The Song and the Process. Dan Zanes and Wonder Wheel.

dan zanesIt’s a song that feels like a warm summer day.  The imagery is simple yet waxing poetic.    I went to a weekend fair/ met someone while i was there/ we put flowers in our hair/ and rode the wonder wheel. The song in question is Wonder Wheel by Dan Zanes on the Family Dance CD.  One of the most iconic all ages kindie songs ever written.  Who doesn’t want to take a ride on a ferris wheel on a beautiful warm sunny day?  The irony is when Dan wrote the song the day was anything but warm. Thirteen years ago he was out on Coney Islandconeyisland_wonderwheel_ferriswheel_962732_o for a field trip with is daughter on a cold, blustery winter day.  There weren’t even any cars on the Wonder Wheel (read about it HERE) as it was closed for the season.  This all led him to think of what if… So Dan took a musical journey to a warmer time.  When asked if the lyrics or music came first he said “it kinda all came at once”.  One of those rare inspirational moments writers cherish after working/grinding out so many other songs.  He had a certain sound in mind inspired by the Deighton Family.   He used their music as a template which he described as “traditional acoustic meets 50’s rock.” (I have since listened to The Deighton Family and his description is spot on. Do yourself a favor and check them out).  The accordion and its calliope sound really set the scene in the song bringing the sound of the fair to the listener with the guitar, mandolin, bass and drums, plus a little harp nicely rounding out the tune.  What’s especially cool about this tune is it is now available as an app on Miblio allowing you the listener to become the producer!  You want to add keyboards… ok! Take out the mandolin… done! The app allows you to add and remove instruments making the song your own.  It’s available on iTunes for only .99 cents. The only disappointment is that it’s only available for the iPad.  If you have one it’s definitely worth the purchase. So you ask what is Dan doing these days?  Brooklyn_Conservatory_of_Music_jehTeaching music to kids at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and working on a new CD with a kid-centric theme based on his work at the conservatory  Not only is he working on a new CD he has recently scored a Buster Keaton silent movie and is playing it live as the film rolls on the screen (I’m hoping I get a chance to see that). And of course he’s writing though these days his approach has changed. Where once he would sit with a guitar or at a piano (which he still does occasionally) he now goes for walks and writes the tunes in his head.  Humming and singing into his phone. He got the idea from fellow Kindie artist Greg Schelsa (from Greg and Steve). Dan’s taken to it and plans to use the spring and summer ahead to walk and work more prolifically.  Sounds like an excellent plan.  So go on and buy the app, check out Wonder Wheel if you haven’t heard it and as always go support a kindie artist today.  I highly recommend the works of Dan Zanes!  

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