Hmmmm. Maybe I’m not a saxophonist.

10255948_444507792375949_2254098740527905068_nClearly I’m a saxophonist, right? I mean, I’ve been playing the saxophone for nearly 30 years now. For a bunch of those years, I did it for my living. These days, after 15 years away, I’m playing the saxophone professionally again. So, in light of the evidence, I’m a saxophonist.

Except I’m not sure if it’s really my instrument. I enjoy the saxophone. I’m OK at it, but not great. Years and years ago I realized that I can be entertaining on the saxophone without actually being a brilliant saxophonist, and I decided that was enough and never really practiced again. I have enough natural ability to carry me through the musical situations in which I find myself, and I tend to avoid things that I don’t think I can handle. (Just ask Josh Rutner, who was there the last time I was in one of those situations, how good a sight-reader I am.)

But here’s the thing: I don’t LOVE the saxophone. I think the main reason is that I’ve always wanted to be a pop star. I like singing and writing songs, and you can’t sing and play the saxophone. Well, you can, but it ain’t easy.

When I listen to music and air-play along with songs, I never air-saxophone. I always play air-guitar or -bass or -drums or -hand percussion or sometimes -keyboards. I enjoy playing the ukulele because I can sing when I play and use it to write pop/folk/whatever songs.

It only recently even occurred to me that maybe saxophone isn’t the instrument I should be playing. I mean sure, I’ll play it on gigs and I’ll enjoy it. But I’d like to find another way of expressing the music inside me.

“Cloudless” – a W.H. Auden poem set to music


Last weekend I stopped by W.H. Auden’s former home on St. Mark’s Place in New York City. That visit reminded me that years ago, I set one of his poems to music. You can hear it using the player above.