KEN MILLER-Songwriter, Composer, Lyricist, Recording Artist, Multi-Instrumental Musician, Card-Carrying Geek
Trust me, I’m a doctor.
Really, I am. I have a PhD from the University of Florida, but it has nothing to do with music. Curious? Read on!
I’m a geek, a nerd, a shy, socially-stunted, little boy trying to find my way just like everyone else.
Not every story is best told from the beginning. The ability to tell the story of how I got to the ‘here and now’ is only possible because of some specific events in the ‘here and now’. Why? Because I am a middle-aged, middle-management, middle-America, technical expert unexpectedly and unceremoniously unemployed….Well, not solely because of that. If that were all, there would be no story to tell. The real story is about what I tried to suppress (until now).
Let me set the stage, so to speak: From the time I entered the first grade in 1970 until 2013, I’ve followed my nose. I did the things my parents, my teachers, my friends and colleagues encouraged me to do and avoided or delayed the things they told me not to do.
- I took the advanced classes that were offered in public school because it impressed people.
- I did not have sex at the first opportunity.
- I pursued engineering because my father admired engineers.
- I continued on to graduate school because my father taught me that doing research and development was cool. (It is cool, by the way.)
- I did not drink on my 21st birthday.
- I got into medical and pharmaceutical research because my mother was a nurse and admired physicians and healthcare workers.
- I fell into my specific niche (topical and transdermal delivery) because a PhD project was available; it was just there, not because it was some sort of life-long dream.
- That project then became my specialty for over twenty years and today I am a recognized expert in that field. (Go ahead and Google my name and the word “transdermal”. It’s OK, I’ll wait….)
I’ve spent most of my life in the pharmaceutical industry developing products. I’ve lived all over the US and I’ve traveled all over the world. I don’t regret anything because I know that millions of people use the medicines I helped develop and I would probably have continued on in this way until my retirement/death except for two pivotal events. First, I was required by my employer to relocate back to my hometown after twenty years. I was essentially thrown back into frequent contact with my childhood friends who were musicians. You see, protocol dictates that, when possible, performing musicians call their musician friends in the audience up on stage for a song or two. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most dynamic live performer you’re likely to see on any given evening, but the supportive atmosphere of my friends and a VERY friendly hometown audience got me back on stage. One thing led to another and I ended up getting recruited into doing whole shows and even a gig of my own.
Playing other artists’ music-music that the audience knows well and can participate in-is great fun, but there was always the other music, my music. The incessant soundtrack of my own songs that stretches out behind me like some sort of biographical grapevine. I’m no starry-eyed, naïve teenager with a spiral notebook full of poetry and a well-chewed Bic pen; I’m an adult and should have outgrown this long ago. But I haven’t. I have to admit to myself that this is not a passing phase, this is a compulsion that won’t go away. From the time I could put words on paper and play a few chords on the guitar to the mid-century mark of my life, no matter where I’ve been, no matter what I’ve done, I have always written music.
But…that was the past, this is the present and I’m thinking about the future and the songs I have yet to write.
The second event was the abrupt and unexpected interruption of my career in pharmaceutical R&D which gives me the opportunity to rake together my cluttered musical endeavors for your enjoyment.
I hope you stick around while I tell the rest of this story and where the songs came from. They range from folk songs and simple ballads to fairly ambitious, multi-instrumental compositions to funky jazz tunes to heavy metal rock to comedic country songs and even some classical pieces. Altogether, they are the story of my life (so far), but chances are they touch upon some of your experiences too. With the exception of the songs I’ve co-written with my friends, these songs are mine, they were not written for anyone else. They are good. They are interesting. They are unique. They are real. They have something to say and I hope they appeal to you as much as they appeal to me.