The first track on my first solo CD is “Live, Laugh and Love.” I wrote this song in 2005 about our daughter, Helen, but it has a richer backstory that deserves telling.
Beth and I started looking for homes the previous year. The idea of owning a home was one we were pursuing somewhat half-heartedly until we took the winding road up to our future neighborhood (“how would we ever get out in the snow?”) and traversed up and down hills until we came to an unassuming ranch house at the end of a dead end street.
As soon as we walked inside, our life changed. It was more than we wanted to pay, but it was so much more of a home than what we’d seen up to that moment. Such is the way we consumers get consumed, huh?
I could go on about the huge windows overlooking a forest of trees, the hardwood floors and the privacy we wanted after living in a co-op for 10 years, but the thing I remember most was a little sign in front of the fireplace that said, “Live, Laugh and Love.”
Months later, Beth, Steph and I were settling into the routine of being in Yorktown Heights, but our oldest daughter, Helen, was literally banging her head on the wall in agony. She missed her friends and the semi-urban nature of Yonkers where she had lived for 12 years. To help combat this, I found a Hip Hop dance instructor, a streetwise dancer from the Bronx, who turned into Helen’s prophet of the moment. Y’see Helen loved to dance and this teacher was able to get her out of her head and into her body. Sure she was rough at the edges, but Helen saw in her some of what she left behind in Yonkers – street cred.
The song, “Live, Laugh and Love,” was inspired by Helen’s journey as well as my own. My dad left when I was 12 and music became my way of expressing the emotions I was too afraid or too repressed to express. Like Helen and so many kids, the arts or sports became our way of feeling, of putting our all into something that channeled what I believe to be divine energy.
When I sing out, I tell people about how I purchased a new sign that said, “Live, Laugh and Love” and hung it over one of the windows across from where I would sit and write songs. I don’t share the angst that Helen felt and the worry that Beth and I experienced as a result. Instead, I like people to think about their own desire to bring love and laughter into their lives. A good song becomes a touchstone for anyone who, like the writer, wants to access memories or rekindle feelings. And if I’ve done my job, it’s personal, yes, but universal, too.