If you have been a frequent reader of this blog over the last dozen years, you are no doubt aware that I place a lot of importance on having a compelling story to tell when you are preparing an A/E/C/Environmental industry proposal.
Many of you are also aware of my other 40+ year career as a cabaret singer. In that pursuit, my preference is always for songs that tell a story, because the stories make it easy for me to connect with my audience. So I have a very strong affinity for the Broadway repertoire and the songbooks of troubadour-type singers and songwriters like James Taylor (http://www.jamestaylor.com) and Gary Lynn Floyd (http://www.garylynnfloyd.com).
So imagine my delight when I realized that one of my very favorite songs to sing not only TELLS a wonderful story, but also HAS a story of its own.
The song is called "My Favorite Year," and I first heard it sung by an amazing singer/pianist named Billy Stritch (http://billystritch.com) in the mid-1980s, when I lived in Austin for the first time. I heard the song and immediately decided that I wanted to sing it myself. So I arranged to trade Billy a chart for that song in return for a chart on something I sang that he liked. But shortly after his Austin gig was over, the group he was with caught a big break, and became the toast of New York, Paris, and London.
I looked in a number of places, but for some reason, I could never find music for this song anywhere.
In 1987, I moved to Dallas and was lucky enough to play in a number of clubs and restaurants. Somewhere around 1990, I met another very talented man named Jim Caruso. As our friendship developed, I discovered that we both knew Billy. When I told him the story of the chart, Jim got me a cassette tape of the song and I was able to learn it from the tape.
Then, enter Ms. Jo West. Jo came to a club where I was singing and fell in love with my music. Over the next few years, during which I sang one or two nights every week, 52 weeks a year, Jo rarely missed one of my performance nights. She loved to hear me sing "My Favorite Year," and requested it often.
A few weeks after I sang the song in public for the first time, a new Michael Feinstein CD appeared including "My Favorite Year."
A few years later, in the early 2000s, a group of us, all singers, accompanied Jo to New York City to celebrate her birthday. By this time, Jim and Billy had a regular Monday-night show at Birdland, the famous jazz club. According to the club's website (http://www.castpartynyc.com/about.html), Cast Party is "a hilariously impromptu open mic/variety show where showbiz superstars and up-and-comers deliver jaw-dropping musical performances and razzle-dazzle."
Jo arranged to have her birthday party at Birdland during Cast Party. She also arranged that all the friends who came to New York City with her would sing that night.
So there I was, singing a song for Jo's birthday that she loved, introduced by the man who gave me a recording to learn from, accompanied by the man who sang it the first time I heard it, and not 10 minutes before I was called to the stage, Michael Feinstein was seated at the table next to ours.
Sometimes karma comes in and bites you on the butt. Sometimes, though, karma is a wonderful thing.
By the way, you can hear me sing "My Favorite Year," accompanied by Billy Stritch, during the 2016 Dallas Cabaret Festival, on my YouTube channel, which you can access at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_2rWB3n2CZ0KUDewXUCsAQ.