I’ve always liked the way words sound together, especially when accompanied by music. I can thank Bob Dylan for this because despite the valiant efforts of my high school English lit teachers, I never appreciated poetry until I first heard ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ on the radio. I studied Dylan’s lyrics much more earnestly than Shakespeare’s, and found myself writing verses of my own in the margins my high school workbooks. Once I got a job as an advertising copywriter I relived the angst of my professional obligations by jotting down amusing ditties for my own amusement. I wasn’t writing poetry, didn’t think of myself as a poet and never intended to show anyone what I had written.

Somewhere in the late 1990’s when I was serving as Latvia’s ambassador the United States, a musician in Latvia asked if I could write some English language lyrics for Latvian songwriters. Latvia was independent, its musicians were breaking out into the world, and they wanted to sing in the language that dominated the rock and pop world. So I began to experiment with some verses. I found myself writing songs without music. They sounded like they could be songs to me, and only lacked a melody. I can’t sing or play an instrument, but after years of studying the lyrics of Dylan, Loudon Wainwright III, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Jackson and Steve Earle, I felt I had a feel for the patterns that words could follow as they try to hook up with a melody.

By 2001 I had amassed a goodly  number ‘songs’ in search of melodies, some about Latvia, others about other things, but all inspired by the sights, sounds, people and events that shaped my daily life in Riga, Latvia. In 2002 the Latvian composer Imants Kalnins approached me about an album of new songs he wanted to do, but with English lyrics. Imants traditionally wrote melodies to the lyrics of Latvian poets and asked if I had anything in English he could look at. I gave him about 25 songs and he picked 12, which ended up in the album “Think of Me”, recorded by the Latvian pop group, Autobuss Debesis (“Bus in the Sky”).

Since then I have collaborated with Marija Naumova (Marie N), Arnis Mednis, Renars Kaupers of Brainstorm (Prāta Vētra) and several other musicians, all of whom have recorded songs with my lyrics.

What follows is a sampler of lyrics I have written over the years, most of which have never been put to song. I have hundreds in all and will never get them all in here, and many don’t need to be. But if you are reading this, enjoy composing melodies to other peoples words, and find something that tickles your lyrical fancy, let me know. Half-baked songwriters like me are always looking for their better half.