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It's Never Too Late to Dream!

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I’m Jeff Spoden and I’m a retired teacher raising money to fund my first album. I’d love for you to help!

I watched a folk singer offer up humorous, gender-related songs in the student union at Cal State Sacramento, and walked out knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I bought a guitar, began taking lessons, and started writing lyrics. And then……nothing. For a variety of reasons, I met with a lot of frustration and put my musical ambitions on the back burner, where they remained for forty years.

After floundering for a while, not knowing how I wanted to use my degrees in political science and environmental studies, I became a high school teacher and put most of my effort into being a good one. I helped a lot of kids make it through a tough time in their lives, and as a social studies teacher, also helped them to think critically, write, debate, speak articulately, become interested, active citizens, and use history to understand complicated modern events. I loved it. It was my passion. It was fun for both me and my students, and I considered myself very lucky to have selected just the right profession. I retired after 33 years in the classroom.

During all of those years I continued to love music, going to many concerts, getting together with friends for singalongs and jams, and, most importantly, continuing to write lyrics. I always had the sense that one day those lyrics would find the right music and would merge to create excellent songs. Because I wasn’t a very good musician myself, I always imagined that the music would come from someone other than me. I searched for collaborators. I wanted the magical fusion that all lyricists dreamed of: Bernie Taupin finding his Elton John!

It didn’t happen. But what did happen was that I decided that I didn’t need anyone else. I could dig deeper, work harder, and start believing in my own ability to craft strong melodies. After that life-altering decision, it all began to click, and I now have a basket full of really good songs.

What I don’t have is the money to pay the musicians who’ve been helping me, and to get us all into a top-notch studio. Studio time is very, very expensive, and I’ve been told that I’ll need from 12-15k to produce a quality album. I’ve turned to gofundme to raise this money.

Every dime contributed will be spent paying musicians, paying a professional producer, and renting studio time with experienced, talented technicians. As songs are completed, they’ll be posted on my website so that contributors can keep track of the album’s progress. I encourage you to do that, and I’ll be available to take comments and answer questions through the entire process.

On my website, you’ll find four rough demos, lyrics for those and the other eight songs that will be on the album, and to give you some idea of what’s to come in the future, lyrics to songs that will be out a little further down the road. All of this should give you a good sense of what my music is about, and whether or not you want to support it. I hope that you do, and I thank you with all of heart for any contribution.

It's not often that a 66 year-old man fulfills a lifelong dream, and it’s even more rare for that dream to involve music. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping to make it a possibility. If you like what you see and hear, please post my gofundme page to your favorite social media platforms!

(For those of who aren’t tired of reading, the following is one example of how I used music in my history classes. There are countless others, but this was a special moment!)

Music was always a part of my history classes, and during our unit on the Great Depression, Woody Guthrie would always make an appearance. I had my students bring in cardboard, wood scraps, and anything else that could be used a construct a shack, and we would make a Hooverville out on the far-backside of campus. When “Dustbowl Day” arrived, students would pack up their belongings and begin the trek to California, out of the class, down the hallway, outside, and around the building, stopping along the way to hear Woody tell stories and sing songs. Student “migrants” had lyric sheets and sung along, some sheepishly, some with gusto. Having arrived at the Hooverville, we would read from Grapes of Wrath and sing more songs. It was at this point that I’d introduce what I considered to be the greatest song ever written, and we would belt out a rousing rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” Not the sanitized version kids had sung around campfires, but Guthrie’s full song, which included verses devoted to the poor and disenfranchised – those who had been left out of the American dream.

On this particular day, the weather was inclement – dark and drizzly, with the threat of a downpour. I had warned students that class would be held at the Hooverville rain or shine, so their shacks should be built to withstand the elements. Some paid heed to the warning, and others, now a bit wet and uncomfortable, did not. Anyway, about midway through the song, the dark clouds overhead parted and beautifully exquisite rays of sunshine blanketed the entire area. At that moment, Woody was there, and we weren’t just singing – we were living the lines:

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

And as though I’d scripted it, the song concluded, and as everyone stood in awe of what had just happened, the clouds slammed back together and rain came down in sheets. Ignoring my previous promise to stay outside no matter what, I yelled, “Let’s go,” and began to hightail it back toward our building. Followed by 35 teens in varying degrees of dampness, we tumbled into our classroom just as the bell rang. They filed out again and headed to their next class, while I quietly sat and gave thanks to the spirits of Guthrie, Steinbeck, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Tom Joad for populating an educational experience that no textbook could touch.
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Donations 

  • Dezarina Bernales
    • $20 
    • 11 mos
  • Kathleen Flynn
    • $50 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Laura DellAnno
    • $25 
    • 1 yr
  • Richard Girling
    • $50 
    • 1 yr
Donate

Organizer

Jeff Spoden
Organizer
Concord, CA

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