I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog, July 10th, 1934. My maternal grandparents gave me quarters to learn songs when I was coming up and I think that had a profound influence because I'm still learning songs to this day and will probably continue to do so until the day I die. I don't consider myself a songwriter. I think I was just lucky enough to be listening and have a pencil and paper to hand a few times when the muse passed my way, because most of these lyrics came to me in a rush and I just scribbled them down as fast as I could, so my apologies to the muse if I didn't get it exactly the way she intended. Some of these tunes, I've carried around for what seems like two lifetimes.
"Alligators" and "Tides" were written in the same period of my life, one summer, in the early seventies out in Davis Park, Long Island, where I used to summer with my daughter, Christine. These songs are at opposite ends of the musical spectrum but hey, I was at the antithetical ends of my own internal sphere then, too.
"Little Red" exists from the time when I worked for Bil and Cora Baird in the early sixties. I rarely did the song because it wasn't complete until the muse saw fit to give me the third verse of this four-verse tune sometime in the nineties. Because of the time differential I also had to change a line from "Dates up Grandma with her Mercury Man", to "Michelin Man". Alas, advertising raises its ugly head (they really are good tires though).
"Bumble Bees" which I alternately call Lazy Day is a newer story/song that had to wait for me to live in the wilds of Truro for a while, in order to see the critter drama that takes place night and day every day, living here next to the National Seashore where all the wild life mentioned in the song abounds.
"Be Positive" came to me in a studio outside of Cologne, when we were shooting a German TV/Disney co-production of "The Secret Life of Toys".
"Hoboken Honey" I wrote for my best friend and the woman I love, who through extreme good fortune, happens to be the same person. The muse whispered it to me the summer we (Jan & I, not the muse) got married. The first time I played it, Bob Reed played lead behind me and when I heard Bob's musical take on it, I knew it was a good tune.
"Zanzibar" the year 1999 into 2000, Jan and I were given the opportunity to travel to the Island of Pembe, some thirty miles north of Zanzibar to spend time at Fundu Lagoon, a beautiful resort at the Northern end of the island. During our stay we took a side trip to the fabled Zanzibar. There was a lot of traveling involved in getting to Africa and once there it was an exotic experience. I hope I captured it in this song.
"Noah's Ark" I have lots of connections to this in my life. It was always one of my favorite stories in the Bible. 1966 I took five year old Christine to see John Houston's "The Bible' After the storm had raged and they saw the olive branch, they all ran to the back of the Ark and opened a large window hatch, Noah, Ms. Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth and all their wives and children quickly looked out with the sun shining in on their happy, expectant faces and Christine pipes out in her beautiful five year old voice, "Can they see Queens Boulevard from there?" Cracked the whole movie house up. Me too. And Bill Cosby's Noah routine. The muse just dumped this whole thing in my ear. I love it.
"Eye of the Storm" So many loved ones have died I wanted to eulogize them in some way and this is the way it was given to me to express all the emotions I felt. I have no idea what this might sound like to a person hearing it for the first time or whether they would hear and feel the same sadness of loss that I do.
"Get Yourself Free (Happy Little Song)" was written while I was in California working on "The Muppet Fairy Tales". I borrowed Bill Baretta's guitar for the duration of my stay and so thanks Bill.
Jerry Nelson – lead vocal, guitar, ukulele
Andy Solberg – lead guitar
Dick Solberg – fiddle
David Stephens – banjo
Glenn Drewes – trumpet
Mike Renzi – piano/rhodes HOBOKEN HONEY/TIDES
Wally Kane – tenor saxophone
Bill Evaul – upright bass
Ben Brown – electric bass
Ricky Martinez – drums
Danny Epstein – percussion
The Sweet Potatoes: background vocals on BE POSITVE and GROOVIN' ON NOAH'S ARK
Fran Brill – vocal LITTLE RED
Kevin Clash – vocal LITTLE RED
Paul Rudolph – music director, cow bell, arranger/chorus and chorus vocals: HOBOKEN HONEY
Engineered at Nola Sounds Studios
111 West 57th St, New York, NY
Jim Czak – Engineer
Bill Moss – Assistant Engineer
Produced by: Kevin Clash, Paul Rudolph & Jerry Nelson
Mixed by: Paul Rudolph
Mastering by: Gabriel Moffat
Photography by: Richard Termine
Cover art and design: Jan Nelson
Let me just say in conclusion, that this whole experience has been made possible by the love of good friends. Kevin Clash, my wife Jan, Matt Vogel, The Solberg brothers, Andy and Dick, Bill Evaul, David Stephens, Fran Brill, The Sweet Potatoes: Tyler Bunch, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Geri Cole, Ben Brown, Ricky Martinez, Glenn Drewes, Wally Kane, Mike Renzi, Danny Epstein, and last but certainly not least: Jim Czak, John Post and Bill Moss.
Thank you and my love to you all.