cox Richardson and Robert Hubbell for your ongoing analysis and insights.

And thank you to YOU for reading and listening to this blog post.

If you are curious to hear more music, you can also find me singing — with Doug Hammer playing his Schimmel grand piano — on SpotifyPandoraApple Music, YouTube and other streaming platforms.

And you can stream “Democracy Is Under Attack” by clicking here.

Any song you “like” or “heart” or add to a playlist will improve the algorithmic activity of our music there!

One more deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

Inch by Inch… Row by Row!

Photo courtesy of the Arlington Reservoir website

While all sorts of extremely important events continue to unfold around the world on a daily basis, life — blessedly — goes on here in East Arlington, MA.

Last fall I discovered — and began happily patronizing — an organic farm within biking distance of my home.

It sits on the edge of an old reservoir which currently serves as a nature preserve.

The reservoir straddles the border of my town and the next town to the west — Lexington, where our Revolutionary War kicked off two hundred and forty eight years ago with a battle against the British.

I have known about this reservoir — which is no longer used for drinking water — for the past thirty years.

Yet I have rarely visited it because I live on the east side of town, and the reservoir is located on west side of town.

Biking there takes 25 minutes, and it’s mostly up hill — following a converted rail-to-trail bike path.

However, this past fall I resumed leading Music Together classes indoors at a karate studio which is located five blocks from the reservoir.

And not long after we had begun our fall term, someone (we still don’t know who) drove into one of the karate studio’s front walls.

This meant that we had to find alternative locations for our classes while repairs were being made.

A couple of my Music Together families offered to let us hold class in their backyards — and one of those families lives a block away from the reservoir.

So one morning after class in their backyard was done, I decided to explore the reservoir on my bike.

Photo courtesy of Lexington Community Farm website

It turns out there is a lovely path all the way around it — and when I reached the far side of the reservoir, I found myself gazing onto a field full of vegetables!

And then I saw a sign welcoming people to walk through the farm and — on Fridays and Saturdays — buy fresh vegetables at their farmstand.

Because I had been part of a summer/fall farmshare of fresh produce which was driven to Arlington each week from an organic farm in New Hampshire, I did not visit their farmstand right away.

But when my farmshare ended in November, I decided to check it out.

What a thrill to enter a room full of very locally grown — and vibrantly colored — organic carrots, potatoes, lettuces, sweet potatoes, scallions, leeks, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, turnips, beets.. and the list went on and on and on!

I bought a bunch of leeks, a bunch of kale and a bunch of collard greens.

And I rode home very happily on the bike path with all of them erupting in different shades of green out of a shopping bag in the front basket of my bike.

We are now experiencing a stretch of wintery weather in Arlington after a relatively mild December, January and February (during which I have been able to continue riding my bike!)

The first crocus and snowdrops appeared in our front yard two weeks ago, but they are now buried under an icy crust of snow.

This week we are experiencing snow and sleet and rain, but I trust that spring will return before too long — with more croci and snowdrops and mini-Siberian irises and grape hyacinths poking their way out of the soil and opening their flowers to the sun.

I also trust that activity will resume in the fields and greenhouses of Lexington Community Farm.

My longing for spring is what has inspired me to share a recording of “The Garden Song” by Dave Mallett which Carole Bundy, Molly Ruggles and I included on our first eight-song CD last summer.

As you probably already know, you can play it by clicking at the very beginning of this blog post.

You can also listen to it on various streaming platforms by clicking here.

Thank you to all of the people who make the Lexington Community Farm a reality — inch by inch and row by row!

Thank you to Carole Bundy and Molly Ruggles for learning this song with me.

Thank you to Dave Mallett for writing it.

Thank you to Peter Kontrimas for recording it and to Doug Hammer for mixing/mastering it.

And thank you to Mother Nature for bringing everything back to life here in the northern hemisphere of planet earth!

You are always welcome to visit my website — where you can find many songs and learn more about my musical life here on planet earth if you are curious.

You can find me and Carole and Molly singing on various streaming platforms by clicking here.

You can also find me singing — with Doug Hammer playing his Schimmel grand piano — on SpotifyPandoraApple Music, YouTube and other streaming platforms.

Any song you “like” or “heart” or add to a playlist will improve the algorithmic activity of our music there!

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

And most of all, thank YOU for reading another one of my blog posts!


As 2015 comes to a close, I find myself singing John Bucchino’s wise song, “Grateful,” a lot.

I love the entire song from start to finish (and you are welcome to listen to a version I recorded during a rehearsal with Doug Hammer a few years ago by activating the player at the beginning of this post).

I think my favorite lyric may be, “It’s not that I don’t want a lot, or hope for more…or dream of more — but giving thanks for what I’ve got, makes me so much happier than keeping score.”

It is very easy to fall into the trap of “keeping score” and comparing one’s accomplishments to one’s peers, to people on TV, to celebrities, etc. etc. etc.

But that path tends to be a dead end — and a recipe for dissatisfaction, unhappiness, depression and discouragement.

So here is a list of things (in no particular order) for which I am grateful.

Health…and health insurance.

A devoted and supportive life partner.

Dr. Charles Cassidy and his surgical team at Tufts Medical Center, who successfully pieced together the shattered bits of bone in my left elbow using several titanium screws of various sizes at the beginning of March.


Opiate drugs — which were a daily blessing during my elbow recovery.

Jazz pianist and composer Steve Sweeting, who invited me to record a CD of his tremendous original songs with him and then did two performances to celebrate “Blame Those Gershwins” in Manhattan and Somerville.

All of the families who have chosen to make Music Together with me in Belmont and Arlington — as well as my MT bosses.

Doug Hammer — for his engineering wizardry at Dreamworld Studio AND astoundingly collaborative spirit at the piano.

Jinny Sagorin for lending her voice and heart and diplomatic feedback to “The Beauty All Around” performance.

Jazz pianist Joe Reid, with whom I put together programs of music about Jule Styne, Hoagy Carmichael, and Jerome Kern — and with whom I also performed programs of music about Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and the Gershwin brothers at retirement communities, libraries and synagogues around the greater Boston area.

Exceeding my (modest) financial goals for 2015 — thanks in part to two well-paid musical projects at the beginning of the year.

Kyra and Briony and Jill for a heartful musical adventure in honor of an old friend.

Bobbi Carrey, who is embracing new (although not very musical) challenges in Kuala Lumpur.

A grant from the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust to support my work on “The Beauty All Around.”

An ecstatic first performance of “The Beauty All Around” at Third Life Studio in Union Square.

Very supportive friends and family.

Very devoted and enthusiastic fans.

All the folks who have hired me and Joe to bring music to their retirement community, their library, their condo complex, their synagogue, etc.

Visits to Lime Rock, Connecticut; Ithaca, New York; Toronto, Ontario; and the upper west side of Manhattan.

Susan Robbins, who invited me to perform at Third Life Studio and maintains a very sweet Steinway grand piano there!

Photo by Anton Kuskin

Photo by Anton Kuskin

All the people (most of whom I will never meet) who planted, cultivated, harvested, sorted, packaged, shipped, unpacked, displayed, sold (and sometimes cooked and served) me the food I ate in 2015.

That our planet orbits a modest star at the perfect distance for life to unfold in astounding cycles of expansion and contraction over the course of millions of years.

North of Highland campground.

The Atlantic ocean.

Cayuga lake and the Rice Heritage cottage.

A wonderful web of cousins.

The Boston Association of Cabaret Artists community.

The Ukulele Union of Boston Meetup groups with a welcoming spirit and humble open mic section (during which I dare to share new songs…)

A new ukulele handmade — and given to me! — by Patrick Collins, a gifted musician, inspired woodworker, and dedicated teacher who lives in Toronto.

Megan Henderson, who has become my newest musical ally.

Rain and sun and dirt which create the conditions for plants to grow and flourish here on planet earth.

My trusty, slightly rusty, bicycle.


My two, increasingly aged, lap top computers which continue to function with grace and reliability.

Apple’s Garageband program.

The freshly paved, extremely smooth — with bike lanes! — stretch of Massachusetts Avenue from the Cambridge border to Arlington Center.

And, of course, music, music and more music — new songs or beloved standards, live or pre-recorded, spontaneous or well-rehearsed, solo or ensemble — it’s all a blessing.

Thank you for reading and listening to yet another blog post.

If I have forgotten to mention you in this list, please accept my heartfelt apologies…

A happy, healthy, and musical new year to you and yours!

Photo by Joe Turner

Photo by Joe Turner