Someone up there is watching over Andy Rosen, the man who goes by the stage name Goat.
The singer-songwriter-keyboardist, whose incurably catchy single “Great Life” has been so close and yet so far from being a hit, admittedly was zoning out last week when he crossed a New York street and into the path of a speeding car as his manager watched in horror. By all accounts, Rosen should be dead or severely injured, but instead he walked away with only bumps and bruises.
Do goats have nine lives, too?
“I’m pretty sure there must’ve been some kind of divine intervention,” Rosen said the day after the incident, “because there’s no reason why I walked away from this with just a banged-up arm and that car is banged to hell. It was going about 50 mph; it hit me and I rolled on it, I spun around and just kept on walking. At the time, I was just thinking about all the wrong stuff. I was having one of those moments where I felt like ‘What does a fellow do if he really doesn’t fit into the world’s plan or doesn’t fit into the world?’ I got lost in that.
“I was feeling, ‘Man, this ain’t happening the way everybody would like to see it go down,’ and I like to see everybody happy. I took that as a sign, like ‘Don’t even almost feel sorry for yourself on any level, dude. You’re doing better than you ever have in your life. You have a record label, your album’s released. What is your trip?’ “
His trip has been quite a journey. Originally a track off last year’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer” film soundtrack, “Great Life” should have been as big or bigger than Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” right up there with Smash Mouth’s “Walkin’ On the Sun.” With an optimistic chorus of “Start having a great life, it’s about living with inspiration,” how could it miss? It popped up on radio stations and television – on ESPN, the NHL playoffs, “Monday Night Football” and the X-Games.
Someone, though, dropped the ball. By the time it finally was released as a single, the momentum for “Great Life” was gone. Rosen hopes his “Great Life” album, released Aug. 25 (on Ruffhouse/Columbia), doesn’t suffer a similar fate.
If anyone deserves a break, it’s Rosen.
In the 1960s, he seemingly had the great life in his native Cleveland, where his father, Al Rosen, was a star third baseman for the Indians in the 1940s and 1950s, but the young Rosen turned inward after his mother committed suicide after a long battle with emotional illness.
“With my history, knowing that my mother died at her own hand, where are you going to go from there? You know what I mean? You just gotta live,” Rosen said. “I would like to discourage people from doing that kind of thing. It’s pretty wrong. My stepbrother fell by the same way within a year after my mother, and I was close with him too.
“Both of these people told me, two days before they took their lives, ‘Don’t ever quit playing your music.’ That’s why I haven’t even almost thought about not playing my music. The toughest thing they dealt with in my family was the way society labeled people that were emotionally ill or sick. They didn’t have Prozac back then.”
In Rosen’s darkest hours, music was his salvation.
“I’m real fortunate that at a very early age I made friends with the piano,” he said. “It just keeps calling, calling me back, moving me forward. I keep writing songs. Death just isn’t an option or a choice for me; I’ve got death phobia. It just wasn’t part of the picture. It’s such an awkward thing; we’re not even equipped to know how to die. I think it must be the most humiliating experience in the world to have to totally give up your life, to give up your body and give up your loved ones and die.”
Rosen moved to New York in the late 1970s and landed a job “mopping floors and running errands” at the famed Power Station recording studio. There, he rubbed elbows with the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren. Other jobs would follow: playing in a rockabilly band, booking groups for a few nightclubs and as an accompanist with the Martha Graham Dance School.
All the while, he stayed close to his Wurlitzer, crafting funk-based songs in the vein of musical heroes Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder. Then a “Great Life” was born.
“The song ‘Great Life,’ I was totally at my wit’s end, not getting the right response anywhere,” Rosen said. “I just felt like I was writing the last song I ever wrote and what I wanted to say to the world wasn’t ‘I’m pissed off and you owe me something.’ It’s more the realization, ‘Nobody owes me anything. Life is great.’ Sometimes people like me love suffering through it, you know, no matter what. I just decided I wanted to give something more with my music than I was; ‘Great Life’ kind of came popping out of there. I hope it lands on a Ford commercial or something when I’m dead and gone.”
Producers Joe and Phil Nicolo, a k a the Butcher Brothers (Fugees, Urge Overkill), caught wind of “Great Life” and remixed it, produced other album cuts and got Goat signed to Ruffhouse.
“With this record, I really made a decision, I wanted to keep it upbeat,” Rosen said. “I want to put a good message into the world, and I’m not trying to preach or anything. It’s ridiculous for me to even say that because I’m not the nicest guy walking around. I’m not saving lives, but I just think music can be so much fun.
“I’ve had so much tragedy and sadness in my life that for me to start writing about that stuff seems disrespectful to the friends and family that I’ve lost. I could get dark and make everybody cry with two lines, but that’s not what I want to do. I want people to start having a great life. Sure, I wish the song had exploded and played everywhere, but I don’t think people are quite ready for that upbeat of a message yet.
“Still, there’s a lot of other people’s expectations to live up to, and I just can’t accept this thing not working out.”
ON THE WEB: www.goatlife.com.
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