Bob Norman | Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side

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Folk: Modern Folk Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side

by Bob Norman

CD re-release of Bob's 1988 debut: "A warm, wonderful bagful of very singable songs that capture the bittersweet lives of working people in a big city--the people who will not give up hope, love, and laughter." Pete Seeger
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side
4:33 album only
2. Autumn Days
3:51 album only
3. La Rosita de Broadway
4:19 album only
4. Air Shaft Blues
4:10 album only
5. Neon Moon
3:56 album only
6. Loft Bed Woman
2:58 album only
7. Sanctuary
6:11 album only
8. Rain On Into the Night
4:20 album only
9. Superman of the Morning
4:05 album only
10. In the Soft City Night
4:41 album only


Album Notes
Bob Norman's unusual songs, gentle wit, intricate guitar and harmonica work, and passionate singing have charmed folk audiences across the country for 23 years now. According to Pete Seeger, Bob writes "warm, wonderful, very singable songs that capture the bittersweet lives of working people in a big city--the people who will not give up hope, love, and laughter." The son of a symphony orchestra conductor and a former editor of "Sing Out!", the nation's leading folk song magazine, Bob manages to fuse such varied influences as blues, country, contemporary folk, and classical guitar into a fascinating evening's entertainment.

The "Los Angeles Times" has called Bob Norman "a mainstay of the folk circuit." His multifaceted career in folk music has spanned more than 30 years. From 1970 to 1977, he was editor-in-chief of "Sing Out!", then served on its board until 1990, primarily as chairman. Since 1979, he has performed in major clubs, coffeehouses, and festivals from Boston to San Diego, sharing stages with folk legends like Seeger, Tom Paxton, Richie Havens, Jack Elliott, and Dave Van Ronk and gifted younger songwriters like John Gorka, Suzanne Vega, David Massengill, Shawn Colvin, and Patty Larkin. In 1990, Norman was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Competition at the Columbia River Folk Festival. In 1985 he performed in and directed the music for the Off-Broadway play "Back County Crimes".

A glance at some of the musicians who have performed or recorded Bob's songs reveals the range of his writing: The list includes folk patriarch Pete Seeger, the brilliant blues and gospel singer Eric Bibb, Argentinian poet and songwriter Bernardo Palombo, and midwest folk-rocker Cooker John, a recent Modern Folk winner in the Minnesota Music Awards competition. Bob's songs have appeared in the "Fast Folk" CD magazine and in "Sing Out!", and one was used as the theme for a 1997 film called "It's About Power". "Like all good songwriters," says the "New Yorker" magazine, "Norman can distinguish the romantic from the sentimental; his bittersweet accounts of urban life are blissfully free of sappiness."

"Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side" is the CD re-release of Bob's first album of original songs, which came out as an LP in 1988. Like the others, it was produced for Night Owl Records by Bob Rose. In addition to Bob Norman's vocals, guitar, and harmonica, it features Bob Rose on acoustic, electric, and synth guitar, Linda LoPresti, Jim McCurdy, and Paul Kaplan on backup vocals, Paul Kaplan on cuatro, Jon Stroll on piano, Kenny Kosek on fiddle, Marty Cutler on banjo, Mark Wenner (of the Nighthawks) on harmonica, Lawrence Feldman on flute and saxophone, Luis Espinoza on zanka, John Miller on bass, and Roy Markowitz and Sue Evans on drums and percussion. Reviews follow.



to write a review

Brian Butler, Victory Music Review

Bob Norman's debut album, "Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side," is comprised of melodic rhythmic numbers and gentle ballads. Norman’s voice and sound share some qualities with Bruce Cockburn. A former editor of "Sing Out!" magazine, he is well rooted in the folk process of integrating any aspect of life into song. Subjects include loft love-making, city sounds and smells sensed through an airshaft, and poetic reflections on the sanctuary movement. Norman’s twenty years of living in New York City permeate and unify the music, which is entirely self-composed. Performed with a variety of guitars, vocalists and percussion, it has an acoustic feel, solid and airy.

Heidi Barton, the Folknik

The title of "Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side" tells the theme throughout, but it doesn't prepare you for the rich tapestry of sometimes almost Caribbean rhythms, sounds, and melodies, which include a wide variety of instrumentation, ranging from fiddles and Andean flutes to saxophones and synthesizers. In contrast to the sophistication of the production (which is by no means overdone), the songs have a refreshing sweet quality about them. Each melody lives in your head for days after the stereo is silent, and there is a simplicity in the lyrics that's almost deceptively seductive. These songs fit like friendly slippers after a long day of waitressing alone in a crowded restaurant of ill-tempered customers.

Paul Graham, Dirty Linen

Greenwich Village resident Bob Norman has released as his debut "Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side, a collection of original urban folk music which he wrote over the 20 years he lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Thus the music here is a blend of country, blues, and jazzy Caribbean music. Along with Norman’s guitar and harmonica, the instrumentation includes flute, sax, banjo, fiddle, percussion, cuatro and zanka. This is a well recorded and produced set by the former editor of "Sing Out!" Magazine, so the guy knows how to write a folk song. In addition to "Sing Out!", his songs have appeared in "Fast Folk" and "Broadside." This album provides a taste of his eclectic mix of music, a mixture that reflects the diversity of The City That Never Sleeps.

Nicky Rossiter,

We all think we know New York City from the zillions of TV shows and movies, and to some extent we do...The title track of Bob Norman’s "Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side" is filled with these familiar images: "If you dropped an egg on the street it would’ve fried"...Bob Norman likes to play with us on this CD. We start to listen to a track like "La Rosita de Broadway" and we think of love and romance, then we realize he is singing about a restaurant... "Airshaft Blues" is another track that transports me back in time and space to a New York of the movies with that feeling of heat and excitement... "Loft Bed Woman" is real down-south blues with a sassy line in patter... "She sleeps 10 feet off the floor," he sings, and then "she can rock me with grace, but when we rolled over a little too far I went sailing into space." Such is the joy of urban loving. Then he brings us back to the serious side of life. "Sanctuary" is a folk song with social awareness... "If it wasn’t for the church that defends us from the law, the agents would send us back to die in El Salvador."... In case you never get to visit New York, buy this album and listen to it in sweltering heat and in searing cold to try to experience that unique place on Earth.

Pete Seeger

This is a warm and wonderful bagful of very singable songs. They capture the bittersweet lives of working people in a big city--the people who will not give up hope and love and laughter. It’s hard to find a favorite. I like ’em all--maybe especially "Autumn Days." Lots of other people are going to be singing these songs.