Music-loving accountants sing a different tune in April

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You have to wonder what the late, great Nat King Cole would think about Steven Zelin changing the lyrics on his hit "Unforgettable" so the ballad conjures up images of tax deductions instead of true love.

"Tax deductible," sings Zelin, who recently quit his job as a corporate accountant to pursue music, "That's what you are: Tax deductible. Just like my car, like a gift to local charity, you give my 1040 clarity . . ."

Anyone who turned out to file their taxes Tuesday evening at New York's James A. Farley Post Office could hear Zelin for themselves, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Zelin is not the only accountant who is irresistibly drawn to the unforgettable passion of music. By now everyone has heard of TurboTax's Tax Rap Contest hosted by Vanilla Ice and most of us know that H&R Block uses music on its new Web site. But you may not know about the Accounting Crows, billed as "Connecticut's only CPA Rock 'n' Roll Band." But the band is quick to point out that only three of its four members are CPAs with the keyboard player, Mark Zampino, serving as public affairs director for the Connecticut Society of CPAS.

The band came into being when Zampino was asked by his employer if he could put together entertainment that might interest graduating high school seniors attending the Society's Career Day Conference, according to the group's Web site.

"What is the least-likely activity a CPA might engage in?" Zampino asked himself and, of course, the answer was rock 'n' roll. The Accounting Crows were born. Their first gig was fittingly on April 15, 1999 when they played at a local watering hole where accountants were known to hang out.

Another band called the Accounting Crows from the Seattle area, featuring members who belong to the Washington Society of CPAs, rocked out last year to help raise funds for accounting scholarships at Highline Community College and Central Washington University, according to The Battle of the Bands also featured Disregarded Entity, Industry Audit Guys, Facial Depreciation, and Terminal Liability.

Zelin, a former accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and JPMorgan Chase & Company, quit his job in February to pursue his musical dreams. The Wall Street Journal noted that he continues to serve about 50 clients in private practice to pay the bills.

Zelin's goal is to create 30 new songs this year and, in true accountant form, he uses a spreadsheet to track his progress. He frequently uses a joke in his songs and created a formula to gauge the success of a joke:

CAPJ (Calculated Audience Perception of Joke) = ROD (Rating of Delivery of Joke at the show) x ARS (Audience Reaction at the Show). It makes us wonder if Nat King Cole had a similar approach to his art.

You can listen to Zelin perform Happy Birthday to Sarbanes-Oxley and Pension Tension Blues on YouTube.


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