Winter Higland Falls

I grew up at West Point NY on the Military Academy Grounds. Right outside the South Gate was the town of “Highland Falls”. In the summer of 1975 Billy Joel moved into Highland Falls to write his “Turnstiles” album. One of the songs on the album that became popular (especially with the locals) was a song named “Summer Highland Falls”. However, nowhere in the song does he mention “Summer” or “Highland Falls”. He used to say if it was ok for Bob Dylan in “Rainy Day Woman” then he felt he could do the same thing. So, I figured if it was good enough for those two, why not do it as well.  Plus, it was the perfect metaphor, and since Billy Joel, never came up with “Winter Highland Falls” as a sequel, I decided I would grab it before he changed his mind. However, “Winter Highland Falls” is written about an entirely different subject matter than Billy Joels song. In mine, I wanted to discuss the decay of small towns across America and the consequent migration out of them. Small towns everywhere are being boarded up and essentially becoming ghost towns and young people are leaving in droves. I wanted to comment on it as I felt it was a topic that is not being talked about enough. Additionally, I like to reference lines and characters from other songs in mine.  In this song it’s “We got to get out of this place” by the Animals. (I always loved that song and wanted to give a little homage to it).  Now, from a musical and song structure perspective, the song borrows more from Bruce Springsteen than Billy Joels. Apparently. Bruce and I were both in love with the same girl (Wendy from Peter Pan).  He swept her up and took her out of town in “Born to Run”.  I do the same in “Winter Highland Falls” where I sing “Wendy take me by the hand. Head out in the night. Find your Neverland”. One of the musical devices I’ve noticed that Bruce Springsteen uses a lot is to change the song’s key when the band heads into a saxophone solo. I used this same idea during the instrumental break where I change key three times before I circle back to the original one. The idea was to give the image of riding on a motorcycle through the winding backroads in search of “Neverland” and the “Lost world of Rock and Roll”. And although we did use Tenor and Bari saxophone throughout this passage, I purposely moved away from a Clarence Clemons signature style of playing and more towards what you might hear on Mink Deville’s “Coup de Grace” album.  I also wanted a unique outro musically to close the song. We decided on using sax and violin together as the lead instruments for it, and I absolutely loved the results. I wound up playing guitar on this song.  The other musicians included: Stephen Haaker on Drums; Rob Hall on Bass; Fabian Chavez on Sax; Bonnie Brooksbank on Violin; Ethan Sherman on Mandolin and Diana Ortiz, Harrison Crenshaw, and Phoebe Crenshaw on backing vocals. Brett Grossman and Stephen Haaker again shared Production and Engineering  duties and we recorded the song at Perfect Sound Studio's in Frogtown CA and Cosmic Voyager Studio in Encino. It was Mastered at the Lodge in NYC by Emily Lazar... Additionally, you can find a video I put together for this song on Youtube

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