Hit songwriter’s new book shares life lessons learned at Kaua‘i Humane Society
July 12, 2023, 1:00 AM HST
Songwriter and author Jason Blume struggled for 16 years, at times surviving on the cheapest meals he could find – canned cat food.
“I ate cat food for a period because I was that poor,” Blume said. “I was living in one room in Los Angeles with no kitchen and with no bathroom. When I had absolutely nothing but 11 cents … I bought the can of cat food, and it said the ingredients were 100% tuna. I didn’t have any cats at this time but I thought, ‘Well, tuna is tuna.'”
But in 1991, his life changed when he penned his first chart single, “Change My Mind.”
Since then, his career has skyrocketed. He has written songs recorded by Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and 2022 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winners Crossing Rain. He won an Emmy for his work scoring an episode of PBS “Frontline” and his songs have been included in films and TV shows. He’s also considered one of the world’s top songwriting instructors.
But none of these achievements, Blume says, compares to his latest: the publication of “Happy Tails,” a book inspired by his experience volunteering for the Kaua‘i Humane Society.
Blume – “the most persistent, stubborn son-of-a-gun you will ever meet” – wrote 11 iterations of “Happy Tails: Life Lessons from Rescued Cats & Kittens” before the 12th and final version was chosen by his Colorado-based publisher, Blue Mountain Arts.
“When I got that message, that this one was being published, there are no words,” Blume said last Friday at his book-signing at the Kaua‘i Humane Society in Puhi. “I just can’t think of anything that could have made me happier.”
The photograph-packed “Happy Tails” profiles some of the more than 40 neonatal kittens fostered over the past several years by Blume and his partner, who live in Princeville.
Each section shares a life lesson inspired by a particular cat. Blume’s favorite is “Look for the Silver Lining,” which is dedicated to Lily, a one-week-old kitten found with four littermates beside a dumpster in a cardboard box.
“It broke my heart that such young kittens were deprived of their mother … I thought life had dealt these little kittens the cruelest blow,” Blume told the audience, which could cuddle kittens during his presentation.
“When they were old enough to be adopted, these little angels went to loving, permanent homes. Had they not been separated from their mother, they would have likely lived as feral cats foraging for food, never knowing the love of humans. Sometimes what we think is the worst thing turns out to be the best.”
On his website, jasonblume.com, he features what the critics are saying: “Simply MEOWVELOUS!!!” according to Dolly Purrton and “The PURRFECT Gift!!!” from The Pussycat Dolls.
He also has a free “Mewsletter” called The Fluffington Post.
While they bring smiles, fostering newly-born kittens is no easy task. They must be fed every few hours using a milk-filled syringe, and must be stimulated in order to pass their waste.
Blume also photographs the cats and kittens seen on the Kaua‘i Humane Society website. It is estimated he has photographed more than 3,000 animals to date.
On Friday, he donated 100% of his book’s proceeds to the Kaua‘i Humane Society. A portion of future sales of the book – which is available in the Kaua‘i Humane Society’s Puhi lobby and on Amazon.com for $11.95 – also will go to the organization.
Blume can draw a through-line from his beginnings as a songwriter to his present work for the Humane Society: persistence.
“The first song I ever had recorded – that changed my life, that started everything – I rewrote it and did new demos seven times,” he said of “Change My Mind.”
The song was first recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys in 1991, but went on to be covered by country star John Berry, who made it a Top 10 Billboard hit.
Similarly, it took Blume 12 attempts to purrfect “Happy Tails.” And he’s still learning cat photography.
“If you keep doing something, it’s amazing. You start to get the hang of it,” Blume said. “I think somewhere around 2,500 photos, I started getting the hang of it.”