Richard X. Heyman is a singer-songwriter who writes pop songs, but you already knew that.
“Copious Notes” is the name of his new record, and it contains 12 beautiful new songs.
Subdued and reflective. At times, Heyman chooses to show that his roots are in New Jersey.
Listen to, for example, “Choices We Make”.
On Saturday nights, I’d like to hear that song in a version of Southside Johnny.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Richard about how he and his wife Nancy worked on the new songs.
How did this record come together?
“Copious Notes” began in the summer of 2020. It was a harsh climate here in the U.S. The pandemic was peaking, and the political and social mood of the country was polarizing. After the release of my previous album, “Pop Circles,” I decided to take an extended break from making music. I had lost interest in writing songs and didn’t even touch or play any instrument for many months.
One day I sat down at the piano and started fiddling around. I came up with a couple of waltzes which eventually turned into the song “Cedarbrook Park.” As the days went on, I kept on writing more piano instrumentals. Every now and then, Nancy would ask about a particular piece and suggest I demo some of them. That is how this new album came to be.
I subsequently turned those tunes into songs by adding lyrics and arrangements, sometimes combining two into one.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
This album was written and recorded while we were in quarantine. Though it is subtle, the lyrics reflect the atmosphere around us. The opening line of the first track, “Nearly There,” is “The dark is getting to you, in this you’re not alone/But there’s a bright spot waiting where the light once shone.”
In “Tell Me When,” I tried to address the division in the country, and I suppose, the rest of the world. “If now ain’t the place where we can change the course of what’s going on, if now ain’t the time to rearrange the world that we stand upon, then please tell me when.”
The song “Oval” is about being open to discover that things aren’t always as they seem or were initially presented to you. I love that you can learn something new about yourself and the world around you at any time in your life. “Once I thought the world was round…it’s oval, and tiny as a gem.”
I was thinking one day how an event that was so cataclysmic could unite people who were so feverishly opposed to one another. All the problems and conflict would evaporate and become insignificant.
From the song “One and All”:
“Sides were drawn and the split was wide,
And before too long we saw the rising tide,
When the waves grew into a giant wall,
And it rained on all the people, one and all.”
The album concludes with a glimmer of hope and optimism with “The Greater Good”:
“To the greater good that’s waiting there,
Though times are tough, hardships everywhere
Looks like we’re pushed past the breaking point
This whole damn world seems out of joint
But all this love that we saved up
Can be withdrawn to fill this loving cup
For the greater good.”
“To the greater good that we can share
It’s within us now if we don’t despair
A brand-new day is close at hand
Happens overnight, like falling sand
What we’ve been through will be overcome
If we do our part we can reach the sum
Of the greater good”
Cassettes are back. Which five songs would make your first mixtape?
- “Dancing in the Street” – Martha & The Vandellas
- “Twist and Shout” – The Isley Brothers
- “When Will I Be Loved?” – The Everly Brothers
- “Move On Up” – Curtis Mayfield
- “Out of Sight” – James Brown
These are, of course, just the first songs that popped into my mind. They all make me happy and remind me why I love music. If I was asked this question every five minutes, each list would be very different!
Recording music – what’s all the fun about?
Recording for me is an arduous process. Unlike a band, I start each song by banging out a drum performance. There is no music other than me singing to myself (not particularly fun!). Then I put on a piano. From there, it’s a matter of laying down one part at a time. All the vocals and each instrument.
Nancy engineers and has lately been playing a lot of bass.
The fun part for me, at least, is when all these elements are completed, and I can lie back on our bed (we record all this stuff in our bedroom except for the drums, which are done at Eastside Sound Studios) and listen to all our efforts and hopefully enjoy what has finally coalesced into a song.
You can’t control the way people “hear” your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects you think set your songs apart, what would they be?
First and foremost, I hope, the entire song washes over them, and they feel the emotion that I tried to put into it. I really hope the listener, maybe after the initial hearing of a song, latches on to the lyrics. I think when dealing in a melodic harmony-based genre, the words can be overlooked. I put a lot of effort and care into the lyrics, and it’s nice when I get a note from someone about that aspect of the recording. It’s not for me to critique the music I put out there.
I will say that it comes from my heart and soul, and I try to do the best job possible with each release.
“Choices We Make” can be found on the Sweet Sweet Music’s favorite Power Pop Songs of 2021 Spotify playlist.