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

2. It's Springtime

3. Our Little Girl

    4. This Is Our Song

8. New Faces

10. Falling Leaves

    12.-15. Cameo of Colors

16. St. Petersburg

1. Sunshine (
play song)

I've always believed "the glass is half full". Tough times happen to everyone and my way of getting through them has always been to make a conscious effort to look at the bright side; the situation can always be worse, so the key is to be thankful that it's not. I wrote "Sunshine" after I received the very saddest news imaginable; my new granddaughter-to-be had a condition that was "not compatible with life". I wanted to write a song that was upbeat and full of joy — just the opposite of how I felt. I needed a melody that would let me enjoy every moment the baby was alive. I couldn't change the outcome so I tried to make a day seem like a week, a week like a month and a month like a year. So I wrote "Sunshine".

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2. It's Springtime (play song)

It was April 1961 and a friend invited me to go to the Masters. I had always dreamed of walking alongside the great golfers as they played Augusta, and this was my chance to actually do it! When I was younger, I used to walk alongside my father when he played golf. When he hit a bad shot, I'd cringe. But when he'd hit a great shot, we would always share that moment as if we did it together. Years later I would say, "Remember that 2 iron you hit from the rough on 14?"

And when I went to Augusta, I did walk alongside the world's greatest golfers - Hogan, Nelson and Snead. But the person I really wanted to walk with was Arnold Palmer. He was the guy. For him, there was no such thing as an impossible shot and a bad shot never got him down. He would just stride down the fairway, calmly puff on his cigarette, flick it away and hit another shot. I walked all 18 holes that day as part of Arnie's Army, watching him go for it all. Sometimes I was so close I could touch him, but much of the time I could only see the top of his head. It was a perfect spring day - sunny, 75 degrees with brilliant flowers dotting each hole. The birds were singing the songs of Augusta. This was springtime for me then, and is springtime for me now.

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3. Our Little Girl (play song)

It began one day last summer when I was at our cottage in northern Michigan. After a month of putting it off, I headed into the woods with my chainsaw. For 20 minutes I went from tree to tree cutting down dead branches. During one of the quiet moments when the sawing stopped, my wife yelled for me to come to the telephone. I was aggravated because there was a loose rule not to interrupt me when I was in the woods. But she insisted, yelling back to me that it was my son Steven and that he needed to talk to me right away.

So I trudged back to the road, chainsaw in hand, pissed off. I knew nothing was on fire, so I got angrier and angrier as I walked back toward the house. When I picked up the phone growling, he announced that his wife couldn't come to his brother Doug's wedding. Well, that made it worse; the tickets were paid for and the rooms reserved. "Why can't she come," I shot back.

"I'm really sorry Dad, but the doctor says she can't fly because we're going to have a baby."

I let out a whoop!

That's how I learned I was gong to be a grandfather. "Our Little Girl" is about this moment of joy. Steve and Elisabeth played the song during the rest of the pregnancy, even on the way to the hospital. It became "Katie's Song," celebrating her short life and our love for her. When the family gathered around the piano and I played 'her song', Katie sometimes rewarded us with a little smile - a smile I will always remember.

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4. This Is Our Song (play song)

Who can forget that first girlfriend or boyfriend? Everything is so new, so exciting, with every day made up of countless ups and downs. There were always so many questions: "Should I kiss her?" "What's that feeling in the pit of my stomach?" "What should I do?"

Of course, every couple has their special song. And whether you dance to it or just listen along, both people proudly refer to it as "our song". Even when you're apart from your special person, the song always has the power to bring you together.

When the romance is over, the old song is never forgotten, but just filed away.

As we get older, we keep adding new friends and new songs. "This is Our Song" was written to remember all those old boyfriends and girlfriends and what was special about each one of them.

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8. New Faces (play song)

On average, we hear it at least twice a week. Women say it to us with sad resignation.

"Sometimes men just don't get it."

And nothing provokes a woman to spout out this simple phrase more than the greatest taboo subject of all - facelifts.

If you simply say the word, even without suggesting that she may need it, you're absolute 'meat.' "Why can't you let me age gracefully?" is inevitably the response. If you try to take the high road by telling her she doesn't need it, the "what does he know" look is quickly delivered.

The best bet, if confronted, is to feign deafness.

But this subject has many lives, and wheels really start to turn when close friends decide it's time to take the step. The inevitable day is just around the corner when she says, "There's this new doctor and I hear he's terrific! You should see Be; he did her face and she looks fabulous. Maybe I should have him look at me? What do you think?" And there it is; that great taboo is gone, as she has made peace with herself.

"New Faces" is for all those women who have looked in the mirror and decided they wanted to look young again.

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10. Falling Leaves (play song)

When I lived in Greenwich Village, I don't remember seeing many leaves. But when we moved outside the city to Riverdale, I was in leaf heaven.

One day I was coming home from school with a friend and he picked a round piece of fruit off a pile of leaves. It had 'prickers' sticking out like a cactus. I had never seen anything like it before. He took out a penknife and peeled off the skin, and lo and behold, in the middle of this piece of "fruit," was a mahogany chestnut. I thought that the discovery of the chestnut was the big surprise, but I soon realized that the true surprise was yet to come.

My friend quickly explained that we now had to let the chestnuts dry out and toughen up so that we could have chestnut fights. The whole thing made me very nervous. "Won't someone get hurt?"

Pointing out that I had lived in the city too long and just "didn't get it", he explained that we weren't going to throw them at one another. We were going to put a hole in each chestnut and tie it on a string. Then we could have chestnut fights. A person would hold his chestnut steady and the other person would whack that chestnut with his own.

The person whose chestnut broke first was the loser!

And so began the great chestnut hunts; we'd dig and climb through piles of leaves, shake every tree we could find and crawl under cars - anything to find the biggest and toughest chestnut.

Ever since then, I've always wanted a chestnut tree but somehow I've never been able to get one.

Now, to remind me of that happy time of my life - the fall, the leaves, and the chestnuts - I wrote a song that takes me back - "Falling Leaves".

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12.-15. Cameo of Colors ( play Ocean, play Ruby, play Pearl, play Lilac)

Black and white movies were never enough for me; they never seemed to portray real life. No matter how great the plot, they always made me feel like an outsider. I still remember my first Technicolor movie, "Duel in the Sun". Everything was so bright and so alive. The color drew me to the screen and to the actors, and for the first time, I could feel what they were feeling.

So it's not surprising that a generation later when I was looking for a summer home, that I would look for a place where I could find my own world of color.

In late September 1980, we bought our cottage in Northern Michigan. My 2 oldest boys, Doug and Steve, hadn't seen it yet, so we flew up to Traverse City and drove to our new home.

Normally on this kind of a car ride, there was a lot of commotion, including a playful punch or two. Invariably, whoever was in the back seat (on my side) could expect a "pinch" if he got too out of hand.

But this day was very different because we were completely unprepared for what we were about to see.

As we drove, we were totally surrounded by huge trees at the absolute peak of their color - colors that had only existed in our imagination. We spent the entire hour drive 'oohing and aahing' with no time at all for fighting or pinching. By the time we reached our new home, it was love at first sight; my boys and their new cottage.

When I look back on it 20 years later, I don't ever remember hitting the peak of colors again. I study the weather maps and the color charts, but nothing seems to help. We're always either a few days early or a few days late. "Cameo of Colors" is my way of recapturing that perfect day.

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16. St. Petersburg (play song)

I always had mixed feelings about Russia.

My grandfather came from Minsk and he sang the old songs and told may wonderful stories of his life there. He was an emotional man who was full of energy and live, so I was sure that the Russian people were the same.

But when the Russians took over Eastern Europe , built the Berlin Wall, and caused the Cuban missile crisis, Russia became 'that empire of evil', So for years, I didn't know which was the real Russia - good or evil?

When Gorbachev opened up the country to visitors, I had a chance to see for myself. What were the people like? What were the cities like?

I went to St. Petersburg. Yes, the people were poor; their clothes were "hand me downs" and their apartments were tiny and not kept up. But when you watched the people walking, you saw an energy and a distinct dignity. When you spoke with them, you felt their emotion and warmth.

Just as my grandfather had told me, the people were like us.

The City itself was beautiful - at a distance. It was only when you got closer that you saw that almost everything was in disrepair - the buildings had big cracks, the stairs were worn in the middle, and the sidewalks were sloped from the buildup of snow. But wherever you were, when you looked past the obvious imperfections, beauty was everywhere. Yes, the museums had frayed carpets, but the artwork was stunning in every way.

The longer I stayed there, the less I noticed the imperfections and the more I saw the grandeur of old St. Petersburg. That's why I wrote the song and the album.

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©2002 Don Slotkin. All rights reserved.