This song will be recognisable to anyone familiar with early James Bond films. Originally performed by Nancy Sinatra, I have always found this a very haunting piece. I was working on a recording of it just as the lockdown of 2020 occured and somehow the lyrics took on a whole meaning. The idea of "... live once for your life and once for your dreams." made me realize that it was time to "live for my dream" of presenting myself as a writer and solo artist. This was what started the project that would become '...Another Day'
I'm sure it will come as no surprise, but Sam's Lament is about the character of Sam Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings. What you might be wondering is why I would want to write a song about him. As it happens, I was rereading, listening actually, to the trilogy at the time I started this project. While I've read these books many times since I first picked them up in the mid '70's, I had an odd epiphany. I had always assumed the central character was Frodo. He was, after all, the one taking the ring to destroy it in the fires of Mt. Doom, but I suddenly realized that the central character is his companion Sam. Swept up in an adventure he had no intention of being part of, he is nonetheless steadfast in making sure the mission is accomplished and that Frodo survives to see it through. It is through Sam's eyes that the story is told.
"Though he knew not his role to play
In a tale yet to be told
He’d set his foot upon the path
For which his life would nigh unfold"
A very personal story about someone who was an important part of my life and had been both a positive and negative influence in it. I truly believed he had a "heart of gold", but he could also incite chaos and confusion. It was a complicated relationship and he died very suddenly as I was writing this album. The lyrics flowed from the raw emotions of coming to terms with his passing and having to accept the unresolved nature of our relationship. Sometimes kings get broken...
"America was built by John Lewises. He as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals. And someday, when we do finish that long journey toward freedom; when we do form a more perfect union -- whether it's years from now, or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries -- John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America." - Barack Obama
As I was composing this song when the news came that John Lewis had passed. I hadn't originally intended to write a song about him, but the news of his death had a profound effect on me. His heroism and leadership had loomed large in my life and he was someone whose influence and proclivity to get into "good trouble" was something we all needed during the dark days of 2020. This song is my attempt to honor his legacy.
We all have parts of ourselves that we are not proud of or that we feel compelled to turn away from and I am no different. I am capable of causing great pain for the people I care most about. And while I can apologize and promise to do better, the real work is to turn and face what it is within me that created the behavior in the first place. That's a scary and difficult thing to be sure, but, at least speaking for myself, it was also one of the most profoundly liberating experiences of my life and I am forever grateful for having gone through it and for my loved ones standing with me through it all.
My interpretation of Gymnopédie no.1 by Erik Satie (1866-1925) The intention with this album was to mix in a few instrumental pieces that illustrate some of my musical influences. This is the second of those. When I first started learning to play the guitar, my mother insisted that if I was going to take this up, I should be classically trained. You can imagine how that went considering I was ten years old and just wanted to be Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck, but I went to my lessons and gave it a half-hearted try! I have always loved the music of Satie and this is one piece I did manage to get through. So when it came to ' ... Another Day', I thought I would revisit this piece and give it my own spin.
The title song of the album, it is a song of hope. I have been lucky during the pandemic of 2020 in that I haven't lost my job, my health has been good and I have been able to live a mostly "normal" life. But that certainly hasn't been the case for many people I know. Watching friends and family deal with job loss, illness, the passing of loved ones and the general uncertainty of life as it is in this moment in time inspired me to convey a message of hope and resilience.
"Hope can be hard to find
And fate is often unkind
But you’ll find a way
You may be down on your luck
But you have got to rise up
To live another day
You may want a way out
When you need a way in
Don’t let your chance slip away
It may not seem like it now
And you may not yet know how
But you will live another day"
"Outside, people marching in the streets
Villains in power that we gotta defeat
Arm of the law’s gotten outta control
Killing honest people while out on patrol
How’d we let ourselves get here…"
As if a pandemic, economic collapse, natural disasters due to climate change and failed leadership weren't enough to make 2020 a year to remember, our long-standing legacy of systemic racism and the brutality it takes to keep it in place came into full view as well. Those of us who are privileged enough to go through life with every opportunity at our disposal have been far too complacent and for much too long.
The third of the instrumental pieces to illustrate some of my musical influences. I've loved jazz throughout my entire life and wanted to find something that might exhibit that. Well... no way I could take on Coltrane's Giant Steps! So I thought I'd have some fun with Cannonball Adderley's Dis Here. Ok, ...a jazz guitarist I'm not... but we had fun! Special thanks to Ian Luke for being up for whatever I threw at him!
This was recorded for The Material World Foundation's "Inner Light" challenge back in March of 2020. This actually precedes the '...Another Day' album project, but I felt it fit in well enough. Recorded in an afternoon, to get it in by the deadline, it's a bit "rough around the edges", but I felt it had a nice energy to it and it was certainly for a worthy cause.
'... Another Day' was conceived, written, recorded, mixed and mastered in my modest home studio between March and September of 2020 and released the following October. All parts were performed by yours truly with my dear friend Ian Luke contributing drums...which were recorded in his living room! (apologies MJ!)
'Unusual Suspects' was recorded much the same way the following year, again with invaluable help from Ian Luke! Artwork was provided by Levi Miller.
This was definitely a DIY project and was an absolute joy even when things went wonky! Recorded entirely using Pro Tools v. 12 on a Mac Mini. No animals were harmed during the making of this picture....