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When people ask me what I do, strangers on a plane, perhaps, I tell them that I think. Thinking is excellent exercise, as much as swimming or jogging.
When I was in Philadelphia during the Depression in 1930 or '31, I got a very sad job as a night watchman in a garage. The cars in the garage had been abandoned by their owners, since they had lost their jobs and couldn't keep up the payments.
When I listen to music today, it is about 99 percent classical. I rarely even listen to folk music, the music of my own specialty, because folk music is to me more limited than classical music.
When I became more involved in music, I had to give up some of my writing in the literary sense. However, on occasion, I would write something for my own pleasure or I would write notes and introductory remarks in the songbooks I put together.
When I am seriously composing, sometimes a phrase will come into my head, a catch phrase. When I was writing pop songs for a few years, as a career, separate from my folksinging career, I used to write songs for pop singers.
Things are forgotten and then perhaps picked up again, if we're lucky, it lasts... if not, then it's in the lap of the gods. The important thing was to do some work that I liked and hopefully that some others might also like, whether for a minute, a week, a month, a year.
They say poets write mostly for themselves; if anyone else likes it, well and good, if not, it doesn't matter; certainly, not to me.
Technically, I've been retired for some time now. All I ever do is occasionally write songs for friends, such as one, for a friend who had just turned 80. I wrote a song for him called, The First 80 Years are The Hardest.
My Dad died during the flu epidemic in 1918 when I was 4 years old. He left a lot of classical recordings behind that I began listening to at an early age, so he must have been a music lover.
Music was around in my family in two ways. My mother would occasionally sing to me, but I was mostly stimulated by the classical music my father had left behind. I had an ear for music, I suppose, so that's what began my interest in music.
Most performers don't admit this, because it sounds negative and performers are not supposed to be negative, but when I was on the road, I was lonely.
Just this morning, out of a large memory for songs, and having been obsessed by them since childhood, suddenly, at the age of 84, I thought of a song I hadn't thought of in over 50 years. It came into my head unbidden.
I'm afraid I talk a lot, too much, perhaps. I should have been a lawyer or a college professor or a windy politician, though I'm glad I am not any of these.
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