The third track on the album, The Hungry Years, is one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard or played. Written by Neil Sedaka, the lyric talks about reflecting on a time when things were maybe more challenging, but more true. And the music is pure gold, toying between major and minor and jumping back and forth between the keys of G and Bb with the occasional E major resolution.
I was first introduced to this song while on the road three years ago. I instantly fell in love with it. Engelbert opened up a bit about how much this song meant to him as he reflected on the early "hungry years" of his marriage. One thing I challenged myself to do while in the studio recording these songs, was to internalize and personalize each and every melody and piece of music. When thinking of the message of The Hungry Years, I could not help but reflect on my own "hungry years".
"I miss the hungry years, the once upon a time, the lovely long ago, we didn't have a dime..."
I have been so blessed these last several years with opportunities I could not have imagined as a child. I did grow up with certain hardships, but one thing that was never absent at home was love. And now that I have luxuries and dreams fulfilled, I do confess that I reflect and hunger for "the lovely long ago".
During the making of the album, I shared a rough mix of The Hungry Years to Engelbert and his reaction was so powerful. With his eyes closed and a slight swell of tears, Engelbert gave an emotional and personalized endorsement of my interpretation and of the entire project. Check out the youtube link to hear his words.
"Looking through my tears, I miss the hungry years."