The Janitor of Rock & Roll
Warren's World in Warren's Words
by Warren Bloom and Chris Olsen
When people ask me what my music sounds like, I always have a hard time answering. Others have described it as peaceful, uplifting, romantic, melodic, pop, country, rock, jazz, new age, island and, in some cases, dark. Whatever. I write about my romances, my feelings, and my view on the things I see around me. My music is also about my voice and my guitar playing. I listened mostly to Nat King Cole, Little Richard, and James Brown, so vocally, of course, I sing like a smooth, black madman. Guitar-wise … well, let’s say I have my own style. I’m Liberace on my right hand — Mr. Arpeggio Folkpick. I change chords quickly, pick quickly, and sing high and clear. When I hear a song that I like, I learn how to play it. Guitar? I’ve learned from (ripped off) every one of the thousands of other guitarists I’ve met and haven’t met. You might call me a street musician — I was a busker in Amsterdam — but if you do, please consider the gutter my mind usually inhabits.
The highest compliment anyone can pay me is to tell me that I’m a great singer. After more than 30 years of singing and playing in rock bands and quietly crooning at parties and restaurants, hopefully my sound has evolved into something that will make me into a living God, multimillionaire, humanistic rock star. Anyway, I get off on playing, so who cares?
I grew up a nice, spaced-out Jewish boy in Fairfield, Connecticut. My father Jimmy was an accountant and one of Bridgeport's best-known people. He was a very large and outgoing man who laughed a lot. He could be quite a Ralph Cramden-esque character, especially if he wasn't laughing. At those moments he became rather uninhibited, very type-A, but still lovable. The things I heard most from him were, "Family is everything" and "Be the best you can be at whatever you choose to do." He also said making it in music is a “needle in a haystack … It’s all about who you know.” He never said anything about making a lifelong commitment to art and one’s craft, or of attempting to create something new with deep feeling. I was rebellious, so if he told me to follow my heart and perfect my craft, I’d probably be very rich and famous by now. Of course, I’d have no idea how to carry a tune, but I’d have that needle in my haystack, although I’d probably end up sitting on it. I may do that still.
Golfing came naturally to my father. He was a great athlete and a great dancer, as well … a very graceful man. He passed away 35 years ago. Everybody loved Jimmy and, of course, his son was expected to become president of the country or some sort of Mickey Mantle or something.
My mother Jeanette has a great personality, always warm, caring and friendly. She still plays piano by ear and is, in most peoples' opinion, still the most beautiful woman in town. Always has been. She’s still my best friend, too. I have an Elvis relationship with my mother: I talk to her every day and, no matter what I do, I’m the greatest. Well, actually she’s the greatest. Considering she’s outlived my father by more than 30 years, it’s hard to put into words just how close we’ve become. Let’s just say that if I were a mass-murderer, she would support and encourage me. And she’d be pissed if I only killed one person, you know, not living up to my potential or something.
My older sister Linda was popular from the get-go, as well. She always has been very pretty and she's also quite musical. She's an excellent singer with a dedicated fanbase among her grandchildren. She’s 3-1/2 years older than I am, but we’ve always been very, very close. She lives close to Keith Richards in Weston, CT, and scores her smack from the same dealer. Did I offend anyone? Let me rephrase that: She buys milk at Stu Leonard’s.
My sister always had a great record collection, which I listened to constantly, often more than she did. As early as age 10, I envisioned myself singing Heartbreak Hotel to millions of fans at huge stadiums. It's possible that I was the very first Elvis impersonator — I was into his music before he even got on TV. In fact, I remember Alan Freed saying, "Here's a brand new singer," with Elvis Presley singing I Forgot to Remember to Forget. I could do his whole routine. When Elvis showed up on Uncle Miltie's TV show months later, I remember saying to my folks, "Oh yeah, I know this guy."
The secret to my success is that I always have been a legend in my own mind. To this day, I hum original masterpieces when I eat. And not only did I do that at age five, but I also played concert piano on the side of the dinner table along with my parents' record albums. I played a serious table, man. I was a table musician. I guess you could say that my ADD and all of its associated forces set in at an early age.
I'd have to say my biggest influences in the fifties were the many ballads by all the New York City doo-wop groups of the day. Doo-wop music has always been underrated in terms of its place in the evolution of music, its contribution to rock & roll. Country music and black blues sure, but doo-wop was rock & roll.
The Flamingos, Harptones, and Moonglows all made major impressions on me. I was a schmucky little kid who sucked his thumb. But when I was locked alone in my room with ballads like My Prayer, I could cry and become some sort of emotional and sexual avatar for my entire generation. But it wasn't just the ballads that got me — I was into the fast stuff, too. Alone, I was crazier and less inhibited than Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. Some might describe it as delusions of grandeur. I would describe it as a major inferiority complex combined with major future sexual hang-ups combined with gigantic major league delusions of really big grandeur. Also known as Schmuckdom. And don’t forget ADD, in spades.
To this day I live in a fantasy world. Sure, I have numerous World Series no-hitters and home runs to my credit, but music is still my main thing. I actually remember doing some major conducting work for Pérez Prado when I was a boy. I also considered myself a world-class bongo player by age 12. By age 13, I was a seasoned pro. I completely killed at my Bar Mitzvah. Everyone said I should take voice lessons from the Cantor, and he smiled affirmatively. Within five years I was singing Stones songs in the first white band to play the black nightclubs of Carrboro, North Carolina.
I was the one with the best record collection by the end of high school, and I took it with me to the University of North Carolina in 1963. Much to my amazement, James Brown was a major star down there. I discovered him in a record store. I had worn out the grooves on his first album years before I ever heard him on the radio. No one I knew had even heard of James Brown in the early sixties; I worshipped him.
James Brown's first hit, This Old Heart was one of my favorites back then. It sounds like Ray Charles' What I'd Say, but it's nothing like James ever sounded again. I'll never forget seeing James Brown live, going from one end of the stage to the other — on one foot! I've had several dreams about meeting James Brown and asking him, "Hey, whatever happened to that song, This Old Heart?" He'd probably have punched me out.
While in North Carolina I saw the Stones on their first U.S. tour, and I saw Otis Redding (he danced with his body and was just as good as James Brown), Sam & Dave, and Bo Diddly. These were major influences on me. I was a dedicated fan of music and went to shows as often as I could. But I never thought seriously about performing until someone in my dorm heard me singing along with an entire Dells album and told me I was great. After getting completely drunk at a local bar one other night, I worked up the intestinal fortitude to go onstage and sing In the Still of the Night (Shoo-doo … Shoobee-doo). Amazingly, some people applauded. That one song in public in my whole freshman year made me determined to get into a band for my sophomore year.
I bought a harmonica, learned to sing and play Jimmy Reed tunes, and used it as a crutch to get up and sing at clubs. I sang my first gig in 1964 fronting a five-piece rock band at a dorm party. The first song we played was Runaway, the Del Shannon hit from a few years earlier. Right after the song ended, a guy ran up to me and told me that I sounded great — just like Trini Lopez. I barfed then and I barf now. Call me up and I’ll come barf at your house, too.
By my senior year, I was the lead singer of one of North Carolina's most popular bands, The One Eyed Jacks. We played a zillion Stones, Animals, and Them covers. We also played Tell It Like It Is by Aaron Neville, Could You Would You by Them, and I’m a Believer! By far, our best cover was — drum roll please — Ninety-six Tears by Question Mark and the Mysterians. It took me weeks to get the timing right on that vocal, but it killed!
Our theme song was Paul Butterfield's Born in Chicago, and I'm proud to say I could get around every note of that tune on vocals and harp. The One Eyed Jacks were the first white band to play at the Aloha Club in Carrboro, NC. “Do you like good music? Yeah, yeah!” Those people really partied … and they carried guns, too. Incidentally, I met Paul Butterfield outside the club JC’s in New York City 10 years later. I told him he was my idol. He said, “Uuuhhhh.” He died soon after of a drug overdose. Most people die of a drug overdose after I meet them. They’re my idols.
All of my fast learning earned me three solid years of singing lead in bands that played regularly around the Carolinas. And I started dabbling on guitar in 1966, too. Vietnam was happening, and I was in the middle of all the be-ins and rock concerts, singing with The One Eyed Jacks. I damn near flunked out of school, but I knew that would mean getting shipped off to war, so I buckled down and managed to earn my bachelor's in communications.
Still, I didn't take seriously a career in music until my first recording session, early in 1967. I was in the studio with one of my bands, The Magoochi Bowling Team. We recorded two originals, Foggy Night of the Day and You Broke the Jewel, as well as a version of Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now Baby Blue. When I heard my vocal track played back over the loudspeakers, I was possessed. By that summer, I was shopping my music all over the Brill building — 1650 Broadway in NYC. This whole building was full of record companies, agents, producers, artists. Songwriters would go from office to office trying to get discovered. I'll never forget that sick, empty feeling I got from rejection after rejection, just like the ones I get every day now from people like you.
I moved to Philadelphia in September of '67 to attend Temple University for my master's degree. Just the fact that I could get accepted to grad school was a miracle. I’ll forever regret the financial strain it put on my father, but it kept me out of ‘Nam. The whole sixties thing was really happening in Philly, maybe even more than in North Carolina. Before long, I found a songwriting partner named Bill Wallace. We recorded several demos and took off for Berkeley, California, in the summer of '68. We continued to write songs and then recorded a bunch of demos in San Francisco that we took to Hollywood in search of fame and glory.
My best offer was a job as a studio singer from Tony Butala of The Lettermen. Tony was one of the original three Lettermen, the founders. He liked my voice and, since he grew up in Sharon, Pennsylvania, he liked that I was living and performing in Philadelphia at the time. The Lettermen were really popular, just as huge on radio and television as the Beatles or Stones, so it was a great compliment to receive even though I didn't take the job. Tony Butala went on to create the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in his hometown of Sharon, thus proving that he knows a good voice when he hears one. I turned down the job to be a studio singer in Hollywood in 1968 to stay in school and, thus, avoid going to — you guessed it — ‘Nam.
Back in the sixties, you could walk right into Capitol Records and just walk into anyone's office. I spent an afternoon with Johnny Mathis, who described one of my songs as "shit" but taught me something very valuable in songwriting, and that is not to place a separate lyric syllable on each note of music. Instead, sing one syllable through several notes of music. Johnny Mathis actually was a great guy who spent several hours with my songs and me. I think my world-record Afro did freak him out a bit, though, since he asked, “Why do you have your hair like that?” And while he did not appear to be gay, he did pat me on the ass on my way out the door.
Anyway, I returned to Temple in the fall, so I cut short my California adventures. On the flight back east I wrote letters to my old friends Roger Kelley and Dwight Harris, asking them to move up from Chapel Hill to Philly. Roger was a member of The One Eyed Jacks and we had been playing in bands together for about four years. Dwight was another good friend from NC — we had never played together, but I knew he was cut from the right cloth. Much to my utter delight, they decided to move to Philly, closer to their New Jersey roots and me. Together as Kelley, Bloom & Dwight, we wrote about 40 comedy rock songs, including classics like Born Young and As Long as You're Nothing I'm Something. This collaboration led to my first breakthrough band: Lobotomy.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, in some Forrest Gump sort of way, I ended up in the front row at Woodstock. There's a close-up of me in the movie, right after John Sebastian's final song. Incidentally, I was as close as you could get to Jimi Hendrix when he played his set at Woodstock — now one of the most famous rock performances ever. Maybe 10 percent of the original crowd was still there, and I think every one of us was tripping. We all stayed until Monday morning to catch Jimi, and it was worth it! I also should mention that I slept through the entire WHO performance of Tommy at a distance of 20 yards. I think there was something in the punch.
Lobotomy / The Facedancers
Lobotomy was a comedy rock band, the most popular band in Philly by 1970. At the time, there was only one other “funny” band that we knew of — The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, but they were no Lobotomy. We opened for the Velvet Underground for a month, and also played gigs with Iggy Pop & the Stooges and the New York Dolls. No one who saw Lobotomy will ever forget the antics of the entire band, with Kelley on lead guitar and me on lead vocal and insanity, acting like the love child of Robert Plant and Harpo Marx. Lou Reed once said to me, "Hey man, you really know how to sing the ballads." I felt hurt, like he was mocking me, and I must have looked it, because he said, "No man, that's the hardest thing to do." What a great compliment.
My bandmates in Lobotomy were Michael Loy, Barry and Dale Armour, and Roger Kelley. We were very close, and we lived together in a hundred-year-old house on 10 acres of forest in Drexel Hill, PA. All the top Philly musicians would come out and jam, trip, and generally debauch. They also helped us decorate our house with lots of empty Southern Comfort bottles … it was the early seventies, after all. Somehow we all survived to keep making music.
The band was secretly managed by George Meier, one of the most influential people in music. His weekly paper, called WALRUS, reviewed all the new releases for FM radio internationally. FM was in its infancy then, and George was its king starmaker. Needless to say, there was a little conflict of interest situation here, and George refused to publicly associate his name with the band.
Somewhere along this timeline, the band turned down Seymour Stein and Richie Gotteher of Sire Records. Our attorney Jeff Laytin read their offer and advised us that we could "wipe our asses with this contract." Biggest mistake I ever made in my life.
Lobotomy somehow got talked into changing our name to Facedancers to record a "legit" album for Paramount Records in 1972. The album was produced by Teo Macero, the legendary producer of Miles Davis. (I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon talking about music with Miles Davis years later when I moved to New York. Basically we drank a bunch of Heinekens at his pad on 77th St. and he played the Fender Rhodes.)
It was an incredible album — the jazz, rock, and blues sounds were ahead of their time. Included on the album is a song called Dreamers Lullaby in which I sing what I believe is the highest note ever recorded by a male pop singer — a stratospheric falsetto high A sharp. I have yet to hear a higher note recorded by a man. Minnie Riperton sang the highest note recorded by a female pop singer on her hit Loving You Is Easy, in case you're wondering. Also, my harmonica solo in 5/4 time was one of my best, if I do say so myself … unless I’m somebody else, which I very well may be.
The Facedancers album is now a collectors item (I bought one on eBay for 50 bucks), although the serious music we recorded for the album could never come close to the Lobotomy comedy and stage show that was never documented. The record got me a good review in the city paper, though. Jim Quinn of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "It's nice to hear someone sing in his own voice. Bloom can do everything and anything with his own voice and isn't afraid to try."
Our most memorable song, and a favorite of Philly music promoter Larry Magid, was My Baby's Got Lemons. In this number, the band would stop on a dime, we'd each take a bite out of a big 'ole lemon. We'd make all the required pucker faces and gurgling noises, then resume the song. Sometimes we couldn’t keep it together, and exploded in laughter ourselves on stage. We'd keep doing this until the lemons were finished — and so were we. It was a very funny scene.
One other thing I did with my voice while in Philly was to help out my friends Daryl Hall and John Oates. This was before they became famous and I became a skid row wino. They were friends from the neighborhood and fellow musicians on the local scene. They even opened for Lobotomy a bunch of times. This project was a single for Jamie Records, a remake of Andy Fairweather Low's Natural Sinner, which was a big hit in England (I got one of my recordings of this tune on eBay for 25 bucks). Daryl and John played on and produced the track, and they knew that I was the only guy in town who could hit the tune's high notes, so they hired me to sing it. (Daryl actually paid me one of the other greatest compliments I’ve ever received when he told me, “Hey man, you sing better than me!” Where is he now when I need him?)
I remember driving my Chevy convertible around Center City, Philadelphia one summer day — top down and music loud, of course — when Natural Sinner came on the radio. It freaked me out to hear my own voice blaring from the dashboard. I had to just pull over and listen. It was a very gratifying moment at a time when I felt as though a lot of my other hard work was coming undone, including Facedancers.
Eventually, Facedancers broke up, and for all the same reasons all bands break up: artistic differences, egos, lifestyle changes, the corruption brought upon us by fame and fortune, all of us dying in a fiery plane crash only to lose millions on our reunion tour, then the slave-labor scandal with our clothing line really drove a nail in our coffin. In reality, we broke up because, instead of listening to ourselves, we listened to some people who told us that we couldn’t be funny on record, that our antics wouldn’t translate. In short, we stopped doing what we did best and enjoyed most — being funny. It wasn't pretty. On the bright side, the break-up helped me decide to leave Philadelphia after 10 wonderful and creative years. I was on to bigger and better things.
I moved to New York City in June 1977. My boyhood friend and "big brother" Richie Belzer let me stay at his apartment for a month until I got my first NYC pad. Richie was an up & coming comedian at the comedy club Catch a Rising Star. At first I didn't know any of his strange friends named Belushi, Radner, Chase, or his closest friend Larry David, but we all got used to each others’ strangeness and eventually some of them became better acquaintances and others became friends.
Belzer worked as the emcee at Catch, so I had a major advantage as far as getting onstage at the club. Monday night was audition night. Hundreds of people tried to become regular performers at the club. Thanks to my connections, I was allowed to sing when I wanted. What was even more amazing was that frequenting Catch allowed me to reunite with Kelley, who had become a stand-up comic and emcee.
Although Catch was a comedy club, they did have a few Vegas-type music lounge acts. I played acoustic guitar and sang love ballads to audiences who mainly wanted to laugh, thankfully not at me, at least not initially. It was quite difficult, but it taught me a lot about performing. Whether I played or not, I went to the club almost every night for about eight years to carouse with my friends. The place was indeed a creative, intellectual, and hysterical haven for me during a creative, intellectual, and hysterical time in my life, and with a growing gang of lunatics that soon included Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Maher … what a pack of nuts!
In the daytime I worked at a local deli. Belzer would come in and I'd throw him a whole cooked chicken like a quarterback. He'd run out of the place with his touchdown pass, all the way back to the club. Legend has it that he would spike the "ball" when he got there.
One of the other singers at the club was a quiet, supperclub-type singer named Pat Benetar. She was very sweet and nice, and complimented me by saying she liked that I have my own original style, the way Bob Dylan has his own style. We became friends and she really took to one of my rock songs called Bonfire. She started performing the song at the club and, like an idiot, I panned her performances of the tune — I thought she took the steam out of the song, not only slowing it down, but also changing the lyrics to the first person. Heaven forbid.
The night Pat auditioned for Chrysalis Records at Tramp's, she opened with Bonfire and scored her deal. Although she never recorded the tune officially, there are several live recordings of her rendition. Ten years after Pat Benetar became a rock star, I asked her if she would record Bonfire, the very first rock song she ever performed. She turned me down flat, said it was too mellow for her, and told me to take it to Barbara Streisand. Twenty years later, she had forgotten the name of the song altogether. Can you believe that? Stupid Pat Benetar and her fame and fortune.
You know, that story just bummed me out. Are you bummed out now? You probably are and I don’t blame you. But I want to cheer you up, a selfless act on my part if I do say so myself. I’m going to tell you a couple of happy anecdotes that have helped keep me afloat during the sort of trying times I’ve had in the music biz.
First I want to tell you about Captain Beefhart. Just thinking about the Captain should bring a smile to your face, but this will twist that smile ever so slightly. I once met him and asked him about his harmonica playing. Being a harmonicist myself, I thought this would provide much useful information. I asked him, “What’s your inspiration when you’re playing the harmonica?” And he replied, “Sputnik.” To this day I have no idea what he meant, but somehow it has inspired in me great and wondrous harmonicisms, and has given me something to ponder for hours at a time.
Cheered up yet? Well, this next tale will certainly do the trick. Upon meeting the great George Benson at the Artemis Club in Philly somewhere in the ‘70s, I asked him how he became so amazingly good on the guitar. I asked him if he played scales all day to hone his technique. He replied to me, “Where is your guitar right now?” “In my room,” I answered. “Where in your room?” he continued. I imagined the inside of the room I was renting and offered, “In the case, next to my bed, in the corner where I practice.” His eyes widened as he clearly stated, “Never in the case! Never keep your guitar in the case.” This was probably the greatest piece of musical advice I’d ever received. He went on to explain that my guitar should be out of the case at all times, ready to be played whenever inspiration strikes, whenever any musical idea comes up ready to be explored. For that’s what will make me that good — to take every inspiration seriously and explore it fully to find the magic within it. There, you must be feeling better by now. I am.
I don't think anyone sets out to become a singer, writer, guitarist, harmonica, and percussion comedian. It just happens to you and you just have to go along with it. So, for the past many years I've worked to stay young and energetic here in New York. I studied voice with conductor Peter Randall of Juilliard and I've worked hard on my musical craft. I even won two of ASCAP's performance awards, and I'm working on my fourth — I've already won the third one in my mind.
Throughout the ‘80s I started band after band and recorded demo after demo. No band could come close to the intensity, talent, and intimacy of Lobotomy. Furthermore, the dynamic of the band was always the same: I'd find a musical partner, we'd put ads in the Village Voice and put a band together playing my songs with me singing. Eventually a member of the band would convince me to do one of his songs and, little by little, I'd relinquish control of the group. The music would suffer and the band would eventually break up. Of course, I was growing musically, but it was painful and always left me with a big mess to clean up. If Bruce Springsteen is considered The Boss, I was the opposite. I was the janitor of rock & roll.
Finally, in the late Eighties, I truly declared myself a solo artist and recorded a hard rock song of mine called White Line. I continued playing the small clubs in the village, but I hired back-up musicians instead of forming a band officially. I continually performed, wrote, and recorded, and I worked like mad to pay for it all, but it was well worth it for my independence, and my music's independence.
When the nineties rolled in, I met a guitarist named Jim Sattin who had played with Bo Diddly and Ron Wood. More important to me was the fact that Sattin was the musical director for Ben E. King. My plan was to have Jim produce the music, hire the musicians, manage the recording, etc. Unknowingly, what I did was compromise my music and myself once again by relinquishing control. Jim had some very strong ideas about music and recording, and he could be domineering without an equally strong force to balance things out. At the time, I was not that equally strong force and I was often overrun in the studio. My guitar parts, so integral to the songs, were mostly pushed into the background. The final mixes of my songs sounded, in some cases, like someone else's music altogether. The whole endeavor could have been a washout, but we worked very hard to cooperate and we got some very good results. In a strange way, I was growing. I was half janitor, half … hockey goalie!
I recorded about six songs with Jim and added those to the sixteen others I recorded in previous sessions. I then put together my own record label called Rockin' Chair Records and my own music publishing group with ASCAP called Stoneleigh Music Publishing so I could further take charge of my own destiny. Then, in 1995, I released my first singer-songwriter CD, Thanks For the Fantasy. It features all kinds of music I wrote since moving to New York. Although there were some rough roads along the way, it's still something I'm very proud of because I had finally struck out on my own. Somehow that whole experience made me realize that if I perform my songs organically, with me on guitar and singing, and hire supportive, creative musicians, then I create the most realistic and, at the same time, the most artistic presentation of what my music is in its most raw form. (Am I full of shit, or what?)
Somewhere around the mid-nineties, a musical connection of mine whom I had known for 20 years convinced me to give him $1,500 cash (or one-half of my total life savings at the time) for the purposes of managing my career. He had managed Janis Ian and Don McLean (American Pie), so my hopes were high that he’d pull through for me. It was painful to part with the money, but it was even more painful when I could never locate this person ever again. He shall remain unnamed — no, wait… actually his name is Herb Gart. The word Sociopath was created to describe this person.
Well, continuing on in my most egotistical and pompous manner, sometime around 1997, I met John Amato at the Songwriters Workshop on 72nd St. John is an excellent songwriter and guitarist who seemed to be a kindred spirit (same generation, same tastes in music, etc.). We got together to play one time, and it's been a very productive and inspiring collaboration ever since. We continue to play every week.
John is, all around, probably the best person I've worked with for two reasons: 1) He's a fantastic musician with no egomania whatsoever. 2) He's especially supportive and appreciative of my many "rock noir" songs. Also, John introduced me to bassist Steve Geller and drummer/percussionist Chris Olsen. Steve and Chris tend to enjoy the same music and lifestyle as myself, including bad jokes and fine food, so it's a natural. The three of them have worked together for years for many different artists.
Miracle Morning was our first recording project together. We worked a lot through 2001 on this album and it was released in 2002 on Rockin' Chair Records. The album covers a lot of ground, from melodic swooning to folky jangling to swirling jazz and ardent rock to Latin and Caribbean rhythms and back for another sweet ballad. It's an honest attempt to convey the type of love and sincerity you just don't hear in music these days, and I think we captured the essence of it — the tears and the dust — about as well and about as real as it could get. You should buy a copy at CD Baby and check it out. Read the reviews here at and you'll agree.
In 2003, pretty much like every other independent musician around, I got myself a website — BloomTunes.com — so that you'll all like me and buy my albums. You can read about me and look at pictures of me, which will help you identify me in a crowd. Also you can find out if I’m coming to your town, so you can sell your house before the property values drop.
More importantly, I hooked up with CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com), who put my music on iTunes, Rhapsody, all the usual routes to sell my discs to oversaturated and indifferent audiences the world over. Interestingly enough, I was recently informed that my song Over and Over Again has received more website plays than all of my other songs combined.
The Abel Effect
My bassist on Miracle Morning, Steve Geller, introduced me to his pal Andy Abel in 2004, and I was indeed "on my way." Andy is a great engineer/producer with a beautiful studio in my home state of Connecticut. I soon found out that Andy is an exceptional guitarist as well.
While John is great at pulling the noir, the dark side, from my music, Andy is a genuine rocker deep down, and he's helping me to preserve in my music my broiling animosity toward mankind, which makes me love working with him even more.
We added Andy's nylon string and electric guitars and guitar synthesizer to the existing cast of characters from Miracle Morning with excellent results. I think we took the music to a higher electrical level on the 2006 release I'm On My Way.
I'd like to add that my brilliant, long-time friend (and wife-swapper/slave-trader) Dwight Harris has boldly taken it upon himself to act as co-lyricist on several of these new tracks. Dwight brings a certain anger, hate undercurrent to my otherwise sappy, wimpy, Jewish mensch side — kind of like crossing a philosophical nothing soup with a pile of cement blocks. Are you ordering the CD yet? You can, at www.cdbaby.com.
There are 11 cuts on this album, which opens with the sweeping Tango Lullaby. My harmonica intro leads to Andy's Spanish guitar and carries you to far-off places. I ended up in Queens the last time I played it.
The next tune is the title cut, and I think I sound like Ozzy on it, which is good, right? Everyone under the age of 30 says I sound like the late Jeff Buckley, which is strange because 30 years ago everyone said I sounded like Jeff’s late father Tim Buckley. After that is Heavy Load, a real James Blount tearjerker, crossed with Karen Carpenter out on a nice date with the Bee Gees. Next is Do It Twice, a Reggae tune in 5/4 time. What!? No, I'm not kidding. You know, some people have a nervous breakdown, some people have an identity crisis. Let's face it — I'm on the verge of all-out obliteration. My nerves have actually threatened to rip from my body, steal my car, and go on the road without me. I'm an artist! How am I supposed to work under these conditions?! By the way, did I mention there are some happy songs on this disc? Believe it.
If you don’t believe me, then you’ll have to believe music critic Dan MacIntosh of Indie-Music.com when he says, “Warren Bloom is one serious looking fellow, pictured playing his acoustic guitar solemnly. But the harmonica coloring and castanets driving the gypsy love song Tango Lullaby reveal a far more playful artist than you might expect. Bloom is a singer songwriter with soul.” How about them apples?!
I'm not sure how else I will promote I'm On My Way, but I am considering finding out where they buried Ed Sullivan. If I can get some DNA or figure out how to clone that guy, maybe I can get on his shew, sheeeww, scheeooew — you know, his show. Of course I'd have to dig up the producers, technicians, and crew, but if Mr. Sullivan would put me on his show I might be able to give up my day job. Then I could change my name to Puff Bloomy.
Other Musical Projects Involving Music
You might think I’ve got my hands full with my raging identity crises and visual dyslexia, as well as the running of the Bloom Tunes Band, but it’s really a well oiled machine that leaves me time for interesting side projects. I guess I've got two or three of them at the moment. Check this one out: Project One. I'm a strolling troubadour at the French restaurant Serge in Manhattan. I try to sing old, old, old songs because, well, isn't that what you're supposed to hear at this type of institution?
I'm perfecting a new artform. I play music reflecting how the people are eating that day. The diners are like dancers, and we're just bouncing rhythms off each other. Once in a great while I get them to vomit their escargot with my rendition of Moon River.
I love the challenge of learning the classic songs and, as in all facets of life, failing in my interpretation. Every Cole Porter song is like a music class. The good part of it is that I can learn from it and steal from it. The bad part of it is dodging those little squares of cheese when they're flicked my way.
Okay, here's Project Two. For two years, I worked with acting teacher Spider Duncan Christopher. Spider was in the original cast of Hello Dolly and performed at the White House on the same spot where Monica Lewinsky performed many years later.
Spider teaches the Meisner technique (although I prefer Brando and method acting) and has taught so many wonderful stars like Robert Duvall and Dianne Keaton. He had me imagining my dramatic setting for each song I sing, and I’m thinking about the person to whom I am singing that particular song, although it’s always my mother or my first girlfriend Barbara Rosenberg.
I see how it deepens my performance when I’m singing solo, though I don't know how the Spider/Meisner acting classes will relate to my music as a recording artist who performs with other musicians. Let's just say I feel like a football player trying to make a few extra bucks playing golf on the side. Or we could say I feel like a nuclear physicist who is melting down all by himself. Anyway, this technique allows me to bring a little Robert Plant sleaze to the world of Charles Aznavour. There certainly is enough sleaze to go around.
I must confess, I have trouble smiling onstage. If you see me up on stage singing, and I'm smiling, be sure to know that I'm actually thinking about something seriously funny (like dog shit) that has nothing at all to do with the song. It's like being Betty Davis and Bob Dylan all rolled into one ugly looking thing. Hopefully I can internalize the feelings the way a great actor does when they perform. Do you think that when Michael Jackson grabbed his crotch on MTV he was really thinking about that pickup basketball game? You see, music is all about honesty. And acting is all about dishonesty based on honesty. And I’m very confused at this point. I just want to sing, honestly.
Aside from these other personality-splitting endeavors, John Amato and I are ready to present 14 new songs to the mighty and capable Andy Abel for further destruction and subsequent recording. The next CD, album, playlist, or whatever you want to call it is just about studio-ready. You’ll hear every gory detail of it here, soon, so don’t move. Don’t move. I repeat, do not move. OK, you can move now.
Future Projects: Just gonna keep on trying. My new CD I’m On My Way is available for you to purchase and enjoy at www.cdbaby.com. The next disc is ready to record. I’m still trying to play other peoples’ songs and trying to create new ones of my own. Dreaming about rockin' out — and of resurrecting Ed Sullivan. Stay tuned, there will be no commercial announcements.
Thank you very much. You've been a wonderful audience. Good night. Oh, by the way, we have a 6:00 a.m. tennis date tomorrow in the Philippines. See you then.