Some musicians wear the torturedsoul persona like a badge, but not Jim Brickman. America’s new “romantic piano sensation” crackles with positivism.
“That’s my point of view,” the 34-year-old Brickman said in an interview last week, “and that’s what I want to present to people - a happy, cheerful, ‘you-can-do-whatever-you-want-to-do’ kind of spirit.”
You can’t argue with the results: Brickman’s first single, 1994’s “Rocket to the Moon,” was the first solo instrumental to hit Billboard’s Top 40 pop chart. Three songs from his 1995 CD, “By Heart,” became Top 10 hits on the adult contemporary radio chart. And his latest single, the Summer Olympic Theme song, “Hero’s Dream,” was the most added new record in the country upon its release.
Brickman, who will appear at the Opera House tonight, seems to have come by his outlook naturally: As a tyke, before he had a real piano, he practiced on a piece of felt on which he had drawn a set of keys. He began playing in earnest at age 4, and by the time he was 19, he was writing commercials for Diet Coke, Pontiac and Standard Oil.
It wasn’t talent that separated him from his peers, he said, but desire.
“I worked really hard at peddling my wares … because I felt like nobody was going to knock on my door and say ‘You seem like a talented guy, I want you to write a jingle for me.’ ” Brickman’s outlook was reinforced by a stint with Jim Henson, for whom he wrote Muppet songs: “The positive spirit there is incredible. They have an attitude that says ‘If you want to be America’s newest romantic piano sensation, then why can’t you?’ “
In their emotional directness, Muppet songs may be a bridge of sorts between Brickman’s commercials and his songs.
“No matter whether it’s selling soda pop or it’s something you put on your CD player, a piece of music is good because of the emotional connection it makes,” he said.
Brickman strives to make the same connection in concerts with humor and stories: “Because it’s such an intimate kind of music, you should get to know who I am.”
He doesn’t consider himself a singer, but he likes to perform the Muppets favorites, “Rainbow Connection” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” because “the only person you have to compare me singing it to is a frog.”
For variety, Brickman brings along an old friend, vocalist Anne Cochrane, who sings the title track of Brickman’s “By Heart,” along with a handful of cover tunes.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Jim Brickman will perform at 8 tonight at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets are $19.50 and $23.50, available at the Opera House, G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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