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(Artwork by Megan Massa)

“There Are Birds” is an album about birds, nature, the passage of time, and my relationship with these things and more. It’s my story told from a bird’s perspective and the birds’ stories revealed through my worldview.

I have been an avid bird watcher since 2004, so much so that my passion for birds nearly eclipsed my passion for music. But a few years ago, the death of a former bandmate brought me back to performing. When a musical lightning bolt struck in early 2018, I decided to combine my love of birds with my love of music, and “There Are Birds” was born. The songs were completed in a matter of months. It was as if they had to be written; they simply flowed out of my head onto paper. My love of birds and the natural world is what supports me through my most challenging times. Birding always restores peace and calm to my soul. I sincerely hope you enjoy the music.

Watching birds at Ringwood Manor
In California
In the studio

Album Info

Album Info

Stephanie Seymour – lead vocals, backup vocals, percussion

Stephanie was the drummer for The Aquanettas, backup singer and percussion player for Psychic Penguin, lead singer and songwriter for Birdy, and has sung backup for too many bands to list here over many years. She really loves birds. And crystals.


Bob Perry – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards on “Ruby-crowned Kinglet”

Bob is an accomplished singer/songwriter and amazing guitar player with two solo albums under his belt: “American Standardsville” and “Light Fuse, Run Away,” both released on Cropduster Records. Bob was also a guitar player in the much-acclaimed band Winter Hours.


Ray Nissen – bass, string and brass arrangements, keyboards on “Black-throated Blue Warbler” and “Northern Lapwing”

Ray is known to play the occasional bass, guitar, or keyboard. But what he really loves is to compose and arrange for instruments he cannot play. And also cooking.


Sim Cain – drums

What do Rollins Band, Greg Ginn, David Poe, Marc Ribot, David Shea, Elliott Sharp, Ween, Hubert Sumlin, Evan Dando, Chris Harford, T-Bone Burnett, John Zorn, J. Geils Band, Billy Hector, and Rebecca Turner all have in common? If you guessed Sim Cain, you’d be correct.


Charlie Giordano – accordion on “Common Loon,” keyboards on “Northern Mockingbird” and “House Sparrow”

Charlie is a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. (mic drop)


James Mastro – lead guitar on “Black-throated Blue Warbler”

James has been in showbiz for 400+ years, playing with the likes of Ian Hunter, John Cale, Patti Smith, Health & Happiness Show, and The Bongos.


Garrett Faccone – trumpet, flugelhorn

Garrett earned a Master of Music Performance degree from Towson University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Slippery Rock University. Credits include: Trumpet Chair – The American Music Theatre (Lancaster, PA), 42nd Street the Musical (2016 US National Tour), In The Mood Live! (2015 US National Tour), and Blast! The Show (2014 Japan Tour).


Erick Storckman – trombone, bass trombone

Trombonist Erick Storckman has three jazz albums as a leader to his credit. He is the lead trombonist and a contributing composer to Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band. He’s recorded dozens of albums with a variety of artists and performed with a who’s-who list of popular artists, including The Temptations, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, Frankie Valle and The Four Seasons, and many Broadway shows. (ErickStorckman.com)


Ken Zampella – alto sax, tenor sax

Ken is a band and orchestra director at Piscataway High School, holding degrees in saxophone from Mason Gross School of the Arts and William Paterson University. In addition to serving as clinician, composer, and arranger for jazz and classical ensembles, he is also the founder and director of the Garden State Jazz Orchestra. Ken has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Westminster Abbey, the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in London, and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as recorded at the legendary United Sound Systems Recording Studio in Detroit.


Sherryl Marshall – backup vocals on “Migration Is Over” and “Blue Jay”

Sherryl Marshall is a singer/songwriter/backup vocalist/gardener. She also loves to paste tiny flowers on wood. Sherryl has sung with lots of people and is so happy to be singing with Steph and the birds!


Deborah Berg – backup vocals on “Migration Is Over” and “Blue Jay”

Deborah is a performing songwriter and recording artist who has written and recorded six albums in her 38-year musical career. She has recently released her third independent solo album, New Road Home. She was a Warner Brothers recording artist in the 1980s with Eye to Eye, her band with British music composer Julian Marshall. She feels grateful to have had many artistic opportunities through the years with a plentitude of talented friends and acquaintances in the NYC area. (deborahberg.com)


Mary Ann Emerson – backup vocals on “Northern Mockingbird”

Mary Ann Emerson is an occasional backup vocalist and former actor. She will never pass up the opportunity to sing with Stephanie.

Produced by Bob Perry
Mixed by Bob Perry and Stephanie Seymour
Engineered by Bob Perry and Scott Anthony
Recorded at Chrometop Studio
Mastered by Scott Anthony at Storybook Sound

©2019 All songs written by Stephanie Seymour
Published by Royal Greatness Music/ASCAP
All rights reserved.

Bio

Bio

An interview with myself:

Q: What is your musical background?
A: I was the drummer in The Aquanettas from 1989 to 1994. Our first record, “Love With the Proper Stranger,” came out on Nettwerk/IRS in 1990. In 1991 and 1992, through Major Label Records in the US and Plastic Records in the UK, we released a few singles: “Whoa!” which was NME’s Song of the Week, and the “Super Absorbent Maxi Single,” which contained a few singles in one. Our “Roadhaus” EP came out on Rockville in 1993. “Mind Full of Worry” was featured on the soundtrack for Hal Hartley’s movie “Amateur,” and “Beach Party” was on the “Kissed” soundtrack. We broke up around 1994, after we paid back Claudine’s mother, who had lent us $3,000. Such is the life of a rock and roll band.

The Aquanettas in 1989 (Stephanie is the blonde on the right!)

Q: When did you begin to sing?
A: In 1995, I joined Adam Roth’s wonderful 4-part harmony pop band called Psychic Penguin. We all switched around on instruments. I played drums on some songs, but I also had a percussion setup and sang backup vocals on all of the songs. By 1997, I had written an album’s worth of my own material. As Psychic Penguin waned, I formed my own band called Birdy, and that’s when I became a lead singer. We released two CDs on Cropduster Records in 1999 and 2002: “Supernominal Paraphernalia” and “Quarantine.” Cropduster was a collective, cooperative label. The people who owned the label were also on the label. It was a fantastic experience, and during that time I met my husband, Bob Perry (formerly of Winter Hours), who produced “There Are Birds” (as well as Birdy’s “Quarantine”).

Birdy

Q: I notice your previous two band names are bird themed. Coincidence?
A: Total freaky coincidence. I did not become a bird watcher until 2004.

Q: Who are some of your musical influences?
A: There are so many, but when it comes down to it, I’m drawn to pop music with a lot of harmony. I mean “pop” in the sense of The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, Crowded House, and The Beatles. But I love a variety of music, such as Elton John, The Police, Aimee Mann, U2, The Pretenders, The Go-Go’s, Fleetwood Mac, The Bangles, Linda Ronstadt, The Clash, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Emmylou Harris, X, The Carpenters, Stetsasonic, Concrete Blonde, Mike Viola, Pat Benatar, Matthew Sweet, Wendy and Lisa, Steely Dan, Patsy Cline, Heart, and Todd Rundgren.

Q: You also worked in the music industry for many years, yes?
A: I worked at Island Records and Virgin Records for a combined 16 years from 1986 until 2002. I did college radio promotion for quite a few years and then video promotion. Those were some of the best and craziest times of my life.

Q: How did you get into birding?
A: When Bob and I married, I moved from New York City, where I had lived for 20 years, to suburban New Jersey. One day I was searching online, and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count appeared. I decided to go out and count birds in my neighborhood with a very cheap pair of binoculars. As I watched little brown blobs with feathers, I realized I could not even identify a House Sparrow. The next day I bought a Peterson guide and carefully studied the House Sparrow. I knew they were common and figured they were mingling with my local Pigeon flock. I went outside and positively identified them, and I was hooked. The House Sparrow was my “spark” bird!

Q: What is it about bird watching that is so therapeutic?
A: It’s a complete distraction in the best possible way from worry and stress. When I am out in the field, whether it is simply in my yard or at a bird festival in another state, I am free from anxiety. I am completely focused on and excited about seeing birds. My mind is relaxed, and I feel calm and happy. Even if I’m having a very bad day in terms of depression and anxiety, bird watching always helps me feel better.

Tufted Titmouse in hand

Q: Can you talk a bit about the making of “There Are Birds”?
A: We recorded and mixed in the Bald Eagle room at Chrometop Studio, which is in our basement! Bob has created a fantastic environment. We have some excellent echo effect happening in our stairwell, so at one point co-engineer Scott Anthony suggested putting a mic in there to pick up some of that effect for the hard-rocking “Violet-crowned Hummingbird.”

Sim Cain (drums) and Ray Nissen (bass) completed all the basic tracks in one insanely fun weekend. Then Bob and I overdubbed guitars and vocals at our leisure and would pass off semi-finished songs to Ray, who wrote and arranged the brass and orchestral parts. The horn players recorded here for a day, as did Charlie Giordano (E Street Band), who played two of the most beautiful accordions I’ve ever seen.

Ken, Ray, Garrett, and Erick
Charlie and Stephanie

A special benefit of recording at home is that there is no time constraint. You don’t have to book a studio and be pressured into getting everything done within a certain time frame. We had a schedule that we tried to adhere to, but at the same time, we had the freedom to record when we felt like it.

Mary Ann and Stephanie

Q: How did you decide which birds to write about?
A: Many of the songs arose from actual events. For example, “Veery” is about going to my local nature center Flat Rock Brook when we lived in Englewood, NJ, and happening upon an unusually friendly Veery during migration. I sat down on the hill overlooking the horseshoe boardwalk, and the Veery kept hopping around me and listening to me talk to it. I went back the next day and there it was, and we did the same thing again. I visited the bird for a couple weeks until one day, it was gone.

“House Sparrow” was written about a bird that Bob rescued when he was mowing the lawn. She was nearly dead, but we took her inside and I put her in a box and gave her some water and food. I sat with her for a couple hours and sang to her, and I named her Emily. When she recovered, we tried to get her to fly out the window, but she got disoriented and started flying all over the room. Bob found a broomstick and got her to sit on it, and we took her over to a window and extended the broomstick far outside, so she wouldn’t mistakenly fly back in. Before she took off, she turned around and looked right at us, as if she were saying, “thanks for helping me,” and then she flew away and landed in a tree next to some other House Sparrows. I understand that House Sparrows are not native to this country, and I know they are considered pests (to put it nicely), but that bird needed help, and I wasn’t going to let her die if I could help it.

Other songs came about from the desire to write about specific birds, such as the Black-throated Blue Warbler, which is my favorite warbler. I was searching through my old lyric books on a whim and found what are now most of the verses for “Black-throated Blue Warbler,” although I rewrote some of them to fit the sentiment of the song. I wrote new lyrics for the choruses, and I thought it all fit together perfectly. My goal was to convey how migration evolved over a great expanse of time and how it is innate within the birds.

Among Cardinal flowers

Q: How did you choose Megan Massa to design the CD cover art?
A: I saw an article in ABA Magazine about Megan and began looking at her work on Facebook and some other sites. I absolutely loved what I saw and was very drawn to her images. This was a few months before the publication of the 50th anniversary edition of the ABA Magazine with her cover art for the Red-billed Tropicbird, which is ABA’s 2019 Bird of the Year. I contacted her, we talked on the phone, and I sent her some demos of all the songs. She roughed out 3 or 4 concepts based on our conversation, and we ran with the Black-throated Blue Warbler idea.

I wanted Megan to capture my sentiment that birds are here no matter what we humans do (well, barring complete environmental destruction, but that’s a whole other topic). They exist and go about their business whether we observe them or not. They migrate. They breed. They live and die. Hence, there are birds. But Megan also pointed out another theme running through my lyrics, which is the passage of time. I hadn’t been conscious of it until she mentioned it, but indeed it’s true, and it’s especially evident in the lyrics for “Black-throated Blue Warbler.” Megan was able to marry those two ideas in her stunning cover art. I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

Lyrics

Lyrics

Veery

I know these pathways like the back of my hand
I walk them almost every day
There’s someone out there who is waiting for me
If I sit very patiently

Out in these woods surrounding Flat Rock Brook
Where Scarlet Tanagers show off
A reddish thrush is skulking under some trees
Where I’m expecting us to meet

Flat Rock Brook, Flat Rock Brook

Veery
Come listen to me, let me talk to you
I know that you are only passing through
So for just a week or two, it’s me and you

I’ll take the red trail to McFadden’s Pond
Phoebes will nest under the bridge
But summer’s bounty is still springtime’s dream
Of wildflowers and honeybees

Veery
Come listen to me, let me talk to you
I know that you are only passing through
So for just a week or two, it’s me and you

So many spots are marked by memories of birds
But one is dearest to my heart
It’s where that thrush would hop right up to my feet
As words would carry in the breeze

Flat Rock Brook, Flat Rock Brook

Veery
Come listen to me, let me talk to you
I know that you are only passing through
So for just a week or two, it’s me and you
So for just a week or two, it’s me and you
So for just a week or two, it’s me and you


Northern Mockingbird

I repeat myself
Maybe that’s because you never listen
I repeat myself
Maybe that’s because you never listen

I am only tryin’ to warn ya
But my voice is lost upon ya
And the sound of the church bells always enthralls ya

And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
And no, no, please don’t think that I am mad
And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
Don’t think I’m mad, don’t think I’m mad

Because I’m not
Because I’m not
Because I’m not
I’m not

I repeat myself
I want you to hear me
I repeat myself
I want you to hear me

I am only tryin’ to warn ya
But my voice is lost upon ya
And the sound of the church bells always enthralls ya

And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
And no, no, please don’t think that I am mad
And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
Don’t think I’m mad, don’t think I’m mad

Because I’m not
Because I’m not
Because I’m not
I’m not

And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
And no, no, please don’t think that I am mad
And no, no, please don’t think that I am crazy
Don’t think I’m mad, don’t think I’m mad

Because I’m not
Because I’m not
Because I’m not
Because I’m not


Black-throated Blue Warbler

The moon was full, the leaves were dry
As late September sailed on by
And Mother Nature took a bow again
The flowers died, the fall crept in
The pumpkins stared with crooked grins
The mountain colors glowed magnificent

Black-throated Blue, it’s time for you
To make another journey—start anew
The cycle’s never-ending
And there is no time to wonder why
There is no other way to choose

The stars came out, December cried
As January crystallized
And Father Time became a child again
The galaxy, the universe
The darkness looming like a curse
The snow became a blanket heaven sent

Black-throated Blue, it’s time for you
To settle where your winter home’s in bloom
The cycle’s never-ending
And there is no time to wonder why
There is no other way to choose

The heavy air, an August noon
November couldn’t come too soon
The Devil smiled and clapped his hands again
The nest was bare, the babies gone
The father sang a sadder song
The waning summer failed to spare expense

Black-throated Blue, it’s time for you
To make another journey—start anew
The cycle’s never-ending
And there is no time to wonder why
There is no other way to choose


Northern Lapwing

Have you heard?
The birds are back again
But I don’t know when
They’ll fly away

Have you seen
The green and purple feathers?
And you wondered whether or not
They’d stay all day

I’m heading down to New Egypt
Where farmers wonder why
So many people have appeared
On muddy roads that are never clear

Have you heard?
The birds are back again
But I don’t know when
They’ll fly away

Every person on this highway
Drives by unaware
Of three birds that flew so far
Yet, magically, here they are

Blackbirds descend
With views that cameras crave
These images will not be saved
Not be saved
So in your mind’s eye
You have to remember

You have seen
Those green and purple feathers
And you wondered whether or not
They’d stay all day

Have you heard?
Have you heard?
There are birds


Blue Jay

Blue Jay you made my day
And you didn’t even try
But if you wonder why
It’s because of all the beauty that I see
When you’re in front of me

New day to wash away
The gray and rainy skies
The forest is alive
I’m sitting under green majestic trees
And having daydreams

Warm breeze stirs dragonflies
Bright feathers catch my eye
Blue, black, and white
I’m walking alone
You follow me home
You follow me home and call to me

Jay
Jay
Jay

Blue Jay you made my day
Because when our worlds collide
You take it all in stride
It’s just another part of your routine
‘Cause you remember me

Warm breeze lifts butterflies
Bright feathers catch my eye
Blue, black, and white
I’m walking alone
You follow me home
You follow me home and call to me

Jay
Jay
Jay


House Sparrow

This is the story of a girl named Emily
A girl named Emily, a girl named Emily
Some people might not even think twice
About a girl that I named Emily

You were small, you were so small
You were on the lawn, you were almost gone
There was life, there was a little life
So we found some shade in the addition we made, and

This is the story of a girl named Emily
A girl named Emily, a girl named Emily
Some people might not even think twice
About a girl that I named Emily

You were weak, you were so weak
But food and water made you stronger
You had spunk, you had a lot of spunk
You watched my eyes as I sat by your side, singing

This is the story of a girl named Emily
A girl named Emily, a girl named Emily
Some people might not even think twice
About a girl that I named Emily

Two hours later, you were as good as new
We brought you to the open window
Where we thought you’d fly right through
Whoever said “bird brain” never knew you
You looked back at us to say “thank you”
And then you flew
(We’ll never forget you)

This is the story of a girl named Emily
A girl named Emily, a girl named Emily
Some people might not even think twice
About a House Sparrow I named Emily
This is only one day in the life
Of a House Sparrow I named Emily


Common Loon

Aroostook stretches for miles around
My mother and father have never left town
The bullets, the border, the well, the water
My grandfather’s buried right next to his plow

I’m working these kids and my hands to the bone
You’d almost think Jesus was comin’ home
Tie the tourniquet tighter, ’cause I’m still a fighter
I’m just throwing my punches when I’m alone

And the Loon’s cries
Echo on the water
And the Loon’s cries
Echo

My baby will marry the love of her life
She’s been a great daughter, she’ll be a good wife
When she disappears, nothing’s keeping me here
Oh Caribou, you’re cold in the long, dark night

And the Loon’s cries
Echo on the water
And the Loon’s cries
Echo

He’s coming to get me, I’m giving you warning
His voice was unsteady, but so reassuring
The bat by the bed, or a gun to the head
Either way, I’ll be gone come the morning


Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet why ya look so scared?
That eye, that eye, that eye, that eye
Wouldn’t it be so nice not to care?
Not I, not I, not I

If you could see a brighter day
If you could see past Golden-crowns flying your way
If you could see a brighter day
If you could lift that weight

Ruby-crowned Kinglet why ya look surprised?
That eye, that eye, that eye, that eye
Wouldn’t it be so nice to see the sky?
Not I, not I, not I

In a world of great big things
You’re even smaller than you think
But just remember you’ve got wings
You’ve got wings, wings, wings

If you could see a brighter day
If you could see past Golden-crowns flying your way
If you could see a brighter day
If you could lift that weight

Ruby-crowned Kinglet why ya look so scared?
That eye, that eye, that eye, that eye
Wouldn’t it be so nice not to care?
Not I, not I, not I
Not I, not I, not I
Not I, not I, not I


Bald Eagle

Soaring…soaring

I’m here, I’ve appeared
No memory of where I’ve been
Don’t know where I’m going to
But I am soaring

All that I hear is the rush of the wind
All that I feel is the speed from within
And joy

I’m soaring…soaring

All that I hear are the feathers in flight
Turning my head, I can see black and white
Drenched in bright sunlight

I’m soaring…soaring

I’m so high, I can see Major Tom
How do I know all of these things that I do?
I know all of these things because I am an eagle too


Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Spread your wings and fly
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
A strong will to survive
It’s been a long, long, long, long road
For you and I

It takes a lot of wind from your sails
Just to live within this world and prevail
One day you’re down
And the next day you’re down again
When, oh when, will you feel better?
Then the nighttime comes and there is no need to pretend

Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Pathway through the sky
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
At feeder number 5
Waiting for the day
When you can thrive

When the sun begins to shine
It’s another chance to rise or resign
One hour you’re up
And the next hour you’re down again
When, oh when, will you feel better?
Then the nighttime comes and there is no need to pretend

Find food, find shelter
Find peace of mind in this helter-skelter
Oh, darling bird, don’t be scared
You can count on me ’cause I’ll be there
I’ll be there
I’ll be there


Yellow-headed Blackbird

I remember my favorite toy when I was three years old
I remember the first time that I saw the stars through a telescope
I remember where I stood when I heard the King had died
And I remember the very first bird that I could identify

And I remember when I saw you
And I remember thinking
Could it be true?

Yellow-headed Blackbird, how you stand out in a crowd
There’s no shadow of a doubt
When you sing your song out loud
Yellow-headed Blackbird, you’re an easy bird to miss
And you were my nemesis
But now you’re mine

And I remember when I saw you
And I remember thinking
Could it be true?

Yellow-headed Blackbird, how you stand out in a crowd
There’s no shadow of a doubt
When you sing your song out loud
Yellow-headed Blackbird, you’re an easy bird to miss
And you were my nemesis
But now you’re mine
Yellow-headed Blackbird, with your head of golden blond
Well I saw you in a pond
And now you’re mine

Could this be true?
This could be you
Believe it’s true
Believe in you
Imagine it’s true
Dreams can come true


Migration Is Over

Cape May Warblers dance in your dreams
Wilson’s, Prairie, Tennessee
I’ll meet you there in Central Park
6 o’clock sharp

We’ll begin in Strawberry Fields
With the songs of warblers filling our ears
Let’s go listen—what’s around?
Not a sound

Maybe they’ve flown down into The Ramble
Starting up here is always a gamble
I might have heard Parula again
But let’s discuss its pronunciation

We’re gonna find that one good bird in the park
If it kills us or not
We’re gonna find that one good bird in the park
If it kills us or not

On a day when it seems that your prospects are narrow
Make sure that you add your day-list House Sparrow
You’re listening hard for Bobolink pinkers
But all that you hear are skulking tea drinkers

We’ll find that one good bird in the park
If it kills us or not
We’re gonna find that one good bird in the park
It’s gonna kill us

What’s that constant knocking sound?
It’s just a cuckoo walking around
And it doesn’t have feathers

When there are more birders than there are birds
It’s May 29th or haven’t you heard?
When the Blackpoll Warblers have departed
And migration’s over before it even started

If you were from the United Kingdom
You would spot that Robin and be happy to see him
But this isn’t a day where we’re all feeling groovy
This isn’t the Central Park bird watching movie

It’s one of those days at 10 a.m.
When you want to start it all over again
Because summer’s almost here


©2019 All songs written by Stephanie Seymour
Published by Royal Greatness Music/ASCAP
All rights reserved.