I remember many things from the 70s, that fabulous technicolor decade when people walked around in flares and flowery hats, the sun always shined and the music was permanently groovy.
Well, as a youngster growing up in the 70s, it certainly felt that way.
Anyway, I was reminiscing about it all today and I astonished myself by finding that I could still sing the first part of my barmitzvah portion nearly forty years after I 'performed' it back in 1978. The sight of the packed congregation (or 'audience' as I preferred to call it) at the grand Princes Road Synagogue in Liverpool inspired me to believe that one day my dream of becoming a singing sensation might just come true. As I sang my heart out, albeit in a tiny voice shaking with nervous trepidation, I imagined that I was wowing my fans with a medley of Abba hits to rapturous applause. In my head I was a star. In reality I was just another barmitzvah boy with his whole life ahead of him. I never did make the big time – but I still harbor the dream.
Then along came Dean
At about the same time, another Jewish boy, just ten years my senior, from New Jersey, was celebrating the release of a record that was to become a landmark album, one that is still remembered fondly to this day. Indeed “Well Well Said The Rocking Chair” was singer songwriter Dean Friedman's second album, following on from the previous year's self titled release but his Rocking Chair album was to provide him with a clutch of transatlantic chart hits that would catapult him into the public psyche and turn him into a household name.
Such is the legacy of Dean's music that anybody who remembers the 70's will know at least some of the words to 'Lucky Stars' (“..did you see Lisa? Yes I saw Lisa...”), will recall the bittersweet tale of 'Lydia' (“...Lydia keeps my toothbrush in her apartment and she never complains...well hardly ever...”) and will quite probably have tried in vain to reach the highest notes of 'Ariel' (“...way on the other side of the Hudson...”).
With his iconic album celebrating its 40th birthday, Dean is touring again, as he does regularly, to connect with his huge following of loyal fans. With lots of UK dates lined up, he will be singing the entire album live for the delight of his audience. The quality of his writing, both musically and lyrically is the reason why his popularity shows no sign of waning even after all these years. Dean's talent for composing poignant, sometimes melancholic melodies, coupled with upbeat, hopeful, occasionally surreal lyrics, is the reason that his music resonates with so many people. Aside from the much loved hits, the Rocking Chair album itself contains some other real gems. 'Shopping Bag Ladies' is an incredibly moving example.
But Dean has not rested on the success of that legendary album. He is still writing and performing today with the same honesty, zest and humour. And it is because Dean writes from the heart that his music speaks to us of shared experiences and real lives. It's affecting and moving.
Deano in our front room...
So approachable is Dean Friedman that we nearly had him perform in our very own living room last year. In response to my tentative email enquiry, Dean agreed to come to our house and sing for us. Laid back Dean said something like “yeah, sure, why not, just get about 40 people round and we'll do it”. After the sad realisation that we didn't know 40 people (and subsequently vowing to revive our lacklustre social lives), my partner and I also came to the conclusion that our front room would not accommodate even that size of audience anyway. Filled with disappointment, I had to contact Dean and tell him that we would have to wait until we moved to a bigger house. “Hey no worries, see you on the road” was his cheery reply.
What a genuinely nice man.
And on the road he is, right now, marking forty years of making quality music that has influenced more than a generation.
“Well Well Said The Rocking Chair” is available on CD and details of Dean's touring dates and other albums can be found on his website:
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