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The Rhyme Doctor

January 5, 2018

I probably started liking poetry and lyrics as an infant and I cherished the rhymes that went with them as I grew into my youth and was later propelled into my adulthood. Now that I am an old man, I look back through the decades and feel a great pride for being known as the Rhyme Doctor for so many years. The Rhyme Doctor? Yes.

The nickname has its early roots in my high school years when I was an aspiring poet. I had studied poetry intensely and learned all of the styles very well. While I excelled at free verse, I was always drawn back to the good stuff that rhymes. Though my friends were rowdy surfers and not the stuff of Rhodes Scholars, I persisted with my poetry. My first poems were published when I was 14 and I received my first check as a writer at the same age. In an attempt to blend my poetry with awkward teenage socialization, I would also make up off-colored lyrics to popular songs at the time. Finding it entertaining, my friends gradually bestowed the moniker Rhyme Doctor on me. It was nothing serious, just an inside joke that seemed to have been shared with half the student body. (Kids are cruel!)

I left high school determined to write the great American novel or at least something damned close to it. The trouble was that I thought in the condensed language of a poet which made it difficult to write anything near the length of a novel. I rectified that problem years later when I began writing both novels and screen plays. But in the interim, I was writing poetry and loving it. To be able to write an entire book in a few stanzas became a specialty. In my university classes I was once again called the Rhyme Doctor because of my scholarly pursuit of poetry and the the fact that I was a nationally published poet.

The poetry finally gave way to lyric writing and song writing as I entered the music business in 1973. I was convinced that I could make the tough transition and I did. In the mid-1970’s, I was making a good living writing songs and also fixing other’s whose lyrics needed help. In many instances, I found well-written songs that employed faulty or lazy rhyming. Being the doctor of rhyme, I healed many a song. It was during this stint as a fixer that my colleagues in the music business also coincidentally started referring to me once again as the Rhyme Doctor. Although I considered myself more as a rhyme mechanic, after a couple of years I accepted the name wholeheartedly with a great deal of pride. During this time, many people knew me solely by my nickname. For the last 40 plus years I have continued to ply my craft on a daily basis as well as assist those who need the doctor. This doctor is always in.

Why is rhyming so important in poetry and song writing? The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that we like hearing sounds that are similar.It is as natural as the human heartbeat. However, there is a more complex answer. When the human brain hears rhymes, it releases endorphins that feed the pleasure centers of our brains. Simply put, rhyming makes us feel good. Think back to your childhood. Why did you say: “Liar, liar – pants on fire?” Right! It felt good and it was certainly better than, “Liar, liar – pants too short!”

Well over a half a century after publishing my first poetry, I decided to publish an anthology of some of my very early poetry along side that which was written in the last few years. It is presented as bookends to my literary life in a volume entitled Prescriptions from the Rhyme Doctor. Please give it a read. At $2.99 it is very indispensable and inexpensive prescription indeed!

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From → America, Music, Poetry, Writing

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