New Song – Sisyphus Blues

This is a reworking of an older song, with a new melody and updated lyric. Because life is like that. Enjoy:

Sisyphus Blues

(D minor, drop D tuning)

Just when you think that life’s looking up
And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around
Just then you think that life’s looking down
Climbin’ up that hill
Slidin’ down that hill

Life’s looking up then it’s looking down
Ramblin’ up that hill
Tumblin’ down that hill

You might drink from that silver cup one day yeah but now you’re
Holdin’ on to what you will
Ridin’ on up and down that hill

Then comes the day when it all turns around yeah
Holdin’ on to what you will
Ridin’ up and down that hill

New Recording – A Plague of Frogs

I had a very nice Thanksgiving weekend.  Michelle came home for a visit, and we all went out to Long Island Thanksgiving day, and the rest of the time played some games and watched some movies and slept in every day day caught up on a bunch of random tasks. Among them…

I finally finished the song that could not be finished is finished.  A Plague of Frogs is probably to most complicated song I’ve attempted to record, arrange and produce, in the terms of number of interlocking themes, changes in sound and tone, overall length, and sheer number of tracks and layers.  In the end I made it a battle between sax vs. synth rather than sax vs. guitar, and I really leaned in to the bloopy, buzzy sound of the synthesizer to create an alien vibe.  After I did the synth solo I had to put it aside for a while.  I was in a phase of listening to heavily layered 80’s records like So, Synchronicity and Power Windows and had a bunch more ideas to further develop the arrangement.  But then I got to a place where the build up in the middle section was satisfying, and after that there was nowhere else to go.  I found myself sculpting the sound by taking things away rather than continuing to add more parts, and once that realization hit it was pretty quick to finish up the song and get to a good mixdown.  The rest of the kitchen sink will have to wait for other songs.  

So here it is.

I hope you enjoy!

New Song – A Plague of Frogs

The concept for my new song is a battle on the planet Mars between the humans and an alien invader from another solar system.  It’s sort of a mash up of By Tor and the Snow Dog by Rush and I.G.Y. by Donald Fagen.

I’ve been working on this one a while.  In fact I started it during the sessions for Elixr, two albums ago.  And the intro riff has its origins in a piece I did called Futbol Anthem, way back when I worked for an ad agency in the ’90s.

It’s very much an in-the-studio creation, and it takes advantage of ProTools’s ability to make arrangements you’d probably never do with a live group, with shifting meters, stacked synth and drum layers, etc.  Still, the goal is to make a song that’s enjoyable to listen to for the whole nine-plus minutes, an entertaining ride, sorta like a movie for the ears. 

My friend Dazza agreed to do the guitar solo.  In solo section in the middle, the sax represents the humans and the earth, while the guitar represents the aliens on Mars.  They battle it out, trading riffs and building intensity, something like a boss fight in a video game.  Then on to a big unison riff section.

But we’re still recording all that, so for now here are the lyrics.  Enjoy!

A Plague of Frogs (International Space Year)

Peace on Earth – war on Mars!
Epic conflict among the stars
Space invaders from afar
Challenge the humans to keep the red planet ours

Cosmic war – a plague of frogs!
Now descend the Tobes of Zog
Encroaching frozen dessert canyons
Entrenched so they evade our scanners
Vile scourge of the solar system
Even our best star lasers missed ’em
Space ranger battle scarred
Earth needs a new hero to win back dusty crimson Mars

(solo – sax vs. moog)

Peace on Mars – and love on Venus
Humanity at last victorious
Vanquished foes warp back to their home world
The frogs of Zog retreat with their tails curled
Our spaceships free for more peaceful uses
Our scientists can again court their muses
Peace on Earth and victory
But victory is temporary

Humanity in victory
But victory is temporary
Yeah victory is temporary
Oh victory is temporary yeah

– jfs

New Song – All of the Above

I started this song a while back, when I was in a phase of writing singer-songwriter style things on guitar.  The original idea of this one was an uptempo boogie shuffle number in the mold of Can’t Get Enough by Bad Company.  As I developed it, it became slower and bluesier and a bit less glib, since I’m not so young anymore and my relationship goals aren’t that same as a teenager’s.  So it’s a bit more retrospective, looking back on young love from a distance.

Musically, it’s alot more pop than my last song, but still with some interesting twists.  The meter shifts from 4/4 to 6/4 throughout, but is more easily expressed as 2/4.  I had the basic arrangement of guitar, piano, bass and drums, with the bass kinda channeling Geddy Lee in the verse.  But I felt it needed something more.  To finish it off I added a horn section of tenor and bari sax, and an ’80’s style lead synthesizer.  It took a little while to get the tone and dynamics right on the synth.  Lastly I added some real cymbals, played with mallets, to the intro and outro to support the guitar and bring some warmth into supplement the midi sample drum kit.

I now have six complete songs for my new album, whose working title is Plutonium Dirigible. That’s about twenty-eight minutes of music.  I have another close-to-ten-minute epic about halfway tracked, and one more song to record after that.  Hope to have the record out by the end of year.

Here it is, enjoy!

All of the Above

I wasn’t lookin’ for a true love
I was just lookin’ for a new love
I wan’t lookin’ for a long love, strong love
Yeah yeah yeah no, none of the above

I seen you out dancing last Saturday
Monday you’re in my class in chemistry
Now I’m thinking ’bout you and me
Let’s get together for some history

If I invite you backstage tonight all right
We just might dance and party all night
Okay day by day into brave and new love

Now I ain’t waitin’ on no old love
An’ I ain’t wastin’ time on slow love
Tonight I’m wakin’ to some fresh love new love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah, all of the above

And maybe if the love grows who knows how it goes?
A few more shows electric glide power slide
Side by side into a tried and true love

So now I’m sowing seeds of strong love
Maybe grows into long love
It all started with a fast love new love
Yeah yeah yeah, all of the above

So tonight it’s fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above
Oh fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above
Hey fast love new love long love true love
Yeah yeah yeah yeah all of the above

– JFS 7/19

Elixr (2022 Remix/Remaster)

Among my recent musical projects has to be remix and remaster my 2018 album Elixr.  I was listening to it back in the spring, and although it was a big step forward for me in terms of musical production at the time, my mixing chops have improved substantially over the last few years and I decided I could do it better.  In the end I decided to get a small batch of CD’s made, and so it took some time to do the artwork and get it printed and all that.  Now the new version of the record is on all the major streaming services, so go ahead and check it out!

Spotify . iTunes . Amazon

New Song – My Ol’ Broke Down Truck

I wrote a country song!  Well sort of at least.  The second in my guitar singer-songwriter experiments, My Ol’ Brokedown Truck is pretty much a traditional country song, although with different lyrics and chord voicings it might be something like a jazz standard from the great American songbook.  I wrote it around Christmastime when I was visiting my parents and my Mum asked me to explain to her Nashville notation.  I did so by way of demonstration, starting by writing down the title and eight bars of chord changes, and then a bridge, and suddenly I had the beginnings of a song. The lyrics also came quite quickly and naturally, and I liked it well enough to to finish it.

I recorded a basic track with guitar, bass drums and vocal. The guitar sound may take liberties with the conventions of the genre, bringing in some energy of bands like Cake or the The Black Keys. The vocal has a low and high harmony part, and I decided it’d sound better with a female voice doing the high harmony. I asked my sister-in-law Mary, who has been in a number of singing groups over the years, if she’d like to do the part. She came in and nailed it, and lifted the song to a whole ‘nuther level.

The hardest thing was to get the right sound for the solo on the intro and middle eight. A sax was definitely not appropriate, and I don’t play pedal steel guitar or fiddle, or banjo or mandolin, and the chords modulate so a harmonica won’t work. I experimented with various synthesizer sounds, trying to harken back to a rare moment in pop music where pedal steel guitars played side by side with analog synths, as exemplified by songs Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Billy Joel’s The Great Suburban Showdown, or Jackson Browne’s The Load-Out. But the right tone eluded me. I ended up using a melodica (a funny little keyboard instrument that you blow into) run thru a boxy amp simulator, spring reverb and tremolo effect.


My Ol’ Brokedown Truck

My brokedown truck and my rotten luck
Have left me here stuck by the side of the road
With my bleeding heart I will make a new start
But first I must get my body home
We’ve made many miles together
Sure in sunny and stormy weather
Well I could trade ‘er in for some shiny new tin
But you’ll never find peace while you roam


We’ve rode many roads together
Fast through foul and fair weather
And I might go far in a brand new sports car
But then how can I carry the load?
So I’ll wait here stuck with my rotten luck
And my ol’ brokedown truck

– John Szinger, 2022

New Song – Slope

Slope began life as a jazz song with my pre-pandemic group Haven Street, written by our bass player Jay, and appeared on our record.  I wrote a lyric for it, but we didn’t do vocals in that group, and I’ve never been much of a fan of vocalese anyway, unless it’s Ella Fitzgerald.  So for this record I changed it from a jazz style into an old-timey blues, with a drop-tuned guitar now carrying the main riff rather than a standup bass. 

The arrangement is fairly sparse, with just a single vocal, guitar, bass and drum.  To finish it off I added a bit of Fender Rhodes, and of course a smokey bluesy sax.  I also added real drums doing brushes on the snare, since I have no way to create that using midi and samples.



(D minor, drop D tuning)

Just when you think that life’s looking up
And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around
Just then you think that life’s looking down

Climbin’ up that slope
Slidin’ down that slope

Just when you think that life’s looking up
Just then you think that life’s looking down

Scamblin’ up that slope
Tumblin’ down that slope

And you might drink from that flowing cup
Then comes the day when it all turns around

Holdin’ on to hope
Ridin’ on up and down that slope

– John Szinger

Bluezebub by Buzzy Tonic is Released

Check it out, my new studio album of jazz/jam instrumentals is now out in the world for sale, streaming and download.

On Spotify:

On the iTunes store:

I even got a batch of CD’s printed up, although at this point that’s mostly just for fun and promotional purposes.

It’s kinda pathetic the state of album distribution these days. Big tech is making harder for artist than ever. There are no record stores any more for physical media, not even online. CD Baby seems to have gotten out of that business. iTunes charges on 99 cents for a song, regardless of length. Even though there are only six songs, it’s a full length album and should be priced accordingly. But those basterds make the rules, not me. And Spotify pays virtually nil as well, unless millions of you turn on to it. Ah well, at least y’all can stream or it download it into your music library, and listen again and again. Hope these become some of your favorite songs.

And of course, Go Bills!

Bluezebub by Buzzy Tonic

I’ve pretty much finished mixing and mastering my new jazz record. Which is to say, I’ve been listening back on different sound systems and making ever-smaller adjustments to the mix until I think everything is balanced in terms of tone, dynamics and energy, it’s as good as I can make. And I must say it sounds pretty darn good.

I’m going with Buzzy Tonic as the name of the artist/group, as with my previous studio records, even though the sound of this one is different than the ones before. I’m going with the title Bluezebub [Pandimensional Jazz Tesseract]. Even though the cover image of a Stellated Dodecahedron, it’s a related to a Tesseract as a Pentagram is related to a cube. That would be alot to explain, but I like the word Tesseract and it’s evocative of a higher dimensions even if the precise meaning isn’t clear to everyone.

Next is finish the album artwork and get it up on iTunes and Spotify. Then it’s back to my rock record, which has three songs pretty much done and two more in-progress, enough for a side and then some.

Meanwhile, here are the tracks. Enjoy!