Wake Me UpWhen The World's Worth Waking Up For (2021)
In the mid-90s I had lost my deal with MCA without the Trust album ever having been released. I was floundering and foundering. Calls weren't being returned, meetings weren't happening, I was feeling invisible – pretty typical cyclical life of a musician, but I was trying to stay positive. So on one of those days I was driving down La Brea Avenue in Hollywood when a lyric and melody came to me. They often come to me at the same time. I decided to turn around my thinking by simply imagining that all was well. This new outlook would get me through the low side of the cycle. I started singing, "Today wasn't like any other day, I heard from all of my friends and all my messages were answered..." I turned into a gas station at La Brea and Fountain to use a pay phone. (You younger readers may now Google "payphone.") I called my house and sang the idea into my answering machine – a very mid-90s songwriter move.
The next morning I called my new friend, Parthenon Huxley and told him I had an idea. I went over to his house in Echo Park, and played him what I had. I liked writing with Parth because he would dirty up my sugary sweet side, and I would sweeten up his more rocky ideas. That yin yang continues to work to this day. Parthenon listened to my Pollyannaish opening lines and thought it would be better to make it all a dream, and accept the reality of my condition. In other words, dirty it up. It worked. Boy did it work.
We wrote a few more songs, recorded demos, set up a showcase, and I got a record deal with Hollywood Records. Everybody at Hollywood was so supportive. 'Wake Me Up' was the first single, and took off even before it was released. A big station in Chicago heard an advance copy on a cassette (Google "cassette", my younger friends), and actually started playing that version! The song went Top 10 in Chicago and NYC, #1 in several other markets, and Top 20 on the Hot AC and some other big charts. Unfortunately it infamously stalled at #101, never breaking into the Billboard Hot 100, after spending a maddening ELEVEN WEEKS "Bubbling Under"! I now giggle at, rather than lament, that distinction.
My biggest champion at Hollywood Records was Linda Kury. She was in charge of marketing – putting posters in stores, making the legendary 'Wake Me Up' mugs (get ready for the New version of those!), and basically was charged with keeping "The Talent" happy.
Through subsequent years Linda has always been just a phone call away for advice and positive vibes. When I completed my latest Whatever It Takes album, she contacted me while I was on tour in Japan. She said she wanted the album to go through Universal, because "We have unfinished business. 'Wake' should've been a bigger hit. Let's do this!" I was floored. So many years later and she was just as excited as she was in 1997 while taping my mug to the walls at the Virgin Store in Burbank!
The album, was scheduled for release on 3/20/20. Since this would be my, gulp, 20th album, and it was 2020, and I had a tour sketched out for visiting 20 countries, we all liked that date. But, as fate would have it, it would turn out to be the exact date that Universal closed its doors and sent all of its employees home due to the pandemic. I had literally just packed up my car and was heading out the door to drive to NYC to play an office concert for the east coast Universal team, when I got a text that it was canceled.
A few months ago Linda asked me if I had any new songs that were ready. I told her I had written and recorded one called "We're Gonna Be Alright". She loved it. She asked if I had one more because she thought the album hadn't gotten proper attention, and that Universal would like to re-launch it as a "Deluxe Edition" with two bonus tracks. I said I was working on many, but they weren't ready quite yet. She asked me if I would consider re-releasing or re-cutting 'Wake Me Up', as she thought the lyric was very timely.
I recalled asking the engineer on the last day of mixing the original in 1996, if we could try one more mix with a different vibe – toned down guitars, a different solo, etc. I called it the "Make Out Mix". After Linda's call I found the original of that mix and went into the studio. I added 12 tracks of new backing vocals, piano, percussion, and orchestral parts, while keeping the magic from the original recording intact. What emerged from the new sessions was an updated sounding and feeling track. Richer and deeper than the original version, a perhaps pensive in places, but always hopeful. I then edited, remixed, remastered, and now I present to you, "Wake Me Up When The World's Worth Waking Up For (2021)"!
I hope you enjoy it, and share it far and wide.