In some ways, the Songbird CD is something of a roller coaster type of experience. It has up-tempo pop songs and slower ballads throughout. After four of these changes, it culminated with a hard edged rock song Black Magic. I would have left it that way, and everyone thought I would. However, I tried putting Courage after Black Magic and I liked how it sounded. Also, I thought it a unique way to end.
Courage is the only song that I do not sing the lead vocal or sing as a duet. I only help in the backround vocal. This is because Abby sang it so well. As a matter of fact, she sang it so well that we held back on the recording. This is because what she did deserves two versions. The one you hear on the recording and the one you will hear live!
Listen to “Courage“.
Originally, I had intended to record this song without any accompaniment. I thought the solo guitar and vocal would complement the message of the song… and it does. However, the other instruments enhance the song greatly (and I can always perform it solo). So the proper thing to do was to add the strings.
Also, I thought it might be better if Abby sang this song (without me). As it turned out, I was correct, because she was wonderful. What a great voice!
Listen to the song Courage.
Courage is a song born of the “Great Recession”. It was a time of great loss and uncertainty of the future. At the time, courage is what was required to keep one’s head, deal with the situation and remain true to one’s principles. This song asks for the courage for these things.
Although we do not know what the future brings, what we do know is… we need to be true to ourselves. This is because, being true to one’s self is the only thing superior to all external fate.
Sometimes it takes more courage to be true to yourself… this was one of those times.
This is why, I believe, courage is the greatest human virtue of them all.
This song is the “heavy hitter” rock song for the album. Of all of the electric songs
(Bass, Drums, Electric Guitar), this song has the most energy and punch. It was originally going to be placed as the last song (The idea was to go out with a bang) however, in the end, I liked the idea of this song followed by Courage.
Listen to “Black Magic“.
The music comes from the energy within that produces such things. I guess when you have the right amplifier, guitar and volume…these types of songs happen. At its core the song is really a blues progression.
As for the arrangement, I was thinking of a horn section, for the beginning and in between the lyrics but Jimmy did a great violin part so we went with violin.
The lyrics come from a time when I was close to someone who was “Wicca”. The things that happen in the song come from the procedures that they follow when casting spells and/or performing rituals. That is…from what I was told.
Listen to “Black Magic”.
Originally this song contained Acoustic Guitar and Violin. Abby and I sang the duet and at the end of the song we both sang “rounds” for a number of measures through to the end of the song.
Then, the first time I worked with Rachel, we played the Fall …just me and her. She started playing along with the same Cello part that you hear in the beginning of the recording. It pretty much changed the direction that I had thought the song was going… and yet, still added to the same emotional content that was already present.
When Jimmy and Abby heard what we had, the task was to change what we had been doing by getting out of the way and trying to enhance the new tone (Cello) of the song…which we did!
One year I just happened to be travelling through New England around the third week of October. I was stunned by the Fall colors that I saw as I travelled through the various States. So much so that I went back, around the same time, for a number of years.
I stopped going, for a couple of years, but still looked for those same views while I travelled through other parts of the country ( Midwest, Blue Ridge Parkway, Tennessee Valley), however nothing really matched the colors I saw in New England..
This song, The Fall, was written the year that I returned back to the original places, that first caught my eye. It was so amazing that I wondered why I had ever stopped coming. I decided that I wanted to touch as many and as much of the places that I had originally visited as possible. I was so overcome with emotion that I sat on a log, while leaves were falling, and wrote the lyrics.
The album contains six acoustic ballads (Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Violin) and five electric songs (Drums, Bass, Electric Guitar). The Night is Long is the base line for the acoustic ballads. It’s fresh, clear, simple and the words should catch your ear whether you’re familiar with them or not (It also has a wonderful Violin solo). It made an easy choice to be placed towards the beginning. To set the table for the remaining ballads!
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there are a number of great phrases such as…”Double, double toil and trouble” and …”the milk of human kindness”. For me the one that stuck was; “The night is long that never finds the day”. There are any number of interpretations of this phrase as it relates to the play. However for me, and probably most writers (and artists), it represents all the work that’s done to achieve perfection, that may never be recognized. But that’s ok… I (we) do this for love. I would feel bad if I did not have the ability to recognize greatness in others.
So then I found two other phrases…”We will perform in measure, time and place” and “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak”…and I thought, I perform in measure, time and place! Then I thought, if I change measure to measured it would have more meaning in regards to the perform. Where sorrow gets words and sadness gets grace.
Listen to “The Night is Long“.