Just in case you still don’t know who Frank Topper is. He is the Organizational Development Consultant who lives in Greenbrae, California. So how does an Organizational Development Consultant interest JamSphere? Well Frank’s peculiarity is that he writes lyrics as a hobby and searches out and finds artists willing to compose the melodies and sing his songs, which in turn he then posts on YouTube for everyone’s entertainment.
Sound familiar? Sure.
But how often do lyricists have 60 of their songs generated in 60 days on a collab mission with the same artist? Ever hear of Bernie Taupin & Elton John doing something similar? Or maybe Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, Carole King & Gerry Goffin or even Lennon & McCartney? Well Frank Topper & Jeremy Ferrick have done just that!
Versatile, and very capable Singer-songwriter, Jeremy Ferrick, has worked on a number of Topper’s songs including “Stuff Like That”, “Dollar Store” and “Boyfriend Duct Tape”. Now it’s pretty obvious that all the songs don’t turn out great, or even good, for that matter.
In fact the arrangements are pretty simple and down to raw basics; a guitar or keyboard, accompanied by a straight vocal track. But Frank Topper is not looking for bells and whistles to match his lyrics. Quite simply, Frank is exploring and uncovering the core essence of his songs, with each and every musical interpretation of his lyrics.
There are two principle ways to approach music from a creative artist’s point of view. You can compose 10 songs then work through them for months on end until you’ve polished them to perfection, before releasing them to the public… every couple of years or so.
Or you can follow the old ‘Prince Rule’ (yes, the man of Purple Rain fame). In his heyday Prince would record and release just about each and every song that came to mind. He strongly believed in creative flow and allowing listeners to follow his growth as an artist, every step of the way.
This obviously, at times, led to loads of bland and uninspiring material. But in-between those bags of material lie some of the greatest and shiniest pop gems ever written, which Prince claims would never have seen the light of day if he had spent his time ‘sorting’ and ‘polishing’ only a couple of his ‘best’ songs at a time.
Frank Topper (wittingly or unwittingly, I’ll have to ask him at some point in time) seems to follow the same rule. Not least (or lastly) with “Boyfriend Duct Tape”; a simply strummed and sung tune, about man’s greatest inability – the need to shut up and listen – especially in a relationship!
“There’s a point you shouldn’t miss When your girlfriend is talkin’
You get that urge to speak
As you get that urge to fix
Got to stop yourself there
No Need to provide help
Reach for the roll that saves
Don’t speak, and watch her melt”
It really doesn’t get much clearer than this. I get the feeling that Frank is speaking from firsthand experience (and maybe Ferrick knows something about this too!), as Frank goes further:
“Boyfriend duct tape safe haven home
You will not have to atone
Your sincere face nods to her own
What you don’t say she can’t bemoan
Catch the urges early
Let words stick to the tape
Stifle what you might say
Her fury you’ll escape”
As always, Frank perfectly captures the essential gists of the human condition within his lyrics. Often his words paint pictures, or weave a web of intrigue, but mostly Frank Topper bares the fundamental facts that ultimately make us tick; leaving the fancy stuff – like a gently strummed guitar, the soft tinkling of piano keys or the eloquently melodic vocals – in the custody of mere mortals!