These are the stories behind some of the songs.
1. Candlelight

2. The Way It Was

3. The Jersey Shore

4. The Boardwalk

    5. Young Love

6. Ferris Wheel

7. Reminds Me Of You

8. Fireflies

    9. Sammy

10-22. The rest of the CD

1. Candlelight (
play song)

When I want to return to the Jersey Shore, I need to find a way to FedEx myself from today's world back to the 50s.

My way of making the return trip is to close my eyes and imagine that I'm in a cozy candlelit room in a friend's house. People are talking in hushed voices and music is drifting in from the main part of the house. It's a place I don't ever want to leave.

Once I'm in that room, I can see the Jersey Shore.

To get me there, I wrote Candlelight - an almost magical song that takes me back to the Jersey Shore every time.

Close your eyes and relax and let Candlelight help you turn back the clock.

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2. The Way It Was (play song)

Technology has made our lives easier and often more comfortable on many different levels; but sometimes easier and more comfortable doesn't mean better. Though no one can argue that technology solves problems and eliminates many adverse situations, we sometimes forget that it's often those adverse situations that create the most memorable experiences.

Case in point...

Hot August nights are a reality today on the Jersey Shore, and growing up there in the 50s was no different. I still remember the days when the high was 95 and the low was 80. And because the humidity seemed to be stuck at 100%, even the 80 at night was incredibly uncomfortable.

Air conditioning was very expensive so our house didn't have it. And though the temperature dropped at night outside the house, it always seemed to stay hot inside.

So, on the hot nights (and there were many), the whole family used to go outside just for the chance of catching a breeze. Every time, it started the same way: all of us complaining about how hot it was - whining like only little kids can. But every time it finished the same way too: the whole family laughing and smiling, throwing horseshoes, playing catch and almost any other game we could think of until it was too dark to see. At that point, hide and seek was always our game of choice!

In the end, it didn't really matter how hot it was because it was the heat that gave us the chance for a later bedtime!

The 50's were also a time when personal interaction was still king. It was a much friendlier time when people interacted with people and weren't prisoners of faxes, cell phones, answering machines and video games. Life was just so much more personal. We knew the milkman because he delivered fresh milk to you each day and if we were up early enough, we could talk to him when he came to the door. We were on a first name basis with the people at the grocery store, the town barber, and the Good Humor man. The mailman dropped the mail off at our front door and would knock to let you know that he was there. And since we saw the same people year after year; it created a sense of community and a feeling like we were part of something special. Everyone was a friend no matter who they were and what they did. It was a world where people from different backgrounds understood one another better because they talked with each other on a regular basis.

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3. The Jersey Shore (play song)

The Jersey Shore technically stretches 125 miles from Atlantic Highlands in the north to Cape May in the south. But my Jersey Shore goes about 15 miles from Red Bank to Asbury Park. My earliest memories are of spending the summer with my family at my grandparents' home in Elberon. We were 4 families living in one house and the cousins did everything together - the chores, the bike rides and the trips to the beach.

The Jersey Shore was so special and so different from New York City because there was an endless list of great things to do and almost no formal rules to stop us from doing them!

We had many of our most memorable times on the weekends because my father and I could do things together. It was when he decided that the rules didn't matter that I had the most fun of all!

When I was 10 or 11 my father decided it was time for him to teach me how to drive; after all, he had learned to drive when he was that young and that was usually all the justification he needed to break almost any rule! So off we went to a back road where he pulled over and told me to switch seats with him. I barely could see over the steering wheel, but there I was driving (and weaving) down a dirt road. It ended up that I was a much better weaver than straight driver but as he put it, we had to start somewhere. I can remember thinking that I couldn't wait to get home to tell all of my friends and cousins what I had done!

Spending quality time with my father in the city was a rare occurrence because he was always at work or always tired from working. When we did have some time together in the city, it was generally more stressful than anything else. But just like the rest of us, he was transformed when he got to the Shore.

Often on the weekends, he let me play golf with him. (On one level, this was safer than the driving lessons but he did have a short fuse). Sometimes I would walk with him and sometimes behind him depending on whether he had hit a good shot (there were as many mood swings as swings from his 3 iron so I had to learn when I could talk and when it was best to just shut up).

The tensest time of all was when he couldn't find his golf ball. And I was usually on the receiving end of that tension because my most important job was to watch his ball.

But as long as we found the ball (and we usually did), the seriousness would evaporate and the camaraderie that I loved would quickly replace it. Afterwards, we'd always have lunch, and my father and his friends would have their drinks and settle up the bets. The drive home was usually spent reviewing the best shots of the day and ignoring the poor ones. Playing golf with him was always special.

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4. The Boardwalk (play song)

The boardwalk in Asbury Park was the place to go to at night; more happened there than at any other single place on the entire Jersey Shore. The 50 foot wide, one-mile long wooded strip was the center of my universe.

On the one side, of course, was the ocean, and on the other there were the endless rides and games. I always had the impression that I could run in any direction and never come to the end of the fun. (That illusion made the boardwalk that much better).

My favorite thing of all was to play miniature golf. It was a great adventure - an obstacle course with elephants and lions blocking the way to the holes. Unlike real golf, getting a higher score was actually fun because it meant you had the chance to hit impossible shot after impossible shot. After we were done running up our scores, we would head back to the boardwalk to ride the bumper cars, venture into the fun house or find some other trouble to get ourselves into.

I'm sure that I didn't go to the boardwalk every night, but it seemed like I was always there.

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5. Young Love (play song)

Is there any love like young love - the first touch, the first kiss, the first time for everything? The biggest challenge was to find a place to actually do all of these firsts. Finding the right place in NY was anything but easy, but the Jersey Shore offered more than enough perfect spots to do just about anything including "parking".

One night at one of these secluded spots, many firsts were probably happening when a police car decided to invade our space (they knew the secluded spots too). There was a lot of scurrying around right before the policeman shined his light into the car. Fortunately (for her more than for me), we had made enough progress with the our clothes, that he just looked around, smiled and told us it was time to leave. Our greatest fear was that he would call our parents so we considered ourselves to be very, very lucky! We survived.

Young love was really about extreme highs and lows; it was a time when just a smile could light you up and just a simple frown could knock your power out for days.

But when young love was good, life was perfect.

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6. Ferris Wheel (play song)

Parking was a good way to get private time with your young love, but it wasn't the only way.

Taking dates on the Ferris wheel was often even more unforgettable because mastering the technique was such a great challenge!

The first step in the process was very public; everyone had one eye on their date and the other scanning around to see who was pairing off with whom.

The excitement started to build as the wheel began to turn and the cars started swinging this way and that. Everyone on the ground would look and wave, trying to figure out what was going on up above.

It was all a game of timing and the key to having a winning ride was to time your approach so that any move you made was done at the top of the Ferris wheel's arc - totally out of everyone's sight. The first reason is that the privacy at the top definitely encouraged risk taking, so you had a better chance of success way up high. The other half of the equation, of course, is that the privacy accorded at the top of the wheel ensured that no one would see it if you happened to fail!

The goal was to time it just right so that you were ready for the big move at the moment the wheel was parked at the top.

But it wasn't as easy as simply knowing the theory behind the game; the game itself was incredibly unpredictable because there was no way of knowing how often the wheel would stop or for how long.

The song emulates the back and forth syncopated rhythm of the swinging car parked at the top of the Ferris wheel's arc.

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7. Reminds Me Of You (play song)

At some point the freshness of young love develops into a serious romance, but it's generally not with the same person.

It's interesting because even though we did many of the same things with our young love and serious romance (the sneaking around, parking, and riding the Ferris wheels etc.), there was definitely a difference.

In the serious romance, it's the first time that we're not able to immediately see the finish line and there's so much excitement in the unknown.

And whether the serious romance comes along at the end of high school or the first years of college, at that moment, we think that that person is the one. We have no idea what that actually means, but we convince ourselves nonetheless. All we know for sure is that a whole new set of firsts are happening again and we never want the feeling to end.

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8. Fireflies (play song)

In 1949 our family moved from Elberon to Little Silver, to a place aptly named Shore Acres. The property was absolutely amazing and was surrounded by the Shrewsbury River on three sides. The beginning of the long driveway was shaded by giant trees, and when you emerged from the shade, you drove up a large circular driveway to the house.

Behind the house, was a huge lawn with two areas of heavy brush and trees on the right. When we were young, we loved the giant lawn, the brush and the trees because they were perfect places to play and hide.

But when we were a little older, we discovered that the trees and brush offered something even more interesting; they were a daytime hideout for many creatures - including the fireflies!

And as twilight turned to darkness, the fireflies would come to life, popping out of the brush and light up the lawn almost on cue. Seemingly out of nowhere, hundreds of fireflies like tiny stars, started winking, blinking and dancing to their own music.

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9. Sammy (play song)

My grandson, Sammy, is probably the happiest boy in the world. He just seems so thrilled to be here that he does all he can to make sure he doesn't miss out on even a second of the fun.

I don't think I've ever seen a little boy enjoy life as much as he does which is why I think he would have absolutely loved the Jersey Shore: from the rides and the cotton candy, to the fun house and the kewpie dolls, he would have loved it as much as we all did. I imagine him listening to the calliope, going up and down on the merry-go-round, and enjoying the same things I enjoyed many moons ago.

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And now the rest of the CD.

Back in 1950 before we had CDs, cassettes or LPs (long playing records), we had 78's with one song per side. The first side had the featured song and the flip side (side B) had music that complemented it. My flip side includes 8 songs from an unproduced musical I wrote 15 years ago - Before, During and After - a story of marriage. The song titles describe the emotions I felt at that time.

Here is the list:

10. It's Time To Dream (play song)         14. E This Is D (play song)
11. A Study In Contrast (play song)     15. Does This Mean Yes? (play song)
12. Wave After Wave (play song)     16. Just Crying (play song)
13. Once More (play song)     17. Sometimes (play song)

The last 5 songs on the flip side were written after I returned from a trip to England with my youngest son. We had just spent a week in London visiting Oxford and the Cotswolds and were enamored with the combination of the old-world buildings and the natural beauty around them.

18 The Thames At Twilight (play song)         21. Half Moon Street (play song)
19. Paddington Station (play song)     22. St. Paul's (play song)
20. Rolling Hills (play song)

I'd like to give special thanks to two people; first to my arranger and pianist, Forever Fields, who has added so much depth to my melodies and has brought a sparkle to each song. We have worked together for 16 years and he never ceases to amaze me. And secondly I want to thank my son, Bobby, who has helped me write this insert by being brutally honest and very insightful.

Now it's time to relax, close your eyes and go back to your special place. Enjoy.

©2004 Don Slotkin. All rights reserved.