July-August 2018

Your Second Album

By Art Podell

man with guitar silhouette questionsInspired by a comment made by a DJ friend after reviewing countless CDs submitted for air play, as well as reflections of my own journey – mea culpa!

Section One - Reflecting:

OK. After years of career and business making a living and raising a family and trying to be true to the dream, it’s time. The horizon is clear, and the future is now a luge chute aimed at golden time. A time to reflect on a life well lived. Kids? Launched. You and your spouse at peace or permanent truce. Time to exhale. You are a fine aged wine ready to blossom and it’s time for the album that’s been cooking in the crock pot for so long. Get it out there. The joys and agonies of raising kids, your loves and travails— the twinkling aging eyes that greet you in the mirror each morning and all the joys and aches that attend—how about your evolving views on God and humankind? You are much wiser now than when you were a young idealistic kid in 1970. Sing about your spouse, your sons and daughters. The old flame who found you on Facebook. Throw in a complaint or two for good measure. Go ahead. Get it all out of your system in one glorious CD.

Section Two - Fiddling:

The tracks! Yes, the tracks! The band you’ve been imagining over the years. A dash of Queen, a dollop of Beatles, some Quincy, a healthy serving of Carol King—perhaps a subtle splash of James Taylor. Go for it! Hey, you’ve joined a cloche of like-minded souls and built your legacy word by word, note by note. You have a friend who has a friend who has a studio and so you began the holy journey to glory.

A few months of sheer ecstasy in the studio and a few more dollars than you’ve budgeted. So what? You can skimp a little. You’ve done it before. And voila! Your soul is finally printed on plastic for everyone to see—or download.

Section Three - Warning:

Now, schedule a show at a local venue and insist that all your friends, co-conspirator songwriters, relatives and anyone else you can drag, come. Hire your buddy Bob to play bass (remember? He toured once with—fill in the blank), and one of your new friends recommended Joe who played keyboard for (fill in...). Now then, don’t expect strangers to show up of course. Strangers will leave home to see the artists they adored when they themselves were kids (the ones you too adored) —artists who sing familiar songs that make them feel young again. It’s only natural. Why should they listen to some old person complain when it reminds them how old they themselves are? Forget that! But your friends will come. They’re your friends after all, and when you see their faces in the audience, you know that by soliciting their presence, you’ve made a silent commitment to go to their shows when they call. And they will call. Depend on it. It’s only fair.

Section Four - Relaxing:

OK, it’s finally done. The show was a success, and everyone’s gone home. Pictures are framed and on the wall. Your Facebook page is lit up with photos and compliments. A box of CDs is on the bookcase in your home office. You’ve mailed countless copies to everyone you know and to every DJ who plays Indie music (more money). And you wait. And you wait. Now what? The silence is eerie and the mad ride you’ve been on for the past months has come to a quiet stop and you wonder if it was all worth it. But it was fun, wasn’t it?

Something else has happened though. The people who were just acquaintances yesterday now look at you differently. There’s been an adjustment in your life. Somehow, you walk a bit taller, breathe a little easier. The air tastes a bit sweeter and your children talk to their friends about you differently now. It was worth it.

You’ve changed the world and yourself for the better just a teeny bit. Relax, you deserve it. And you wait.

Summing Up:

So we finally come to the point of all this and the subject for this meddling in your life:

What are you going to do for your second album?

You may not realize it yet, but this is where the ride really begins.

The ride, you ask? It’s called discovery and it could be the most exciting time of your life.

What? Me, tell you what to do? Never!

Art Podell was one half of the iconic Greenwich Village duo "Art and Paul" before moving to L.A. in 1961. An original member of the New Christy Minstrels, Art wrote songs for many of the artists of the day. He continues to perform and write and he rotates as a host of KPFK’s Roots Music and Beyond.


All Columns by Art Podell