Category Archives: Life

A Letter To Mickey Rooney

RooneyDear Mr. Rooney,

I woke up this morning to the sad news that you had passed away. While I suppose I really shouldn’t be all that upset (considering you did live to the ripe old age of 93) I can’t help but feel a sense of emptiness inside whenever I think that you will no longer be here.

No, you do not know who I am but I certainly know you. Years ago, my grandmother told me all about how she loved watching your performances as Andy Hardy in “A Family Affair” and “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy”. Films that were well before my time.

For the next few days, I’ll be reading obituaries from people and publications who will try their best to memorialize your life and body of work. Most of them will remember you for things like your honorary Oscars, hanging out with Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn or being one of the last real heroes from Hollywood’s Golden Age. And I’m sure the gossip columns will once again bring up your failed marriages (including a short one to legendary actress Ava Gardner) or claims of elder abuse.

But me? I will always remember you for just one thing. Not for Andy Hardy or Mr. Yunioshi from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or even the mentally challenged Bill Sackter, the role that won you a Golden Globe and Emmy Award. On the contrary, I will always remember you as Santa Claus, the clay mation character you portrayed in those wonderful 1970′s Rankin Bass specials that I enjoyed watching every year as a child.

Because whether you know it or not, you taught me valuable lessons in your performances as Kris Kringle. Important, philosophical things like:

How to put one foot in front of the other:

And most importantly, how to believe in Santa Claus.

Whenever I watch these specials (even all of these years later) I am young again and you are still here.

So as you go forth on to your final destination, take comfort in the fact that generations of children (even forty-five year old ones like me) will always think fondly of you at the end of every year.

Godspeed Mr. Rooney.

Your friend,

Jimmy

Against All Odds: Author / Humanitarian Joey Parker Discusses Inspirational New Book

JoeyParkerMovementJoey Parker was at a crossroads in his life. Growing up in a very conservative town in Idaho, he often struggled with his own personal identity and relationships as well as with college and his purpose in life. It wasn’t until a trip to Africa that Joey was able to find his true calling. A passion to make a difference in the world that would result in the creation of an entire movement.

Today, Joey’s humanitarian efforts have not only resulted in raising funds and awareness for those suffering in third world countries, but also for the major social and ecological issues here at home. Joey also regularly contributes articles and interviews highlighting the positive side of Hollywood for his own website as well as for MTV Act.

Joey’s first book, The Joey Parker Movement: Against All Odds is an insightful collection of personal stories offering today’s youth encouragement in overcoming life’s obstacles. From dealing with anxiety to coping with heartache and death, the book is a primer for building a better perspective and world. With celebrity contributions from the likes of Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Kristin Cavallari and even a foreword by Paris Hilton, Joey’s book is a story of one man’s dream for the future and a how-to guide for living a better life.

I spoke with Joey about his inspiring new book and movement.

How did the idea for the book come about?

I always thought my story was unique and interesting and the idea of writing a book was something that was always on my bucket list. About two years ago, I reached out to a publishing company that was following me on Twitter and about a week or so later we had a conference call. They loved the idea and concept for it and the process began.

What was the writing process like for you?

I’ve never done anything like this before so I spent a lot of time writing at night, writing in coffee shops and going back and forth with my editors. It was a learning process, but such an amazing project to work on. In the book I talk about many different subjects that were tough for me to go through. I think it will really help other people come into their own as well.

A lot of celebrities made contributions to the book. Tell me a little about that.

All of my relationships in the book came about randomly through Twitter, interviews or through some of the work that I’ve done. I’ve maintained many of those relationships so when the opportunity came to reach out with the idea for the book, they all loved it and wanted to write-up pieces for it.

Joey-ParisWhat made you decide to include the foreword by Paris Hilton?

Paris has such a unique voice. A lot of people tend to see her through a different lens (i.e. tabloids), but she’s a smart entrepreneur who’s grown such an incredible business empire. She’s a fascinating person in pop culture and there’s a lot of pop culture throughout the book. I really wanted to add her voice to the foreword.

What was the inspiration that started The Joey Parker Movement?

It was during a time when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life and figuring out who I was as an individual. I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was go on a really big trip, so I went to Africa. While I was there I saw a whole other side of the world I never thought I would get to see. When I came back I knew I wanted to do something. I just wasn’t sure what it was.

What did you do next?

I decided to start blogging and writing about the positive side of pop culture. I began writing articles, Tweeting and reaching out to celebrities for interviews. I wanted to show a different side of Hollywood. The positive side. There’s so much negativity out there and people just tearing each other down. I want to embrace the good. That’s where the theme of my website and book came about.

How would describe The Joey Parker Movement?

It’s an evolving theme that’s based on living with a positive attitude and embracing the good in life. For the website, it’s about embracing the good in Hollywood and showing a different side that people don’t often get to see.

What disappoints you the most about what’s going on in the world today?

I am disappointed in the lack of compassion that so many politicians around the United States have when it comes to LGBT rights. I was just at a hearing in Boise, Idaho where I was able to talk with protestors who were urging Idaho politicians to “Add The Words” to the Idaho Human Rights Act (adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”). For months, activists went to the capital to protest yet politicians throughout Idaho once again ignored the people. After my visit to Boise, three LGBT teens committed suicide.

The time is now to speak up, and politicians need to wake up. We must begin to pass laws that protect our people. The youth of our country need support and I hope through my book the younger generation can find some extra hope that boosts them forward.

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Consequently, what excites or encourages you about what’s going on in the world today?

How passionate our generation is. I believe we are a unique generation that is ready to push toward a positive future. We truly are ready to make a difference. We are sick of the cycle we have seen in the past and are ready to take it into our own hands. We are vibrant go-getters ready to take on the obstacles we have ahead and pave our own ways.

What’s the message you’d like people to take from reading your book?

Happiness is an inside job. Looking within ourselves may be scary, but it’s facing our inner battles that unlocks the path toward true happiness.

For more on The Joey Parker Movement
Be sure to check out his official website by Clicking Here!

I Wanna Go Back

Me“I wanna go back and do it all over, but I can’t go back I know.”

“I Wanna Go Back” was a song written thirty years ago by Danny Chauncey, Monty Byrom and Ira Walker for their band Billy Satellite. It was the band’s debut single and peaked at #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

But it wasn’t until two years later when Eddie Money covered the song on his 1986 platinum album “Can’t Hold Back” that a then seventeen-year old boy man finally stood up and took notice.

On a side note: I recently asked Money why he decided to include a version of the song on his album and he said “Because I recall hanging out on Friday night. The first slow dance. Hoping that I’ll get it right…C’mon, you can’t get a better lyric than that!”

For me though, the song resonated about innocence lost and the longing for the impossible: a return to a much simpler, less complicated time. Of course in 1986, I had no experience in such matters and absolutely no desire to return to anywhere. Every day for me was new and exciting.

Here’s what a typical week for me was like in 1986:

It was the summer when I got my first real car. A 1973 Toyota Corona. A laughable clunker when I think about it now, but it was my Rolls Royce then.

Weekly guitar lesson: Shredding on everything from AC/DC to Zeppelin.

Dreams of being a rock star: Heck, it even says so on my yearbook picture!

High School: Which started out every morning with Concert Choir and also included Music Theory and Art in addition to the mandatory English and Math.

“I recall hanging out on Friday night”

Friday always…ALWAYS meant going to the mall and perusing through the latest album releases at the record store. I’ll admit, I was also one of those habitual bachelors who passed by the Orange Julius in hopes of seeing a gaggle of cute girls. Then using the last fifty cents of my lawn mowing money trying to obtain the high score on Centipede in the arcade and if I was lucky, one of those “out of reach” girls would be playing a game right next to me. {SIGH}

“Back then I thought that things were never gonna change”

So, thirty years after Billy Satellite originally released it, what was it that made me think of the song this morning? I suppose it was the culmination of everything that’s been going on in the world in recent days. Here are just a few examples. Take your pick:

1. Russia escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

2. Elected representatives voting their party rather than the people they’re supposed to represent without fear of repercussion.

3. Terrorist attacks throughout the world.

4. The media’s never-ending quest to fear monger the weather and make the slightest storm out to be doomsday.

5. Neglected and abused animals, women, children and veterans.

But despite what your local newspaper, talk radio or favorite extreme Facebook group might say, the real problem with this world isn’t the fault of one particular country, political party or extended forecast. Rather, the real problem is we, the people. We’re the ones who are to blame for the mess that we’re in. And nothing showcases this example better than The Walking Dead. Yes, that’s right. The zombie show.

In a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just humans and undead walking around, the humans can not seem to overcome their own desire for power and greed in order to survive. Instead of pulling together for a common purpose (like finding out what caused the apocalypse or better still, how to cure it), they’d rather build loyalties and fight skirmishes with both humans and zombies in order to pillage whatever they can and gain an advantage. The undead themselves are actually just pawns in their cruel game. Is it too far-fetched to believe that if this happened it real life, that’s the way we would react?

The answer to fixing our problems is so simple, so why can’t we do it? It all starts (and ends) with US.

People often wonder why I still have a fascination with 80′s music, Godzilla and breakfast cereal and I could ramble off a dozen reasons about how it’s cool, or how delicious a bowl of Lucky Charms is. But perhaps the best reason of all is because it reminds me of a much simpler time. A time when I didn’t have to care. At least, not as much as I do now.

Sure, I know now that things will never be the same… but I wanna go back.

The Truth: Gary Chapman Discusses New Album

Gary Chapman - The Truth

Gary Chapman – The Truth

For more than thirty years Gary Chapman has seamlessly blended contemporary pop, country, Christian and southern gospel, racking up an impressive musical resume that includes multiple Grammy nominations and Dove Awards (including “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year”).

Chapman’s first new studio album in over a decade, “The Truth” features sixteen new studio recordings and features special vocal appearances by the likes of Allison Krauss, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Tanya Tucker and John Rich. On a more personal level, The Truth also showcases performances by Chapman’s daughter Sarah on “Put it in His Hands,” and wife Cassie on the Christmas-themed, “All About a Baby.”

In addition to the new album, Chapman’s wife Cassie will take part in the upcoming TNT reality series “Private Lives of Nashville Wives” which premieres on February 24th.

I spoke with Chapman about his new album as well as Private Lives of Nashville Wives. He also delivers the truth when it comes to finding faith in troubled times.

It’s been more than ten years since your last studio album. What sparked this project?

My dad had lived with me and my wife until he died about four years ago. The thing that really brought him comfort toward the end of his life was me sitting beside his bed and playing some of the songs that he had taught me many years ago. There was something really powerful about going over those songs. I wanted to write an album and find a body of songs that really mattered and one that might live beyond me. That’s what I set out to do.

Why the title “The Truth”?

It’s pretty direct. I didn’t want to hide anything. It’s important for me to try to break down the stereotype that Christians have about somehow “having it all together”. The fact is, we don’t. We all have the same issues and struggles as everyone else. I wanted to do it in an all-embracing way. I like to refer to it as a Christian record for people who maybe aren’t church-goers or might not even be professing Christians yet, but they have something inside of them that requires something more.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album: “The Rough Crowd”.

I actually found that song along with “I Didn’t Find Jesus” years ago and knew that at some point I wanted to cut them. When I did record it, one of my co-producers (Ray Hamilton) said “You know, this song could really benefit from more personalities.” At first I fought him on it, but once we started talking about who it could be, it all started to make sense. Having Tanya Tucker sing about the woman at the well and John Rich saying he cussed, raised hell, drank and stumbled but knew someone was with him – it just doesn’t get much better.

Cassie Chapman

Cassie Chapman

“All About A Baby”.

My wife Cassie has a really beautiful voice, but getting her into the studio was like pulling teeth [laughs]! We have a nine-month old girl that we adopted so when I found “All About A Baby” it made total sense. It’s a Christmas song if you had to categorize it, but it’s really not. The message is year round.

“Put It In His Hands” was a song you recorded with your daughter, Sarah. How did that come about?

Sarah has such a cool, distinct voice and I’ve been wanting to sing something with her for quite a while. I wrote the song about a moment I had with my dad towards the end of his life. To have a three generational impact was what I was going for.

What is your songwriting process?

One of the things that I love about my formula is that I don’t have a plan. It changes every single time. Sometimes it will be an observation that may culminate into a thought or a hook. Then I’ll take it and store it away. I don’t tend to write things down very much. My logic has always been if the ideas are really good, then they’ll always come back. And they do. Over the years I’ve learned that the songs that just overwhelm you and make themselves undeniable are the ones that really matter. I wait for those moments.

What can you tell me about Cassie’s show, Private Lives of Nashville Wives?

A film crew follows around six Nashville couples as they go about their lives. It really is completely unscripted. Sometimes it’s centered around an event, but everyone tends to move through life the same regardless of whether or not there’s something going on. One of the story lines documents the process of me making this musical project and another one is about the baby. Cassie and I are big proponents of adoption and it’s a really great story.

Will this show be different than some of those other wife reality shows?

Whenever you get six women together you’re bound to get drama, but it won’t be one of those “weave pulling, drunken brawls” that some of those shows turn into [laughs].

Private Lives of Nashville Wives

Private Lives of Nashville Wives

What do you think is the secret to having faith in troubling times?

I think you have to know where the bottom is before you know where you stand. You have to clear away all of the distraction from your vision and really come to grips with your own mortality. That will happen as you get older but the younger you can make the decision, the better the life you’re going to have. You eventually have to submit to the reality that you need God. And if you truly believe that he is who he say he was and remains, everything is better. The good times are better and the bad times are endurable. Everything changes when you’ve got a new-found perspective.

For more on Gary Chapman visit his official website by Clicking Here!
Private Lives of Nashville Wives premieres on TNT February 24th

Look What I Found: Rocker’s Profile – February 8, 1989

529223_10151534435774339_780686317_nI’ve decided to start a new series here on the blog called “Look What I Found.”

I’d like to use this topic whenever I stumble upon something cool or unique from my past. Not only will the nostalgia of finding these treasures remind me of a much more innocent time, but writing about the things that I discover will really help put in perspective what my goals in life were at the time.

During the mid to late 80′s I kept semi-regular journals describing what was going on in my life as well as the things I had in mind for when I made it to the big time. One of the things I often liked to do in my journal was pretend that someone was doing an interview profile of my life for my fans to enjoy.

This one was from ironically enough, 25 years ago today. A journal entry from February 8th, 1989. In it, I ask myself questions and answer them. Enjoy!

Rocker’s Profile 1989

Rocker’s Name: James Edward Wood

Age: 19

Birthdate: October 5th, 1969

Instruments: Guitar, Vocals, Piano

Years Playing: 3 years

Date Started: May 24, 1985

Favorite Guitarists: Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Randy Rhoads, Van-Halen

Favorite Bands: Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon

Unfavorite Bands: Slayer, Megadeth, One hit wonders

Favorite Songs: Dust In The Wind (Kansas), Armageddon It (Def Leppard), All of Hysteria & Pyromania, Too many others to list

Favorite Album: Hysteria, Pyromania, Blizzard of Ozz, (Ozzy Osbourne), Appetite For Destruction (Guns n Roses)

Favorite Food: Cheese Fries, Country Club Melts

Band Experience: Silent Rage Mar 11, 1988 – July 6, 1988

Favorite Guitars: Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Explorer, Fender Stratocaster

Hobbies: Songwriting, Teaching Music

Current Goals: Become respected for music

It’s interesting to see how much things have (or haven’t) changed in a quarter century. Obviously, you could tell that I was (still am) a huge Def Leppard fan. It’s also worth noting that at the time this interview was taken I had only ever been in one band. As of today, I’ve been in six. And in 2006, after more than twenty years of waiting, I finally was able to purchase my very first Gibson Les Paul.

But if you were to ask the dude being interviewed if he ever saw himself working a 9-5 job in the 21st century, I’m sure he would have laughed in your face. Because the truth is, all I saw at the time were gold records, tour buses and a sea of women calling my name. Responsibility? HA! That was the furthest thing from my mind in 1989.

Such was the naivety of youth.

My Thoughts on The NFC Championship

SeahawksLogoI wanted to write this post well before tonight’s NFC Championship; lest anyone think that I might be one of those phony bandwagon fans who only jump on board when a team is doing well and then disappears when the wheels fall off the bus. That’s hardly the case with me. I’ve been an east coast Seattle Seahawks fan for thirty years.

That’s right, I said thirty years.

It all began back in the early 80s. I was one of those disappointed Philadelphia Eagles fans lost in the wilderness and looking for a new home after a bitter, painful defeat at the hands of some dude named Plunkett and the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV. Ok, I’ll admit I was one of those creeps who ditched the ship when it sank, just like the ones I opened this post talking about. But in my defense, I was only twelve years old at the time and didn’t know any better.

Yeah, let’s go with that.

CenturyLink-MeIt was a cold Monday night a few years after that Super Bowl when I first saw the Seattle Seahawks on television. At the time, I had absolutely no idea who they were. They had some left-handed quarterback (Jim Zorn), a wiry, fast as lightning receiver (Steve Largent) and this rookie running back from Penn State named Curt Warner. A “hometown” connection.

I couldn’t even tell you the team that they played that night. All I remember is that the Seahawks lost the coin toss and started the game out with an on-side kick. An on-side kick!!! Something almost unheard of in the NFL.

The Seahawks wound up getting the ball and scoring on that drive….and the seed was planted.

As you can imagine, the 1980′s were a time before the Internet and satellite football games became common place. So getting to see my new team was nearly impossible. About the only time I ever saw them on TV was when they played against the Eagles or New York Giants, and considering that the Seahawks were in the other conference at the time, those games were even rarer.

The Seahawks actually almost made it to their first Super Bowl the first year of my fandom, but lost to (ironically enough) the Oakland Raiders in the conference final. But this time, instead of ditching I stayed a fan. Reading updates in the newspaper about loss after loss. Some years good. Some years, very bad.

In 1992, we were so bad that we were awarded the #2 overall pick in the NFL. A time when we were in dire need of a quarterback. We wound up with a bust named Rick Mirer, while the New England Patriots got this guy named Drew Bledsoe (the “parent” QB to Tom Brady).

More years of mediocrity would follow, but I stood tall.

CenturyLink2

I was there when Seahawks owner Ken Behring tried to move the team out-of-town to California in the dead of night. That attempt failed and Behring would eventually sell the team to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. With Allen on board, the team hired Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren and a slew of other talent, planting the seed for a run to greatness that came to fruition in 2005.

SeahawksHatDuring my time as a 12th man there has only been one low point, and that was Super Bowl XL against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As any fan of the NFL will tell you (and even Steeler fans too, if they’re honest), the referees decided that game. For me, it was stinging. Imagine waiting 23 years for a shot at a Super Bowl and then being cheated by a bunch of turds in pinstripes.

The thing is, in the NFL there are no guarantees and the days of dynasty left once the salary cap was initiated. You only have so much time to make a run before players and coaches leave for other pastures. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to my team following that “defeat”.

It’s taken eight years for the Seahawks to get back to the NFC Championship game. Eight long, often-times miserable years. But I never lost hope. I watched as Marshawn Lynch caused an earthquake with one of the greatest runs in NFL history and knew that the stars were aligning again….

I even took a weekend 2,856-mile trip to Seattle by myself two-years ago just to see them play the Atlanta Falcons. The first time I was ever a part of the 12th man.

They lost.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this game. I’ve even been having dreams at night this past week where the game is on and I am sitting around checking the score. Every time I looked, the score was changing. Thankfully, we were winning.

I don’t know what’s going to happen when it’s all over. Hopefully, dreams do come true. But all I can ask is that the refs let it be settled on the field. And may the better team then kick the sh$t out of the Patriots or Broncos.

Go Hawks!

Reflections of 2013

gojimmygoWell, here we are. The end of another very productive year of blogging. One that saw more than 170 articles, interviews and semi-regular rants from me on everything from Spider-Man to politics. It sure has been an amazing journey these last twelve months.

This year, I decided to shift my focus away from the rant and more toward the interview side of things and the results were beyond my wildest expectation. So much so, that if I had to describe what this year has been like for me in a single word, it would be surreal. Surreal in the sense that I never would have ever thought I’d have the opportunity to speak to some of the people I did.

Let’s take a quick look back at a few of the most memorable moments of 2013:

Music

Those who knew me growing up in ’87 and ’88 know that I’d often spend countless hours after school listening to the likes of REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Night Ranger and Styx. Twenty-five years later, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), JY Young (Styx) Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) and Jeff Pilson (Foreigner).

Then there’s Ted Nugent, Sammy Hagar, Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), Mickey Thomas (Starship), Michael Sweet (Stryper), Lita Ford, Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), John Waite, Carmen Electra and Andy Summers (The Police).

Like I said… surreal.

Books

Lou Gramm (Foreigner) released his autobiography this year and told me all about it (plus he spilled the beans on the origin of the band’s monster song, “Hot Blooded”). Then there’s Bobbi Brown , infamous for her role in Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video and the “Ex-Wives of Rock”. She released a tell-all book about the debauchery of the LA music scene in the late 80′s that was just killer.

Inspirational People

There were no shortages of inspirational people in 2013. People who are either faced with personal challenges and overcome them or those who see something wrong in the world and make it their personal mission to do something about it. Of all the interviews I do, these are the ones that are the most special.

Guitarist Jason Becker discussed his life, music and living with ALS in “Not Dead Yet”

Following the recent economic downturn, filmmaker Paul Blackthorne took us on a trip cross-country in This American Journey and made us reconsider our own way of thinking.

Director Angelo Lobo exposed the problems that exist within the U.S. divorce industry in Romeo Misses A Payment.

Actress and 2007 Miss Georgia Teen USA winner Jena Sims discussed her film work and Pageant of Hope Charity; for kids who are facing challenges and ones who normally wouldn’t compete in pageants.

And this year, I not only interviewed a truly inspirational person, but was also fortunate enough to write not one, but TWO books with her as well. Michele Quinn

Women Who ROCK!

I love interviewing ladies who prove that they can go toe to toe with the “big boys” and this year was no exception. In 2013, I interviewed the members of Vixen: Janet Gardner, Share Ross, Roxy Petrucci and Gina Stile. I had planned on interviewing founding member Jan Kuehnemund, but she sadly passed away on October 10th.

Other ladies who rock interviews included guitarists Maxine Petrucci and Lindsay Ell.

I hope that you’ve found my articles and rants this year to be beneficial, and had as much fun reading them as I did writing them. Feel free to comment on some of your favorites below. And I hope you’ll be along for the ride in 2014 because the best is yet to come.

Here’s wishing you all the best the new year has to offer!

Inspirational People: Vocalist Margo Rey Discusses Music, Mission

MargoReyVocalist Margo Rey’s Christmas classic, “This Holiday Night” has become a staple of December. A vision of the holidays as seen through the eyes of a child, the beautiful song conjures up warm images of family tradition and memories of years gone by.

Rey describes her style of music as ‘Organica’; a unique blend of musical texture and groove, but it’s the infectiousness of her voice that really makes you stand up and take notice. Her album, “Habit” remained on the charts for an astonishing 21 weeks and contained the singles “Let the Rain” and “Saturn Returns”, both co-written with the legendary John Oates.

Her latest single, a cover of the Squeeze song “Tempted” adds her distinctive vibe to the classic 80′s hit.

In addition to her amazing vocal prowess and songwriting skills, Rey’s personal mission really makes her a true inspiration. A cancer warrior, Rey volunteers her time and talent to Brides Against Breast Cancer, an organization that contributes to programs for cancer patients and their families while raising funds in a rather cool and unique way.

A recent bride herself, Rey is married to comedian Ron White. While presenting an interesting dynamic, their relationship is a communion of two artists in awe of each others craft, while not being in competition with each other.

I spoke with Rey about her passion, her music and her cause.

You consider your style of music ‘Organica’. How would you describe it?

It’s an unorthodox hybrid of adult pop music that’s deeply rooted in jazz and R&B grooves with a lot of ambient vocals and texture. I like my vocals to be lush and for them to be an instrument as well.

Tell me the origin of your song “This Holiday Night”.

I really wanted to write a song that sounded like a Christmas classic. A song about the way a child experiences all the goings on in a house around the holidays. I had this idea that it was going to be a waltz and I wanted every line to end with “this holiday night”. I started out writing the melody, chords and most of the lyrics and then called up my friend Barrett Yeretsian, who had been working on songs for my “Habit” album. The two of us started kicking around images of what the holidays were like when we were growing up. We put the pieces together and that’s how it happened.

Let’s discuss a few tracks that you wrote with John Oates from the “Habit” album.

Let The Rain

John and I actually wrote “Let The Rain” the day that we first met. He had written some chords based on some of my music and when I heard it, I remember saying, “I think I have something for that.” It was a melody and lyrics that I had written around the time Ron and I were getting engaged. I had a lot of verses, but wasn’t quite sure what to make the chorus about. That’s when I told John about how I used to love playing in the rain with my Mom in the summer’s in Texas and he told me to write the song about that. So we came up with the melody for the chorus together and from there it took on a life of its own.

Saturn Returns

I had just been diagnosed with cancer four days before our writing session and the doctors were trying to get me to stay to get an MRI. I said, “No way, man! I’m going to write a song with John Oates” [laughs]. I remember telling that story to John and his eyes got really big and he was worried. I said “No! No! I’m going to be fine. This is a cancer free zone!” I showed him a chorus that I had been working on and he thought it was fantastic, but he told me that it has to be my story. So I went back to my condo that night, wrote the rest of the lyrics and we put it all together the next day.

Margo-ReyTemptedTell me a little about your most recent single, “Tempted”.

I’ve always loved the band Squeeze and that song always made me happy whenever I sang it. So when my radio team approached me about releasing a cover song, I told them that I wanted to do “Tempted”, but with an R&B groove.

Did you always want to be a singer?

When I was young, I used to always sing in the grocery cart whenever I was at the store with my mom. I would always sing a lot of crooner songs by Nat King Cole, Engelbert Humperdinck or Hank Williams. Then one day when I was 4, I was at my brother’s school play when this girl who was supposed to sing “Oh Jolly Playmate” started crying because she had suddenly developed stage fright. I remember going up to the school principal and telling him that I could sing, and that I knew all the words. So he let me go out and sing in front of 300 people.

A lot of things crystallized for me in that moment. It was the first time that I had ever sang with a mic and saw my shadow in the spotlight behind me. I knew right then that it was something that I wanted to do and so a few years later, I started classical training.

Let’s discuss your involvement with Brides Against Breast Cancer.

I volunteer a lot my time towards this cause and this past May, they selected me as a National Ambassador. The money they raise goes to providing free programs and services to people living with cancer. Programs people need where the doctor kind of leaves off; like wellness, nutrition and counseling. They even provide these services for family members too.

brides

The really cool thing is how they raise money: by having brides and gown designers donate their wedding gowns. Some of the gowns that are donated by designers are unused, while others may have only been used one time. Then they’ll take the gowns that are donated on a “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” that travels to roughly 120 cities a year, selling them at a discounted price. I travel to some of the events to tell my story and to inform people about how important it is to provide these services. What better way is there to give that dress that made you so happy a life of its own than to make someone else happy and also provide programs and services to people who need them? It’s a win-win.

margorey1What’s next for you?

I’m putting together an arsenal of songs to release in the coming year. A ballad called “Colors Never Fade” that’s about standing up to what it is that scares you and never fading or getting washed out in a sea of gray. “Beautiful Train Wreck” is a song that has a cool, funky groove. It’s about how we’re all beautiful even when we’re in the midst of being a train wreck. We’re all trying to find our way. Then there’s “Happy”, which is another song that I wrote with John [Oates]. It’s about the simplicity of just being happy and how it’s never too late to be kind.

 

For more information on Brides Against Breast Cancer Click here

 Check out Margo Rey’s Official Website By Clicking Here

This American Journey: Paul Blackthorne Discusses Amazing Documentary

ThisAmericanJourneyFollowing the recent U.S. economic downturn, actor Paul Blackthorne (along with photographer and friend, Mister Basquali) decided to embark on a cross-country road trip deep into the heart of the American landscape.

Along the way, they stopped to interview random people about the issues and concerns facing every day Americans to try to gauge what society can do to pull together when times are tough.

The resulting documentary, “This American Journey” is an encouraging, insightful look into the unbreakable will of the American spirit.

Regardless of what we may have been brought up to believe through our own socioeconomic backgrounds and biases, “This American Journey” reveals the unique perspective that lies within each of us. It’s the showcasing of those opinions regarding what’s right and wrong with America that makes the documentary so compelling and engaging.

As an actor, Paul Blackthorne has appeared on some of television’s most iconic series, including “24″, “ER” and most recently, as Detective Quentin Lance on the CW hit series “Arrow”.  But it’s his directorial debut in “This American Journey” that adds a fresh layer of inspiration to an already impressive resume.

There are moments in the film that are uplifting, while others will surely move you to tears. You’ll hear perspectives of common folks from all walks of life; many of whom having ideas that may make you reconsider your own way of thinking.

But in the end, the real reason “This American Journey” shines is because it makes you think. And perhaps that’s what Blackthorne had in mind all along when he set out on his cross-country quest.

I spoke with him about his journey across America and what satisfied him the most about it.

What made you decide to take on a project like this?

Shortly after the economic down turn, I became curious about what the people of America were thinking about the country. At the time, the American Dream was in a troubled state, and even I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about America (having always loved it since I was a kid). I decided that the best way for me to form an opinion on how I felt about America was to go out and speak to the people of America. So that’s what we did. We got on the road and had a great chat with a lot of wonderful people.

Paul Blackthorne (Photo Credit: Jenn Crawley)

Paul Blackthorne (Photo Credit: Jennifer Cawley)

Did you go into it having an opinion of the people you were likely to meet?

It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but if you take the time to actually open the book and read a few words inside, there’s a lot more to it than what you originally thought. As we drove across the country and met people in certain places sure, it would have been easy to form an opinion of what someone might be like. But once we had the chance to actually listen to them and really get a sense of their character, we were amazed.

Did you at any time during the course of your journey fear for your own safety?

There was one neighborhood we visited in a big city where we had to make a pretty hasty departure, but generally speaking everyone we met was very open and receptive to us and we were received very positively.

Paul Blackthorne (Photo Credit: Jenn Crawley)

Paul Blackthorne (Photo Credit: Jennifer Cawley)

What satisfies you the most about “This American Journey”?

Getting the film completed was very challenging, but we were supported by a lot of incredibly skilled people and that was very rewarding. Seeing the audience’s reaction to the film and the conversations that are generated from watching it is also very satisfying.

We went into it wanting to make a film that would make us all feel good about life and be inspired to dwell on the positive and as a result, hopefully generate more positive stuff. And that’s what we’ve done.

Has your own perspective of America changed now that you’ve completed the journey?

I feel very positive about America. We may be going though some tough times, but the American Spirit is in good shape. I’ve also learned that we have a lot more in common with each other than we have different. If we choose to dwell on the positive and look out for each other a little bit more, we’ve got a greater chance of getting out of difficult times. We’re all in this together, so let’s work together and focus on the important things we have in common.

For more information about “This American Journey” Click Here

Five Things I Think: Thanksgiving Edition

turkeyThis Thursday, millions of American families will once again come together for the annual tradition of watching football and devouring as much tryptophan as possible. I too will put forth my own best effort in an eager attempt to fall into a deeper state of food coma.

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a particular favorite, especially while growing up. I have fond memories of my grandmother rising early Thanksgiving morning and beginning the process of stuffing the bird and making side-dishes. Aside from getting the turkey out to thaw the night before, nothing was ever done or prepared ahead of time. On the contrary, everything was done on the actual Thanksgiving day.

By mid-morning, every nook and cranny of our kitchen would be cluttered with empty bags or cans of vegetables and cranberry sauce. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be slowly winding down and I would be glued to our 19″ portable TV just waiting for a Kermit the Frog or Superman balloon to float down the streets of Manhattan.

Pies of many different varieties would be cooling on the stove and the smell of pumpkin and spice would begin to fill my senses. I remember looking outside of our kitchen window and seeing the last of the brown, wilted leaves falling from the trees and realize that the year was officially beginning to wind down. A feeling of home and family would wash over me as the cold winds of November blew across our little South Side Easton home. The heat given off from Nan’s all-day cook fest would be more than enough to warm a pilgrim army on their way to their own bountiful celebration. Looking back now, it surely WAS home.

As you can see, there are many things that I remember about the holiday. But as we all prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving 2013, and before I recall all the years I challenged my brother for wishbone supremacy, I’d like to share with you the five favorite memories I have about Thanksgiving while growing up.

5. Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special: It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without ol’ Chuck and his pals. The “wedge” between Great Pumpkin (my favorite of the series) and Charlie Brown Christmas, watching this show was a treat. Snoopy duking it out with the chair was hilarious and making popcorn for Thanksgiving? Well that’s just sheer genius in my book.

4. Godzilla Marathons on Channel 9. Laugh all you want, but this was one of the highlights of turkey day for me. Godzilla was actually the predecessor to MMA if you really think about it. You knew that when the big guy met the Smog monster or some other nefarious creature, there was more to it than just a desire to kick the crap out of each other. No, those guys in rubber suits really wanted to kill each other.

For me, nothing compared to the idea of filling my plate mile-high with buttered mashed taters, stuffing, beans and one of the drumsticks from the turkey and then scurrying over to the tube to watch my boy go toe to toe with King Kong. Channel 9 out of New York used to run marathons of Godzilla movies all weekend long and it didn’t get much better than that.

peace_candle3. The Peace Candle. The day after Thanksgiving is always the busiest shopping day of the year as hordes of crazy people line the stores to find an elusive $50 laptop. You know, the stores that only have two in stock at that price, but 600 people out to get it.

But Black Friday is also the night the 106-foot tall Civil War monument in the center-square of my hometown is lit up and transformed into a giant candle. Dedicated to all the men and women who served or are serving our country, it also represents one of the best meanings of Christmas: Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man.

2. Easton/P’burg Football and Bonfire.  Unless you were born and raised in the area this one probably won’t mean anything to you. Every Thanksgiving morning for the past century, our high school football team and their cross town (actually cross-state) rival battle it out on the gridiron for football supremacy. And every night prior to the big game, Easton would light a huge bonfire at the high school to rally the troops. This is the one thing, aside from graduation that any student of Easton looks forward to their senior year.

It certainly wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this tradition and I remember listening to it on a crappy old AM radio we had lying around. Sometimes, even on the clearest of Thursdays, you could barely hear the game amidst the static of the signal, but it didn’t matter.

And now the number one memory I have about Thanksgiving growing up:

1. Family:  Aside from the shows, the football, the parade and the turkey, my favorite Thanksgiving memories growing up are about family. The best ones being spent with my grandmother and disabled grandfather. He had suffered a stroke and due to his paralysis was unable to join us downstairs, so we would always bring Thanksgiving to him. Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent sitting on the couch next to him breaking bread (and if I was REALLY lucky, getting him to watch Godzilla with me).

Although nowhere near the same now, I suppose I can still thankfully celebrate these “traditions” every year. DVDs can be put in and the football game and Peace Candle ceremony can be attended. But even though technology evolves and the participants in the football game change, one thing will always remain.

So, as you gather around the table to continue your own Thanksgiving traditions, my wish is that you be surrounded by good food, good health, good memories and most of all…family.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers

%d bloggers like this: