Joseph Pagano ~ Graveyard of Dreams

Joseph Pagano

Joseph Pagano

After a long, successful music career playing in multiple bands, eclectic singer-songwriter Joseph Pagano has finally released his own debut EP called Graveyard of Dreams. We’re sure glad he did! The EP has received rave reviews. Joseph told me: “The EP has been in the making for a number of years. The initial reviews have been incredibly favorable and generous. It made me glad that we decided to release the seven songs we’re calling artistic sketches, which will be available worldwide on February 28.”

My two favorite tracks are Don’t Let Chances Pass You By and Candles of Hope & Faith, so I asked Joseph to tell me their back stories. Joseph admitted: “I love those songs too. The song Chances is about the idea that there are so many good things going on in the world around us. Each and every day, there are so many chances to meet new and interesting people, to help others, to take time to smell the roses and to really enjoy what life has to offer, while doing the right things, even in the smallest of ways. The song is a bit of a contrast from all the negative news and the headlines that we’re bombarded with. As I was writing the song, I wondered if we let life pass us by or do we take advantage of all the opportunities or chances that we’re offered every day.”

The song Candles was inspired by a trip Joseph Pagano took a few years ago: “I witnessed poverty first-hand, and that was really a life-changing experience. I saw so many young women, many who were teenagers with their own children living in poverty. They were trying to make enough money to survive, yet dreaming about being able to afford an education for their children, so they can have a better life. Regardless of how well off or how poor you are, you live for your kids and you dream about their future. You’ll do anything for them. Dreams never die and, in fact, they can provide a roadmap to life.”

Joseph Pagano and Dad

Joseph Pagano and Dad

Joseph Pagano has quite the unique sound. To me, his songs have a classic British rock flair. How does he describe his music? “Music is like creating your own art that you hang in your house, not thinking it’s ever going to be distributed. I did listen to a lot of British bands growing up, so maybe that’s where some of the sound in my head comes from.”

Joseph has been exposed to many different musicians over the years, starting with his own father: “The first influence was my dad, who played jazz, country and blue grass. He worked several jobs when I was a kid, but he did find the time to give me a few lessons. He let me play his Chet Atkins Country Gentleman‎ guitar, one of the most famous guitars ever. The Beatles used that one. We played through an early Peavey classic tube amp. I think the thing maxed out at 10 Watts. In never did have much formal music instruction.”

As a teenager, Joseph Pagano got Steve Miller’s Book of Dreams album: “I learned that record note for note. A few years later, I met Steve Miller at a Les Paul show in New York City. I told Steve that he was my idol and that I learned to play guitar from the Book of Dreams album. He jumped right in and joked and said, ‘If I was your idol Joe, I’ve got to apologize for screwing you up. At least it looks like you made out OK.’ Les Paul is Steve’s godfather, so that’s why they were playing together at The Iridium in New York City. They both signed a tee shirt with a picture of Les Paul on it for me. Steve signed it first. When Les signed it second, he drew an arrow to his own picture to show it was a picture of Les and not Steve. They were joking with each other. It was such a great experience.”

Joseph Pagano feels blessed to have been exposed to some of the world’s best musicians as he learned the creative process, including The Beatles, John Lennon, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and Cheryl Crow. Guitar legend Stanley Jordan inspired Joseph to release his own original songs. Here’s that back story: “This summer, my dad and I went to The Iridium to see Stanley Jordan. After the show, Stanley met with us and he was really conversational, and he invited us to attend a music workshop the very next day. It turned out that there were only six students in the class. We got to spend three and a half hours with the master himself. The workshop was a life lesson in the process of artistic creation. Just like Steve Jobs, Stanley figured out the intersection of art and science. He really encouraged me to release my songs, and we even corresponded after that workshop.”

Joseph Pagano liveAfter Stanley Jordan inspired Joseph Pagano last June, he took an online songwriting course taught by Berklee College of Music’s Pat Pattison: “As a final assignment in this course, I wrote the title track for my EP Graveyard of Dreams, which is a short story about Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood from the perspective of the palm trees, what I imagine they’ve seen over all these years. Pattison is an amazing individual. I’ve never met anyone who could better explain the songwriting process and lyric development.”

Even then, Joseph Pagano still did not feel ready to release his EP. In December 2014, his daughter Julia (who is now applying to college) convinced him to take the plunge, when she agreed to be his creative director and produce the album art: “We got serious. It was a very hectic few weeks during the holidays doing the engineering, mixing and mastering. We also setup distribution. It was great fun, and my daughter gets her first professional credit. I feel reborn as a musician.”

What advice does Joseph Pagano have for other artists trying to reignite their music careers? “Don’t write songs with commercialization in mind. You definitely should study the art and science of songwriting, but take a much stronger bias towards the art side of things. Be original and go with what sounds best to you.”

In addition, Joseph advises: “Take full advantage of all the low cost technology there is to capture ideas and record parts of songs, so you can index them into a personal library. You have to believe in the music and the songs you write or how can you expect others to believe? Songs need to tell a story, be written from the heart. You should also listen to the feedback you get from others. At the end of the day, don’t forget that you are the artist, you are the boss.”

Joseph Pagano is looking forward to writing and producing a follow up record. He’s got lots of material in various stages of the writing process. We look forward to hearing what he has in store for the future.

The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Joseph Pagano
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Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now
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Joseph Pagano and daughter

Joseph and Julia Pagano

Joseph Pagano - Graveyard of Dreams

Joseph Pagano - Graveyard of Dreams