“He once said that nowhere felt like home and that he didn’t have many friends. It’s been a lifelong struggle to fit in.”
He grew up in Forties working-class Brooklyn, the son of Polish-Russian Jews. He says of that, “a childhood shapes you and you’re like soft clay when you’re a child, in every respect. If fans are familiar with my music they are familiar with me, because the music is a direct reflection of who I am as a person.”
” I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried but it won’t let me go..”
He would ride the subway every day to college where he was studying to become a doctor. Having received a guitar for his 15th birthday from his parents, he wrote songs on the train ride.
“The subway was the only time I had privacy and quiet.”
His family were forever moving house in search of better business opportunities, which resulted in him having attended nine different schools at age sixteen. This lifestyle was forced on him by circumstances and it was instrumental in forming his internal, fiercely self-reliant personality. He says it was there, in his childhood that he developed a pathological resistance to any kind of uniformity. Along with that and his singing talent he became somewhat of an enigma to those close to him and he was, without exception, excluded from every circle of friends he encountered. He became a loner, “I don’t fit in” and a necessary condition for his survival. This forced him to create an imaginary friend, as he tells us in ‘Shilo’:
Papa says he’d love to be with youIf he had the timeSo you turn to the only friend you can findThere in your mindShilo, when I was youngI used to call your nameWhen no one elseWould comeShilo, you always cameAnd we’d play….
“I imagined the poet who writes the words he cannot speak to the woman he wants to woo and win.”
“I have to know myself and I have spent my life trying to know myself.”
He is an American singer-songwriter with a career that has spanned five decades, he has sold over 125 million records worldwide including 48 million in the United States alone. Considered the third most successful adult contemporary artist ever on the Billboard chart behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John.