2017 and 2018 were for me the year of learning songs on my guitar in different tunings. From “Caledonia” by Dougie MacLean to “Other People’s Parties,” by Joni Mitchell. It was a lot of fun pulling chords easily from the sweet open tuning. Just slide up or down and the chords seem to fit together in a more interesting way than standard guitar tuning. We added a “Nashville tuned” guitar to the top adding the sweet almost harpsichord feel to the guitar line… loved playing that instrument
For me when composing a song, the music typically comes first. I’ll trip over some melodic chord progression and build an entire song around it. Once the framework is mostly done the words can come either quickly, or taking a couple of years. For Clang, it was quick and wonderful! I love the message and I hope it wakes and shakes you up a little too!!!
Many, many years ago, when I was about 20, I wrote a song called, “Yukon Jack” to the guitar strumming pattern and cords you hear in Feather Hill. I always loved the rhythm and was able to use this as a construct for the story of Feather Hill, a story of a love that stood the test of time. Of two people who have not forgotten the sweetness and newness of the love they found with each other more than a lifetime ago. They always know how to find their way back to those feelings for each other. They still know the way they go there every day. I am joined on this recording by Ben Townsend on Fiddle. He adds playful counter melodies and harmonies. that gives this song a down home feel. Just love it. Listen carefully at the beginning and throughout for the rhythmic sound of the Cicadas in the background giving the landscape a recognizable texture.
In Flanders Field
In 2018 I was asked by one of my patrons to prepare a program using my vocal students for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI The poem In Flander’s Field by John McCrae came to my attention as I was researching the song repertoire for this time period. It was a powerful poem and well known, and while there have been songs written to these words, they didn’t seem fitting to me. So, one morning I picked up my guitar played a D cord and started to sing … I knew immediately that I was on to something and started recording it on my phone… within an hour the melody line and accompaniment were complete.. it had a very old mountain music feel to it, so much so that I consulted with my “Old Time Music” friends to see if they recognized the melody.. none did, but they agreed that this melody sounded very authentically old. I should say here, that it is my belief that my songs are not so much created by me as much as channeled by me, pulled from the ether that flows all around us. Musician, Jim Morris strung one of his handmade cigar box instruments with viola strings giving a lush resonance to its tone. He then tuned it to an open tuning and played using long slow bow phrase droning. Jim’s artistry here and the technical expertise of my sound engineer, Joe Crawford give the fiddle an acoustic a depth which added to its already old time sound. I added the sound of the Lark at the end of the song to help create the acoustic theater of the battlefield as it along with the fiddle echoes in a fading distance.
Hey Baby Hey
Hey Baby Hey was written in 2016. As my husband was sitting and eating his dinner, I sat with my guitar and found the four cord rift that sets the foundation for this tune. I feel there is a little CCR inspiration to this song and a little blues as well. While I have always felt this song is about a man who is morning the loss of his youth and feeling the breath of death quickly catching up with him, making his gut response to run hard to deny. It is his life mate who helps him to see more clearly that he is not alone, and that everyone feels the way he feels at some point. She encourages him to take time to Love, Dance and Sing every day and not fear that time is slipping away. I am joined on this recording by vocalist Taylor Barryhill and fiddle player, Ben Townsend. I am very fortunate to have had the cooperation of these two fine musicians playing on my recording and caring enough to learn the piece and do, as closely as they could, what I wanted. I am very pleased with the outcome and very grateful to them both.
Blow Wind Blow
This song was pulled from my archives from about 2012. The very idea of feeling weightless after feeling God’s forgiveness is something I think we all hope for. The melody on this recording is greatly enhanced by several mandolin tracks laid down by Andy Agnew. A simple melody with a huge message.
This song was composed in 2016 when my daughter Betsy was graduating high school. It is a personal song that reflects how fast time goes. Children grow up so quickly! Now she is graduating college with her Bachelors of Music. This is one of my husband’s favorite songs from this collection. It is on the album to honor him and thank him for being such a great dad to our little girl.
Stand My Ground (Sally Garden)
I have known and loved this poem. I learned it as a song of course as a young voice student and this is when I realized how much I love Celtic music. Stand my Ground was inspired by this song with its similar melody, but I believed that the point of each stanza needed to be emphasized. I hope Yeats doesn’t mind. I’m joined by my brother Michael Anderson on bass and Ben Townsend on fiddle.
If you’re a Pink Floyd Fan, you may like this tune) It has been said that keeping it simple is the best strategy. That can be said for this tune as the opening strings are just that, the normal tuning of a guitar capo-ed up several steps. The message is one that came to me while pondering our very small part of this giant mystery we call the universe. I believe the understanding that all things are vibration is very much entering the mainstream of thinking. There is material on this everywhere from manipulation of DNA to levitating things with vibration. I am joined by my brother Michael Anderson on Bass and am grateful to him for making this song sound so good. That bass line is wonderful!
This song started out with the awkward cord you hear at the beginning. I modulated it back and forth to the G cord which resolves it. This kind of put me in a state of relaxation. As they typically do for me, the words came and the message was one of healing and directed to those who keep anger in their hearts. A song to allow the listener to release the anger and stress that collects within us. I have done both slow and fast breathing exercises to this song. Preferring the slow. It can help place you in a very meditative state. My friends here call this “Lava Lamp Music.” Call it what you like as long as it calms you and brings healing. I hope, as any artist does, that this song will have a positive effect on you.
The super low voice in the tune is mine. I start low so I can comfortably stack the harmonies, plus it’s just more soothing in this lower key
The Magi’s Gift
A Christmas Song. If you know the story of the Magi’s gift then you know the dilemma I was faced with in creating the lyrics to this tune. For instance, why do they call it the Magi’s gift when the three Kings don’t even appear in the song? But then it occurred to me that it is about giving up what you treasure most to show your love. The three Kings came bearing the first gifts of Christmas. They traveled to see the new born King knowing they would never be able to return home. Here the two lovers give up what they love most, like the Father did for us by giving his only begotten Son. (as an aside, this song was written in March of 2018 and was originally going to be called Spring Rain Waltz) I had always pictured two lovers sleeping in on a rainy morning… but something about the cords made me visualize winter scenes more and more.
Ave Maria Inspired by Gounod’s melody line. This song started out as part of a montage which included Carol of the Bells and Joy to the world In 2015 I would practice early on a Sunday morning while my daughter was still sleeping. I would record the song play it back adding the harmony lines for Betsy to hear as she slept. My thinking was that it would stick to her subconscious as it was a tricky harmony. After she woke up and was communicative, I’d ask her to listen to the song I’d been playing. She said she had heard it, then I asked for her to sing the harmony line which was so different. Of course being so gifted she had no problem and ran with it. I was fortunate to have her visiting from college during spring break of 2019. She agreed to spend time in the studio with me to record this. We did it quickly as time was short but managed to record it in one take. It is free flowing and spontaneous and a perfect way to complete the Kaleidoscope album.
A big thank you to Joe Crawford of Stoney Mountain Recording Studios. His technical recording abilities are excellent! His attention to detail and his tenacity are unparalleled. I am grateful to him for his diligence and his gift as an artist to bring the songs forward in the best way!
I hope you find peace and healing with these songs. I hope it inspires you to love and create with love!
Thank you for listening and for reading the album notes