Life she can be a roller coaster, a ferris wheel, a burst of laughter while walking along the boardwalk. For some these times are their best, ones they recall warmly. Up and down, round and round it is laughter in our minds that keeps tomorrow's dreams alive.
Singer-songwriter Bruce Sudano shares his fondest memories and how much there still is yet to come.
Song River: As we grow older, are our memories all we have left? Can we still look to our future dreams?
Bruce Sudano: I can only speak for myself but as for me, absolutely. I look to my future dreams. That's what keeps me alive, that's what keeps me vibrant and passionate about what I do. You know, it says in the Bible without a vision the people perish. So, I'm grateful that I continue to have a dream and to have a goal and something to live and strive for. It is important for all of us to live with purpose, that doesn't have to change with age.
SR: How do you balance what you are observing and feeling at the moment when it comes to both joy and sadness as a writer?
Bruce Sudano: I think it's important to be realistic but also to maintain a positive outlook. And I do that by not focusing on the negative all the time. I have a lot to be grateful for and I live with a sense of gratitude. If you only focus on what's wrong with everything that can bring you to a very dark place. So, I choose to dwell on the good because there is much that is good in the world and I believe it far outweighs that which is bad.
As it applies to me as a writer well, certainly with this current record, 21st-century world, I've chosen to focus on some aspects of our culture that I think need to be questioned. Whether it be the role of government or the effect of social media in our lives or the epidemic of single motherhood but I don't believe that focusing on these things is necessarily negative. I think a conversation is good and hopefully, through dialogue, things can change and improve.
SR: You are a songwriter, a storyteller, a yarn spinner. Could your feelings and observations have crossed over to authoring books or for a songwriter are the feelings so condensed that they must come out only through a song?
Bruce Sudano: To this point in my career I've never had the inclination to write a book. My stories tend to be isolated incidents of people in different situations. I like to get to the point and create an emotion, elicit some feeling of empathy or understanding from the listener. One of the reasons why I still like to make albums is because this is my way of broadening the story by overlapping issues and emotions and concerns. It's not always necessarily a specific theme but somehow all the songs tend to intertwine and relate to each other in some way.
SR: At what age did this gift for songwriting personify itself?
Bruce Sudano: I can't really say the gift personified itself. For me, it began with a desire.I had a great innate admiration for songwriters. It was something that I intrinsically felt as a worthy and desirable occupation. So I just decided I wanted to be a songwriter and I started writing songs. I listened a lot, I read a lot and I tried a lot and at first, I'm not sure I could say it was apparent that I had a gift but I did work at it. Not that I do consider it work because I don't, in truth it's my passion and my escape.
It's the one place I can go, all by myself and not deal with reality. Inside me, it's an alternate universe. I see it as a combination of craft and inspiration.
SR: You have written songs for some notable vocalist. Was there any particular song that you gave another singer that you wished you hadn't?
Bruce Sudano: No, never, not to this point anyway. You know as a songwriter, I've always felt completely flattered and empowered by the fact that another singer would choose to do something I wrote. To me, it's a great compliment and I usually learn something from someone else's interpretation, some nuance that I didn't even know was there.
It's like someone telling you what a beautiful and talented child you have.
SR: It would seem you had not only a working relationship with Donna Summer, but you both were also very dear friends. When and how did you two connect?
Bruce Sudano: Well, we were friends, lovers, partners, husband and wife and in that sense, we were one. We built a life together. We met on March 13, 1977, at the home of the mutual friend. We immediately hit it off as people and began writing songs together. We both knew instantly our lives have changed.
SR: Coney Island Days seem almost wistful. How much of the boy and how much of the man was you?
Bruce Sudano: Well in some ways it's very much me as I remain very closely in touch with that little boy in me. It's someone that I recognize was always there and has always remained and I don't expect him to ever leave. He's a big part of who I am. At the same time I'm not someone who spends a lot of time looking back reminiscing about the past so in that sense no, it's not me. I do appreciate the past but most of my energy is spent on today with a dream for tomorrow.
Charlie, the character in this song, is more someone who is living in a place of reminiscence with a sense of regret about opportunities he missed due to things that happened in his childhood, things that bound him, that he could never break free from. Yet, he's come to a place where he's at peace with it all and acceptance. I would imagine in the end, we all live with a little bit of a sense of we didn't accomplish all that we would've hoped to.
SR: Talk a bit about your latest work. What is it about this place and time the '21st Century' in thoughts set to music brings to light?
Bruce Sudano: Well we live in a very interesting time. We live in an instant society. It's like instant coffee, it's not brewed but it's quick and it's nonstop all the time. And as with all things, there's good and bad but it's important to be aware, to be cognizant of the pitfalls, to recognize them, to try and put them in check so that they don't overwhelm us, take over and everything goes spinning wildly out-of-control. This is the challenge of mankind, keeping the ship steady in the water as we proceed through the darkness until morning comes.
SR: Our roots are our foundation. Home is where the heart is ultimately. For you Bruce, even though you have lived in Los Angeles for years, where is your heart?
Bruce Sudano: The root and core of who I am and who I always will be are a kid from Brooklyn. A neighborhood guy with a sense of fairness, of right and wrong, loyalty, with an awareness of the world and a dream. However, I've lived a life on the move. I've lived in LA for a long time, I lived in Nashville for a long time and now I spend a lot of time in Milan. In each of these places, I've found things that I can take from them that live in me and parts of me that I can bring and leave to broaden their intrinsic dynamic. It's a beautifully eclectic building built on a foundation of middle-class ethics, family, friends and the Holy Spirit that lives inside.
SR: When you look towards your future Bruce what is it you see, hear and hope for?
Bruce Sudano: I see deep roots, I see legacy, I see that what I do today can contribute to the world of tomorrow even in the smallest way. For me, then it has a purpose, then it has meaning. I see dreams in the eyes of children, I hear their voices singing in freedom. I hope for a world of peace, I hope for a culture of compassion, I hope for a nature of people in whom love is the motivator.
Bruce Sudano - Coney Island Days