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John Lawler: Bio/Lyrics

"Let's have a hand for John Lawler, a great guitar player."

jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson


"I wish all my students could hear John play. He does things that just can't be taught."

World renown classical guitarist and columnist for 'Guitar Player Magazine', Benjamin Verdery


John Lawler has been performing in and around the Chicago area for over thirty years. His unique instrumental style appeals to musicians and music lovers of all types. In 1989 Lawler was one of only eight guitarists from around the world chosen to perform his original instrumental compositions at the prestigious American Fingerstyle Guitar Festival. This festival has featured performances by such guitarists as Leo Kottke, Chet Atkins and Tuck Andress.

Lawler was personally invited by world renown classical guitarist and columnist for Guitar Player Magazine, Benjamin Verdery to perform at Mr. Verdery's master class in Chicago, in 1990. He has performed with Sonia Dada lead singer Paris Delane and has opened for jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.

His debut CD, '1743', combines instrumental and vocal music that describe some very personal journeys that we all go through sooner or later. 'Angel Cafe', features the haunting voice of Chicago Rose as the counterpart to the suffering patron in the song. Lawler's sense of humor shows itself throughout the CD, often during some of the darkest moments. But the joy in such pieces as '80 West', 'Girl on a Bicycle' and 'Wheels' leave you with an, "Everything will be OK." feeling.

All tracks on the '1743' CD were written and arranged by John Lawler except, 'Wheels', which was written by Jimmy Torres and arranged for fingerstyle guitar by Muriel Anderson.

'Screen Magazine' writes about Lawler's '1743' CD, in their December 1, 2003 (Volume 24, No. 24) issue:

'The sound can be described as jazz, although the mix of folk and R and B combined with the absence of drums brings a boogie feel to the album.'

Lawler uses percussionist Kevin Patrick and five string fretless bassist Mark Beringer on many of the tunes.
The overall effect is an intimate sound. At times you feel as if you're being told a well guarded secret.

- Musicians on 1743.

John Lawler - acoustic guitar and lead vocals

Mark Beringer - acoustic and electric bass
Tracks 1,4,5,6,9,13

Kevin Patrick - percussion and vocals
Tracks 1,6,9,12,13

Chicago Rose - vocals and whistle
Tracks 3,7,10,13

Heather Horton - electric violin
Tracks 1,4,12

Brian Murry - Tenor Saxophone
Track 13

Cory Radford - Drums
Track 13

Mister Slinky Guy
Track 7

Harmonica Dude
Track 9

Cymbal Clash Man
Track 13

Tom Krol - engineer (all tracks)

Album Cover photo (front and back) and insert photo - Tamara Knutson

CD Graphics - Tom Krol

Produced by - John Lawler and Tom Krol


Recorded at:

TK Audio
211 E. Ontario, Suite 1025
Chicago, Il 60611
http://www.tkaudio.net
Telephone: (312) 255-8760

E-Mail: Info@tkaudio.net

Song Bio

Nuthouse

I wrote this tune back in the early 80's. At the time I was opening for a couple of very
popular rock bands, one of which was a 'Yes' tribute band called 'Drama'. I was pretty much their exclusive opening act and I still run into people to this day who remember me from the "Drama Days". I retired the tune for about eleven years until I heard Mark Beringer, Kevin Patrick and Heather Horton get a hold of it. I fell in love with the tune all over again.


Smackers

This sounds corny but it's true. I met Leo Kottke in 1988 when I roadied for him in Chicago. I wrote this tune the day after I shook his hand. A year later I used this tune as one of my audition pieces for, 'The American Fingerstyle Guitar Festival', and was accepted as a finalist.


It's All About Me

The title says it all.


Drifting

This is how I felt back in 1997. A lot of sad things happened that year.


Gone Tomorrow

Mid 90's after a breakup with a girl that I think about to this day.


Open Your Eyes

I wrote this in highschool in hopes of impressing a girl. It didn't take.


I'm an Alien

I have no idea.


80 West

I loved driving to Colorado when I was younger. This is definitely a driving tune.


Angel Cafe

This actually happened. The older you get, the harder you fall.


Girl on a Bicylce

About a strange and beautiful artist who used to ride her bike over and visit me at my favorite cafe.


One Time

See, 'Gone Tomorrow'


Wheels

A great Jimmy Torres tune. It came out in the late fifties. Jimmy Torres and
'The String-a-Longs' sold over 16 million copies. It has since become one of the most recorded contemporary guitar instrumentals in history. Jimmy has become a very good and supportive friend to me over the last year. Look up his CD, 'Uncommon Man', on cdbaby.com. He has a fascinating story. You can click on his website from there and hear the original recording of 'Wheels'.

- Harmonica Bio

Many of you may only know me as a harmonica player. I've played in several jazz/blues/country bands throughout the Chicago area. I've included a link (click on 'Links') to direct you to some of the harmonica projects I've worked on in recent years. There are more to come.

In 2003 I performed on a sound track for an award winning PBS documentary titled, 'Chicago Filmmakers on the Chicago River'. I'm featured on the sound track during an interview with blockbuster director John Landis ('Blues Brothers', 'An American Werewolf in London'). The Chicago Tribune writes: "Chicago Filmmakers on the Chicago River is much like the river itself: unexpectedly beautiful, winding and completely unpredictable... a poetic little piece of punk documentary.". Also featured are directors Michael Mann, Harold Ramis and film critic Roger Ebert.


I also perform harmonica on two tracks of gold record recipient Dave Rudolf's kids CD titled 'Kids Don't Listen To This'. I play on 'Kid Blues' and 'Aunt Sarah's Got A Booger'. Although this CD is targeted for younger kids, it still has something for the adults. To be honest, I play one of the best blues harmonica solos of my career on 'Kid Blues', so give it a listen. If you find some parts of '1743' a little on the depressing side, just remember this is the same guy who performed on a nationally played song called, 'Aunt Sarah's Got A Booger'.

Song Lyrics

It's All About Me

When people look at me
I don't know what they see
My mother worries so
Because I live all alone
My sister thinks I'm strange
But she knows that that's the way I've always been
Lock me up and throw away the key
I'll still be happy as can be

Back when my father died
I just wanted to run away and hide
He used to say everything will be OK
And I believe that to this very day
Don't let them get you down
They'll make you look and feel like a clown
Never let them see your broken heart
Just be that beacon in the dark

When I think about the past
I just get so damned depressed
It's time to stop this cryin' in the dark
Time to be that walking work of art
Tomorrow is the day for me
That's when my eyes will see
All the things that I used to think were fun
Were just the things that I never should have done

One thing before the end
You were my very best friend
You told me something that I didn't want to know you said
"You can't live your life all alone."
Years ago we lived a dream
We held hands and walked through reality
And if the Man says, "You can both come in."
We'll shake hands and ask how our lives had been



I'm an Alien

Don't be scared I'm an alien
If you don't believe me you can ask my alien friend
I look like you, but I act like me
Shake my tail and I'm off to the twentyfifth century

Four, three, two, one
Come with me I'm an alien
I'll take you to some places that no other humans been
Close your eyes and take my hand
If somebody sees us you just act like an alien girlfriend

If you think, you've seen it all
What will you think when we go to the alien ball
When you see my real face
You'll either fall in love, or you'll run yourself right out of this place

Don't be scared I'm an alien
If you don't believe me you can ask my alien friend
I look like you, but I act like me
Shake my tail and I'm off to the twentyfifth century

Four, three, two, one
Come with me I'm an alien
I'll take you to some places that no other humans been
Close your eyes and take my hand
If somebody sees us you just act like an alien girlfriend

Listen close, I live in fear
You mustn't tell a soul that I was ever ever even down here
Turn around and walk away
But just remember this that I will come back to you one day

Four, three, two, one
Come with me I'm an alien
I'll take you to some places that no other humans been
Close your eyes and take my hand
If somebody sees us you just act like an alien girlfriend
If somebody sees us I'll just act like an alien boyfriend
If somebody sees us we'll just act like an alien,
act like an alien
act like an alien
act like an alien



See How You Are?

This is for the benefit of the fools and the fakers
Unfortunately you do not know who you are
But if you think about it long enough
You may sense who you are one day
And that's all I'm trying to say

My strength is my weakness
My thoughts are with you
They don't understand all the things that I do
But it makes perfect sense to an underground fool

Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Look to yourself
See yourself
Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Be yourself
See yourself

One day a young man decided to decide what he wanted to be
Only to discover a lifetime later that he still didn't know who he was
His problem was deciding what to be instead of seeing what he
already was to begin with.
Got it!

My strength is my weakness
My thoughts are with you
They don't understand all the things that I do
But it makes perfect sense to this underground fool

Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Look to yourself
See yourself
Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Be yourself
See yourself

One day you may discover that you were one of the chosen few after all.
But until you are one hundred percent certain that that day has occured,
you have no choice but to imitate a good, honest, caring person
at all times with all people.

My strength is my weakness
My thoughts are with you
They don't understand all the things that I do
But it makes perfect sense to this born again fool

Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Look to yourself
See yourself
Talk to yourself
Listen to yourself
Be yourself
See yourself



Angel Cafe

She walked into the cafe
I knew that help had arrived
She sat down and said, "It's OK."
"You are very much alive."
"You're in your darkest moment,
I'm here to ease your pain.
But you mustn't show emotion,
less you've suffered in vain."

I couldn't see her shadowed face
As she listened from a higher place
I could feel her emotion
She could see my down trodden state
I felt she knew every word
As if long ago she had already heard
I tried to ask her why
She had this reply

There is a light
Don't give up the fight
The Lions strength
is with you both day and night
Follow me, there is only one victory
They'll follow you
When they see your heart is true

If I could see your face
We could leave this horrible place
If I could take your hand
You could lead this broken down man
to triumph again

I wondered just how long ago
She had heard about this tortured soul
I told her all the things I've done
She said, "You are not the only one."
"I know it seems there's no one there,
nothing is right, nothing is fair.
People do love you,
but you only see the ones who don't care.
Your life has been a puzzle, but your faith has survived
You will see tomorrow, for your spirit, it has arrived.
I've been where you are now
It's an empty place, full of empty vows
But together we'll make it
through this painful life, this here and now."

There is a light
Don't give up the fight
The Lions strength
is with you both day and night
Follow me, there is only one victory
They'll follow you
When they see your heart is true

If I could see your face
I could leave this horrible place
If I could take your hand
You could lead this broken down man
to triumph again

She got up to leave the cafe
I begged her to stay
She said, "I really must be going,
there are other lonely souls to save.
I am forever with you, though in body we must part.
They won't make you crazy, when they see your lionheart."

The bartender yells, "There's no one there.
John you've been talking to an empty chair."
I find myself alone again
fighting off my own despair.
I pray one day I'll wake up
This will all have been a dream
Till then I'm a stranger
In a world where only one could possibly be.

There is a light
Don't give up the fight
The Lions strength
is with you both day and night
Follow me, there is only one victory
They'll follow you
When they see your heart is true

I can see your face
From a beautiful place
I will take your hand
You will triumph again
Sleep well,
my friend.



One Time

Only in my heart
Only in my mind
That's where you'll be
Wherever I go

Every place I see
Every face I know
That's where you'll be
Wherever I go

One time we learned how to love
One time we flew high above
Now I will never know your loving arms again
How can I cope with the loss of a friend

Days are getting long
All my dreams are gone
That's where I am
Wherever I go
Maybe some day
I'll learn to hope and pray
That's where you'll be
wherever I go

One time we learned how to love
One time we flew high above
Now I will never know your loving arms again
How can I cope with the loss of my friend