The album was originally going to be called “Chasing the Wind”, and it began innocently enough in January, 2007, when my brother in law Mark and I drove to Buffalo, NY, my musical “hometown”, to begin programming on 5 new songs with my old friend, and great musician, Ken Kaufman. The first one we started on was called “So Far Behind”, which became a big hit for me in 2009, but at the time, unknown to me, was prophetic about how long this project would take to evolve. I hadn’t written much in years, but I was about to experience a tidal wave of creativity that I had never known before. By the time May rolled around, we got to our first “tracking” session with the band, at this place very appropriately named “Audio Magic” and the project had grown to 15 songs.
“Magic” it was. By September, it had grown to 24 songs, and in November, by the third tracking session, it had grown to 28! Then my friend and drummer, Mike Caputy, suggested that I try coming down to Nashville, TN, where he lived, because it is a songwriter’s town and I am always, first and foremost, a songwriter. Thanks, Mike! Seven months and 21 songs later, I now had a project that contained nearly 50 (!) songs, all becoming “masters”, and spanning two cities that are about as different as any 2 places one could compare in the US. And the sound of each was SO different. Both great, both unique, but from two different planets. Buffalo is northeast, gritty, in your face, simple and real. Nashville is genteel, polite, polished and masterfully professional. When I put the songs together as a potential CD, it was a musical civil war. How could I ever reconcile these two cities? Two cities…
Oh my goodness, that’s it! I’ll call it “Two Cities”. And it will be a double album where each city will have its own CD, “Two Cities – Nashville” and “Two Cities- Buffalo”! And so “Two Cities” was born. And now I had the job of arranging, mixing, adding to, subtracting from, 26 unique songs, each with their own personalities and requirements. And that’s where my dear friend and very great engineer and musician Mike Rorick came in. Mike and I met at that first tracking session in May 2007, and my respect for him had grown greatly, but that was nothing to what it has become. I decided to finish the Nashville side of the project in Buffalo, because I needed to centralize everything to get a handle on it and Mike and I began, mixing, remixing, editing, recutting parts, adding, deleting, muting, you name it, we did it. Sometimes I would call Mike and on his voicemail leave a new guitar part I wanted him to cut by singing it into his voicemail. He would get his messages, and a day or two later, I had my new part! We worked long distance, he in Buffalo and me in New Jersey, discussing mixes and changes we wanted to make over the phone.
This process began late in 2008, and now, in late 2010 as I write this, it is nearly complete. The very last song we are working on is from an entirely new project we just started with the legendary Gary Mallaber, who asked if one song that he is producing for me could be included on “Two Cities”. Gary, as befitting a man with 28 gold or platinum album credits, and 5 Billboard No. 1’s, lives in Los Angeles. I may have to call the next album “Three Cities”.
A city, by its nature, is concrete. Cold and utilitarian. What gives any place its personality are the people who inhabit it. For me, these two cities, Buffalo, NY and Nashville, TN, are warm, beautiful places because of the loving, caring people I have met who inhabit them and who have taken me in as their own. Robbie, Mike R., Jerry, Kenny, Mike C., Franko, Dennis, Ken H., Ken S., Jonell, Steve, Gary, you know who you are. You are the lifeblood and the heart and the soul and the laughter, and the smile I will always see, on the face of two cities.