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The "Dead Man's Cake" Blogs, issue #2.


Synopsis (from the liner notes of the CD "Dead Man's Cake").

I am a singer, songwriter and saxophonist, born in Los Angeles in 1964 and now living with my English wife in London.  Dead Man’s Cake is an attempt to make sense of a tragic event that happened in my childhood. 

During the 1960s, my parents were successful television writers in Hollywood, working on shows such as Mission Impossible, The Green Hornet and many others.  They had achieved what would seem to be the Hollywood dream, but then the dream began to unravel.  One night when I was 6 years old, my mother Judy drove to the cemetery where her father was buried and committed suicide by taking an overdose of pills.

“Dead Man’s Cake” is a metaphor for those pills she took, and for suicide generally.  In the course of the album’s 11 songs, I try to examine what happened that night and its aftermath, and how this traumatic event affected my winding path to the present time.

The record blends elements of rock, blues, jazz, funk and world music, in tribute to the many musicians who have influenced me.  The lyrics are a mixture of documentary, commentary, speculation and surrealism.  

Ultimately, it’s about the struggle for sanity in an insane world, and the healing power of love and music.

“This tale long needed telling.”

–David Barrows, London, 2011.

Some background and disclaimers.

Before proceeding with this blog series I thought I should talk a bit about my background. 

I attended San Francisco State University full time for five years from 1986 – 1991.  I nearly completed a BA in Music but left university before obtaining a degree.  I also studied privately with Joe Henderson and other great musicians.

Meanwhile I taught myself computer programming to put myself through school, and have made my living as a software developer for the last 25 years, while continuing to do professional music gigs on the side.  Thus I have developed two lengthy CVs, composed of real-world experience in both fields.

I mention my background to emphasize I’m not an expert on mental health issues, a scholar or an academic.  I’m just a guy with a story, and some views on certain subjects.  The text that follows is not, and does not claim to be, an academic or research paper.

All the opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or anyone else, and I take full responsibility for them.  Any factual statements that follow are the result of everyday research and simple web searches.  Links to web pages will serve as footnotes.

I also want to make some things clear from the outset:  I’m not a particularly depressed, miserable or unhappy person.  I have highs and lows like most people.  Scars like this don’t ever entirely heal; you just get used to it and learn to accept it and live with it over time.  It’s been painful, recalling this story in such detail, but it has helped me feel better, and it’s part of a process which I expect will continue.  But I have a great life, I’m extremely fortunate and grateful for all I have, and I’m very much living in the present, not the past.

I also don’t make any claims to enlightenment.  I’ve been through a lot of therapy and self-examination to try to deal with my issues, and I’m still a flawed and imperfect human being.  But despite what happened, I don’t consider myself a victim.  I didn’t do this project in order to wallow in self-pity, or as some sort of cheap bid for sympathy (and anyway, making this record wasn’t cheap!). This was the hand of cards I was dealt, and I accept it.

To be continued...

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