The Reason for Me

As we close out Tastiera’s new album “13”, we have some heartfelt words from the Alleged Artist…

Last August, my mother passed away peacefully at the age of 92, just a few days shy of 93. She had been in a fairly advanced state of dementia for several years, but her fundamentally sweet personality remained to the end. I have written a few other songs about people close to me that have left this Earth, but finding something fitting your own mother – the reason for your existence – is particularly challenging. I finally decided to couch it simply as that, the reason for me.

Some of the greatest people that have ever lived were “accidents”. I was not. My mom endured a forced and harmful first marriage that produced two great sons but also a lot of pain. She was able to extract herself from that situation and raise those sons on her own, while running an office of women who would remain friends with her for decades after. She then met my dad, who would ask her to dance at the same place every time while saying nary another word. They fell in love, of course, and she was determined to give him a child. I was born when she was 38, a risky proposition in the late 1960’s. I was incredibly lucky to have both my mom and my dad. They put the world in my hands. My dad passed away far too young, and my mom never married or even dated again for the ensuing 36 years. But she did manage to get her GED, work at a local school to pay her taxes, buy herself a new car, and maintain a beautiful house that was easy to sell when she no longer needed it.

One of the things my mom loved to do was dance. She loved music in general, and I think that’s how I got the same bug – also because she and my dad bought me a piano when I was pretty young. The people at Lakewood Reserve and Lumicare Hospice made my mom’s final months so loving and comfortable, and whenever my wife and I would visit, she would be dancing more than walking as we took her to lunch. That ended up being what matched her tribute with one of my oldest songs. In 1986, I recorded a song called “Murphy Was Right”, on the Velvet Cockroach album “Pizza Ala Mode on Rye”. It was a silly song, but I always liked the main riff. I decided a year or two ago to resurrect it as the basis for one of the songs on “13”. I had a couple of ideas about that along the way, but meanwhile I was struggling to write something new for my mom. Then it hit me – the drum intro at the beginning reminds me of my mom dancing into Bar Louis the last time we took her out to lunch. And then there’s the clincher: the music to this song is 38 years old, the same age my mom was when she gave birth to me. It all makes too much sense, and is easily the most cathartic thing I have ever done:

My mom would often say how proud she was of me. I am even more proud of what she accomplished in her life, and I’d like to think she would dance to this song too.

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