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Stakeout - New Recording of a Synth Instrumental I Wrote in the 80s 

Here's a real throwback to the 80s - because that's when I wrote this! 

Before I played guitar, I played synthesizer. When I was 15 I composed this instrumental “Stakeout” inspired by the Beverly Hills Cop and Miami Vice soundtracks. This new recording and video are a tribute to those strong influences on my early music-making. I give you “Stakeout.” 

I performed this song in my high school's1986 talent show and won the instrumental music category. With the prize, a gift certificate to a local record store, I bought Van Halen's new album “5150” featuring newly added singer Sammy Hagar. I loved the synthesizer songs and wanted to go to their show when they came to town that summer. This would be my first rock concert. I left that show a fan of Eddie's guitar wizardry as well as his synth hooks. That was when I became determined to learn guitar. 

Talent Show Night '86

I had composed Stakeout to perform at my high school talent show. I had a Casio CZ-101 synth, plus my more basic Casio keyboard so I could combine the tones created by both. I had a Casio sequencer connected to the synth so I could compose a drum beat and bassline that would play through the synth while I played the melody. 

At the talent show rehearsal the MC asked me about the sequencer, a big square box. I said, “Oh, that? That's my beat box.” From that candid response I got my nickname, Jason “The Beat Box” Didner, which I think lasted the rest of sophomore year! 

My stagewear reflected that strong Miami Vice influence. I wore the white jacket and pants with Docksiders shoes and no socks - just like Don Johnson. The only thing missing was the 5:00 shadow! 

When the curtain opened for me to begin playing “Stakeout,” there was no sound! Curtain closed. Still no sound. Curtain opened again. Still no sound. Crowd is beginning to murmur. They had already made a classical guitarist walk off stage mid-piece by talking over his performance. Heart pounding! One more check of the keyboard. PHEW!! Finally a synth tone coming through the speakers. 

Curtain opened. I played a mysterious-sounding melodic intro. Crowd got really quiet. Then I pressed the beat box button. As the beat and bass kicked in, the crowd EXPLODED! They clapped along on the 2's and 4's. I had them with me through the performance. I was floating on air for days after that! 

After my performance I joined my parents and brother in the balcony. When it was time to announce category winners, Lance, the MC announced that the instrumental/miscellaneous category went to “The Beat Box.” My dad said, “Jason should have won!” My mom answered, “Jason IS The Beat Box!” 

Since the prize led me to buy a Van Halen album, you can say “The rest is history!”  

Your Turn

What are some of the early influences on your creativity? Have they remained constant influences? Have you returned to them from time to time? How did they point you to your next influences? Comment below, and let's have a conversation! 

Jason Didner recording Stakeout on synthesizer

I Wish I Could Be Two Places at Once! 😎😎 

What would your superpower be if you could pick one? Super strength? Super speed? I'd like to be two places at once - so I could work and play at the same time! So I could live up to all my commitments and still have all the time I need to treat myself to what I love to do. 

So, I present to you the world premiere of my lyric video “Two Places at Once!” 

This video completes the playlist of my album “Side Effects” on YouTube - a mix of live action videos and lyric videos. 

💿 Get my album “Side Effects” as an autographed CD or digital download.

Introducing Synth City - a Real Throwback Instrumental 

…and now for something completely different - a return to my musical roots as a synthesizer enthusiast! 

I give you “Synth City!” 🎹🏙

This is an instrumental composed entirely with synthesizer patches I designed using Logic Pro X Retro Synth, analog setting (except the drums, designed with Drum Kit Designer in same app). This track has an early 80s feel. 

Around this time, when I was 12 my friend Brant showed me his Arp Omni analog synthesizer and I was hooked. I got a little Casio keyboard and later a Casio CZ-101 digital synthesizer. 

My influences for synth music with big hooks include Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack), Phil Collins, Eddie Van Halen (for his synth composition on “Jump”, “I'll Wait” and later “Dreams”) and Jan Hammer (Miami Vice soundtrack). 

This brand new composition felt like a return to my roots. Look for a new series of instrumental compositions by me - in various genres, in between the songs with vocals you've come to expect. 

Video produced using Microsoft Clipchamp

Dedicated to Entertainment Unions: "Exposure" Lyric Video 

We artists are accustomed to getting offers for unpaid gigs because they'd be “good exposure.” So I wrote this tongue-in-cheek song as a response to these insulting offers. To be clear, I don't oppose playing for free when it's a benefit concert or other charitable event. I just don't like working for free while making someone else a profit.  

And the lyric video is out just as the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) has settled their strike with the Hollywood studios on decent, livable terms, which is all they wanted. As I write this, the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG-AFTRA) remains on strike, also trying to make their profession one that could support a family. This is only fair, given the record profits the studios have been raking in. 

Of course, I'm also rooting for the United Auto Workers to get more favorable terms after they gave up so much in the financial crisis of 2008 to keep the industry afloat. Now the automakers turn record profits; it's only fair to restore a dignified compensation to the workers who built the profitable products. And of course the healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. If we're going to call them heroes, we need to not just praise them, but pay them! 

Do you have exposure stories? Share them in the comments below. 

Commemorating 9/11 in Song 

Since my teen years I've reached for music to help me through tough moments, and to process the most difficult of feelings. 

In late September of 2001 I had my first business meeting back in New York City after the terrible attack on the World Trade Center a few weeks prior. Walking from the bus terminal to the United Nations building I saw countless “MISSING” flyers, printed on home inkjet printers, the ink smudging slightly from light rainfall, adding to the feeling that the whole city was weeping, mourning those lost. On that walk I wrote this song in my head. When I got home, I worked out a guitar part for it. 

Today, 22 years later, I gave this acoustic performance for the camera at Union County, NJ's 9/11 memorial site in Echo Lake Park in Mountainside. Lyrics are superimposed over the performance. I hope you find this comforting, like you have a kindred spirit who feels the way you do. Go ahead and press play.  

The official recording first appeared on my 2003 album “American Road.” 


New Lyric Video - "This Heart Was Built to Last"  

I'm pleased to share with you this new lyric video: “This Heart Was Built to Last.” It's an upbeat rock anthem with a touch of the blues. 

The song's hook proclaims: 

"This heart was built to last
From the joy and pain in my past" 

Blogger C Lee Reed commented, “This song reminds me of driving up the coast in a convertible with the radio blaring. Gave me an absolute End Of Summer Good Time feeling. Loved it!” 

📺 If you enjoy this tune, please comment on the video and subscribe to my channel on YouTube. 

💿 The song is also the lead track on my latest album “Side Effects,” available right on my site for download. 

📧 For more of my music as it comes out, as well as live show and streaming dates, sign up to my mailing list and I'll immediately send you an exclusive recording of a brand new song. 

Rock on! 


New song "Disinformation Overload" - short video 

It's really been bothering me that cyber spies from opposing countries were so easily able to use social media against us - to gin up divisions among Americans with disinformation.  

So I wrote this song to not only express my frustration but also to urge mindfulness of the information we consume. Do we believe the headlines that pop in our social feeds? Or do we check out claims with reputable news outlets that actually follow journalistic methods? 

This has a more grungy, alternative sound to it than I usually go for - but it's no imitation of a 90s Seattle band. It's filtered through my melodic sensibilities. 

If you like the short video shown here, sign up here to get an acoustic demo of the full song emailed to you. 


Disinformation Overload

© 2023, Lyrics and Music by Jason Didner

Lyrics of the 1st verse and chorus, as shown in the video: 

Cyber spies recognized our weakness
They saw we were exposed
We left our front door open
While our minds were tightly closed

They simply used our anger
At those who disagree
To divide and conquer
Preying on our vanity

We were glued to our phones
So they flooded the zone

Disinformation overload
Disinformation overload
The truth got tossed by the side of the road
Disinformation overload

New video: Side Effects 

My official video premieres at noon eastern today (1/6/23). "Side Effects" is a funny and touching song that lightly pokes fun at the disclaimers in those pharmaceutical ads while showing people living their best life! Musically inspired by Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. 

It's the title track for my new album "Side Effects." Pre-order the album and immediately get the 6 singles from the album. You'll get the rest of the tracks on release day, February 3.