For the last month and a half, I’ve been cataloging the lyrics of finished songs I have written over the previous five decades. Going through old notebooks, sketchbooks, and reams of paper in folders and hidden places around the house has been an arduous task. For me, my life as a musician/songwriter has been interesting.
I started playing guitar around 1964 – 65. It was an old Stella guitar my father had purchased in the 50s from a pawn shop on 145 Street between Broadway and Amsterdam avenues. I remember him taking me up there with him. He might’ve been interested in learning to play music as he loved to listen to his jazz records. However, he never found the time, and the guitar found a nesting place under the basement stairs of our house in the Bronx once we joined the exodus out of Harlem, New York.
With the influence of the Beatles, Dylan, and other musicians/songwriters, I became interested in the instrument. Starting with broomsticks and three other nerdy friends, I began a journey I never thought I would take. One that I would love for the rest of my life. I dug up my father’s dusty guitar and, against my father’s wishes, started teaching myself how to play.
“Why this book?” It’s not like I’m some well-known celebrity. Someone that society has, at this point in time, made a poignant decision to knight me with a thorny crown representing some level of fame. Maybe Ego is up to no good and is making a last-ditch effort to lay claim to past achievements it can call its own, so it can drink from the fountain of pride and remark, “See, you did do something! You were more than just a bag of wind blowing out hot gaseous vapors.”
My parents named me Christopher Newton (which is probably already more than I wish to divulge). My mother was raised a Catholic, and she named all her children after the patron saints. Now, I don’t want to churn this into some autobiography. Really, I can’t see any reason for skating in that rink at this point in time.
I think I’d just like putting some of my stuff in an organized pile, so folks won’t step in it along their journey through life. At the very least, it should allow them to walk around it if they choose or plow on through. I had an early interest in poetry. Being a lonely and introverted soul, words on paper came naturally to me. And so I just fashioned them to the strumming of a guitar. I compiled over 160 finished works from the many hundred songs written.
As in my case, sometimes a person may assume that they haven’t done much or consider their efforts as a big waste of time. It was a product of years of flights of depression. I feel that depression can be the fuel for an artist in any medium, as it was for me. It was a painful journey where music would pull me toward the light long enough to stop my trip down the rabbit hole.
Ever notice how much we reveal about ourselves when talking in a comfortable space? As lovely as it is, I don’t want to talk too much. After writing hundreds of songs, I realize they may reveal more about myself than I ever intended. There’s no sense in repeating myself.
I’m pretty much like everyone else, occupying a vessel in this realm of life. And applying what I understand by coloring the circumstances around my essence. Something I’ve done before and will invariably do again as far as I am concerned.
I know my song lyrics will capture a lot about myself. Being raised a Baptist Christian, the influence is there, even now when I consider myself more of a spiritualist. There’s no sense denying any part of my life that molded me into the person I am today. It’s been 360 degrees since birth.
I collected the song lyrics and placed them in groups of decades. They are necessarily in sequence. I hope the reader will witness my poetic growth as I worked to develop my writing style in the later years.
I must admit, I did surprise myself at the number of songs written. I knew I needed to contain them between the covers of a book. There are so many half-written, unfinished pieces of work that I couldn’t include. I stopped writing songs after a pair of strokes in 2010. Finding it difficult to play my guitar and recover my style, I wrote only a few songs and lyrics in the last decade. I turned my expressional outlet to writing short stories and fictional works. I hope you’ll find a few gems in the body of work when the book comes out. Thank you.