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In the early days Ahmet Ertegun drove through the streets of New York in a station wagon peddling records; he would eventually create one of the most iconic labels—Atlantic Records. Many artists that were discovered by him found a home in Atlantic, their music went on to fill record store shelves, and airwaves as generations watched music blossom, change, and influence not only other artists and fans, but pop-culture as well.
In Boston Massachusetts, home to legendary venues such as The Boston Tea Party, and “The Rock of Boston,” WBCN 104.1 FM, spawned many successful artists that added to the plethora of talent at his disposal; Ertegun, like the wise owl in the woods poised high upon his perch, invested his time one specific area-hopeful that would persevere and preserve his status as a Boston music legend—Charlie Farren.
Farren’s résumé spans over four decades. He began his career in 1980 as the front man for Balloon, The Joe Perry Project, and later branching out with his own band Farrenheit. He has charmed audiences, world-wide through his “amazing journey” doing one of the things he loves best: making music.
These days, Farren keeps quite busy; he designed the F-MAN guitar, (his signature axe), developing and building it with Dean Campbell (Campbell American Guitars, Pawtucket, RI.) He occasionally performs with Farrenheit, and at the Legends of Boston Concert Series, with fellow area greats such as his FBI counterpart Jon Butcher, James Montgomery, Joe Pet, members of the J. Geils Band, and The Cars. He spends a majority of his time writing, performing, and working on his solo career, which he thoroughly enjoys. He is sincere in his description of making that connecting with the people, “I enjoy very much playing with a band, but performing solo; it’s much different going out there ‘without a net’ and sharing that intimate setting with the audience.”
With no particular methods, Farren continues to work through his ideas watching them develop into what he feels is complete, growing stronger; he attributes it to doing what he loves, “I write every day… Some guys practice, I don’t practice—I play. I’m always working on bridges, or riffs. I’m constantly laying down tracks, old or new ideas. I’m always walking around with a group of songs; it could be quite different, anything from a ‘Led Zeppelin’ style, or something bluesy… I keep working with it. Sometimes I finish and know I have a record… sometimes finishing means going back and doing it over from the beginning.”
He credits many for becoming the musician he is today; remembering the days of playing with Aerosmith great Joe Perry, and being nurtured by the legendary Ahmet Ertegun. He recalls the strict manner in which Ertegun encouraged him to perfect his style, “He helped me develop good song writing discipline… he was demanding…” Farren says. Benefiting from Ertegun’s strict, yet helpful guidance, “Listen, you think you’re the only one I’m torturing, I’m torturing Jimmy page and Paul Rodgers too—you’re not the only one who’s frustrated… Radio isn’t playing this kind of stuff; I’d go back and write more songs…”
And writing songs is what Farren has indeed accomplished; currently with his sixteenth release he brings a fresh new batch of works to the table—Tuesday a collection named after the title song written, (but never finished or released) by his friend, the late Brad Delp, former front man of the legendary band Boston, and Beatles tribute band Beetlejuice.
Farren remembers the first time he heard the song, “One evening Brad and I were at WCGY judging a songwriting contest on the air. After the show he brought me to his car to play me a song he was working on. I loved it the second I heard it… it reminded me of ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles. Farren continues, “As I was writing songs for this record, I was in my car listening to a CD of mixes, ironically, as I was listening through a working CD of my songs, the CD ended, and the radio came back on… What was playing?—“Yesterday!” It was like a tap on the shoulder, reminding me of Brad’s song. I thought: This would be a perfect addition!”
Although “Tuesday” was unfinished, Farren contacted Delp’s family to send him a demo, asking if they’d mind if he recorded it. They were supportive and enthusiastic. “I recorded guitar and vocal at my studio (The FMansion), and brought it to producer Anthony J. Resta (Elton John, Duran Duran, Collective Soul) who I regularly work with to put on the finishing touches… just to make it a complete work. I had a romantic Ballad, ‘Filling My Life with Love,’ (Lyrics co-written Andrea Surova), and thought it would compliment this song.
But perhaps there is more to this story than anyone will ever know: an uncanny twist reveals itself to Farren; he arrives at an appointment after mistakenly writing down the wrong date (a Tuesday) in his calendar. Farren explains, “Serendipity abounds, Brad Delp wrote that song as a lament reading about the death of John Lennon in the Tuesday morning paper the day after he was murdered… I learned about this after I went on the wrong day to a TV shoot… the fellow from the Beverly Cable station that met me, informed me that I had the wrong week written in my calendar. He mentioned that he knew Brad, and told me of the significance of ‘Tuesday’ otherwise I’d never have known—I wasn’t aware of the song’s connection to John Lennon!”
In a highly competitive industry, laden with corruption, ego, and jealousy, Farren stands out; he is the exact opposite, a gentleman and gracious to his fans and peers; qualities that not many in the industry share. He approached Delp’s family asking for their consent for him to speak openly to his audiences about Delp’s idea for “Tuesday,” his tribute, and feeling about Lennon’s death: They were pleased, giving him their full support.
Farren’s likeability and talent is what keeps him going, with as much as he has accomplished, he has not lost his humility; the side of Farren that sets him apart from many others, not only to honor a friend, but to continue to make great music and share it with others. Perhaps from somewhere beyond fate reaches out, playing a part in his decision to include “Tuesday,” perhaps a pure coincidence, but nevertheless, Farren has captured the magic and has used his talents to share it with the world. “I’m really proud of this collection, and I’m ‘psyched’ to be performing solo again,” he adds.
There may be no other logical explanation but there is an unexplainable element to what seems to be surrounding the mystery and what may have inspired Farren to include a great work bringing it to fruition, and until then the continued success lies ahead, beyond “Tuesday,” and for the days that will follow, and what they may bring. We will keep our ears open, and pay attention to what surrounds us, and keep listen’ to the “rock and roller.”
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