Part of my compulsive
creativity stems from insomnia. Unfortunately - or fortunately -
depending on how you look at it, it's been a problem since early
childhood. I won't take sleeping pills; that's one step down
a slippery slope.
Instead, I do relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises,
on bad nights try to keep from mulling over the problems of the previous day,
and often recap memories, create stories, recipes or poems, plan paintings,
gardens or carpentry projects, do computer programming or whatever comes to
Last night after less than three hours sleep, I woke up
suddenly, and a couple of hours later got up for a cup of ginger tea and a
computer game or three while listening to music. I was listening to Aaron
Neville, including his piece entitled "A Change is Gonna Come".
Going back to bed for a couple more insomniac hours, I composed a poem, Freedom, inspired by Neville's song.
states: "When I was a kid I would rock on my Grandmother’s lap and listen
with her to the old spiritual stations on the radio. The music of people
like Brother Joe Mays and the Dixie Hummingbirds, Mahalia Jackson, Sam
Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, and Five Blind Boys are some of the earliest songs
I can remember singing along to. I’ve waited a long time for a chance to
record some of those songs myself.”
Aaron Neville was born in 1941 in New Orleans,
raised in a poor housing complex, the the notorious Calliope Projects, raised
with his three brothers, all talented in their own right. Art
works the keyboards, Charles is a saxophone artist and Cyril does both
percussion and vocals. They have worked together as the Neville
Brothers as well as singly with other artists.
Aaron began recording in his early 20's, but it was 1967
before he gained first national recognition with his album and its title song,
"Tell It Like It Is". He profited very little, though, and fame was
fleeting. He worked menial jobs for almost another decade to support his
family, although he never stopped singing.
From the low point of his career in the '70's, struggling
for acceptance, he finally began to produce winners, earning Grammys and other
His ethereal voice shimmers and ripples as it cascades
over the notes of blues, spirituals, country and a diverse collection of song
poems. There's something for everyone. He out-sings Leonard Cohen on
"Bird on a Wire" (and that takes some doing!). He truly sings from
What does Aaron Neville think about his fame?
"Success to me is being together as brothers and still looking out for each
other. We lived together as kids, and now we're taking care of each other as
men". And the talented Neville family is passing on the torch; some
of their children are now recording and show promise.
As for influence, listen closely to the past two years'
new popular music, and you'll often hear shades and hints of Aaron Neville!