Lifelong Los Angeles resident P.F. Sloan was one of the most successful American songwriters of the 1960’s penning hits for a wide range of artists including the Mamas & Papas, Jan & Dean, Searchers, Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, Fifth Dimensions, Barry McGuire and the Grass Roots to name but a few. My Beethoven is his first new release in nearly a decade and has been the main focus of his time and energy since 2001. The album was recorded with P.F. performing on a Yamaha Grand Digital piano with top musicians from the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra. My Beethoven is being released by Ms. Music Productions.
P.F. Sloan became embroiled in this massive undertaking after attending a program of Beethoven’s work performed by The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and heard the music as music – as opposed to the reflexively revered canon — for the very first time in his life. The absolute simplicity, beauty and the constant surprise of where the musical journeyed, turnedinto a comfort that, he had a friend who understood him like no one other, who had died a century ago.
Sloan learned to play piano (having played guitar by ear his whole life), studied composition, orchestral arrangement, and began scouring public libraries, researching Beethoven’s life in meticulous detail, reading his personal diaries and uncovered countless aspects of his life and career that shocked him as a layman. Ludwig Van Beethoven as the academicized icon was smashed and what emerged was a passionate, tragic, brilliant, earthy man – Louis (as the French called him; pronounced “Louie”).
P.F. discovered that Beethoven loved to play in bars; the 9th Symphony was derived from one of “Louie”‘s favorite drinking songs. He played the guitar and wrote hundreds of folk tunes. Bobby Burns, the Scottish poet sent him poems and Louis put them to music. He also composed Hungarian and Russian folk songs still sung today; the version of “Auld Langs Ayne” we sing today was arranged him. More tragically, not only was Beethoven deaf, as is widely known, but that he kept his condition a secret from everyone except his closest friends for fear the Church would pronounce him cursed by God (physical affliction was seen as a Divine judgment in those times). Music critics of the day proclaimed him a Mozart wannabe. While doing his now universally renowned work, he struggled to pay for paper and ink to compose with and to put food on his table. The lyrics on My Beethoven relate the true story of his life and personal feelings from the time he entered Vienna, as a prodigy to his dying day.
Sloan has collaborated with noted playwright Stephen Feinberg on a musical-drama for the theatre, (called a “Popera”) called Louis! Louis! which includes all of the songs on My Beethoven and many of Beethoven’s own works woven in (a PDF of the script is available unpon request). In addition, Jaw Bone press is publishing his memoirs, What’s Exactly The Matter With Me?, a first person account of an extraordinary life through the most fascinating years of American and English musical culture which he helped shape. This is a story of dreams, success, destruction and miraculous resurrection, the story of one of the most mysterious singer-songwriters in American music: P.F. Sloan.
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