A Fish Tale
Once upon a time, a singer-songwriter who was not so young even then made a demo album. He did so with the help of studio wizards in a legendary Atlanta studio nestled below an auto supply store.
He fancied himself cut from the same cloth as Harry Chapin, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, and early Jimmy Buffet. That is to say that he was a solo performer who sang story songs while wielding a steel-string acoustic guitar.
Some of his songs also revealed a jazz influence. He started in that idiom as a saxophonist and absorbed its harmonic vocabulary.
The songwriter in him took particular pride in penning lyrics, although he preferred using Ticonderoga #2 pencils. He was no Bob Dylan, but he did strive to create well-crafted lines with emotional depth.
Like so many songwriters, he concentrated on that most universal of themes, love. In his case, it ranged from an enigmatic lover and the skies in his home of Arizona to his toddler son and even his guitar.
Around the same time as the sessions for his demo, he started teaching at a college. Students soon enough began calling him Doctor Fish. (We'll humor him by doing the same from here.)
Damn You, Backstreet Boys!
All of the wizards involved in making Doctor Fish's demo album were pleased with the project. An A&R rep from a record label even showed interest. But there was a problem.
The golden age of singer-songwriters had already passed by the time Doctor Fish came along. Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync ruled the charts without an acoustic guitar anywhere in the mix. It made Doctor Fish's music sound, let's just come out and say it, dated.
Consequently, his demo project went nowhere. Licking his wounds, he moved to a beautiful little city near Mount Fuji for a couple of years before returning to America to continue his academic career.
In coming back to the States, Doctor Fish found new meaning. He established and continues to direct a thriving degree program for students of popular music at a college in North Carolina. (Some have even found the commercial success that eluded him.)
Something remarkable happened as Doctor Fish poured himself into his new life. Time passed.
That's not so remarkable in itself. After all, that's what time does. It passes. But with its passing, Doctor Fish's music started sounding more retro and less dated.
Sadly, an even more extraordinary thing happened with one of the songs from his demo, "Another 4th of July." What he had originally written as a dystopian vision of a future America had come to pass in many ways. In fact, the year 2020 seems to become a tipping point.
Some tales end with a new beginning.
The timely sentiment of "Another 4th of July" has led to the release of a new music video. Meanwhile, other wizards in London have remastered Doctor Fish's original demos for release as the album Fish Tales: New Songs from the Old School on his private label, For the Halibut.
Doctor Fish has also assembled a new generation of wizards to serve as backing musicians and begun work on a followup album of new songs. The Last Troubadour will be released in early 2021.
And the moral of the story? That's obvious.
He swam and he swam right over that dam. Boop boop dit-em dat-em what-em chu!v