It’s tempting to call singer/songwriter Seth Swirsky a late bloomer. After all, the 50-year-old musician released only his second solo album, “Watercolor Day,“ earlier this year. But that doesn’t account for the hit singles he wrote for Celine Dion, Taylor Dayne, Al Green and other pop mainstays, or the albums cut with his celebrated side project, The Red Button.
” brims with youthful enthusiasm all the same, a psychedelic toast to the ‘60s layered with tasty melodies. From the efficient beauty of “Summer in her Hair” to the sumptuous title track, “Day” is both timeless and retro. The 18-track album leverages our affection for the Summer of Love as a starting point for thoroughly original compositions.
Musical success struck Swirsky early - he had barely entered his 20s when he penned a jingle for Thomas' English Muffins. He soon found steady work supplying songs for some of the music industry’s biggest acts.
“I really wanted to make it, but wasn’t sure what form it would be,” Swirsky recalls. Writing for fellow musicians held instant appeal for him.
“I could write R&B music for bands I grew up listening to, then switch and do real pop stuff,” he says, adding he remembers buying the albums of bands for whom he‘d later write songs.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to hear their voices on my songs,” he says. The singer/songwriter just couldn’t write music for himself.
“In my 20s I didn’t have enough to say … I didn’t have the confidence yet,” he says. His songwriting career fed his musical appetites - for a while. That changed in 2004 with the release of his first solo album, “Instant Pleasure.”
“Now, I can never turn back. I can’t write for other artists,” he says.
Swirsky’s musical career often gets set aside for other creative projects. He’s written three baseball-themed books, contributes to right-of-center outlets like RealClearPolitics.com
and National Review Online
and just wrapped a documentary five years in the making.
"BeatlesStories,” makes its world debut at 12:30 p.m. Sept 20 at The Berklee School of Music at 939 Boylston Street. The film finds Swirsky interviewing notable Beatles fans like Art Garfunkel, Sir Ben Kingsley and Davy Jones, plus three of the band’s former engineers.
“Watercolor Day” might sound like the work of a tie-die clad hippie, but Swirsky left his liberal thinking behind
a few years back. He once wrote hate letters to President Richard Nixon and voted for Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 elections. Watching the Left react to the 9/11 attacks helped convince him to switch ideological sides.
“My liberal friends say, ‘you write such Beatles-esque ’60s songs. Where’s the love, dude?,’” he says. “All you need is not love … you need a strong U.S. military. You need food on your table. Love is great to have, but it’s about eighth on the list. That‘s the transformation.”
His conservatism “comes up a lot” with his liberal friends in the music business, he says, but he rarely kick starts a political debate with them.
“I find my friends on the left get very emotional very quickly,” he says. “I don’t want to bring a vibe into a writing session that I know will make them frustrated.”
And rather than hammer home his ideology, he prefers to point out how many of his left-leaning pals actually lead lives brimming with conservative values.
Sometimes Swirsky feels compelled to share his political thoughts with the world, only to follow up an op-ed with an impromptu jam session.
He first picked up a guitar at the age of seven and says he has no desire to stop making music. He might not have the name recognition of, say, Lady Gaga, and his records are more likely to be spun on SiriusXM's The Loft over Top 40 radio stations. That doesn’t matter in an age when hundreds of fans can follow him on Twitter or Facebook as easily as tuning in a local FM station.
“My records have sold very well. They’ve asked me to tour in Europe. It’s amazing to have this happen at this time in my life,“ he says.