December 2020

HAPPINESS IS…
THE PERFECT EQUATION

ED BOGAS AND DÉSIRÉE GOYETTE

By Alexandra Fee
Photos by Laura Reoch
September-Days Photography

In the words of Charlie Brown, happiness is…Ed Bogas and Désirée Goyette… a perfect equation of happiness built on a foundation of love, music, passion and community.

For 70 years, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang have been entertaining millions of people of all ages worldwide. Today, Peanuts remains the most successful comic strip of all time. Year after year, Charlie Brown’s life lessons have inspired generation after generation. With December of 2020 upon us, people from all generations around the globe will once again tune in to A Charlie Brown Christmas and help celebrate what will be the final month of Peanut’s 70 year anniversary. It is Mill Valley Living’s distinct pleasure to therefore introduce you to Ed Bogas and Désirée Goyette. For 40 years, this extraordinary Mill Valley duo have composed and performed some of our favorite, timeless tunes from Peanuts, Garfield and countless other television series, specials and feature films.

For starters, Ed Bogas is a brilliant mathematician and musician. A San Francisco native, his Russian immigrant parents moved west from the east coast when he was a baby. At age 16, Ed entered a math contest earning him a full-ride scholarship to attend Stanford University followed up by a full scholarship to UC Berkeley’s graduate program. They say math and music stem from the same area of the brain as is certainly the case with Ed. He got his start in music with the viola and at 10 years old, he played in a semi-professional string quartet, later switching to the violin. His older brother, Roy was a budding piano prodigy so his father steered Ed towards a career in math. “All you need,” his father would say, “is a pencil and paper.” Ed’s mathematical prowess led him to work for Project S.E.E.D. (Special Elementary Education for the Disadvantaged) where he taught math to children in underprivileged neighborhoods. This ignited his desire to continue to pursue work in public service to this day. Yet despite Ed’s master’s degree in math, it was his love for composing music that always resonated so passionately within him. He became an accomplished violinist for the Stanford orchestra later playing in the Oakland Symphony and The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

Meanwhile, with the thriving music scene in the Bay Area in the 1960’s and 70’s, Ed began to pursue musical ventures. In college, Ed was in a bluegrass band but after returning from music school, everything had changed and shifted towards rock and roll. Ed was friendly with the band, Big Brother And The Holding Company, so he would occasionally sit in at The Avalon Ballroom accompanying Janis Joplin on electric violin. Although Ed really only wrote classical music before joining a rock and roll group, he joined “The Rubber Band”, a band without a drummer in which he immersed himself in the Haight-Ashbury scene of the 1960’s. This led to co-writing rock songs eventually recorded by the rock band, “The United States of America” garnering attention from Hollywood producers. From Bach to The Beatles, Ed could do it all.

As he immersed himself in the Haight Ashbury scene, one thing led to another. After working on national ad campaigns including Yamaha Motorcycles, McDonalds, Fotomat and Safeway, he landed a job with Fantasy Records who at the time were enjoying national success with Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was there he scored for major motion pictures, Fritz The Cat, Payday and Black Girl. Then came his famed musical scoring for the immensely popular Charlie Brown feature films produced by Lee Mendelson, the accomplished producer of Peanuts including Race For Your Life Charlie Brown and Bon Voyage Charlie Brown. With the advent of the digital age, he created music for many video games like Tetris and co-created a digital musical instrument called The Jaminator with digital mastermind Steve Capps of Apple and Microsoft. Mill Valley Living’s August feature, resident Rita Abrams, referred to Ed as “the most popular studio musician and arranger in the Bay Area–the one every producer called first. He worked quickly, yet calmly, often creating arrangements and harmonies on the spot.” Many in the entertainment industry soon recognized the brilliance of Ed. Nicknamed “Mr. Pencil In The Ear” Ed often showed up in front of an orchestra with a stack of orchestra paper, never using a copyist to compose an entire musical score on the spot!

Désirée was born to sing, but she is also an actress, composer and phenomenal mom. Raised in San Jose, she fondly recalled singing in the prune orchards there as a young girl. Her father, a French-Canadian milkman and her mother, a Mexican-American farm worker were both very musical but never had the opportunity to pursue their own dreams. Her mother had lived in 23 different foster homes before she was 18 which Désirée believes instilled a sense of survivorship and perseverance in her. At the same time, her mother fervently appreciated music and made sure Désirée had every opportunity to develop her musical acumen. Her mother also had such a huge heart, particularly for struggling children, mostly kids from broken homes and foster children. She took them in from the goodness of her heart and ended up establishing a day care center at her home, barely charging the children’s parents. The parents began asking Désirée to teach their children piano and how to sing which Désirée proudly recalls was the genesis of her teaching career to this day. You could say Désirée was the Maria Von Trapp—from The Sound of Music—of her community. Throughout her childhood, she led her family singing troupe in performing for children in hospitals, the elderly and various service organizations. Through her efforts, her family was recognized as Santa Clara’s County’s Musical Family of the Year.

Désirée graduated magna cum laude from The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her intense desire and commitment to sharing music in the service of others has resonated within her from her childhood. She has never stopped giving back including volunteering year aἀer year at Strawberry Point School where she ran the school’s annual variety shows and sing-alongs. She also sings for Bread and Roses, directs and performs for The Cole Porter Society, the Throckmorton Theatre and Marin Horizon School. Building community through the gift of music is her mantra. Désirée held the title voice-over role of Betty Boop in CBS’s The Romance of Betty Boop and acted in commercials for Kraft, McDonald’s and Verizon. In 1990, she performed at Carnegie Hall with David Benoit and other jazz greats in a 40th Anniversary tribute to the Peanuts comic-strip. She has shared equal billing with other artists, Patti LaBelle, The Pointer Sisters, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, B.B. King, Diane Schuur and The Temptations. She co-hosted the internationally syndicated television show, The New You Asked For It with comedian Rich Little. She later reunited with Rich Little (as W.C. Fields) as Betty Boop for the NBC cameras in the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Rita Abrams deemed her voice, “exquisite and her spirit luminous.”

On a brisk, fall November evening, with a roaring fire illuminating the childlike anticipation on their faces, as if on cue, Désirée joined Ed at the piano in their living room to play their favorite song they wrote together called “I Can Live With That”, a beautiful ballad about kindness and accepting mistakes. Their spontaneous rendition of it left us mesmerized. Ed’s heartfelt command of the piano along with Désirée’s glorious voice was breathtaking. It was a special honor to listen to live music during these times in the intimacy of the Bogas/Goyette family home.

Ed and Désirée believe their greatest success came from working together, and specifically scoring the music for years on the Peanuts and Garfield prime time television specials which earned them two Grammy nominations for their creative contributions to the Disney Records release, Flash beagle and the CBS/Epic recording, Here Comes Garfield. At the peak of their commercial collaboration they were listed among Broadcast Music Inc.’s Hot 100.

Ed’s and Désirée’s paths serendipitously crossed for 20 years before they eventually married. Always feeling great respect for one another, Désirée affectionately recalled her admiration for Ed over the years –that “genius guy”, until one day while working on the score of a Garfield show they shared “a moment”. While demoing one of the songs, Désirée, a self admitted glutton for ensuring a song’s lyrics are married to the score, felt there was one line in the song that “just wasn’t flowing”, so as they sat in the recording studio, Désirée on the producer’s side of the glass, Ed at the piano on the other side of the glass, accompanied by a full slate of live musicians, Désirée, willfully pressed the “Cut” button. Ed instinctively agreed that the lyrics weren’t right, and in that moment, syllable for syllable, they simultaneously uttered the same exact 14 words to create the new lyric. It was an undeniable connection, and the beginning of a long journey that eventually led to their inevitable union of love. 40 years later, married now for 21 years they raised their beloved Lily and Ed Bogas, Photo from Bogas Family.

twins in Mill Valley, now in their freshman year in college, Lily at The Eastman School of Music in New York and Ben at Vanderbilt in Tennessee.Venturing through Ed and Désirée’s woods-enshrouded Mill Valley home, we were led through the garage to a state-of-the-art recording studio. “This is where the magic happens,” Désirée announced. Ed composes complete orchestrations on his keyboard, like a one-man-band. One of his pet projects over these past few years centers around teaching math to kids by using music and animated characters to make learning math fun and entertaining. He does the writing, the voice over, all of it. Ed’s passion is aimed at helping kids develop easily understandable methods for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for kindergartners to 6th graders. Watching one of his demos is truly refreshing and brings one back to the days of “I’m Just a Bill” and “Conjunction, Junction, What’s Your Function?,” only for math this time! A subtraction video featured a Western theme with a Comma Llama to boot. Ed’s talent was clear to see in these short, but incredibly creative, musical, instructional math videos. Colorful characters and whimsical commentary abound. We hope they will soon be enjoyed by all.

Today, both Ed and Désirée compose original music together. When asked what inspires their writing and musical composition, Ed responded with “memory.” Through his experience, he came to realize he’s basically channeling what he’s heard before into new forms as he writes new music. Their style, together, became their own but as far as content, Désirée recounted that much of their inspiration comes from working together through different challenges and struggles with family and relationships and other issues. Their natural ability to access all of these emotions brings a richness to their writing. “Anyone who has some musical training can piece together a composition from a technical or intellectual standpoint, but to me, it’s only art if you are really reaching out and grabbing your emotions.” Ed reminded us that even if you’re not a musician, when you hear songs as you’re growing up, you connect with certain feelings, so that oἀentimes, a particular song will bring that feeling right back to you.

Again, as if on cue, Ed and Désirée began singing one of their Garfield songs…” So Long Old Friend…I wish I could see you once again”, a song about Odie, Garfield’s sidekick, being taken away to the pound. Désirée still marvels at how often they receive requests for that Garfield song for memorial services.“

The best songs come all at once…the best songs oἀen do.” Désirée explained. “They just write themselves because when you’re in that moment, it just spills out.”

Happiness is…Ed and Désirée…a perfect equation, still creating beautiful music together 40 years later.

“The best songs come all at once… the best songs often do. They just write the best songs often do. They just write themselves because when you’re in that themselves because when you’re in that moment, it just spills out.” moment, it just spills out.”
— DÉSIRÉE GOYETTE