Dabbling In the Black Arts With Nicholas Tremulis: The Chicago Way

I normally don't take jobs from artists. The request to supply blurbs or write liner notes usually comes with that implied sneaky little handshake with the bills folded in the palm and a wink that says, "No one needs to know, right?" The expectation is that for a hundred bucks or so, a writer will produce scribblings drenched in adulation and praise, burying any blemishes in passionate purple prose and a landslide of neon-light superlatives.

A wise journalistic friend of mine refers to this type of writing as "the black art," and it is in most cases. So I was hesitant to take on the task of writing the back-jacket notes to the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra's new album, For the Baby Doll, dropping June 18.

The question in my mind: "Why me? Why not someone else?"

Tremulis's comeback was that what I had written about the band over the years always seemed to be on target.

"And I just like the way you write."

He sent me over a 20-page narrative he'd written about his time in New York City. Filled with edgy characters, dope deals, topless dancers, crazy New York scenes, I found it mesmerizing. That was actually what sealed the deal for me.

MP3: Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, "You're Too Much But Never Enough"

MP3: Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, "You're Too Much But Never Enough"

So we reached an agreement. I would write the notes, really just one long explanatory paragraph about the music and the place where Tremulis was coming from when he wrote the songs, which celebrate a period in his life when he was learning what creativity is.

The kicker: I wouldn't get paid.

Here's what I wrote:

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