In February, The Jerrys released “Alicia” ahead of their upcoming album. That single, the band’s first new music in three years, was quickly followed by another, “Love Me Now and Leave Me Never,” a 007-inspired spy rocker. Today, The Jerrys are releasing Ready or Not, their first studio album since 2011’s Let’s Groove, as well as a third single from the album, “Lean on Me.”
I liked Ready or Not as an album title for a couple of reasons. For one, I’d barely started recording the album when I had to put my studio in storage between moves. My wife and I had sold our house but hadn’t found another yet, so we lived with my father-in-law for a few months. By the time we found a place of our own and settled in, I joked the album would have to be released “ready or not.” Also, I’d written a raga and a country song that I wanted to include on the album, so I was thinking “here they come, ready or not!”
Last month, The Jerrys released “Alicia,” the first single from their upcoming album Ready or Not, due out 5/4. Today, the band is putting out the album’s second single, “Love Me Now and Leave Me Never,” a Bond-inspired spy rocker.
I’ve always enjoyed watching spies on the screen, and I wanted to know what it would sound like if my band did a Bond movie theme. After creating a fictional movie title, everything fell into place, including using a sitar (I always loved that sitar in the Bond-like intro of the soundtrack version of The Beatles’ “Help!”). The lead guitar solo is a tribute to Johnny Rivers’ solo in “Secret Agent Man,” an old favorite of mine. I was encouraged throughout the writing process by listening to several really bad Bond movie theme songs.
Also, in case you missed it, a new lyric video for “Alicia” was released a few weeks ago, and you can check that out below as well.
The Jerrys will release their new album, Ready or Not, on May 4 and they just shared the first single, “Alicia,” a power pop homage to the real-life Alicia.
As a teenager, I wrote a song about my girlfriend Alicia dancing to the record player. To fit the lyric, I used her first name, but no one knew her by that name and The Shadows of Knight and others had already made the name a hit anyway, so I ditched the idea. Decades later, I returned to writing a song about Alicia, even spelling out her name and singing about her dancing when the music’s streaming. For the record, though, she’s my wife this time around.
During my formative years, I cared more about sports, music, and reading than nature, but I enjoyed learning about things that interested me. When a kid down the street invited me and a few others to watch him feed a live toad to his pet snake, we accepted. I’ll spare you the details, but witnessing nature firsthand inspired me to check out a handbook on the subject.
Reptiles and Amphibians (Golden Press), a “guide to familiar American species,” presented more than 200 species with color illustrations, and I loved flipping through its pages. Better yet, the library had other Golden Guides in the series, including Mammals and Rocks and Minerals, and those books interested me even more. A few months later, however, my fleeting interest in natural science had all but disappeared.
Fast-forward a few decades. I’m at Lowe’s browsing through books on projects I hope I never have to do when I spot the sixth edition of Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America. I bought it, and as in my youth, I discovered the book was only one in a series of great books, so I ordered the latest edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets. I’ve started reading the latter from cover to cover, and it’s fascinating!
Peterson Field Guides are “Golden Guides for Adults” published to assist curious lay people in identifying natural phenomena, and I’m amazed at the number of guides available. Like most people, my pursuits leave little time to explore every shiny object that comes along, but those looking to take a break from time to time will find these books packed with fun facts about the world in which they live and the universe in which that world exists.
Back in the spring, my wife and I decided to try growing vegetables in our backyard for fun. With the exception of flowers and a few herbs that Alicia had grown in a window planter, we had zero experience growing anything, but we were curious to see what would happen. After watching a few videos, we bought some rolled-up fencing with anchors, a few 5-foot T-posts, and 5- and 15-gallon grow bags (I’d never heard of any of these things), as well as seeds and starter plants. Our vegetable garden experiment had begun.
After setting everything up, we adventured to grow Yukon Gold potatoes, tomatoes, Sweet Spanish onions, kale, broccoli, lettuce, and green peppers. Some of the seeds had be be started indoors under a grow light bulb and then moved outside, but eventually everything was up and growing. A few weeks later, one of our trees began to fill out, covering half of our garden with unwanted shade for several hours each day. Fortunately, the use of grow bags kept us from having to transplant everything, and I’d found T-posts easy to work with, so moving the garden to accommodate the sun was easy.
It’s nearly August now, and we’ve learned a lot from our backyard vegetable garden experiment already. The food tastes great, and we enjoy being able to step out back to grab fresh salads whenever we want. While the experiment was successful and fun, the summer temps combined with high humidity make it too early to decide whether we want to do it again next year. Maybe we’ll watch some videos on drip irrigation over the winter.
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 (more songs 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!