The music of "My Journey: Music of The Buckinghams and Beyond" is, in many ways, a companion to my autobiography, a songbook that points out landmarks and great times along the path of making music since I first picked up the guitar and found my voice. Song choices and their order reflect my memories of the songs that are part of my discography of more than 40 years. Musically, my first love is, and always will be, the guitar. For this album, I've selected two favorites among my guitars, the Taylor Nylon Series NS72-CE and the Taylor 114-CE, to give power to the music of Journey. As I wanted the songs to stand alone, you'll hear mostly just solo voice and guitar, with few exceptions. I tried to capture a more intimate and unplugged feel, as if I were sitting in my living room playing to a few friends and family as I did many times while accompanying my father. I've written several new arrangements to many songs you already know well. I hope you enjoy the album and that it will make you want to read more of my story in "Journey".
"My Journey" Accompanying the book Reinventing The Buckinghams
1. I'll Go Crazy, I Call Your Name, I've Been Wrong Medley
As soon as The Pulsations were renamed The Buckinghams, Carl Bonafede and Dan Belloc took us into Chess Studios and paid for our recording time. They secured a contract for us with Chicago label, USA Records. This medley includes the first singles released by The Buckinghams, our first Midwest chart hits in 1966. Imagine our excitement in hearing them played on WLS, WCFL and stations across the Midwest.
Kind Of A Drag
The last song we recorded to complete our USA Records contract was released in October, 1966. We were overwhelmed when it hit #1 on Billboard February 18, 1967 and stayed for 2 weeks. Our first national hit, a No. 1 record for The Buckinghams, put us on the map was released in 9 foreign countries and continues to be the keystone of our 45-year career so far. Truly the gift of a lifetime—thank you, Jim Holvay.
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
In February, 1967, we'd left USA Records, signed with Columbia Records, and released our first Columbia single, "Don't You Care". While "Kind of a Drag" was also still hot on the charts, USA rushed to release "Lawdy" and got it into stores in February, 1967. Billboard and Cashbox noted The Buckinghams had 3 Top 100 songs on the charts simultaneously, another thrill of a lifetime.
You Make Me Feel Good
The Buckinghams were tremendous fans of The Zombies, and we did this song in our live show regularly. This release was actually a multi-million seller, but only because it was the B-side of "Kind Of A Drag". It was my first opportunity, in 1966, to sing lead on a record, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Don't You Care
For many reasons, this song is my favorite Buckinghams hit. We became Columbia Records artists, literally, in mid-air. We signed our contracts on the flight to record "Don't You Care". The song was our premiere recording and first opportunity to record in Columbia's 16-track New York studios with our producer, James William Guercio, a big step up from 8 tracks. Another product of the unbeatable team of Jim Holvay and Gary Beisbier—Jon Jon Poulos came up with the drum opening and a unique drum sound on this recording, one more reason I love our second hit record, which reached #6 nationally in March, 1967.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Our producer, Jim Guercio, had his 'ear' on this song for us as being right for The Buckinghams. In 1967, 4 separate artists had their versions of this song on the Billboard Top 100 at one time, but ours reached #5 nationally for Columbia in June, 1967. The arrangement was inspired by the R&B groove of Joe Zawinu, and used the lyrics of Johnny "Guitar" Watson and Larry "Bad Boy" Williams. Jim Guercio had played with them in his early days as a premier bass player and remembered this arrangement for us.
Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song
The dynamic duo of Holvay and Beisbier gave us, again, our 4th Top 10 hit in September, 1967. Always an upbeat, fun, good-time song to sing. I especially liked the horn arrangement, along with its Wurlitzer piano intro on the original record.
The Holvay-Beisbier team had another home run. By early 1968, "Susan" reached the # 11 spot on Billboard's Top 100 and made it to #2 in Canada. A very pretty song, with nice harmony, plus elaborate string and horn arrangements. The psychedelic collage in the middle was entirely the idea of our producer, James William Guercio. Upon first hearing, we didn't care for it, but it has taken on a life of its own, and has made for interesting conversation during 40 years of interviews.
9. Music Everywhere
This was the debut single from our first Tufano & Giammarese album released on Ode Records in 1973. It was the first chart single that I'd ever written, and it was exciting to see it on Billboard's Top 100, peaking at #68. It was a privilege to be signed by Lou Adler for his label, especially when he'd just garnered multiple Grammys for producing Carole King's album, Tapestry. "Music Everywhere" was the imprimatur for the signature harmony that our duo would give to 3 albums for Ode.
10. I'm A Loser
One of my favorite Lennon and McCartney songs, from our self-titled first album, "Tufano & Giammarese". Dennis Tufano came up with a very original arrangement for this song that I prefer to The Beatles' version. It was the B-side of "Music Everywhere" and a thrill when some radio stations started playing it. Lou Adler signed us as a creative duo, though, and was determined to release our original music first. A lifetime memory was meeting John Lennon, when he commented that he liked the way we recorded his song—unforgettable!
11. My Woman
This song I wrote for Tufano & Giammarese's third album, "The Other Side." Originally recorded in 1976, we were excited to have legends in the studio performing with us, especially Richard Tee on piano and Jerry Scheff and Chuck Rainey on Bass and Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar. Though the delight of being a professional singer-songwriter "on my way up" was new and fresh, this song was inspired by my intense loneliness of missing my wife, Barbara. On the road, and working in Los Angeles, were not where my heart was. I missed my inspiration, my joy, my woman.
Nick Fortuna and I were excited about the 1980s. The Buckinghams had reunited and we were now touring fulltime to crowds of people who'd missed us for 10 years. Rejuvenated, we were excited to record again, so we wrote this song together in 1985, thinking it had all the right ingredients to be a hit. We were signed by Chicago's Red Label records, and it was released as a single from our "Matter of Time" album. Even then, fans of our 'oldies' music, didn't welcome a fresh new "80s sound", preferring instead that 1960s sound they loved from The Buckinghams.
13. The Best That I Can Do
This is one of my favorite compositions I've wanted to re-record for some time. Part of the creative process as a writer is never being satisfied with your creation. There are always things you can improve, and this arrangement is definitely one I like better than the one you hear on the "Matter of Time" album.
This song took 14 years to get 'just right'. It began as a lyric in 1984 and was released as part of The Buckinghams album, "Terra Firma", released on Nation Records in October, 1998. I'd grown up hearing the beauty of the Italian language spoken, alongside English, and I enlisted the help of my grandmother, Sarah, to translate these words into Italian, so I could record that song for her one day. While playing the guitar and trying out arrangements, I decided that the lyrics were suited to a Spanish guitar-playing style, so I changed it up with lyrics alternating in English and Spanish. My next recording of this song will be, in Italian, keeping that promise I made to myself, and honoring my grandmother's memory.
15. Oh Lord (Make Me More Like You)
The evening of April 14, 2002, one day after my father had passed away, my mind and heart were filled with memories. This song came rushing out of me, and I could barely keep up with writing it down. It truly flowed through me. I'm not someone I'd call a writer of religious music, as my faith is deep but deeply personal. But, I have to say that God gave me a special connection through my grief, as I felt the warmth of my father's love, feeling like he was looking over my shoulder while I was writing it. I included this song on my solo album, "Trying Not to Fade", in 2003 without further expectation. It stunned me when my recording of "Oh Lord" was featured in rotation on The Fish, a Chicago Christian Rock station. Then two separate Christian recording artists asked to record "Oh Lord". First was singer Lisa Ann, and then Suzanne and Alec Receveur, the duo Azure Fields, recorded it with a different arrangement. This song, a gift from my father, which I dedicated to him, had been regifted to me as these two artists found it their choice as well.
16. Here We Are
I wrote this as 1 of 8 original songs for The Buckinghams' "Reaching Back" album, released in 2008 on the Fuel Label. James William Guercio's talents became even more inspirational, as I'd studied carefully the arrangements, chord structures, lyric and melodies of our "Time & Charges" and "Portraits" albums to capture that feeling in my new songs. We've enjoyed great success with "Reaching Back", thanks to downloads, ITunes and fans who buy it at concerts and online. Another recent surprise was learning that "Here We Are" was licensed to MTV as a promo for "The Osbournes." The lyrics are inspired by and dedicated to my wife, Barbara.
17. Have A Little Faith
In 2008, I started this song, thinking of the men and women in service to our country, who were away from their loved ones. Making the ultimate sacrifice and pledge to keep us safe, their homes are forever-away, as they serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lyrics, then, began as a prayer that God-willing, we can hold the hope, promise and faith that they'll get through war times and be reunited with loved ones. As I worked on our holiday album, "The Joy Of Christmas" released in 2009, I was inspired to revisit the lyrics and "Have A Little Faith" became a new, favorite Christmas song. The message is simply: have faith in yourself and God.
18. I'll Remember You
I wrote this new song especially for this album from several years of gathering memories and reflecting on life, and experiences, and days gone by. It's been a time of constant introspection, self-study, and a chance to pause and reflect on how life had "turned out". I experimented with a few different arrangements, but my favorite always was simply voice and guitar, and I'll let the song just speak for itself.
19. Hold On To Your Dreams
Another new song for "My Journey". Even for someone who is optimistic by nature, sometimes I can be cynical or come off pessimistic, but I think it's just a protective cover-up. I can say my enthusiasm is still very strong for music and life in general. I was thinking of certain people in my life when I wrote this song. I've been lucky all my life to be a dreamer, and to be surrounded by those who nurture, encourage, support, applaud and celebrate my dreams. I've learned to appreciate each person who helped me achieve those dreams and offer a message of hope to other dreamers: When you're down, don't give up; there's always someone there for you.
Thank you for joining me today. Tomorrow, the journey continues...
(Click to enlarge)