Talks to Ray Winch

Interview Links How did you begin creating music?

R.W.: I guess it started when I was very young. I always loved music. My Dad played piano and bass, and there was a guitar and a trumpet in the house. So I had access to a lot of instruments. I had one of those briefcase-style record players when I was about 4 years old! I remember looking at a record with the grooves in it and wondering what sounds it held. It was like magic! Yeah, I know, records are history. But I still have all of mine and it still feels good to put the needle down on the vinyl once in a while! I don't remember how I actually began making music. It's always been an important part of my life so it seems a natural way to express myself. What musician or musicians have inspired you the most? How about other artists or authors?

R.W.: I guess the top of the list would be have to be Joni Mitchell. Her music has always seemed to speak right to my heart and to my head at the same time. I can't imagine what my life would be like without her music. I went to see her when she played at "A Day in the Garden" a few years back. That was a concert on the original site of Woodstock. Before she went on I went down close to the stage and I was surrounded by other Joni fans. It was a very emotional scene. As I looked around, a lot of the people had tears in their eyes as we waited for Joni to come out. She hadn't played in the Northeast for 15 years. It was very powerful to see for the first time this woman whose music had such a strong effect on our lives. That was my Woodstock! That experience had a strong effect on me as a musician. It takes a lot of hard work to put an album together. And when you're relatively unknown you get a lot of rejections from the music industry. Sometimes when I get tired and I wonder why I do it, I think of the effect other musicians have had on my life, and I realize I do it not for the money or the attention...but I do it because it matters. What do you want your music to communicate?

R.W.: I suppose my songs are an expression of how I see the world. They seem to have a positive outlook ... even when they're about sad topics. I tend to be realistic, but hopeful at the same time. A lot of my songs are soul-searching and introspective. They're generally not angry or hateful. There are enough of those songs out there already. I guess I still carry some of the hippie values. Peace Maaan! (gives the peace sign and laughs) If you could jam with any artists, living or dead, who would they be?

R.W.: Paul McCartney ... not just because he's a great bass player, but because he seems like a cool person too. I guess that would be the criteria... great musician/cool person. So I'd have to include in no particular order ... Jimi Hendrix, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Joni Mitchell (of course), any Beatle..... I'm sure I forgot a bunch, but you get the idea. What record would you rescue first from a burning house?

R.W.: Oooh that's a tough one! There are probably about 50. Like Abbey Road, any Joni album, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, John Coltrane's Blue Train, Harry Chapin's Live Album... But I guess if it really came down to it ... I'd have to rescue my dog! What's the most embarrassing album in your collection--your guilty pleasure?

R.W.: I'm not really embarrassed about any albums I have. If you saw my record collection, you'd think it belonged to ten people. I like a lot of different music. There are some albums I keep for the goofy value. I went to school at Berklee College of Music in Boston and there was a used record store where you could get records really cheap. They used to have this thing called a grab bag which was 10 records in a sealed brown paper bag for a dollar! I'm a sucker for that kind of thing! One of the more forgetable albums I got was by a band called Piggy Go Getter Tear Gas! I think it was from the late '60's. I keep it because I think maybe I'm missing something and one day I'll get it. Then again maybe I won't! (laughs) What's your favorite book?

R.W.: I have a lot of favorite books, so I'll just throw out the first one that comes to mind. The Dead Zone by Stephen King. It's a great story. The movie was excellent too.

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