singer songwriter producer
VIRGINIA 1957 to 1977
As a suburban child growing up in the 1960s, Valentine watched cartoons, musicals and movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s on TV, all of which featured mostly orchestrated classical or big band music. His parents played big band music on their Hi Fi, and the radio played pop, rock, soul and other genres from the 50s and 60s often played back to back with no concern for target audiences or categories. Moving to the country at 10, Valentine created his first songs strolling the fields and the dirt roads that ran through his family farm near the Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah River in Virginia. Entering his teens in the 70s he wrote classical poetry whose set meters and rhyme schemes later perfectly suited the lyrics he wrote for his rhythmic melodies. In the late 60s and early 70s several older brothers and sisters exposed him to rock and folk music much of which today would be considered Americana or Country or punk or grunge. He saw Monroe and Flat and Scruggs at Blue Grass Festivals, big bands at debutante parties, all the big acts, many on their way up, Van Morrison and Stanley Turrentine in DC, Bruce Springsteen in the old gym at UVA, Little Feat at a college field party, The Guess Who, Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Brown, little jazz or blues groups in Harlem dive bars, and numerous others. The music of the 50s, 60s and 70s contained a vast variety of genres and mixes of genres and Valentine was exposed to it all. Valentine likes what’s good in every genre but could never find what he wanted anywhere, so he created it himself.
WASHINGTON DC 1978
Valentine searched for a place to sing the jazz standards during his scant time off from running Precinct Operations simultaneously for US Congressman Frank Wolf and US Senator john Warner in the 10th District of VA. But there was little demand anywhere for jazz standards in 1978.
Whether roughnecking on oil rigs in Houston, two stepping at Mickey Gilley’s honky tonk in Pasadena where Urban Cowboy would later be filmed, catching Dire Straits or Stevie Ray Vaughn at The Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, or going to Willie’s Fourth of July picnic, Valentine was exposed to Texas music in the late 1970’s and return visits in the 1980’s.
NEW YORK 1980 to 1982
While modeling with Elite in New York in the early 80’s, Valentine attended many a party with music notables at clubs like Studio 54, Bonds, Lime Light, or smaller discotheques like Danceteria. He saw a bunch of rock and punk acts like Chrissie Hynde with The Pretenders and Dale Bozzio with Missing Persons at clubs like The Roxy, The Palladium, The Mud Club, a young Sting with The Police near Washington Square, Debbie Harry or the Ramones at CBGBs, even The Rolling Stones at Saint Mark’s Place Bar and Grill. Otherwise you’d find him at the jazz bars. His staples were Red Mitchell and Ray Bryant at Bradley’s, Sarah Vaughn at The Vanguard, Swing Street clubs or Harlem blues clubs. He was just beginning to vocalize seriously then but lacked guidance. Here he created his most musically sophisticated songs, more naturally belonging at the end of one’s musical development, jazzy “Vegas” showtunes with radical chords and inversions and mature lyrics, all Broadwayesque showtunes in minor keys with heavy jazz chords, the beginnings of his Vegas showtune library: shoes on the street, prowess and principle, what’s another bruise, angels, button down boys, blood is flowin’, and new york city.
AROUND the WORLD 1982 to 1985
With the AIDS scare and the people of the New York fashion world literally dying off, Valentine traveled the world on the strength of his Elite NY fashion model credentials, modeling and writing songs over a four year period in Mexico, Sydney, Singapore, where he sang once with the Singapore orchestra, Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Milano, Paris and London, San Francisco and Chicago. It would be a four year excursion which produced lyrics and stories for musicals, but he did not yet know how to write music and concentrated most of his time on philosophy and political research.
LAS VEGAS 1985 to 1987
In 1985 he bought a dilapidated 1966 corvette and moved to a Las Vegas of only 300,000 looking just like Sinatra had left it. He immersed himself in singing and learning how to write the 50 showtunes he had created and memorized a cappella over the 7 preceding years. He studied music at UNLV and hired a number of jazz pianists as tutors quickly settling exclusively on Hal Stesch. He took a summer to study in Chicago with fascinating horror picture composer who shared his love for forgotten classical chords and inversions, then returned to Vegas in late 1986 to record his entire 50 song Vegas showtune library as piano-vocal demos with pianist Billy Tragesser before heading off to Hollywood to learn how to write screenplays for his musical stories.
LOS ANGELES 1987 to 2000
After learning screenwriting at UCLA, and writing his three musicals in screenplay form, Valentine met with the same derisive attitude towards showtunes and filmed musicals in late 80s’ LA as he had in early 80s’ New York. Sunset strip was in its big hair band glory days soon to be replaced by grunge and hip hop, and Hollywood was in its action hero era. He received a cold reception from the few second rate music industry connections he could muster. In 1991 he auditioned at the Blue Moon but walked out midway feeling unprepared and out of sync with the pianist. Except for s few new songs Valentine dropped his music over the next twenty years in favor of his steadfast calling to create political solutions. He did some screenwriting, directing and producing, but foolishly, did not pursue acting. Exceptions were movie songs like nailed, the title track to a 1991 art film he made in one weekend; snowflakes, bingo bango bongo, let yourself fly and unspoken words, written for some of the 50 screenplays he wrote; and doghouse, a breakthrough song written on a rare vacation to a friend’s wedding in Atlanta, which would become the basis for Valentine’s Nashville library.
MIAMI BEACH 2000 to 2006
With his constitutional amendments complete, Valentine moved to Miami to make a movie to get some name recognition and allow him to create awareness for his amendments. His first movie was a promising $125,000 effort, ‘Romantic Schemer’, which proved he could do it; his second was a $250,000 attempt to be the first movie about terrorism, ‘4/11’. Neither attracted distribution of any kind, and attempts to get his amendments exposed repeatedly failed, so Valentine turned to political music videos, a game he had the funds to play at an A level, unlike movies. He wrote 20 songs, half political and half commercial, and chose 10 to take to Nashville to do some trial recordings.
Valentine arrived in Nashville in late 2006 and rented a place for a month near the Musica Statue at the top of Music Row. He spent a week looking for a studio to record a 10 song demo. At the end his search and the end of the row he entered the most hillbilly looking of all the studios on Music Row owned by Piano player Jay Vern who recorded country radio demos by day and jazz by night, the perfect fit for Valentine’s music. For demo sessions Jay had already assembled Danny Parks on guitar, Larry Franklin on fiddle, living legend Roby Turner on pedal steel, and Jay on piano, all of whom play on all 45 songs of Valentine’s Nashville library. Jay wrote some Nashville number charts from Valentine’s notated charts, and they recorded the songs. 7 of the 10 had the sound Valentine sought. The bass and drum parts were later overdubbed by Brian Fullen on drums, who Valentine found though Danny Parks, and Adam Lucas whom he found in Miami. Both also play on all the Nashville songs.
The sessions players asked Valentine what music group his songs were like, but the answer was none. Valentine told them that he did not want the country radio style or any template styles, but he did want the virtuoso playing of these gifted American musicians. With only three passes per song, Valentine did his best to quickly communicate with the musicians who sounded great even though asked to play outside their comfort zones.
MIAMI BEACH 2007 to 2010
Valentine returned to Miami to mix the songs and record final vocals but found that all three takes were not saved, only the best take was, so he had to heavily edit what little music he had, even futilely editing individual notes in an attempt to create some of the inverted triads that had been lost in number chart translation. Still Valentine had enough music to edit an approximation of the sound he’d been seeking, even though he bass lines were all wrong and had to be recorded several years later along with the drums. In editing he rearranged or illuminated the ‘dovetailing’ and ‘baton passing’ of riffs he wanted even more of, and the ‘horn line’ style ‘gang licks’ which contribute to the ‘heard rhythms’ of the before-the-beat 2/4 rhythmic syncopations that make Valentine’s songs fun and sexy. Along with the excellent musicianship, it was enough to encourage him to write more songs and plan to return to Nashville to fix the first seven songs and dial in his sound on his new ones. But when the financial market collapsed in 2007, Valentine abandoned his music to spend two years studying the financial crisis before writing more songs, several of which were economic and political in nature and would be used to appeal to Americans to vote in a new congress and senate in order to pass his problem solving amendments to the US constitution.
NASHVILLE 2010 – 2012
In November 2010 Valentine moved back to Nashville and rented a place on Belmont Boulevard in the middle of Belmont University’s social center. He had high hopes for a leisurely paced three month schedule for number charting and recording. This time when they asked what song or artist he wanted his new songs to sound like, he could play Doghouse or one of the other songs they themselves had recorded a few years earlier, just without Valentine’s new walking bass lines and sophisticated triads, both of which would prove far more daunting than Valentine could ever have imagined, as three months turned into eighteen. He was further interrupted by a four month political hiatus as he launched The Valentine Amendments website and related interfaces in response to the stimulating Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. He finally succeeded in recording and returned to Miami to do post production.
MIAMI BEACH 2013 to 2017
Back in Miami Valentine had to spend six months’s editing his songs, and recording final vocals in a booth he created in his condo that sounded better than the half million dollar studio booths he used in Nashville. His work on a full constitution was interrupted by upgrading a mixing studio, off and on mixing of the entire 45 songs library, re-recording all the bass parts, and return trips to Nashville to overdub poorly recorded drum tracks and record additional fills and solos. The first dozen songs were finally released in early 2016 as Valentine hurried to bring his newly finished constitution into the national awareness. In an attempt to “go viral” on YouTube in the summer of 2016 Valentine created two more songs on midi for music videos: “moffuffy” and “trippin’ honky”.