Stories Behind The Songs

The Gift

“The Gift” was one of my earliest compositions. I was reading a book on
music theory while eating at a resturant one evening and the man at the table
next to me noticed and asked what instrument I played. I said “the piano”. He said
“me too!” He said that he played gospel and asked me what style I played, I paused
and said “well…New Age I guess”. He said “What’s that?” I said “Well it’s kind of
you know, solo piano with a classical feel but with a more modern type of sound.”
He said “Oh..ok, well I would love to hear it sometime.”

Some weeks later I played some of my music for him at his house on his
beautiful 6 foot grand piano. He said that him and a childhood friend of his
had been writing a play, and he had written a musical score for it. He said that
he had been looking for a theme song for the play’s final resolution scene and
he wanted something to contrast the gospel/jazz sound of the main score.
He wanted to know if I could write a theme to accompany the scene. I was
like “Well I’ll try, I’ve never actually done anything like that.” After
reading the script for the play and listening to the main score, the themes
for “The Gift” began to develop.

The play was named “Blind Eyes Screaming Survival.” It was about a young girl
growing up in the inner city trying to lift herself out of that life. The title
“The Gift” refers to a special gift that her estranged father gives to her at the
end of the play.

“The Gift” is a special song to me because it is the first song I ever wrote
on a commission basis. It also brought one of my most important musical
influences into my life: Ron Chappell, the person I met at the resturant
that evening.

Heart Of A Sailor

“Heart Of A Sailor” is part of a collection of 12 songs called “By The Waters Edge.
Each song is inspired by the sea and it’s many moods. Most of the songs
in that collection are brooding and a bit dark so for “Heart Of A Sailor”
I wanted something brighter and more upbeat.

All the songs from “By The Waters Edge” started simply as titles given
to me by girlfriend at the time who is a amatuer writer.I was never good at
giving titles to my songs, so I asked her if she could think of some short phrases
about the sea and ocean that would make for good song titles. She came up close
to a hundred!

So we sat down one evening and spent several hours reading over the titles and
the feelings and emotions each title brought to mind. We narrowed it down to
about twenty. Then I narrowed down to the 12 that seemed to “speak to me”
the most. I took these 12 song titles and began to write music that the titles inspired.

“Heart Of A Sailor” was one of her picks and one of her favorites of those songs.

A Peasants Lament

A Peasants Lament is one of those “middle of the night melodies” where I
seemed to be dreaming about this melody. I honestly got up at about three
o’clock in the the morning and worked it out at my piano. At first this melody
seemed so familier that I almost swore I had heard it somewhere before. When I
was pretty sure I had not heard it before and that familier feeling must have
come from remembering it from a dream, I worked out the middle contrasting

When I play A Peasants Lament and think about the melody, I wish I could
say what really inspired the this song or where it came from. I have not written
a song like it since and I’m not even sure I could if I tried. It’s a constant reminder
to me that as a songwriter to never be too quick to dismiss a song idea, even if that
idea seems odd or does not fit in to what I’ve done before. Also to not be
overly-self critical. Musical inspiration can take you to wonderfully unexpected
places if you let it. When someone asks me to play one of my songs,
A Peasants Lament is usually the one I’ll play.

Death Of A Humpback Whale

“Death Of A Humback Whale” is another song from the “By The Waters Edge”
collection. This is one of those 12 titles that my girlfriend had given me to write
songs about. I liked the title and asked why she thought of it. She said she’s
always wanted to go on one of those tours where you can swim with whales.
She had been facinated by these majestic animals for many years and was
saddened by the mistreatment of them by humans

The theme for “Death Of A Humpbacked Whale” is a simple melody in repeated
notes with full, supporting harmonies in the right hand and deep octaves in the
left hand. The song has a feeling of saddness yet I wanted to convey stateliness
and power. I have always wanted to arrange this song for full orchestra, perhaps
one day I will.

Song For Tulisha

This song was my first complete composition. The start of my journey as
a songwriter. I had been trying for some time to write solo piano songs
for several years. I had some melodic ideas. I had some song bits, but could
never seem to put together anything cohesive.

Interlude In F# minor

I have always loved Chopin’s Nocturnes. They are so wonderfully melodic and
melancholy. I was also intrigued by Chopin’s preludes and the idea of a collection
of short character pieces in different keys and moods. So I set out to write my own
collection. I was going to call them “Interludes”. I wanted to write about 20 songs,
a song for each of the major and minor notes of the chromatic scale. I wanted the
songs to have a “nocturne” or night music type feel to them.

This song was the first. It was inspired by Chopin’s “Prelude No.4 in E
minor” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. From Chopin I was inspired by
the simple single note melody and the subtley shifting harmonies of that
Prelude. From “Moonlight Sonata” the gently broken chords which shift beneath the melody.

I never wrote any other “Interludes”. I tried, but I could not seem to come up
any other songs to go along with this one. I not really sure why. I think that
perhaps at the time such an ambitious undertaking was beyond my composing
skills at the time(I had only written four other songs).

I did eventually write 12 short songs with a “night music” type feel to them.
I ended up calling it “By The Waters Edge” however.