Morsel #13 – Horse Morsel

Morsel #13 – Horse Morsel: Even though this music for the John Ford/20th Century Fox film Hangman’s House also contains the love theme, it begins with music for a horse — which is all the excuse I need to name it “Horse Morsel.” Enjoy.

Busking? Sure, Busking.

My friend David Levine and I have a band called Chip & Drifty, which we formed rather unceremoniously about 20 years ago. Two dudes, hanging out, writing weird songs, and eventually recording and performing them. We released an album called So Fine a Lady a few years back, and we’ve got a collection of new songs awaiting imminent release here in the coming weeks and months.

A couple weeks ago, we took the Bay Area by storm, armed with two guitars, a toy glockenspiel, a harmonica and a shaker. And there, in The City by the Bay, and in The City Across the Bay From The City by the Bay — Berkeley — we busked. For those of you unfamiliar with busking (which I was until recently), it’s when artists (or in this case, Chip & Drifty) perform in public, in hopes of garnering the occasional fan, dollar bill or CD sale.

For us, it was an opportunity to test our nerve, try out new songs and old on an unsuspecting public, and learn how to project our voices over the clanging of trolley cars and the booming of BART arrival announcements.

We had a great time and chronicled some of it here, here and here.

You can visit our website to sign up for email updates and hear some music, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and buy So Fine a Lady on iTunes or from Got all that? Wait wait! One last link.

Morsel #12 – “Paranoia”

Morsel #12 – “Paranoia”: Here’s the first track from the movie Sound Machine. This scene had no dialogue, which gave me ample musical space to get inside the chaotic mind of the paranoid main character.

Happy Birthday!

Today is my good friend Paul Bent’s birthday. Please take a moment and sing to him. The “Happy Birthday” song would be appropriate; just don’t sing it in public or you’ll end up owing someone money.

Paul and I met on a strangely fated flight at JFK two days after 9/11. (I could have just written 9/13, but that wouldn’t have been as dramatic.) I boarded that flight nervous and jumpy. Paul seemed neither of those things when he sat down next to me. Two-hours-on-the-tarmac,-a-S.W.A.T.-team-boarding-the-plane, guns-pointed-at-our-heads,-searching-the-carry-ons-for-bombs,-utter-chaos, passengers-yelling,-screaming-and-seeing-our-lives-flash-before-our-eyes later, we had become trusted friends.

Paul is one of those rare individuals, who, on top of the fact that he’s extraordinarily smart, successful at just about everything he does, has integrity, musical talent (he sang with the L.A. Master Chorale for many years) and enthusiasm for life to spare, is also one of the nicest humans you’ll ever meet. If you’re lucky enough to meet him. Like I was. Sure, maybe not under those same circumstances, but you know what I mean.

Here’s a piece of music that I wrote for a project Paul was working on a few years ago. The video was an abstract depiction of warring parties coming together, and it features the lovely and talented Phil Feather on soprano sax.

The Most Annoying Jingles in the World

R&R Partners ad agency hired me to write the lyrics, compose the music and sing a series of radio spots for Circus Circus Hotel and Casinos. It was truly the pursuit of high art: create ads that sound like they’re recorded by a dude of questionable intelligence, sobriety and musical talent. Oh, and make the sound quality really crappy. But do it all in a way that’s annoyingly melodic, so that people will hate themselves for not being able to get the chorus out of their heads. The creative director said to me, “You’d be perfect for this.” I took that as a compliment. Please endure these samples from the campaign. If you can’t stand them, I’ll take that as a compliment, too.

Morsel #11 – “Office Stomp”

Morsel #11 – “Office Stomp”: Imagine two dorks working out a stomp routine in a busy corporate office setting, and that should give you an idea of how this percussion composition (complete with stapler punches and notebook tears) combined with the absurd visuals.

Morsel #10 – Americana

Morsel #10 – Americana: I wrote this theme for, a very cool education site for kids. I think it sounds like it belongs on some 1970s TV show, one about the 1870s, maybe. With kids. And a sheepdog. And sheep. And a general store, where things come in big burlap bags.

John Ford, John Wayne and a Dying Horse…(walk into a bar).

A few years back I scored Hangman’s House, a 1928 silent movie directed by John Ford, for 20th Century Fox, and starring Oscar-winner Victor McLaglen. The scene I’ve posted here consists primarily of our drunken antagonist shooting the beloved, winning horse. I remember thinking that even though the scene was chaotic and violent (and could easily have been played that way, musically), to me it was dark and sad. So that’s how I scored it (though the mood changes later). Oh, and keep an eye out for a young John Wayne, who makes one of his very first film appearances. He’s the goofy guy who breaks down the fence toward the beginning.

There’s another scene from Hangman’s House in the Work section of the site.


Morsel #9 – Big Ships

Morsel #9 – Big Ships: Here’s some seafaring music I wrote for Disney Cruise Line. While listening, feel free to jump up and yell things like, “Ahoy!” “Land Ho!” and “poop deck!”