Well, here I am at Camp Granada -- er -- Catalina -- a lovely outpost just north of Tucson, Arizona. The sun is shining, the cacti are prickling, the mountains are rising majestically out of the land as if they have something to say about it all. And here I sit, wondering what I have to say about songwriting.
Dwarfed by the Catalina mountains, I know that this tiny blog probably doesn't matter much, but one or two of you are reading it, so I am inspired. Thanks for listening.
Parents -- in my case, probably the main reason I first picked up a guitar and tried to write a song. I did have a strong role model for this. When I was twelve years old, my father wrote a song ("Dear Santa") and tried to get it published in New York. So he took me, my nine year old brother, and my six year old sister with him, by train, to New York City in pursuit of his dream. (My mother stayed behind with our new little sister.) So there we were, three little Bonatis and their hopeful Dad, on a train to the big city. He never published "Dear Santa." But given this experience with him, is it any wonder that MY first song was a Christmas gift to him and my mom?
So I guess that's where it all began -- except for the image I can't get out of my head right now of a woman all dressed up in rhinestones and perfume, getting ready to go out to her singing gig. I'm looking up at her (and she's not that tall.) Okay, I have it now. It's me at eight, gazing adoringly up at my beautiful Aunt Anne. She's got her dyed-blonde hair up in a French twist and she's smiling. Talk about optimism. She'd had a pretty hard life, but she was going out to try to earn a living as a singer. I'm sure somehow her musical spirit trickled down on top of my head that night and has never left me.
Wow, this little trip down memory lane has really stretched my brain. So much so, that NOW I remember my dad taking me to an audition of the Ted Mack Amateur Hour when I was only about four years old. I don't actually remember the audition itself, but I can recall our drive home, when he told me, "They said you were too young." Of course, at the time, I believed him.
So that's it. Except for one more thing. I'm sure my dad used to sing to me when I was a baby, because that's what he did for my own two daughters -- just Papa in his flannel shirt, rocking them and singing them to sleep every chance he could get. And it should come as no surprise that he named all four of his daughters after songs. I was "Sweet Lorraine," followed by "Sweet Sue," "Once in Love with Amy," and "Mona Lisa." Even less surprising is the fact that my latest song just happens to be about him.
I've traveled all the way back to the cradle. Now I guess it's time to return to this beautiful Catalina day, and maybe go for a walk in the mountains.