Monday, May 10, 2010

About the Songs, Part II

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4. In the Moment
There's a little backstory to this song. My dear friend Jennifer Wallace was giving the Love talk on Aggie Awakening #87, and she was having difficulty picking a song to go with her talk (reflection songs are usually customary for Aggie Awakening talks). She asked me for help picking a song, and after looking through a few good but just-not-quite-right choices, I suggested, "Why don't we just write a song?" So I picked up my guitar and we sat down and hammered out this song over the course of a couple late-evening sessions. It's as much her song as mine, and as much mine as hers, and her voice is the one singing lead on the album track. At the time, I was on a smooth, soft folky-pop music kick, and I was really diggin' Eric Clapton's "Born in Time", a cover of an older Bob Dylan tune on Clapton's Pilgrim album. I borrowed a bit from that song to start off the writing process, and we ended up crafting this really intimate love song, straight from Christ to you, focused on Him saying, "I don't care how bad you think you are, I know you're hurt and wounded, I know you're weighed down and tired, and because that's what you are right now, that's exactly how I want you to come to me. Lay it all down at my feet." Jennifer and I didn't want to add anything to this song other than vocals and acoustic guitar because it just doesn't need anything else, but if you listen closely near the end of the song, there is a third vocal part buried under the main two; I wanted to add a little depth to the end of the song, but a kind of unnoticeable, "I-don't-know-what-changed-but-I-like-this-part-even-more" thing, so I mixed the third vocal line's volume WAY down, and I think I like how that turned out.

5. Lady Love
Of all the songs on this album, I think this one is probably the best written as far as the actual chords and music go. At the time I wrote it, I was studying different forms of modulation and obscured tonality in my music theory classes, and that shows in the chorus, which goes from D major to A minor and back again - a pretty unusual change, especially in pop music. As for the lyrics, I really felt like the Catholic music world could use more songs about Mary, and not just new adaptations of the Ave Maria (can't get better than Schubert's anyway) or Immaculate Mary or the Salve Regina, but actually new material. The chorus, for those who don't recognize it, is mostly from Elizabeth's exclamation when Mary arrives at her house in Luke 1:43-44. Featured on the album track is the voice of Heather Gardner, whom I am blessed to know as both a close friend and a beautiful singer.

6. Litany of the Sacred Heart
This song probably has more backstory than all my other songs combined. I happened to be returning a borrowed guitar to Mike, the music minister at St. Mary's in College Station, when he stopped me and said, "Hey, Fr. Brian [McMaster, the associate pastor at the time] and I had this idea about doing Eucharistic Adoration on the first Friday of each month. It's kind of based on St. Margaret Mary's Devotional to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Would you want to help out with that?" I agreed to help out, and volunteered to write a musical version of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque's Litany of the Sacred Heart. The event born out of that meeting was a monthly Adoration session called Dark-Thirty, and with the help of fellow talented musicians Mike Raftery and Amy Risteen, along with a dedicated and hardworking liturgy team, it became a really successful event. Fr. Brian and I worked together and hammered out a good set of lyrics that could appeal to modern, young Catholics while still retaining the concepts of the old Litany, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart as it stands today evolved over a long trial-and-error process at Dark-Thirty. The chorus heard in the background is a group of Aggie Catholics who happened to have some free time after daily Mass to come sing. I told them it didn't matter if they sang beautifully or they couldn't sing a note - I wanted just a group of come-as-you-are Catholics, guys and girls alike, like the crowd who typically came to Dark-Thirty, and that's exactly what I got. The acoustic guitar, my vocals, and the lead female vocals were recorded by myself and Jennifer Wallace on Crusader Awakening #2, the retreat program at University of Dallas; we were in a chapel on the retreat center campus at 2 AM and the door wouldn't shut all the way, which was terrible for us because it was snowing outside. You'd never know it listening to the track, but we were MISERABLE in there. Still, we forged ahead, and it came out better than either of us could have hoped for, praise God for that.

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