I started getting serious about playing the guitar when I was 16. I'd just injured my leg wrestling in high school and I spent my recovery from surgery studying with a guitar teacher who was actually named Harvey Strum. The first song I wrote followed not long after: I set Christopher Marlowe's poem The Passionate Shepherd to His Love to three major chords. Even then I knew I should never allow that song to leave my bedroom. But I was determined to become a good songwriter and I kept at it. Living in New York after graduate school I felt I was on the verge, and I decided to give myself a kind of master class. I'd first heard the song "Love Needs a Heart" when I was 11. It was written by Jackson Browne, Lowell George from Little Feat, and Browne's back up singer Valerie Carter. For me it was a perfect song and I resolved to learn it by ear and then to deeply study how it moved from section to section and why it worked so well. I would sit in my tiny kitchen on Bank Street and play the song over and over, hoping to arrive at a unifying theory about craft. I’d already been writing songs and producing artists. One day during this period I was to meet a singer at Grand Central Station and ride the train with her out to the Hudson Valley to record with a multi-instrumentalist and singer who would later tour the world for a decade with Shanaia Twain. As we rode North, this woman slept and I had the experience of seeing the chords of “Love Needs a Heart” floating in front of me. I could rearrange them with my eyes and I had a freedom in doing it because I already knew they all worked together. Then I began to add music to the staff, change the key, blow it up, put it back together, and then blow it up again. By the time we arrived at our station I had “Sail On,” which was inspired by an article I’d read that morning about a bathyscaphe named Trieste. We cut the song that night and our recording wound up on that artist’s debut album for Elektra records. “Sail On” opened the door for me as a songwriter.