A Note from Swim Skinny
I was recently asked to be interviewed for a book being written about Trop Rock singer/songwriters and their music…I was asked to talk about my background and where some of my songs originated…this is what I had to say!!
My life as a nationally recognized “Trop Rocker” began with a simple song….
“Hippy Farm” – This is the song that penned the name “Swim Skinny” and tagged me with it for life. Hippy Farm is a song about the transition from my childhood living “hippie” in rural Midwest communities to my suburbanite life as an adult in Indiana. It talks about how we “used to swim skinny in the hippy pond on the hippy farm”. After singing the song for crowds at shows throughout the Midwest, people would yell out to me on stage upon my return…”play that ‘swim skinny’ song”… Eventually it grew into a trademark song and the name alone has made me famous…Swim Skinny. The song remains the pivotal point of my music career, taking me from local singer/songwriter to national performer. The song is plainly about missing the simplicity of my youth as a hippie kid.
“Drunken Parrothead Blues” – Upon gaining regional notoriety under the name “Swim Skinny” as an acoustic performer and singer/songwriter, crowds began to grow as did my reputation for having FUN on stage (and selling lots of booze). Requests for me to play were pouring in from lakeside bars and island party events around the lakes of Indiana where I grew up. So, on the weekends I’d pack up the kids for the weekend, go to our tiny cabin on Lake Freeman, and I’d make some extra cash playing music in the evenings. One particular party I was invited to play was this annual Jimmy Buffett gathering at a bar near my hometown the week after Jimmy played in Indianapolis. Having been a fan for years, but never having seen a live Buffett show, I decided to get tickets and take my oldest son…he was 16. The week prior to the concert I was putting together my stuff for the parrothead party back home – people often brought gifts and I would display them on stage with me – and one of the items was this parrot I was trying to mount on my mic-stand. The problem was, everytime I’d move, the parrot would fall upside down hanging from the stand…staring right back at me. After a few times trying to fix the problem, the parrot fell upside down AGAIN and found it’s final resting place. My guitar was sitting there and with a big grin on my face I strummed a chord and said “like a drunken parrot hanging upside down, I’ve got my tail in the air and my beak on the ground”. By the time I made it to the Buffett concert and party on Lake Shafer, I had written the song “Drunken Parrothead Blues”. I played it at the party 3 times by request over the course of the 7 hour show. The song was video taped and released on YouTube and I quickly became a part of the Parrothead nation. A video with pictures portraying the lyrics was later released, solidifying “Swim Skinny” as a household name in the minds of parrotheads worldwide. The song talks about the debaucheries of a day following a Buffett concert and depicts the likes of my own brother crawling from my hammock by the lake after a much-too-wild night with friends.
“My Banana” – After being recognized as a ‘Trop Rocker’ by my fans, a term I didn’t know at the time, many of my other water-based party tunes began to be noticed…at which time the making of a CD arose. In collecting my original songs that fit the genre bill, I found myself writing more along those lines and people started labeling me as “tropical” and other similar terms. One night while answering my then hundreds of weekly emails, I was surprised by a chat box opening a conversation with an old high school girl friend…we were talking of meeting some day on a boat in the islands where we’d co-habitate, her braiding hair and me playing guitar. At the same time my youngest son, who was 14 at the time, was laying next to me in bed playing his new ukulele. Noticing the email that was on the screen at the time, and partially blocked by the chat box, my son looked at me and said out loud….”Dad look, she likes your banana”. Behind the chat box was an email where the sender had written…”Dear Swim Skinny, I like your Banana Republic style of music…”. As my son read the message to me, the chat box covered the words “Republic style of music…” leaving only the words “Dear Swim Skinny, I like your Banana” to be seen by my son. Needless to say we laid there with his uke and wrote my most popular and most requested song to date….”My Banana”.
“I’m Alive” – Over the course of my adult life, I have had great success and great challenges. I’ve been married twice, I have three children, and I am now single raising my two younger children at our very small lake cabin. I have accumulated great wealth, for a ‘hippie kid’, and have walked away from it all to gain inner peace. The choices and decisions have been hard at times, sometimes even putting me through what many would call a ‘living hell’. However, I have always remained positive and have tried not to count my loss…which has been tough…at least it was until just a year or so ago. In the midst of some of my hardest times, reminders of how fragile life is have crossed my path helping keep my mind clear and focused on living life free of false truths and drama. A couple years ago a close friend’s son was diagnosed with cancer at age 17 and pulled through after huge fights with the disease. At the same time another friend, acquaintance, and fellow trop rocker Troy Allan faught cancer eventually losing his battle at the end of last year…BUT, not before inspiring me and SO many others to live life to it’s fullest and to be thankful we are alive. With Troy on my mind and hope for my new freedom, I wrote “I’m Alive” as an anthem for my life. In the first verse I reference my relationship with someone very close to me when saying “you put your hands upon my chest and rescued me from cardiac arrest”….it describes also my relationship with God and the impact Troy has had on me. In the second verse I am talking to the many fans who have written me saying they wish they could be ‘more like me’ when I say…”sometimes you gotta close your eyes to see, reach down pull something out and show the world what you’re all about, raise your hands, raise ‘em high, touch the clouds and feel the sky…say I’m alive and I’m free, there ain’t no place I’d rather be…’cause I’m alive”. If only my fans knew for themselves what it is that has brought me to this point in my life, maybe then they too would feel more ALIVE!! This song says it all for me….where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be.
“I’m Alive” is one of my favorite tunes from the new Swim Skinny double disc CD that is to be released July 7, 2012 titled “Naked & Wet”. The “Naked” CD has a very acoustic feel with very little production work…the CD is a look deeper into the person I really am and not just the SWIM SKINNY image…it is soft, soulful, ornery, and real…it’s “Naked”!! The “Wet” CD is a continuation of my first CD titled “At Your Own Risk”…the CD is filled with tropical sound, feel, and trademark Swim Skinny innuendo…”Booyah”, “Walking to New Orleans”, and “Too Drunk to See Jimmy” are sure to be hits in their perspective crowds…the soulful jazz sound of “The Roosters Call” and “Mallory Square” make you long for sultry nights in Key West… And “Back to Belize” just feels SOOO damn good….You’re gonna love this project!!
People often ask me what it is like to be a “Trop Rock Star”….and I never really know what to say….what I can say is this: You know, I am really just another guy who happens to play guitar…I’m a dad, a brother, and a son…I’m a friend to many and am lucky to have some great friends…right here at home and around the world…if there is one thing about me that makes me special, it’s that I follow my heart and keep trying where others might stop…I love my life and I wouldn’t trade it for any life around…my wish for you is the same!!
Peace and Love,
Until Next Time… Trop On!