Ed Ryan

singer, songwriter, musician, comedian

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Long Island Entertainment, January 2004

Written by John Blenn, who has been covering Long Island entertainers for over 20 years and is currently the General Manager of the Westbury Music Fair; this article appeared in Long Island Entertainment, January 2004.

ED RYAN: Of Spirit And Self Discovery, A Solo Album Becomes So
by John Blenn

  "One of eight, fourth from the top," smiles Ed Ryan when asked about his family, an Irish clan from Merrick. "I've taught two of them to play a little bit, but that's about it." In other words, Ryan is blazing his own trail as a performer and that trail is one that has been marked continually by success and revamping, more success and more revamping. It seems interesting after a decade and a half or so on the scene that we finally see the Ed Ryan solo debut, but that's exactly what the "Make
It So" release a few weeks back signifies, Ryan's very first solo CD. Of course, the name Ed Ryan probably seems very familiar anyway and with good reason.

  As the charter member of Ed Ryan and The Underdogs, Ryan and company got to open up for Atlantic Recording artist and fellow Merokean Debbie Gibson ("Musically, we were nothing alike, but it gave us a chance to play Radio City Music Hall and that's something you never forget"). As a
member of Wide Awake, Ryan and his second band won the 2nd Annual Long Island Music Festival competition. The runner up that year was a group called Rotgut that featured Anthony of radio's notorious Opie And Anthony ("It was great playing in (Wide Awake), everyone around me was such a great musician"). Then came Ed Ryan stand-up comedian, Rhino Caravan and three more albums, playing with Gerry Finlay's Irish band and, eventually, doing solo gigs and hosting open mic nights on a regular basis (Munchaba every Tuesday, Paddy's Loft every Thursday), where he keeps his finger on the pulse of the local music scene. "I'm making a living playing music," smiles Ryan, "I may never be a rock star, but I'm doing what I always dreamed of, making music for a living."

  The 16 songs on Make It So, ironically, have been culled from all areas of Ryan's lengthy career. Despite the fact that some were originally destined for band projects and had very different flavoring
than what they wound up as on this highly personal album, Ryan makes the album fit together seamlessly. From the selections to the sequencing, there was plenty of TLC in the process. We start with the flow of the album, which I begin by mentioning, reflects Ryan's love of The Beatles and The Monkees. I offer that it seems like Ryan's Abbey Road or The White Album and he immediately reacts. "The Beatles were really the band that gave me my love of music," says Ryan nodding with a smile as he sits up in a leather seat at the Westbury Music Fair lounge, "I'd say it's much more White Album than Abbey Road, though." Lennon or McCartney, I wonder aloud. "Both," laughs Ryan, "I love Lennon's words. Words have always been the thing for me, all the way back to school. I love playing with words, I love the challenge of putting things together. I think most people think Lennon was the serious writer there, but you have to love McCartney's ability to write melodies and he's written a lot of great songs in his own right. I love great songs. It's the same reason I love the Monkees, though, of course, they had many of the best writers in the business writing songs for them, Boyce & Hart, Neil Diamond. I loved Mike Nesmith's stuff too." A great song is a song that be done in any style and still sound like a great song. "Exactly," says Ryan emphatically, "that's what you want if you're a writer."

  Often as important as the songs on great albums is the order in which the listener gets them. That's a point that wasn't lost on Ryan. "I thought about the sequencing a lot," continues Ryan, "and every time I thought I had it, I'd listen to it in the car and realize that I needed to redo it. That's the good thing about recording it 4 hours at a time, it gives you a lot of time to think things over. It was a labor of love, though. Going to the studio was like having a great job, except that you're spending money instead of getting paid," he laughs, "working with (co-producer/engineer) Mike Sapone, who's just so great, so patient, made the whole process so satisfying." So why open with "Claustrophobia"? "That's my favorite song that I've written," reflexes Ryan, "and I just thought it was the right song to open up with for a lot of reasons. I think lyrically that it really sets up the album, and it's one of my older songs as well. I had been keeping it for me, I never felt it was a song for the groups I was in." Other favorites? "The title track and 'Media', I put all my favorites right up front, because I think they all show different sides of me as a person and an artist. I also like 'She's Mine All Mine' because it's just a fun song, a fun one to sing, a lot of energy." He will, in short order, confess to loving all the songs on the CD, but when you have a few hundred songs and your whole life to get ready to make your debut, why shouldn't you have 16 songs you're truly proud of? Whether it's the metaphors of "Key To The Sky" or "I Will Be With You", to the true life wistful experience of "Last Monday (Of A Long September)" or the playfulness of "The Honeymoon Song", which he wrote on his honeymoon with his rock solid support system, wife Lorraine, Ryan has really assembled something any songwriter should be proud of. He accepts the praise of a job well done with humility; he looks ahead with the confidence of a man who knows his faith is strong.

  "When I write about you and I in songs," sums up Ryan of a little secret, "I'm talking about me and God...even if it's you and me, God's in you and God's in me, God's in my wife...everyone. I have faith that things will work out, that everything happens for a reason, happens when it's supposed to." I suspect Mrs. Ryan helped that feeling out a bit. "Well," he nods with a smile, "yeah. I grew up on Long Island in an Irish Catholic family, so it's always been part of life. It takes time to really find out what makes you happy, what's important to you. I'm happy with everything right now and I'm looking forward to people hearing this and people seeing me perform. I'm also already thinking about the next CD." With all the songs stockpiled, I could see you being good to go right now. And does Ed Ryan think that his success has been what it should be? "I think a lot of people know who I am, though not all for the same reason. Some people have seen me playing the Irish shows, some people have seen me doing comedy, some people know me for my original music. I hope everybody gets to know me because of this CD." Talent should make it so any minute now.


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