That phrase from the Simon & Garfunkel song "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall" has been coming to mind quite a bit lately. I have isolated it from the rest of the lyric, but I believe that we (and by ‘we’ I mean those who pay attention to the words of songs, as most of you who are visiting this site probably do) all grab on to snatches of verse here and there when we 'need' them. I’ve needed this one for a while lately … but, thankfully, it continually becomes more positive in its meaning as time goes on.
Opportunities to continue to promote Pete Fornatale’s legacy have been making themselves available to me in recent weeks. And I recognize them as chances to once again enjoy - and to ‘perform’ for the first time - the programs that Pete and I produced together for “Back to the Garden” and “Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bookends'”. They will offer me the opportunity to work again – even more closely - with some of the incredible people who I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with since Pete and I began what we assumed would be our own version of the ‘never-ending tour’ in 2006.
It seems that the outlines that Pete and I put together for our shows are adaptable. And as the newly reworked versions comes together I can still hear Pete’s “voice” – literally and figuratively – in the presentation. And that is the goal, really. So, I am excited to continue the “Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock” presentations here in the New York area, and to be able to relay the aspects of Pete’s ‘amazing journey’ in the early years of FM radio that were incorporated into our show. I am also grateful to have the emotional support of members of Pete’s family and a number of Pete’s close friends in this endeavor. It should be a lot of fun.
Pete always appreciated my deep love of the music that we valued so highly. And I was always moved by the unique and great respect and warmth that he reserved for his listening audience, many of whom came by to say ‘hello’ (and to reciprocate that warmth and respect) when Pete and I were ‘on the road’. Sure, Pete and I were friends on many levels, but we spent an awful lot of time together pondering the deep meanings of old songs, filling each other in on what happened to long lost one-hit wonders, and giggling like kids over ridiculous music-related puns that we thought only WE could possibly get. Well … maybe, deep down, we realized that a good number of people who had been listening to him for forty-plus years would get them as well.
I began this note with a line from a Simon & Garfunkel song. As many of you know, Pete was an integral part of the “Simon & Garfunkel Songbook” live show with Aztec Two-Step (Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman), a continuation of the work they did together on their collaborative CD “Time It Was”. It was also a logical extension of their 40+ year friendship. And, coincidentally, the S&G “projects” were still going strong for Pete and me over five years after the initial print publication of his book “Bookends”.
We were delighted to have been ‘visited’ on a few exciting occasions by Art Garfunkel during our presentations in 2011, and were looking forward to a few more ‘surprise’ encounters with ‘Art the G’ in 2012. Instead, I have some amazing memories to cherish. But it gives me a smile to see Art back on the road, and I give a wink and a nod skyward, knowing that Pete played a role in helping to get this great singer back in front of live audiences.
Now, I am honored and delighted to have been asked by Rex and Neal – two amazing musicians and singers that have become friends in recent years - to join them in presenting a (slightly) redesigned version of the “… Songbook” show. I will be appearing with Aztec on a few occasions during the remainder of 2012, and beyond that, I am open to their ideas. I know that together we can potentially create something fun that will continue to feature Pete’s work, and their own, in a unique way.
Pete and I kept saying that there was always still so much to do. And so … I’ll continue to continue. And I hope that some of you will come by and say ‘hello’ if you have the chance to join me (and Aztec Two-Step) on one of these upcoming musical adventures.