Dick Siegel’s ode to one of Ann Arbor's signature breakfast spots sums up a perfect weekend morning.
“Angelo’s” is just one of the countless songs Siegel has written in his many decades as a singer-songwriter. It’s on the album “Snap!” and he’s marking the 35th anniversary of its release with a show this Saturday night at The Ark.
Siegel tells us he wrote “Angelo’s” one morning after waking up to the smell of breakfast.
“I had been struggling with another song, and it was about some kind of complicated romance business and it just was not giving in, you know? It wasn’t making sense to me. And finally … I was like, I’ve had enough of this,” he says.
“So I woke up that one morning and I smelled breakfast wafting up from the kitchen. And I was just, you know, in that mood of playing guitar and songwriting, so I got up out of bed, got my guitar going, and started playing these kind of jazz chords, they’re called the rhythm changes.”
He explains that “rhythm changes” refers to the chord progression from George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” and is popular among jazz and swing musicians.
Siegel tells us the whole song came together in about 30 minutes.
Despite his long career in music, Siegel never studied the subject. He tells us his father was a doctor, so for a long time he wondered whether he should follow in those footsteps, but realized in college that what really moved him was literature.
“Also at the same time I was always sort of making up things, even when I was a little kid I would build things, you know, creativity, just that urge to make stuff was really, really in me,” he says.
So instead he majored in English at the University of Michigan and in ceramics and sculpture at Interlochen. Siegel now teaches songwriting at both schools.
When he was first offered the gig, Siegel says he wasn’t sure how to approach the subject.
“I had never even though about teaching songwriting before that … how am I going to teach something that I was never taught formally?” he says. “The main idea I had going into it was that people have this in them, this potential to put their feelings into words and music and learning how to express themselves that way.”
Siegel will mark the 35th anniversary of his album Snap! with a show this coming Saturday, December 5, at The Ark. Information and tickets can be found at theark.org.
More about Siegel and his music can be found on his website.
Dick Siegel plays a little guitar for us and talks more about his experience teaching and songwriting in our conversation above.
- Ryan Grimes, Stateside