WESTFIELD, NJ — The stars were perfectly aligned for David Buskin and Robin Batteau when the duo first met in the 1970s while performing with separate bands in Greenwich Village. The two have written hundreds of hits for themselves and other artists including Judy Collins; Tom Rush; Peter, Paul and Mary; and Bette Midler. Then they became famous jingle writers in the 1980s.
Buskin grew up in the Bronx and began singing at Carnegie Hall in 1971, with his supportive parents in the front row. Coincidentally, Batteau, who grew up in Cambridge, Mass., also played Carnegie Hall early on and was encouraged by his parents.
“My dad loved music and played piano, guitar and recorder,” said Batteau, adding, “Poorly, but he was enthusiastic.”
Batteau started playing violin when he was nine. His older brother, who he idolized, also played. “When he picked up guitar, I picked up a guitar, too. I started learning folk songs … learning rock songs … started writing my own.” All by the time he was 12.
The Everly Brothers were an early influence for Batteau. “I loved that mid-fifties radio music. Then I got into folk music from Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio. Joan Baez was the queen of Cambridge. Tom Rush was the king of Cambridge. Folk is Cambridge’s flag to wave.”
Then, in high school, Batteau was blown away by the Beatles. “I heard ‘Please, Please Me’ on a jukebox and it just knocked me down,” he said. “I fell in love with rock-‘n’-roll again. I always had one foot in rock-‘n’-roll and one in folk music.”
According to Batteau, while he was making records for Columbia, Buskin was making records for Epic. The fun began when they crossed paths in 1975 and became a duo. “We started playing Bottom Line, our club home in New York,” Batteau said. “We had a lot of fun, played with a lot of people; had the opportunity to introduce audiences to wonderful people.”
Buskin and Batteau had amazing careers, both together and separately. Although in the 1980s their income was fine as they continued writing songs and headlined Newport Folk Festival, rents kept going up. “New York’s expensive,” said Batteau. Then the duo started their career of writing jingles, which paid the rent, and they continued to put out albums. In regard to writing jingles, Batteau referred to the expertise of Einstein, saying, “Do something that you don’t need to use your head and heart. Let your dreams take over.”
Buskin and Batteau’s latest album “Love Remembered, Love Forgot,” was recorded in Sudbury, Mass., and was released last summer.
Buskin is busy writing a musical play with Jake Holmes called “1968” about people who reached a peak in 1968 and are here today at age 68.
When Batteau isn’t performing or recording, he said he just hangs around with his wife and son, playing with their dogs. “We don’t have a hobby outside of music,” he said, and then added, jokingly, “[Music is] the hobby as well as the passion. It’s the job and the hobby – it’s a jobby.”
You can catch Buskin and Batteau on Saturday, April 20, 8 p.m., when they perform as part of the Coffee With Conscience Concert Series at the First United Methodist Church of Westfield, 1 E. Broad St. (corner of North Avenue). Doors will open at 7:15 p.m. Admission is $19 online and $23.00 at the door.
Proceeds from this show will benefit Homefirst.