For Maggie, In Her Sixth Month

December 7th, 2010

resizedDear Maggie,

You were born six months ago today. It was a humid June afternoon when your mother and I walked from our East 71st Street apartment to New York Presbyterian Hospital. You were breach and -- despite our best efforts in those final weeks -- refused to turn. You were delivered via c-section June 7th just before six o'clock.

I'll never forget the first time I saw you, and how massively and suddenly you changed my life. You were bright pink and screaming, struggling against the rubber gloves and bright lights. Before I could ...

[Read More]

Golden Slumbers: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 28th, 2010

resizedThe hardest part about recording "Golden Slumbers" with Casey Shea was asking Casey Shea to record "Golden Slumbers."

I've known Mr. Shea pushing ten years now. Still, it didn't take ten minutes to discover his affinity for The Fab Four.

At his own wedding, Casey nailed "All My Loving." At my wedding (where the purvasive rumor was that he was John Lennon's Lost Son), he crushed "Twist & Shout."

Heck, one listen to his instant-classic "In Search of Seas," and you know this guy worships at the alter of Lennon & McCartney (with an ...

[Read More]

You’ve Got A Friend: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 22nd, 2010

resizedI'd been angling to collaborate with Raining Jane's Mai Bloomfield for nearly three years. It took me that long to find the right song.

I first met Mai in 2008. Raining Jane was opening for The Nadas in Des Moines. I was opening for both. The ladies knocked my socks off with their three-part harmony. But it was at the following night's late-night, bandmate-swapping show that I was truly smitten.

Mai, Raining Jane drummer Mona Tavakoli, bassist Becky Gebhardt, and Nada frontman Jason Walsmith joined me for an impromptu performance of ...

[Read More]

Sweet Baby James: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

October 26th, 2010

resizedJeff Jacobson and Patrick Riley have never met, and are separated by a thousand miles of Heartland. Still, they helped me create one of the most-beautiful recordings of my life.

For nearly twenty years, I've described my brand of singer/songwriter fare as "Less James Taylor, More James Hetfield." It's a stretch for those who know my music, but a necessary recalibration for those who don't and expect softly-strumming guitars and a gentle tenor.

That is, until lately. More and more over the last few years, I've let the distortion slip away ...

[Read More]

You Are My Sunshine: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 18th, 2010

resizedFunny how things change.

Years ago now, I was in a country cover band called The Smith Family. Almost Home producer Kevin Anthony had tired of of his techno outfit, Electroland, so formed the band with a nod to his Galveston, TX, country roots. I eagerly signed on.

Kevin and I split front man duties evenly, though I enthusiastically saught out the mic for the rockers: "Honky Tonk Blues," "Whiskey River," "Wine Me Up." And "You Are My Sunshine."

See, The Smith Family closed most shows with a rousin', rockin', sing-a-long version of ...

[Read More]

Mr. Tambourine Man: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 11th, 2010

resizedIt may not be immediately apparent, but the "Forever Young" track list is intended to reflect the arch of the day.

From from "Rainbow Connection" through "Moon River," the lyrics, instrumentation, and production start bigger and brighter, then transition to more somber and sleepy.

"Mr. Tambourine Man," then, is all about the transition to night.

"I know evening's empire has returned into sand," Dylan first sang on his 1965 LP, "Bringing It All Back Home." "Vanished from my hand, left me blindly here to stand but still not ...

[Read More]

Top Seven “Forever Young” Benefit Show Moments

October 6th, 2010

resizedThis weekend's two "Forever Young" Benefit CD Release Shows were something special. We performed two: one for kids, and one for folks who like booze. Both were outstanding, and filled with inspiring, outrageous, and silly moments. Here are my top seven:

7 - Fundraising Is Fun We raised nearly $1000 for children's media research and advocacy in 24 hours. But we can do better. Download your copy of "Forever Young" on iTunes now!

6 - We Are Stardust Man, how lucky am I? A couple of emails and a handful of bona fide New York City's rock ...

[Read More]

The Only Living Boy In New York: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

October 5th, 2010

resizedGrowing up, "The Boxer" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" were in far heavier rotation than "The Only Living Boy In New York." Sadly (perhaps), it took 2004's "Garden State" to re-introduce this Simon & Garfunkle classic, the b-side to "Cecilia."

Apparently, Simon wrote the song as a thinly-veiled message to Art Garfunkel when he jetted off to Mexico to act in Catch-22" leaving Simon alone in New York writing songs for what would become "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

In the intervening years since re-discovering this gem, I've spend hours ...

[Read More]

Forever Young: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

September 29th, 2010

resizedIn the summer of 1971, my mother was learning to play acoustic guitar.

I was born in September, deep in the heart of the Singer/Songwriter Era: James Taylor, Carol King, Bob Dylan Jackson Brown, John Denver, Crosby, Stills & Nash were all on heavy rotation on The Wagner Family hi-fi.

My birth announcement was the lyrics to Elton John "The Greatest Discovery" superimposed over a family photo.

Little wonder, then, that -- thirty-eight years later as my wife and I counted down to our daughterMaggie's birth -- I began to frame her ...

[Read More]

Rainbow Connection: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” LP Track-By-Track

September 27th, 2010

resizedThough "The Muppet Movie" was released in June, 1979, I didn't see it until hit cable the following winter.

My parents had just separated. My father was living alone in "our" old house while my mother, brother and I lived across town.

Chris and my model airplane-strewn bedroom was barren, so my father purchased matching futons from JCPenny and put them in the otherwise sparsely-furnished tv room. It was there that I first heard "Rainbow Connection."

Whether its the context or the song itself, I'm not sure, but -- as with the bulk of ...

[Read More]