Featured Artist | James Simpkins | Woodstock


By day James Simpkins is an accomplished neuroscientist. His body of research has resulted in 22 issued US and foreign patents. After authoring over 400 publications on the treatment of age-related brain disorders, he found himself drawn to yet another passion of the brain – lyric writing.

Absent the digital age, I believe that none of my songs would have been produced. The change in the industry now allows us unknown artists to make and distribute their music to everyone. As such, I now have a “Virtual Band”.

Does lyric writing come easy to you? What’s your process?

My lyrics start with an essential inspiration. Once I am inspired – about an event in life, a relationship, an observation, or an insight – I decide what I want to say, the mood of the lyric, and the style of its presentation. Then I begin the hard part, putting pen to paper. It usually takes days to weeks to complete the first draft of a lyric. Once this is complete, nearly every word is weighted for its impact on the story that I am trying to relate. I usually do no fewer than 20 to 30 revisions of the lyrics, before I think that it is ready. The test of its readiness for me is that I can hear the song in my head. At that point, I contact the good people at 5050songs to do their musical magic.

What is the inspiration behind the lyrics for “Woodstock?”

I have been a Woodstock connoisseur since I was in my early 20s, my age at the time of Woodstock. I believe that I have seen every video of the festival dozens of times, know every song performed there and followed the careers of nearly every singer/band who performed. Being from a poor family, I had to work summers to pay for my college and I was not able to attend Woodstock, but heard about it from my more fortunate friend. I wanted to capture in my lyrics the essence of the festival – the attitude of the young people, their dress, the music and the festival environment. I think that I succeeded, and the music of 5050songs brought the lyrics to life.

Featured Artist | James Simpkins | "Woodstock"

Your musical style covers many genres. Which genre will you be exploring next?

Having written lyrics for country, bluegrass, blues, pop and rock genres, I believe that I will eventually settle into the pop/rock area. I like what that genre does with my lyrics. The people at 5050songs are particularly adept at making pop and rock music and their music alone with my lyrics creates a unique sound.

You have an impressive resume! In your own words, can you share with our readers more about some of your accomplishments?

My day-job is as an accomplished neuroscientist. I received my Ph.D. degree under the mentorship of the pioneering neuroendocrinologist, Joseph Meites at Michigan State University in 1977. I then joined the University of Florida when I rose through the academic ranks to a full professorship in 1986. At the University of Florida, I was the founding director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Aging, served as Chair of two departments and was appointed the Frank Duckworth Professor of Drug Discovery in 1996. In 2000, I became the Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Neuroscience and Founding Director of the Institute for Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. In 2012, I joined the faculty of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of West Virginia University and serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research. In 2012, I received the Harman Award for Life-time Achievement for Aging Research from the American Association of Aging. In 2015, I was named the Highland Chair of Stroke Neurology at the WVU. The author of 414 full length publications, my research has focus on the discovery of novel compounds for the treatment of age-related brain disorders, with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. My body of research has resulted in 22 issued US and foreign patents.

  • jack adams
    Posted at 23:48h, 13 December Reply

    I like it. As a child of the 60’s I’ve written a few of these throw back songs myself. unfortunately I did not make it to Woodstock but I did watch the movie many times and I feel your song captured the essence of what it would have been like to actually be there. Keep on writing. jack

  • James Simpkins
    Posted at 14:18h, 14 December Reply

    Jack, Thanks for your thoughts. We are of the same mind.

  • Barry Mclean
    Posted at 15:49h, 17 December Reply

    Very impressive writing and such an interesting character.

  • Jay Kennedy
    Posted at 16:05h, 20 December Reply

    Interesting song & lyric, thank you for sharing!
    If I was to offer any suggestions (not that anyone asked,)
    I’d like to hear a version where the verses were “read” and not sung, as the story gets lost somewhat and seems to struggle in being ‘contained’ into a melody(?). Then open up musically into the Chorus. Thank you for sharing your talents!

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