“Train of Tears” signals the rebirth of Skinner on several levels. The original songs are gritty, touched by the angst his long journey has led him through, but also by a renewed hope. He has dipped into a deep well of emotions and brought them to the surface: Mental Illness is a challenge to be taken on, not a definition of who or what a person is. The stigma, which can be just as damaging as the illness in its isolation, is one that Skinner wants to actively speak out against. The cut “Walk With Me” contains the lyrics, “So open up your eyes, clean out your ears. Learn to listen, listen to learn, and then you’ll hear….”
It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss “Train of Tears” as just a message incorporated within the music. The original work stands alone as a blend of guitar, vocals and drums that attracts attention no matter what the message. Recorded at Bob Cat Studios in New Hampshire over a period of three months, Skinner and Bob Catalano spent two weeks mixing the tapes. The result is a finely honed 73 minute blend of nine original songs with covers of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” the hopeful “Stand By Me” and “If I Were A Carpenter”.
Skinner has performed in the New England area numerous times since resuming his musical career in 1999. “The one thing I hope comes through loud and clear is how much I just plain enjoy playing now, I love music. It’s a healthy part of me that gives me a pleasure that I want to share. I want to erase the stereotype of mentally challenged people only being capable of doing piecework in a workshop.”
With “Train of Tears”, Skinner bursts through that stereotype powered by an engine of creativity and talent. When he performed at the Vocational Conference in May of 1999, he was met with enthusiastic response. This is a train that’s conscious of the places it’s been but is eager to travel new rails.
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