Winter Springs, Summer Falls, my twenty-fourth recording. It doesn’t seem possible. But, then again, my guitar will be forty in December of 2017, and I had already been playing for a few years before Charlie Hoffman made that blessed instrument.
I’ve been around long enough to have had recordings that came out in vinyl, some in vinyl and/or CD plus cassette and, I’m proud to say, zero in eight-track. I know the way people listen to a CD has changed, but some of you, bless your hearts, will actually take this disc and listen to it from beginning to end. I appreciate it.
These songs are about seasons — real and metaphorical, physical and spiritual. They were written and recorded between 2013 and the spring of 2017. Two of them I did not write. Two of them appear on previously released recordings.
My heartfelt thanks to Jeff Sylvestre, my brother in music. What a joy it has been to work on this together.
The Day I Fell In Love With You. My wife and I have been together for thirty-two years, married for four. (We refer to this as OS 32.4. Updates each year.) Whatever I have done as an artist has been possible because of Jane’s love and support. She has seen me through the worst, the best, and all of the stuff in the middle. We mark our anniversary from the time when we stopped being vague. It was the best summer of my life.
First Bird. Spring arrives when I hear the robins sing their slurpy little song in the morning. It’s like they get up first, start singing, wake up the cardinals, who also start singing, waking up the chickadees and finally the sparrows. Thanks to Carolyn Boulay for her flexibility and amazing musicianship.
A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square. It has been one of the greatest gifts of my career to know and work with Joan Griffith. Versatile, talented and just plain fun, she introduced me to this song and it has become one of my favorites. It is one of three “bird songs” here.
Thanks For That. Can’t have too many songs about being grateful.
Waiting For The Sun. We have had a winter solstice gathering each year since 2010. Our friends fill our home with poems, laughter and songs about darkness and light, despair and hope, the power of love and community. My friend Fred always has a new song for the solstice. So far, I have two.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. An exercise I enjoy doing with other songwriters is to take a dozen phrases pulled from magazines, newspapers and websites, put them on a large whiteboard at the front of the class, and challenge those assembled to write a song using one of the phrases. While working with a class at the Junior Composers summer “camp,” I promised that I would also make use of one of the phrases — namely, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” The kids finished theirs way before I finished mine. James Gross, thank you — you flew with it!
All The Pretty Faces. The Sunday New York Times is made up of many interesting sections. One of them is called Sunday Styles. I refer to it as The Alien Life Section. (Oh come on, you’ve seen me. Interest in fashion? I don’t think so …)
Carolyn’s Party (Solstice). I wrote this song eighteen years ago for my friend Carolyn, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. I intended it to be a song about the winter solstice, but it ended up a song about friendship. The original version is on my album Through The Window. I have always wanted to try this with a choir. Jan Hunton is not only a friend but also a musician with soul and sensitivity. Her choral arrangements leave me in awe.
Mothers Day. The original Mother’s Day was a call to peace. Mother’s Day Work Clubs tended wounded soldiers from both sides of the U.S. Civil War. Post-war, Julia Ward Howe issued a Mother’s Day proclamation calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace. It began: “Arise, all women who have hearts …” Thank you, Laura Caviani. Every song you play is lucky to have you play it.
Winter Springs, Summer Falls. Living in Minneapolis means experiencing the intensity of the seasons: -30º F to 100º F, ice, snow, rain, sun, fog, wind. And the perfection of each season as well. For me, it’s all about the light.
Leap of Faith. Originally written for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, this song first appeared on Gift of Age. Again — thank you, Jan, for the choral arrangement.
Blackbird. A favorite Lennon/McCartney song. My friend Gail Hartman was the first to suggest that I sing it. I am one of the few guitar players who never learned to play Blackbird. Thank goodness Joan Griffith did.
Fine Cup Of Tea. Having a career that has lasted this long means that my audience has aged along with me. We have all been touched by death and surprised by life. There are some days when I’m OK with getting older, and I sit and think of how I want to spend whatever is left.
Stars Come Out At Night. I remember lying in a lounge chair on the deck of a ship floating around the Galápagos Islands and seeing so many stars, it took my breath away. When I look up at night in my backyard, the visible stars are not so many, but there’s the same feeling of being quite small. We are alone but, we hope, lucky enough to have some traveling companions. I have long wanted to have Constance Braden, my sister-in-law/friend, play on one of my songs. What a treat.
My heartfelt thanks to the generous and gifted Anita Ruth for her fiddle arrangement on First Bird and flute arrangement on Stars Come Out At Night.
Stevie Beck, Tom Kruse, Lin Bick, Rose Gregoire, Gail Hartman, Cindy McArthur, Kate Tucker.