Desert Island Discs: “Cornerstone” by Richard X. Heyman (1998)

Like all classic pop music “Cornerstone” is influenced by pop stars of the past, starting with Heyman’s singing voice which reminds me of both Gene Clark and Tom Petty. Musically, there are familiar touches from the jangly guitars on “If We Should Ever Meet Again,” to the Burt Bacharach feel on the midtempo “When She Arrives,” to the mid-period Lennon/Beatles influence on “The Drone Song.” I also hear a little Moody Blues in uptempo songs like “Ask Anyone Who’s Tried,” the Byrds in “All I Have,” and Elvis Costello in “Out Of My Hands.” But rather than mimicking past artists, Heyman instead creates a sound all his own by melding these influences.

In an interview with Ear Candy magazine, Heyman was asked to name the ingredients to a good pop song. He replied:

“There’s certainly no one recipe for a good song, pop or otherwise. Each great song has its own magic. For me it’s all about feeling and emotion and that can come from a combination of things — a nice chord progression, a catchy riff, a clever hook, a unique melody or a strong lyric. My favorite rock ‘n’ roll record of all time is “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen — its greatness comes from the repetition of the chords, the exuberant rawness of the lead vocal, the savage rhythm of the drummer — listen to some of those drum fills — and the ridiculously perfect guitar solo. On the other hand, another favorite of mine is “I’ll Be Back” by The Beatles. The ingredients there being its melancholy two part vocal harmony and lovely melody, the bittersweet minor chord progression. I guess the one thing all the truly great songs have in common is a meant-to-be quality. You don’t even think about someone sitting down and writing them. They sound like they simply burst into existence for all time.”

Heyman wrote this in the Cornerstone liner notes:

“‘Cornerstone’ started out as a song about a place and time that now only exists in a distant landscape of a memory. Midway through working on this album I realized that ‘Cornerstone’ was really a metaphor for a lasting relationship. The songs chosen for this record all deal in one way or another with the ups and downs of trying to keep that bond alive… My deepest appreciation goes out to my wife Nancy, who not only sings and plays fantastic bass on this record but also assisted in the production with devoted diligence and unerring ears. She has made my life a joy. I love her more than I can express here in these liner notes. She is my cornerstone.”

True that. “Cornerstone” is my go-to CD when pondering relationship issues.

I could post the whole damn CD here: but then you wouldn’t have a reason to justify Nancy’s faith in me by going to the website, So just a few. Trust me, afterwards you’ll want the whole enchilada.

“When She Arrives”

And each day to day
In this hardened town seems to wear you down
To the point of no repair, but I dare not leave
‘Cause when she arrives
They’ll be handing us the key
To me everything’s all right, everything’s all right
She’ll be in my arms tonight, gonna feel alive
Yeah when she arrives

“If We Should Ever Meet Again”

If we should ever meet again
Out of the blue without a chance to hide
All nervous smiles, so civilized
And not a hint of what we know inside
I’d probably say some funny thing
To prove that I’m still witty in your mind
If we should ever meet again
I hope that we can leave it all behind

“Out Of My Hands”

It’s out of my hands and I’ve lost all control
Of the one thing in life that I treasured the most
And I can’t fill up this hole in my soul
I can’t plug it up with my thumb anymore
She looked at me as if I wasn’t there
And I just stood there like I didn’t care
It’s out of my hands

If you’re a power-pop geek (and why wouldn’t you be?), you’re going to dig this CD. If you enjoy intelligent songwriting and virtuosic musicianship, you’re going to dig this CD. If you appreciate thoughtful, insightful reflection on adult relationships, you’re going to dig this CD. Hell, you’re going to dig it no matter what. A Desert Island Disc to be sure.

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9 Comments on “Desert Island Discs: “Cornerstone” by Richard X. Heyman (1998)”

  1. AnnMcK. says:

    Mmm, jangly.

  2. scottmac56 says:
    An awesome shoutout from Richard on his Facebook page,

  3. I love this album! I’ve worn out 3 cornerstone CD’ s thank God for digital versions. I’ve been a huge RXH fan for years…I can’t get enough of Richard’s music. He’s an amazing talent that just keeps on giving. Thanks to both Richard & Nancy for keeping the music fresh, interesting and in constantly in front of the fans! Looking forward to your 10th!!!

  4. Ray Paul says:

    The “CORNERSTONE” CD was originally released on the Permanent Press label and besides being critically acclaimed, it received quite a lot of AAA radio airplay that year. In fact, it came in at #30 on WFPK/Louisville, KY’s Top 100 Albums of 1998.

  5. Jack carone says:

    he is a goodie!

  6. Mike Wollman says:

    I work in Plainfield, NJ , RXH’s hometown & have been a fan for a long time. I’m sorry to admit that I just this week got around to listening to “Tiers”, his newest album which I’ve had sitting around here for too long. The good news is that it is also awesome. I’m a dj on 90.3 the Core in NJ & am looking forward to playing something from “Tiers” this week. “Cornerstone” is still one of my faves. Keep on rockin’!

  7. […] by The Rankins (2003) 7/13/12: “Year Of The Mouse” by Eytan Mirsky (2012) 7/13/12: “Cornerstone” by Richard X. Heyman (1998) 6/7/12: “Happy Hour” by Shonen Knife (1998) 5/11/12: “Fountains Of Wayne” by Fountains Of […]

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