Anna’s Birthday

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Here’s Anna’s Birthday, a song that owes a debt to many fine musicians, including Lewis Franco, who sang the original demo for me.

Before you hit play, close your eyes and imagine a character from a Philip Marlowe novel, B&W film noir, where the hard-as-nails detective sits alone at his table in a smoky little jazz club. He’s seen it all, twice. Nothing gets to our boy, except one night a year, when he sits and drinks alone …

Anna’s Birthday
Written by John Carter, Andre’ Maquera, and Will Patton
Produced by Andre’ Maquera, Will Patton, and John Carter
Arrangement by John Carter, Andre’ Maquera, Will Patton, Paul Asbell, and Ben Patton
Bass: Will Patton
Drums: Caleb Bronz
Guitar: Paul Asbell
Piano: Peter Engisch
Saxaphone:
Chris Peterman
Vocals (Lead and BG): Ben Patton

Recorded at West Street Digital in St. Albans, Vermont.

Anna’s Birthday

Every year this day keeps coming around.
It’s Anna’s birthday, and I’m feeling down.
Who is that taking my girl out on the town?
Happy birthday. Happy birthday.

Dreaming of Anna, and feeling that ache.
She lit me up like a candle on her cake.
But the ring on her finger made it all a big mistake.
So happy birthday. Happy birthday.

Blow out the candles, and make a wish.
Every year there is a night like this.
I wish her happiness but miss her kiss.
It’s Anna’s birthday. Happy birthday.

Most of the time, I can just let it be.
It’s nice that we’re friends. We can all agree.
But it’s Anna’s birthday. And Anna’s not with me.
So happy birthday. Happy birthday.

She cuts the cake. She knows there an art
to carving a piece in the shape of my heart.
She’s so together when she’s tearing me apart.
Happy birthday. Happy birthday.

Blow out the candles, and make a wish.
Every year there is a night like this.
I wish her happiness but miss her kiss.
It’s Anna’s birthday. Happy birthday.

A toast to Anna. The night passes by.
I imagine a life where the birthday girl is mine.
Don’t think about who’s holding Anna tonight.
Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.

©2016 Fifth Business Music LLC

This Little World

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I’m late posting this song, written and produced several months ago, but it’s the culmination of a lot of years of thinking about starting a song with the cautionary line from Act 2 of Romeo and Juliet, where Friar Laurence says to Romeo, “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.

Somehow, that got mixed in with a bit from Act 2 of King Richard II: “This happy breed of men, this little world.” Toss in a Lewis Carroll reference, and you end up with … a song? A wish? A prayer? I’m not sure, but I loved creating this with the talented folks below.

This Little World
Written by John Carter and Andre’ Maquera
Produced by Andre’ Maquera and John Carter
Arrangement by John Carter and Andre’ Maquera
Bass: Will Patton
Guitar: Andre’ Macquera
Piano: Peter Engisch
Vocals: Shane Murley

Recorded at West Street Digital in St. Albans, Vermont.

This Little World

Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.
We move through this darkness bearing ghosts from our past.
Praying for traces of love. Yes, we’re praying for traces of love.

I’ve been looking for answers from angels.
And searching for faces in fables.
Praying for traces of love. Yes, I’m praying for traces of love.

This little world spins around and around. Lives are unfurled as we fly.
This little world spins around and around and around.
And it carries us all where it will. To the destinies that we fulfill … in this little world.

Who are these shadows that fill up my nights?
How can I bring them out into the light?
Where I’m praying for traces of love. Yes, I’m praying for traces of love.

The Red King is dreaming of all that we see.
If he wakes up, where will we be?
Praying for traces of love. We’ll be praying for traces of love.

And it carries us all where it will. To the destinies that we fulfill … in this little world.

Losing Lisa

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Many of my favorite writers believe that it’s a mistake to discuss the meaning of a song or story. If there’s a collaborative aspect between artist and audience, explanation preempts the listener’s part in the process. Don’t tell the listener what you’re feeling. Let them decided what to bring to the work on their own.

But I feel compelled to say that Losing Lisa isn’t about mourning for another person. The mourning is for a lost part of yourself. So while it’s true that first love is a common – and very powerful – memory, the thought of a sad old guy writing about his girlfriend from 35 years ago seems trite and a little silly.

On the other hand, surely everyone, at some point in their lives, feels the loss of a certain type of openness and trust that most of us had when we were younger (and more foolish?). So – for me at least – Losing Lisa is about losing – or letting go of – the ability to fully open your heart to anyone. There’s a good reason Willa Cather said that the heart of another is a dark forest. In the warm glow of first love, we blithely let others in … until someone chops and burns. Then the “No Trespassing” signs go up.

Even so, the song didn’t click until the realization that a female vocalist should sing it, which caused me to think of a friend of mine and another kind of Losing Lisa. I imagined a woman of my age, born and raised in the Deep South, right underneath that hard, metal buckle of the Bible Belt. In a less enlightened time, she might have had similar feelings before starting life with a man, which meant letting go of things she had felt for a girl in her past and conforming to a life very different from the one she might have chosen.

At 20, I would have told you that I didn’t grow up prejudiced against homosexuality because it wasn’t an issue. Looking back, I realize that my attitude then is confirmation of how ignorant and blind I was to what was all around me. People hurting and misunderstood, having to hide Love, which should be celebrated. I don’t think that I was prejudiced as much as I was naïve. Even today, living in wonderfully tolerant Burlington, Vermont, it took some time for me to realize that a woman might look back on how her life could have been and feel what I felt writing Losing Lisa.

Thank you to all the people involved in bringing the song to life, including Lisa, who really was the first girl I ever loved.

Losing Lisa
Written by John Carter, Rachel Pearl, and Ryan Prewett
Produced by Ryan Prewett and John Carter
Arrangement by Ryan Prewett and John Carter
Cello: Matt Nelson
Piano: Ryan Prewett
Vocals: Rachel Pearl

Losing Lisa
What can I say about losing Lisa?

First girl that I ever loved.
Feeling so strong it was like amnesia,
just one touch, forgot who I was.

Life hides the truth from the innocent.
I’m glad that I didn’t know.
We had our moment, a lovely illusion,
got to believe before we had to let go.

I’m losing Lisa, watching her fly. I’m telling Lisa … goodbye.

What can I say about Losing Lisa?
Love has a mind of its own.
Both of us babies in the bodies of grown-ups,
finding the thrill. Losing control.

No dream’s as strong as the first one,
when you both believed.
Broken hearts soon learn how
to stay hidden, to deceive.

I’m losing Lisa, watching her fly. I’m telling Lisa … goodbye.

Lisa where are you? Do you ever
wonder or think about me?
Reach out at night, all I find is
an empty space where Lisa should be.

I’m losing Lisa, watching her fly.
I’m losing Lisa tonight.
I’m losing Lisa, watching her fly.
I’m telling Lisa … goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

©2016 Fifth Business Music LLC

What Love Is

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Here’s What Love Is, a song I wrote on Christmas morning 2014. It’s been a long journey for this song, and it owes a lot to Andre’ Maquera and Shane Murley.

What Love Is
Written by John Carter, Andre’ Maquera, and Shane Murley
Produced by Andre’ Maquera and John Carter
Arrangement by John Carter, Andre’ Maquera, Shane Murley, and Eugene Rice
Bass: Andre’ Maquera
Drums: Damian Roy
Guitars: Mike Huyler and Andre’ Maquera
Mandolin: Will Patton
Vocals Extraordinaire: Shane Murley
Recorded at West Street Digital in St. Albans, Vermont.

What Love Is
Chases the darkness away
Says everything that words can’t say
Make an old man young
Make a cruel man kind
Yeah that’s what you’ll find
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

When you’re feeling down
Like you lost everything you thought you’d found
And the life that you’re living doesn’t feel like it’s your own
You’re not alone
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

I still dream of your eyes
When the night comes down
Feel your ghost there beside me
But you’re not around
You’re not around

‘Cause I let our love fade to black
And you can’t move on, when you’re still looking back.
But I might have changed it all
If I’d known the cost
Yeah that’s what I lost
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

Nothing stands alone
You better feed that love, or it’ll sink like a stone
Because the love that you give
Is the love you feel returned
Yeah that’s what you learn
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

©2016 Fifth Business Music LLC

A lot has happened since 12/25/14, but the dedication stays the same – Malgorzata Ab Aeterno. Click here to read the poem.

What Love Is (Nashville)

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Here’s the Nashville version of What Love Is. I wanted to hear what Ryan Prewett and Patrick Aprea would do with this song that Andre’ Maquera, Shane Murley, and I originally wrote and recorded in Vermont (What Love Is).

What Love Is (Nashville)
Written by John Carter, Andre’ Maquera, and Shane Murley
Produced by Ryan Prewett and John Carter
Arrangement by Ryan Prewett
Bass: Ryan Prewett
Drums: Ryan Prewett
Guitars: Ryan Prewett
Vocals: Patrick Aprea

What Love Is
Chases the darkness away
Says everything that words can’t say
Make an old man young
Make a cruel man kind
Yeah that’s what you’ll find
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

When you’re feeling down
Like you lost everything you thought you’d found
And the life that you’re living doesn’t feel like it’s your own
You’re not alone
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

I still dream of your eyes
When the night comes down
Feel your ghost there beside me
But you’re not around
You’re not around

‘Cause I let our love fade to black
And you can’t move on, when you’re still looking back.
But I might have changed it all
If I’d known the cost
Yeah that’s what I lost
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

Nothing stands alone
You better feed that love, or it’ll sink like a stone
Because the love that you give
Is the love you feel returned
Yeah that’s what you learn
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is
That’s what Love is

©2016 Fifth Business Music LLC