Burt Bacharach, The Brill Building, & Me

     Day 1:  The wheels of Delta flight no. 6104 touched down at LaGuardia Airport at 11:41am (EST).  I traveled to New York to get down to work and there was barely any time to spare.  Grab the bags, hop in a black, shiny Suburban, and set off for The Four Seasons Hotel.  Traffic stood still...one hour and some minutes crept by.  There it was...the city...finally.  Gargantuan and seemingly never-ending.  Will we ever get there?  Yes we will! "Welcome, Mr. Gray" said the hotel's doorman as he greeted me.  Hurry up.  Unpack, press some wardrobe, and regroup.  Anxiety and nervous anticipation began to settle in.  I had never done anything like this before....ever.  I'm more of a "behind the scenes" kind of guy.  I view myself as a bit more timid rather than a huge risk taker; more passive rather than overly-assertive.  But in the last couple of years (yeah...especially these two years...more on that in later blogs), I've learned that sometimes you have to push yourself beyond your own limits.  Sometimes, you have to be the one to push yourself off the cliff...to force the jump.  After a quick bite with Lady Liberty standing watch nearby, it was time to hop into another black, shiny Suburban.  It was 3:00pm.  The glitz and glamour of lower Manhattan faded into graffiti-lined streets and abandoned warehouses as my motorcade-of-one whisked me to an obscure bar deep in the heart of Queens.   Call time was 4:00pm and we made it.  The filmmaker, a Russian man with very broken English, was setting up the scene.  His translator told me to change in the creepy basement...and for a moment, I thought I was in a segment from "The Silence of the Lambs".  Thankfully, I wasn't!  Rather, I was getting ready to shoot a music video for the first radio single for a song called "Maybe It's You", a drum-and-horn driven tune about a pick up artist who falls head-over-heels in love.  (Side Note - for the record, Mom, just because it's being promoted to radio doesn't mean that radio will actually play it.  Yes, I love you, too. - End Side Note).  A few hours later, we were done shooting in Queens.  Back to lower Manhattan for a nice dinner at Wolf Gang Puck's restaurant called Cut before going back up to my hotel room to get additional shots.  10:30pm.  Off to Times Square for more shots of me and actress, Radika, as we fought our way through masses of people strolling amongst the seemingly-monolithic rows of sky-scraping lighted billboards.  12:30am...It's a wrap.  By 1:30am, I was finally enveloped in the cloud-like surface of my hotel bed...getting ready for another day of work.  "When can I see the video?", you ask.  It's hard to say.  It may never be released...I won't know until I see the final edit.

     Day 2:  This day was different than the day prior.  Although there were goals to meet, there was no carved-in-stone agendas to force our time.  My good friend and make-shift-Artist-Manager-for-the-weekend, Scott Littlejohn, made sure that we stayed on task (btw, Scott...kudos to you for a job very well done!).  Our mission for the day?  To get shots of me in Central Park for a semi-homemade music video that I'm working on for another single called "Someday", a piano-and-guitar-based ballad about how sometimes someday never seems to get here.  The day?  Beautiful.  The skies?  Blue and clear.  Dotted with fluffed-up, white clouds.  Expansive amounts of green sprawled out before us amongst the lawns and towering trees.  Concrete and glass skyscrapers towered over and lined the park everywhere I turned.  And locals and visitors alike took time to benefit from New York's famous backyard.  A couple of hours later, my time in front of the camera was over.  We capped off the day by watching Mayweather patiently pummel the Irishman, Conor McGregor, in a 10-round boxing match with other fellow New Yorkers at a local neighborhood bar....life is good.  Good indeed!  "When can I see the video?", you ask.  It's hard to say.  It may never be released...I won't know until I see the final edit.

     Day 3:  While in New York, I told Nicole that I wanted to sing in a show...to take full advantage of my time while in the Big Apple.  So, she booked me at a small club located between Times Square and Hell's Kitchen.  I decided to perform a song called "Raincoats", the title track from my upcoming album called "Raincoats & Other Short Stories".   "Raincoats" is a fun, horn-driven song about a guy who likes a girl down the street where he lives, but who is too afraid to tell her how he feels...all set against a piano line that could've been written straight out of The Brill Building back in the day (Side Note - The Brill Building is a landmark where many music companies and artists would go to work in the 50's & 60's...producing what is known as The Brill Building Sound.  Notable writers associated with this building include Carol King, Neil Diamond, and Johnny Mercer, just to name a few).  Walking to the stage, the host greeted me with a bit more fanfare than I had anticipated.  When I explained to the room that I live in Nashville, TN, applause erupted from all the tables.  And as I muddled through the song (the piano player [a great pianist who is currently working on a show for movie actress, Kathleen Turner] and I never had a chance to rehearse prior), it hit me...I was singing for the first time in New York City.  As I finished, I felt incredible!  But before I could exit, the show's host pulled me back to the stage by saying, "That reminds me so much of Burt Bacharach".  Wow...Burt Bacharach...another Brill Building composer great.  This is a comparison that has been drawn to me before and a compliment that I always carry with humbled gratitude.  Beyond the obvious glitches, it was a fun and successful night overall.  Yes.  It really was.  And to wrap up yet another long and exhausting day, my buddy, Scott, suggested that we take one final walk through Times Square and it's surrounding streets on what was our last night in the city.  And as fate would have it, along our path, we walked right up to none other than...you guessed it...The Brill Building.  Was it some kind of sign from up above?  Eh...I don't know.  Perhaps it was just a final, interesting note to a very incredible weekend in New York City.  As you ponder for yourself the meaning of this coincidence, here are some pictures of my trip for you to enjoy.  Til next time, live magnificently and love each other well!