Volkswagen GTI Commercial. 
For this 1984-85 Volkswagen GTI Commercial, I translated the GTO song to be sung by Rory Dodd who previously backed up Bonnie Tyler on Total Eclipse of the Heart, as well as Meatloaf, The Police, Air Supply and many others.  I taught him how to pronounce it, and he did so, perfectly.  I didn’t get to sing that day because the ad company claimed that the song wasn’t “German enough” – they wanted something that sounded guttural.  While Rory was recording the Yeah-Yeah’s, I was sitting in the studio, adding “R” sounds.  I first saw the finished commercial on the Johnny Carson show, then again during the Football games.  When I attended a party given for Ravi Shankar, one of the guests told me that it was his daughter’s favorite commercial.  I didn’t believe him, of course, but he called her in and made her sing it – in German.  I just searched for the title on the internet.  Someone – probably the producer or someone from the ad agency – has posted the lyrics, along with the beginnings of a second verse.  That had never been aired.  The person stated “Found the lyrics to this old GTI commercial which is my favorite gti commercial so I thought I would post them just for fun.”  ( .  The commercial itself can be found on U-Tube at

CD   BEAUTIFUL PLANET:     - click here for ordering information

I’ve been active singing with Pete Seeger and NJ Friends of Clearwater, both in their teaching programs, as the Stage Manager of their Annual Festival and as Co-Coordinator (with Isis Ra) of their monthly Circle of Song in Belmar, NJ.  Many of the songs on this CD reflect my activities with NJ Friends of Clearwater.  I highly recommend joining them.  They are a great group of people who have their hearts in the right place.

       Living in Paradise was written as a children’s reggae-rap song. Long before rap acquired a mixed reputation, I loved doing chants.  They give everyone a chance to “sing along” – not only great singers.  Children love them.  Many of my songs were written with children in mind – all of them are suited for children.

…….God and the River
is based on a Native American legend.

       Come to the Sea
was written on a day when we had to cancel a NJF Clearwater teaching event on Sandy Hook because a storm was brewing.  I was the only one who stayed behind, walking in the storm, pretending that it was a beautiful day.

       Mother Earth is one of my collaborations with my friend, the drummer Isis Ra.

…….It Takes One
was inspired by Julia Butterfly Hill’s book “One Makes the Difference” and also by Pete Seeger, who rarely passes by candy wrappers, papers, cigarette butts and other nasty things that people throw in our streets and parks.  It made me get into the habit of carrying plastic bags wherever I go.  The least I can do is offer to help Pete pick up the litter and carry it.  We live on a beautiful planet.  If everyone did this, it could stay that way or become even more beautiful.

       Let the River Flow
deals with a small river called “Mehde” in my home town Zeven in Lower Saxony, Germany.  In addition to the story now told in the song, I had written one more verse about the time when the local government attempted to straighten the riverbed to prevent the flooding that happened every spring.  It caused more flooding, and the river has since been returned to its old bed.  So much for messing with Mother Nature.

…….Smiles was written for Mindy Fradkin’s beautiful radio program “The Smile Revolution” about the healing power of simple sincere smiles.

…….Dear Mr. President
is a song written by Gigi Goldstein.  Please check out “Peace Will Be Ours” under “Visualize Peace !” below, another Gigi Song.  In the not too distant future, I’ll be releasing twelve songs of hers that I recorded in the past and played to her before she died.  I also had her original sound recordings cleaned professionally and will release her songs and comments on a double CD that will benefit the Ethical Society in Maplewood.  She loved that place and said that it offered her refuge.  Gigi approved of this recording, but asked me to mention that she used the word “… 21 guns – the kind that murdered me” instead of my sanitized version “,,, 21 guns – the kind that killed me.”

       The Morning After was written after some storm before Sandy.  It rings even truer now.

       Somewhere in the Middle – Isn’t that where we always find the truth?  And isn’t that the only place where we all can meet?

       Planet Earth is a collaboration with Joe Petraitis.  It’s another kind of love song.

       Beautiful Planet was written before the 2010 NJ Friends of Clearwater annual Festival.  In the Pete Seeger tradition, I used the folk melody of The Virgin Mary had one Son, hoping that everyone would be able to sing along.  As it turned out, no one knew the original song and I had to teach it from scratch anyway, which turned out to be an easy task.


CD   HOPE ROAD:     - click here for ordering information

…….As the Crow Flies was written by Bob Norman, the former Editor of “Sing Out” Magazine.  Bob would open his home for us once a month, let us eat his food, while giving  us his free advice on the songs we were working on.  When he became ill and couldn’t do a scheduled performance, we – Spook Handy, David Massengill, Bob Mecklenburger, myself and others – offered to help him.  To his surprise, we memorized his songs.  Sadly, we ended up singing the same songs at his Memorial Service a few months later.

       I Am
is one of my collaborations with drummer Isis Ra.  She’s been doing many of her song ideas as chants, always hoping to expand them into songs.  Isis is chanting along with me in this recording.

       Soon We Will Have Peace
is a 7-language version of this song from my CD Visualize Peace !  Some of my friends from many countries (see the “Lyrics” page of this Website for their names) have helped me translate it into their languages.  When I perform it, I teach the English version to the audience and ask them to keep singing it in English.  I add the other languages, stressing that they may sound different, but we’re singing exactly the same thing at the same time.  This song is fun at NJ Friends of Clearwater’s Festivals.  The signers call what they do “the 8th language.”

       The River
was written by Helga Kaefer who usually writes and performs Christian songs.    I assume it’s meant to be sung at baptisms..

       Think About These Things was inspired by Pastor George E. Britt.  I’ve been attending his services more or less regularly at Asbury Park’s Allen Chapel AME (African Methodist Episcopalian) Church.  This particular sermon was based on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.  I interpret Paul to be saying “You become what you think– let it be something good.”

       Alive was inspired by a dream about my favorite late Uncle, Otto L
ühmann.  In the dream, we stubbornly refused to admit that we couldn’t make contact across the borders of the realms where we were.  We did manage to touch hands.  What puzzled me most when I awoke was that Uncle Otto was alive in my dream – I was the one who was dead.

       Lift Your Eyes was also inspired by one of Pastor Britt’s sermons.

       Feathers is another of Isis’ chants, one she learned from Ganima, a Native American woman with whom she used to perform.  When Ganima was alive, she told Isis that she was hoping to make it into a complete song.  We called Dale Lakata to help with the writing and the vocals.  Together, we finished it in less than half an hour.  All three of us had the feeling that Ganima was with us right then and there.

       Hope Road started with an Exit sign on Route 18.,  That’s the road we Jersey Shore residents use when the New Yorkers tie up “our Parkway.”  One morning I had a little time on my hands and decided to check out what I might find on a road with such a promising name.  I took notes which turned into this song.


CD   VISUALIZE PEACE:    - click here for ordering information  

       To John is a relatively recent recording of my very first song, in its original version.  It was written in Bob Gibson’s first songwriting workshop in 1974 at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.  Rich Warren of WFMT was first to record it then.  I am proud to say that my friend John, after he became the President of his law firm, did much to improve the working conditions of his employees.  When one of his children came down with Cancer, he took a year off his job to be with her.  He also took the time to sail to Europe with two of his children.

       The Dark Before the Dawn.  Sometimes I wonder whether Pete Seeger’s song Quite Early Morning was on my mind when I wrote this song.  I didn’t realize that he created the line “don’t you know it’s darkest before the dawn” until I translated that song for him.  I recall that I was experimenting with different musical styles and wanted to sing The Blues

       Peace Will Be Ours was written by Gigi Goldstein.  Fred Sebastian organized a Concert for Peace at the Maplewood Ethical Society.  Spook Handy and Gigi also participated in it.  I loved her songs so much that I asked to buy her CDs.  She had none, and she mentioned that she hadn’t even written down or taped any of her songs.  I offered her to record at my house, not realizing that she was too ill to do so.  Fred finally called me to tell me that Gigi was in the hospital in Morristown – that all her songs would be lost if I didn’t get there quickly.  I went and taped 25 on a small tape recorder.  During the weeks that followed, I found more songs in bits and pieces on my answering device.  One more was given to me by her son at her Memorial Service.  With her permission, I added the verse about singing together and taking the hands of our neighbors.

       Congratulations became a “hit” of sorts with several volunteer organizations.  I strongly believe that, to be happy, we need to find our “mission in life” and go after it with all that we can.  But even when we know that we’ve found it, it’s still nice to be acknowledged.  I tried to do that with this song.

       She Sees God is about one of my heroes: 
Sr. Mary Rose McGeady took over Covenant House, a charity for runaway children and teenagers, after it became riddled by scandals.  She accomplished more for the children with fewer contributions.  The song was written for and played at her retirement party.

…….Find a Way is a collaboration with Becky Raveson, who co-wrote a number of songs on Love Matters.  We tried for long to write it as a love song, but that simply didn’t work.  One day it hit me that it should have been a Peace song.  I sheepishly picked up the phone to tell Becky, “You just wrote a Peace Song.”  I wasn’t sure whether that was what she would have wanted to do.  To my delight, she loved the idea.

…….Alison is a collaboration with Joe Grant, co-founder of the Canadian Folk band Tanglefoot.  Joe loved this young singer who covered his hauntingly beautiful song Selkirk Settler’s Lullaby.  He was devastated when Alison signed up to go to Iraq.  We’re glad to say that she survived and hope that she will be singing again.

       War No More
was written when the Iraq War started.

       We Can Change was written just about the same time as the previous song, while I was traveling in Germany, marveling at the changes since I left the country.

…….Raise Your Voice
is a collaboration with Pete Seeger and an unknown woman who asked him to finish her idea about 30 years ago.  I completed the song.  Pete corrected it.  In this recorded version, I am doing half of the song in German.  The complete English lyrics are posted on the “Lyrics” page of this Website.

…….Where is the Soul. 
Finally, we managed to complete a recording of Joe Petraitis’ beautiful song.  I love this song so much that I’ll travel wherever Joe is performing, so that we can sing it together.

       Soon We Will Have Peace. 
My father shouted this across the street in Germany during World War II, before he was arrested for not supporting the War effort.  Fortunately, he didn’t stay in jail long because, by that time, losing the War to the Allies became a more important issue.  Sometimes we need to put our desires “out there” and let the Universe take over.  Peace seemed impossible in Germany at the time.  Yet it arrived only a few months later – soon enough for me to grow up in times of Peace.  A long time ago, while starting an organization for international students, I learned that most people in all countries want Peace – we can reach out to them instead of starting Wars.

Please feel free to download Soon We Will Have Peace.  It works well as an audience chant because the lyrics are simple and can be called out before each verse.  Feel free to perform or record it, giving me credit as the writer.  


CD   LOVE MATTERS:    - click here for ordering information

My CD LOVE MATTERS is still available.  It contains mostly songs I wrote with and for other people, but also a few that I wrote for myself.  The instrumentation was done by MJL Studios in NYC:

       Check the Box! was one of the first rap songs ever written.  I was inspired by my friend Ed Williams, the Urban Poet, who wrote his poetry about growing up in the Fort Greene, Brooklyn Ghetto and read it to jazz music.  Becky, Brenda and I had a great time collaborating on this song.  It was recorded three times by singers other than myself.

       Land of Love was the first song I recorded with Michael LaGennusa of MJL Sound.  It was co-written with Joe Ford, who now makes his living as a producer.  When Joe sang it, it sounded much like a Peter Gabriel song.  My version may not be what he had in mind, but here it is anyway.

       The Real Thing was written the day Wilburt Russell was buried.  He was Asbury Park's City Manager, one of the major forces for turning that City around.

       Ticket to Knoxville is based on a true story told to me by my Tennessee Aunt Hilda:  My Dad's Mom went to the U.S. around the turn of the last century, together with a girl friend.  She was rejected at Ellis Island because of an eye problem and had to return to Germany, where she married her girl friend's brother.  I never knew my grandparents, but when I went to the U.S., I searched for the mysterious person who had sent Care Packages to my family after World War II.  That’s how I found Hilda.  She visited me in New York and our family in Germany.  But I was in debt and had an awful job - I didn't dare to go and visit her.  I lost the job anyway. When I called, her phone was disconnected.  Twenty years later, I went to Nashville, a place where she had always wanted to take me, and I drove from there to Knoxville, talked to her neighbors and saw her house – actually it was a baby-blue-and-white trailer in a trailer park.  (Does that qualify me to write Country Music, or what?)  If you're related to Hilda Barth of Concord, TN, would you please contact me because we're family.  If you were her friend, I'd also love to hear from you.  The neighbors told me she died suddenly after breaking her hip.

       Don't Give Up On Love was written for Didi, Rere and Paul - you know who you are.  And also for myself.  The fact that divorce has become more common doesn't make it easier for the kids – and for the grownups too – my Dad didn’t survive it when I was taken from him.

       Too Soon was written for the funeral of Tony Miranda, my friend Hilda's brother (no relationship to Hilda’s House, which was named after my Aunt Hilda Barth).  Tony was always “there” for us, ready to help whenever we needed him.  He became the innocent victim of a violent mugging that caused his death two years later.  I was honored that his family translated my song into Spanish.  When I was writing it, I was also reminded of the victims of September 11, of my best friend Harvey who died of AIDS and of my Dad, who died when I was twelve. 

       The song Love Matters is about a real person named Kathy who teaches in a vocational school in Newark, N.J. and has better results there than most of the teachers in the affluent suburbs nearby - I know she isn't doing it for the money.

       Chrome, Crystal and Glass, a 1980s rewrite of my very first song written during Bob Gibson's first songwriting workshop at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.  For those who don't know Bob, he was the forerunner of the folk wave of the '60s.  When he dropped out, his manager took on Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, among others.  I remember how I first sang this song in Bob's class:  I was so nervous that no one could hear me.  I couldn't believe my ears when Bob said, "That was beautiful – can we please hear it again?  It went better the second time, and after that Bob took me to record it to Rich Warren at WFMT, a local radio station to record it. 


CD   TRIBUTE TO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER:    - click here for ordering information

My CD TRIBUTE TO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER (and the Video POETRY IN STONE) are still available (please see "Contact" for ordering information).  I am presently giving all proceeds to Covenant House in NYC.

       The first song, We Will Always Remember You, was written in memory of Michael LaGennusa’s friend Harry Ramos who, according to the Asbury Park Press, was "last seen on the 42nd floor helping someone."  He wasn't a fire fighter or police person on duty.  He simply represents the spirit that this country stands for.


VIDEO   POETRY IN STONE:     - click here for ordering information

The song Poetry in Stone celebrates the beauty of the World Trade Center before September 11.  For many years, I have been selling my photographs of the buildings – I truly loved them – and I used these photographs to produce the Video for Poetry in Stone, showing them only in their perfect condition and honoring the Missing by name.



With the help of Neil O’Connor, a historian with whom I was teamed up at Brookdale College, I am also working on several biographical and autobiographical works and a CD dealing with German History.  Some of the CD’s song lyrics are included on the “Lyrics” page of this Website.

       I made the discovery that my father had been a resistor who helped some people escape from Germany and who later worked for the Allies, which made me want to know much more about my family’s history.  In my autobiographical work, I am also including material about my relatives and about growing up in post-War Germany and living with its realities, like the Berlin Wall.

       The photographic biographies are about my mother’s second husband who was one of the early SS bodyguards, a photographer whose work I inherited.  We are piecing together much about the everyday life of a guard and soldier as well as a supply officer during World War II.  We are including diaries and original letters, even a story he taped for me of how he visited a gay cousin, who managed to survive in hiding in Prague by marrying a Jewish woman, only to be killed by the Soviets on a rampage against everything German.

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