Discussion: Michael Franks

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I'm a resident of Baltimore, Md. who has listened to M.F.'s music since I was a teenager. He's one of my favorite artists. Although some people have questioned his background as a jazz artist, I'd say he is, because even though quite a few of his songs sound like pop music, he's had his jazzy moments, particularly in the "Abandoned Garden" album, and most recently, "Barefoot on the Beach". Wish he'd release a new album soon. I'm getting a tad restless. I also anticipate the release of his novel. I'm not sure what the title is, but from what I've read on M.F.'s website, it might be called "Words & Music". A suitable title for a novel by a known singer-songwriter. As much as I like checking out Michael Franks's photos (some I like better than others), there have been a couple of photos of his wife, Claudia, that have puzzled me because you don't get to see her face. I'm curious at what she looks like. All I know about Claudia's features is that she's slender, fair-skinned, and has long dark hair. Or maybe her hair has some white in it now. I had the pleasure of seeing Michael live in D.C. last October, not long after the sniper shootings stopped. Sniper or no, that wasn't going to stop me from seeing an artist I like not just musically, but personally as well. I came dangerously close to actually meeting him. I was only feet away from him, but I doubt he saw me, or even heard me calling him. But at least I got to see him. And I'd do it again, when given the chance.

>>By Medina



My brother, Patrick turned me on to Michael Franks when I was a senior in college. That was almost 13 year ago and I have been a fan ever since. When I got married, I turned my husband on to him and we even got to attend one of his concerts together. I was overcome by Franks' cool demeanor and his ability to rhyme in such a peculiar fashion. I thought, here's someone who has such control of the English language. Then I learned that he was an English major and it all made sense...talking about the "Art of Tea"...

++

>>By Asmaba



I just remembered that I've been a fan of Michael Franks for longer than 13 years...heck it's been more like 22. Where did those 9 years go? I'm just glad I've bought all of Michael Franks' music.

>>By Asmaba



I had all of MF's music, including the Greatest hits album-"A Backward Glance". Recently I bought "Abandoned Garden", which I used to have on tape. He's versatile, doing everything from songwriting to photography (He shot the photos for the Backward Glance album. In one of his webletters, Franks called himself an amateur photographer.). I've been writing him letters for several years now, and hope to not run out of questions about his music. Mostly I've asked MF music questions. I try not to get too, too personal. As I'm writing this, I'm listening to "Like Water, Like Wind", from the "Abandoned Garden" CD. Very jazzy, probably Michael's jazziest album ever. Looking forward to the next one, and hopefully it'll be soon. When I first began writing MF letters, I eventually developed a habit of including drawings of him (which I'd done myself), taken from album and magazine photos. He said my work brightened his day. That was so nice of him! I envy anyone who's had the opportunity to meet this man. I've wanted to for quite some time. But I admit I'm a little afraid. One time, I thought I'd seen him, and I turned away and ran. Oh boy! I know it sounds cowardly. Maybe I'll one day pluck up enough courage.

>>By Medina



Been a fan since grad school (1978 ... sigh). Anyone who could write "I was just a stand-in, someone love abandoned, not the leading man" and "My Captiva Island bungalow's perfect for two, no attire is required- just a toothbrush dear, cause here we don't wear much" is a pretty hip wordsmith. I also enjoy his musical response to The Christmas Song, Island Christmas with it's lines "I don't want no more Christmas carols about partridges up in a tree, I just want you to smear some sunscreen all over me." I think Frank's is the best songwriter since Jobim and Cole Porter. I didn't know he was writing a book. I thought he was completing a musical about the life of Paul Gauguin. At this point I'd relish just about anything as it's been what, three years since Barefoot. Anyone heard when his next release is due? Thanks, Tom

>>By Tom



I am 11 years old and I love listening
to Michael Franks's
music. He is so
gentle with his
words when he sings.
KEEP UP DA GOOD
WORK!

>>By Fee



Yep. Our guy, Michael Franks, has been writing a novel, or he might be already finished with it. Personally, I look forward to reading it, as I've gotten a kick out of reading his webletters over the past several years, about his touring and domestic experiences (i.e., his cute little dachsie, Flora, and the cats in his house, who were afraid of Flora when they first saw her, and they would've been, as they are cats!). MF has a wry sense of humor, as he'd demonstrated at the concert in Warner Theater in D.C. Jokingly, Michael had called the sound guy onstage David Alan Grier (or I thought I heard him right.). I read somewhere that MF had completed a book of poetry, but who knows if it's in the bookstores? Would love to find it.

>>By Medina



Im English and was introduced to Michaels music in 1978 and have everything he has done on vinyl including the live album with Crossfire
Also I have every CD including A Best Of bought in Singapore...I have two wishes re MF for 2003 one is a new album ppppppppls and a concert or two in England UK


>>By Bob Mortimore



i've had barefoot on the beach for some time now, and it still gets lots of play at my house. the duet with valerie simpson just blows me away, but my favorite of all is every time she whispers. that song just takes me to another place... one that's safe and warm...

>>By another michael



I'm a fan of Michael since his debut. I saw him in Montreal, at the jazz festival, long time ago. In the 90's, I almost forgot him. Lately I bought "Barefoot in the beach" and fell in love with his misic again...

>>By Marc



I was talking to Micheal's A&R "guy last year and he informed me that Micheal was no longer signed to the label. It's been my dream to work with Michael (I produced Billy Joel's "River Of Dreams") , and I told him I would produce Mr. Franks album at my studio for free. The A&R guy told me he would get me Micheal's number so I could call him. Well...I'm still waiting..Maybe some day.

Joe Nicolo

>>By Joe Nicolo



Hello,

A 30yr old man (originally from India )writing this. "Woman in the waves" from some obscure collection of songs on a tape brought this man's music into my life. That was about 6 yrs ago, if I'm not wrong. A listen to song clips from Blue Pacific didn't impress me in those days and I forgot about him after that. A month ago I went out to my fav. music shop (here in California) to just browse for some good stuff. Chanced upon 4-5 of MF's albums and thought I'd give one a try. Bought "Dragonfly Summer" and ended up buying 4 other albums of his in the next 1 week. This man is impossible. He drives so deep into the soul with his music and words. Waiting for March to come when I can go to LA to see him perform live. His is the kind of music I'd rather treasure and hide rather than expose to other people. So fresh, inspiring and liberating.

My wish is to meet him , shake hands and let him know how profound an impact his music has on me.

Glad to see some discussion going on about him. His website says that he cannot respond to fanmail at the moment. Will it change?

Good day,
Mani.d.v.s
yossie23@hotmail.com

>>By Mani.d.v.s



Can someone please tell me the name of the song with the lyrics "she lives around the corner from the fountain"? I hear that song on our Muzak station at work and love it.
Please email me at hardant@sbcglobal.net and reference Michael Franks in the subject line. Thank you!
Jeanne

>>By hardant



Wow, i feel very lucky reading these letters. I travel to many jazz festivals and i have met Michael Franks at least a dozen times. He is a very nice person and very personable. Every time we pose for pictures and I even became on first name basis with his band. I think he may have a new cd out in a few months, but that is just the rumor.

>>By Michael Slider



Hello! I have listened to Michael Franks since I was in college in Nigeria, circa 1984. I have all his albums, and my children, 12,12 and 7 have been seriously getting into his music...It is amazing how easily they succumbed to it. I use the word "succumb" because it reaches so deep into your soul and you have no choice but to flow with it. His way with words is amazing, (The lady sticks to me like white on rice), I had never heard anything like that before 1986, and i thought how apt! I had the pleasure of watching him in NY in December 2002, his music is so amazing, i always have one or two of his cd's in my car......I hope i get to meet him someday soon.

>>By Nabilla (solape)



I haven't heard anything from Michael franks for ages, and only stumbled over his music while Djing on a local radio station from a colleague back in about 1986ish. I then went out and brought all the albums I could find, Art of Tea, Sleeping Gypsy, Skydive and wouldn't like to choose a favourite although the earlier stuff seems the finest. Anyway. Its a shame there aren't more talented vocalists around like this nowadays. The best voice I ever heard

>>By Jacqui (Essex)



Ciao Michael
many compliments for your soud. We are italians and we "know" you in South Africa. Luois is your best fan in Alexandria South Africa.
We live in Riva del Garda Trentino Italy, it's a beautyful city on Garda lake, if you play in Italy think about as and come here !!!!
PS I don't speak very well englis .......scusami Ciao

>>By monica e silvio



My name is Menno and i live in rotterdam, holland. M.F. is more than 20 years my "therapist", meaning that i i'm getting relax of his music. He is also toutching the right string by so many subjects.
I buy his records without listening in a shop. His music is exclusifly for my home equipment.
Michael is music and feelings, he knows what life is.
go on Michael. I saw you once at the North sea festival somewhere in the 90 .
menno

>>By menno



hi, i am redi, 23 years old from indonesia. i've been enjoying m.f. music just recently and, sadly, i cannot complete my collections of his albums right now due to either availability (some of them are rare!) and financial (^_^) problem. but that's enough. i love his smooth yet funky music. but it's always his brilliant lyrics (or should i say poetries?) that make the songs worth a listen. they have equal amount of humor and romanticism. so it's great if he'll write some books.
i think he's been everyone favourite here since 70's until now. it will be cool if he doesn't mind to stop by in indonesia at one or two jazz festivals.
oh yeah, when will he record a new album? can't wait for it!



About 20 years ago I was shopping in a Radio Shack store with my children, when in the background I heard the most wonderful sound I had ever heard. They were playing a tape to show off some of the stereo equipment available in the store. It was then that I fell in love with Michael's music. I asked the gentlemen at the counter who the artist was and I was told his name was Mike Franklin. Well, the guy offered to make me a copy of the cassette. Since I was in a hurry and didn't have time to go to the record store too, I offered to give him $10 to make it for me and gave him my address to send it to. I never expected to see my $10 or the tape, but I hoped. Nevertheless, it arrived a week later in the mail. The tape was labeled "Mike Franklin, Sleeping Gypsy." For the years that followed I tried to track down this artist, Mike Franklin, and his band "Sleeping Gypsy," to no avail. I even called my favorite radio station, asking if they ever heard of "Mike" and what I thought was his band. Again, dead end.

I wore out the tape since I played it all the time. The lyrics were so unusual, the music indescribable, and Michael's gentle voice captured my heart. I have a friend that owns a record store, and when the tape would finally play no more he offered to try and re-record it for me, saving the parts that he could. It was wonderful, even if I lost a couple of the tracks in the process. Of course, I wore that tape out also. But I never fogot that voice.

Finally one Saturday, about a year and a half ago, shortly after my husband and I switched from our outdated satellite TV system to one of the little dishes, I was messing around with the radio stations on the new system and found a smooth jazz station. I was doing my housework, enjoying the great sounds coming out of the speakers, when I heard it...that voice. That smooth, mellow, one of a kind voice. I ran to the TV to see who the artist was. Hmmmmm, some guy called Michael Franks. Could it be?

Thank goodness for computers and the internet. I typed in Michael Franks and checked out some of the hits. Sure enough, there was Michael Franks and, now it made sense, he had an album called Sleeping Gypsy. I checked out the song list and there they all were, everything I had listened to so ardently. I was in heaven.

I've since discovered all of Michael's music, with more delight than one person should be allowed. I never get tired of it. I missed out on seeing him in Detroit last New Year's Eve, butI can't wait until he's in my area again. I won't miss him a second time!

>>By Mitzie



I was turned on to M F while recording videos off of MTV on the sattelite dish in the mid 80's. MTV had one of Michael's videos on regular rotation for several weeks and it was being aired several times a day. I think the video was "Your Secret's Safe With Me" from SKINDIVE. M Fs Video and music really opened up my eyes to a new and refreshing style of jazz that was seldom heard (at the time) in this part of the world. It took me several months to find and purchase SKIN DIVE. I almost wore my record player out listening to that album. Several months later I returned to the record store to see what other M F albums were available. The only other album they had in stock was BLUE PACIFIC which I purchased without knowing what was on it. What a treasure. Several years went by and my M F collection slowly grew to 1/2 dozen albums and cds. Eventually I had the store clerk special order all the missing cds from collection with one exception.

The store clerk had informed me that THE ART OF TEA was no longer available/discontinued and although he had searched for several months, he could not find it anywhere. I contacted Warner Music and was also told the same thing. I scrounged the used record stores to no avail.

One day while listening to One of Michaels albums, I was reading the liner notes and noticed that he had a fan club with a corresponding address. I figured I had nothing to lose by writing a letter to "whoever answered the mail" for Michael Franks. I remember writing in the letter that I was a huge fan and that I'd love an autographed photo. I also inquired as to the why THE ART OF TEA was discountinued.

Several months went by and I had long forgotten about it when One day a reply came in the mail, In dark ink, was a hand written reply from Michael himself dated january 1998. He explained that he had been touring and was only now catching up on the mail after 4 months. He also told me that THE ART OF TEA was certainly not discontinued as it was one of his top sellers. He went on to write that "This spring they will be releasing a compilation CD - a backward glance" and that "I designed the package and took all the photos myself as this is a very special project for me, My life's work up to the present"

The letter head showed an early sketch of Michael singing into a microphone. The sketch was done in pen and ink and the artist had used a water wash to soften the lines.
Well, About six months later A BACKWARD GLANCE was released and Warner Brothers Music was kind enough to give me a promotional copy of the CD. Upon opening the cd to look at the photos and layout that Michael had been so proud of, I noticed that the photo on the back page of the liner notes featured a writing desk with several books on Gaugan, an old telephone and several sheets of Michaels stationary with a pen lying across them, as if he was busy answering fan letters. This was The same stationary and pen that he had used to write the letter that I received.

It was kinda neat to hold in my hand something that had originated strait out of and off of the desk in that photo.

Elsewhere in the liner notes of the cd Michael writes "To All of You, Always Listening With Continued Gratitude And Love."

Keep up the Faith Michael, We love you.
moefuzz@hotmail.com

>>By Lance T



I am so happy i am sad , I have a great LP "Michaels Franks Live with Crossfire "but I can't find the CD.

>>By Maurice



Michael is a gentle soul whose music has taught me more about life than any person (famous or not) , school
book ...or anything for that matter. Through his music, I learned about Art (Rousseau, Gauguin, Burchfield...)...My subsequent progression to Antonio Carlos Jobim's music, his vast influence on other artists like, Pat Metheny, Kenny Rankin, Ryuichi Sakamoto (just to name a few)...I trace all of these to my early exposure to Michael's words and melodies..."Mr. Blue" was my introduction to the world of Mr.Franks...I thought it was the most beautiful piece of music, I've heard and since, I was 11 or so...I didn't have any clue about the lyrics...later in life, they sunk in on me...I realized how poignant those words were and set to this haunting music...It's more meaningful to me than ever..."Down In Brazil" is another gem...heck! that whole "Sleeping Gypsy" album is a work of art..."Vivaldi's Song"..."Tiger In The Rain"--This song stunned me when I first heard it...I remember getting up from sleep when it got it's first airplay in HI..."When She Is Mine"...The heartfelt tribute to his friend Antonio "Abandoned Garden"...This moved me to paint my interpretation of Michael's lyrics to it (Yes, I'm a starving artist...hehe)...Well, I can go on and on about Michael Franks...stories upon stories of how it shaped my little life...just like everyone here ( I guess)...Lastly, I want to thank Medina for creating this site and if you want to see my visual interpretation of "Abandoned Garden" please visit my little art site at: www.geocities.com/Sandplay_265 .....It was inspired by Michael's words: "In Your abandoned garden--Sunlight still prevails".

Many thanks ..till next time
-Ed S.

>>By Ed S.



Dear Ed S.:
Glad to read that you're an artist. However, I did not create this site. I just happened to find it one day while web surfing. What I mentioned on this site previously was that I've written Michael Franks for several years, and eventually began sending M.F. drawings of him, many of which were from album covers and magazine articles. In a couple of letters Michael had sent me a few years ago, he thanked me for the drawings. It was very flattering.

P.S.,
I'll be sure to see you website.

>>By Medina



Like many other posters I have long been charmed by Mr Franks sensitivity and sensibility... not to mention his taste in art. 12 years ago when I finally built a house I acquired a large print of Rousseau's Tropical Storm with Tiger (Tiger in the Rain) and had it framed. It continues to hang in the alcove above my front door so I see it every time I leave the house. I have burned several "best of " discs of various personal MF faves that I use to soothe the way when driving long distances. These discs frequently end up in friends collections as they so enjoy listening to it when they drive with me. I hasten to add that afterwards many these folks have gone out to purchase other MF cds to continue their experience. But hey, when is his next release due? It's been way too long.

>>By Tom



Has anyone ever noticed the sound effects in "Tiger in the Rain?" I'm talking about the instrument that sounds like a BiG Cat purring all through the song. Listen to it again. It is really cool(especially if you're a cat lover). Also, like Medina, I noticed that there were no photos of Claudia. She has obviously taken several photos, but is camera shy herself.

>>By Jennifer



I'm a Franks fan, too. The best studio musicians play on his discs and, of course, he pens the cleverest lyrics around. I most enjoy the tunes with the more licivious double entendres such as "Long Slow Distance" and "Chez Nous" off BLUE PACIFIC. However, the level of intelligence in all his songs are a blessing. I agree with the posters above, when's the next cd due to be released?

>>By Dave



I was first introduced to Michael Franks when I was in college (Sam Houston State University) in 1985 by my boyfriend. I have loved his music ever since. I have seen him every time he comes to Houston and will never forget my t-shirt he autographed for me when I was expecting. I loved his music so much that thirteen years ago I married the guy who introduced me to his soothing sound.

>>By Jackie E.



Hi Again - Since there doesn't seem to be a new Michael Franks release in the immediate offing I'm curious what else you all listen to that's similar? Some artists that come immediately to mind for me are: Jon Lucien, Diana Krall, Laura Fygi (Michael sings a duet of "Tell Me All About It" with her on her lp THE LADY WANTS TO KNOW, another Franks tune she covers), and Dave Frishberg. The first three on this list are sensitve, romantic artists and Frishberg has nearly as clever a way with words as Michael. Thanks in advance for any tips. Oh, and to the poster above who was looking for the name of the tune that includes the line "She lives around the corner from the fountain of youth" that would be "The Fountain of Youth" from BAREFOOT ON THE BEACH.

>>By Dave



Oh, and the new guy, John Mayer with his cd ROOM FOR SQUARES is a little reiminiscent of Michael, too. Not as good as the real thing but pretty interesting in a pinch.

>>By Dave



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