A few weeks into spring, The Jerrys‘ new album is coming along nicely. Writing, playing, and producing a full-length album takes hundreds of hours, but I enjoy the work and the challenges that confront me along the way. I ditched my career to do what I love, and I’m doing what I love more than ever. If one were to say I’m living the dream, I couldn’t disagree.
At least a few tracks have been recorded for each of seven new songs (14 total are planned), and I’ve written titles and lyrics for six of those. Among the new tunes are a James Bond theme song (“Love Me Now and Leave Me Never”), a song about my better half (“Alicia”), and a song about a guy, his girl, and his guitar (“Just Us Three”). The first two are rockers (as is “Lean on Me,” another new track), while the latter recalls the style of The Everly Brothers.
I’ll provide another update on the (as-yet-untitled) Jerrys album in the summer, as well as news on the single that will be released in advance of the album. Until then, there’s a lot more studio work to do. One thing is certain: If anyone has half as much fun listening to the finished album as I’m having making it, it will be The Jerrys’ best effort yet.
Last month I retired from the nonprofit where I’d worked for 16 years so that I could pursue creative endeavors. I’ll post more on those endeavors in the coming weeks, but before this year ends, I wanted to share a peek at my 30-plus years in publishing and communications. Here’s a look back at my career.
American Veterinary Medical Association, 1989-1993
I learned the basics at AVMA before computers became widely available. Each editor used a different colored pencil so others could determine who made the changes. We then cut galleys into strips and arranged text and images on dummy pages using pins to hold them in place. We measured things in picas and points. I’m glad I got to see all that before technology changed everything. On a different but related note, I became a lifelong vegetarian while at AVMA.
At Mosby Chicago and Mosby St. Louis, I worked on medical texts, test prep floppy disks, ancillaries, study aids–even the company’s first-ever CD-ROM product. I also switched from production editing to developmental editing. The St. Louis office had a staff development center where you could check out VHS tapes on learning software and time management, and I did so often.
Real Estate Education Company, 1998-1999
Back in Chicago, at REEC (a division of Dearborn Financial Publishing), I developed print and electronic products for the real estate industry. I worked there for less than two years, but I gained valuable experience in nonmedical publishing. I also met friend and drummer extraordinaire Robert Porche’ at REEC.
American Osteopathic Association, 1999-2004
At AOA, I gained the management experience I lacked previously, but more important, I transitioned the association’s peer-reviewed journal from print-only to online. The latter provided the experience I needed to land my best gig yet: managing an online web portal for surgeons.
American College of Surgeons, 2004-2020
Working on the ACS Web Portal was one of the biggest highlights of my career, and when portal technology became yesterday’s news, I became the College’s first-ever social media manager. Next, I helped launch the portal’s successor, ACS Communities, a members-only networking platform.
After 30-plus years in the field, I decided that it was time to pursue my own ambitions, so I left to do that. During those three decades, I made countless friends and got to do a lot of cool things, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I was given. That said, the past is done, and I’ve moved on to the Next Big Thing. Stay tuned.
The other day I got that feeling again―that feeling I get when I hear a song that features killer horns. I can’t describe it and won’t waste time trying, but this time it happened when Spotify served up one of my all-time favorite horn songs, “Draggin’ the Line” (Tommy James), followed by another song with horns, “Time Won’t Let Me” (The Outsiders). So many feel-good songs use horns! Here are my top ten faves in alphabetical order:
“Bend Me Shape Me” (The American Breed)
“Don’t You Care” (The Buckinghams)
“Draggin’ the Line” (Tommy James)
“Good Morning Good Morning” (The Beatles)
“Got to Get You Into My Life” (The Beatles)
“Happy Together” (The Turtles)
“Make Me Smile” (Chicago)
“Susan” (The Buckinghams)
“Uptight” (Stevie Wonder)
Narrowing the list to ten was no small task, as there are so many good tunes to choose from, but there you have it. I’ve loved these songs for decades, yet they remain as fresh today as when I first heard them. Give them a listen, see what you think!
After a year that left little time for creative pursuits, The Jerrys have begun making new music and plan to release a new album of original songs. While it’s too early to set a release date, a single will be released from the album in early 2021. Until then, check out past releases, including The Jerrys at WZRD, last year’s full-length album featuring songs recorded live in the studio at WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM.
With the exception of Todd Rundgren‘s long-awaited “autobiography” and a meditation guide, I devoted the past year to reading and rereading the works of Bhante G. Here’s the list of books I read or reread in 2019:
Mindfulness in Plain English (Henepola Gunaratana)
Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Meditator’s Atlas: A Roadmap to the Inner World (Matthew Flickstein)
Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path (Henepola Gunaratana)
Meditation on Perception: Ten Healing Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations (Todd Rundgren)
Journey to Mindfulness: The Autobiography of Bhante G. (Henepola Gunaratana)
Loving-Kindness in Plain English: The Practice of Metta (Henepola Gunaratana)
Buddhist Suttas for Recitation: A Companion for Walking the Buddha’s Path (Henepola Gunaratana)
I’m now halfway through a really good book on the music of the Beatles, but as I will not finish it by the end of the year, that book will appear on next year’s list.
The Jerrys have released their first-ever live album, The Jerrys at WZRD, recorded live in the studio at WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM. Ten songs that aired live on the station during four separate appearances from 2012-2018 comprise the track listing:
1. I Even Love You More Than Elizabeth Hurley (At WZRD Chicago)***
2. Ann Taylor Girl (At WZRD Chicago)****
3. New Wave (At WZRD Chicago)*
4. Space Cadet (At WZRD Chicago)****
5. Be Yourself (At WZRD Chicago)***
6. Let’s Groove (At WZRD Chicago)**
7. The King of I Don’t Care (At WZRD Chicago)*
8. Every Girl (At WZRD Chicago)**
9. Bigger Than Oprah (At WZRD Chicago)*
10. What the World Could Use a Lot More Of (At WZRD Chicago)**
*Original broadcast, 2012; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, lead vocal) and Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal)
**Original broadcast, 2014; Jerry Schwartz (live guitar and live vocals with public appearance mixes)
***Original broadcast, 2016; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, harmonica, lead vocal), Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal), and Jim Losby (bass guitar, backing vocal)
****Original broadcast, 2018; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, harmonica, lead vocal) , Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal), Jim Losby (bass guitar, backing vocal)
As summer nears, here’s a quick update on my band and the live album to be released in the coming weeks:
Production and postproduction work have been completed for a new live album. The Jerrys at WZRD will consist of ten songs recorded over four separate performances recorded live in the studio at WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM. I’m currently working on the album art and will post the final track listing when that is available. The album will be released in early summer.
I began recording for a new single by The Jerrys. I like where it’s going, and I’m enjoying making it. There’s no release date at this time.
On May 16, I performed a set with The Jerrys at Rabid Brewing in Homewood, Illinois. It was the first time we played out this year, as well as our first time at that venue (photo). Later that evening, I played solo with a borrowed guitar before being joined on stage by others, including Robert Porche.
For the record, since starting this post I wrote another tune and will begin recording that one soon. There’s always more music on the way!