You’ve probably seen and heard David Ippolito before. You just don’t know it. The musician has become known as “That Guitar Man From Central Park,” because – well – he can often be seen performing songs he’s written there. The gifted singer/songwriter’s been featured on tv and in print, and has released several poignant albums. I spoke with him – sans guitar- recently.
How is this album different than your previous ones?
Well, it’s got a different picture on the front. And there are different songs on this one. Oh wait…. oh… oh, you mean — okay. Yeah, well I’m extremely proud of this collection of songs. I feel like I’m writing from a more genuine and honest place than I ever have before. I hope that continues to be a life-long personal and artistic process. That way, I have no idea what’s next and no limit to what comes next. I’ve never written another song quite like “Some Wounds Never Heal” and the hook in the title track “Wouldn’t Want It Any Other Way” pretty much sums up where I am as an artist right now.
To me, music is most often a mirror that reflects the world around us. But, sometimes it can be used as a mallet to help shape the world around us. So, I tend to write songs that will hopefully let the next person know that they‘re not alone. Whether I write a Love song, or perhaps a lyric about something that touches everyone, I want my work to allow someone to say, “Me, too.”
But, I also consider it part of the job description to write songs that “Comfort the disturbed, and … disturb the comfortable.” So, on this particular album I got to make a point with songs like “Resolution” and “Tom Cruise Scares Me”.
I was also really lucky on this album to have worked with an amazing, generous and gifted bunch of artists: singer Teresa Reynolds, folk-legend Christine Lavin, rap-artist JC Hall, pianist George Wurzbach, Ryan Cavan on drums, Nelson Montana on bass, Chris Tedesco and the amazing Cenovia Cummins on fiddle. And a man who has become a close, close friend, Sid Bernstein (famous for bringing the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to America) gave me the inspiration for my song “Keep Hope Alive”. (Long story)
It’s very cool. I’m very lucky man.
Is it a conscious decision for each album to lyrically change or sound a little different?
Nope. As I continue to grow as an artist, I figure it’s a natural evolution. Song to song, I’ll sometimes make a conscious choice to go someplace new. But I’ve never done that “thematically” on an album. I used to think I would like to figure out or better “know” my Creative process. But, now I embrace the mystery. Honestly, when I’m in a good, good place I very rarely write the next song “I want to write”, but rather the next song that “wants to be written”.
How difficult is it breaking through industry stereotypes?
I have NO idea! I know little about the “industry” or what it dictates and demands. And after all these years of making music, writing songs and singing them for hundreds of thousands of people, I guess I couldn’t care less about stereotypes. In a very real way, I’ve kinda created my own little music industry. It’s the same kind of place where many, many, many independent artists who truly love what they do and are doing it for the right reasons are living these days. Still, I would love to continue to do the work I’m doing right now — working with the same beautiful people, saying what I’m saying. But I’d like to reach a few million more people.
What’s the last album you download on iTunes? What’d you think of it?
James Newton Howard’s score to the film “Dave”. No kidding. The music that moves me most and speaks to my soul when I’m alone is very often the brilliant scores that have been written for film in the past 30 years or so — scores by composers like James Horner, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Marc Shaiman, John Barry, Miklos Rosza, Bruce Broughton… for films like “Field of Dreams”, “Cinema Paradiso”, “Shrek”, “Titanic” and the like.
But, then the next minute I’m jamming to Aerosmith, or Springsteen, or James Taylor, or Sugarland, or The Beatles, or an original cast album from a great Broadway musical. (There might be pharmaceuticals that will fix this condition, but I’m not aware of them or interested.)
Wow good selections… whose career would you want to emulate?
What do you make of all the attention Taylor Swift is getting lately?
Y’know? I pay little attention to the mainstream music industry because I’ve never really been a part of it. And (please don’t tell Taylor this) I’m not sure I’ve ever heard her sing! I also made a conscious decision a whole lot of years ago not to watch awards shows. It’s just a personal thing. I feel very strongly it’s important that I try not to use superlatives in regard to any art form. I’d rather avoid the use of words like “good”, “bad”, “better”, “best”. (Although I still do occasionally use the word “suck”.) I’d rather say, “I like that song,” “I love that song,” “I don’t get that song” or “I hate that song” rather than put a value-judgment on it. Artists and most of the business people around the arts might be the biggest offenders of that principle. And, I suppose I still do it. But, it’s something I “try” to avoid.
Now, if NARAS wants to give me a Grammy for any reason, I’d certainly show up and say “Thank you”. I’d be grateful for the recognition of the work. And the party would be fun and a very cool experience. But, I don’t pay too much attention to that kind of thing.
It’s a bit much, no?
I couldn’t possibly care. I’m sure I’m happy for Taylor and I hope she enjoys the limo ride. Because in the music business, it’s very often “Here today, gone… a little bit later today.”
Hell. From what I’ve seen of her, she seems sweet enough. I hope she has fun with it all and keeps it in perspective.
Do you think your sound is similar to another artist? if so who? if not, why?
Hmmm. Well, as a solo artist, I sometimes have a sound that’s vocally similar to James Taylor. It depends on the song, of course. But, musically… when me and the band get together on an album, I can’t really think of another mainstream artist or group who sounds like we do.
If people came with taglines, what would yours be?
“It’s just us.” (My friends and fans know why. And after attendance at just one of my gigs, anyone else would know why, too.)
Y’know, what happens in the concert hall when I’m sharing music with hundreds of people is palpable. It always becomes a small room and I just happen to be the guy with the guitar. “It’s just us.” It’s a feeling. It’s a vibe.