Most people don’t know this, but I’ve been not only a writer but also a musician and songwriter nearly all my life. Since I have recently made a commitment to start writing and playing more music, I thought I would begin by sharing some old tunes of mine. Below are demos for some of the songs I wrote and recorded in my teens, 20s, and 30s. The recordings are not perfect, but they are heartfelt.
Below each song is the story behind it.
PS: I will be adding more songs here in the future.
“If I Write You A Song”
The Story Behind “If I Write You A Song”
I have a friend–Greg Conway– who has been there for me throughout my life–from grade school into adulthood. I would go around the world for him, and he for me, yet I never told him how much I respected, admired, and loved him. I just assume, because we had been friends for so long, that he already knew. But when I realized I’d never properly conveyed my feelings and it seemed awkward to do so after 20 years of friendship, the desire to finally speak the words came out in a song one evening as I sat outside on the balcony playing my guitar, and watching the scene inside, framed by French doors, as he sat talking and laughing with mutual friends.
This was one of those rare moments where the time that it took to write the song was the same amount of time it took to play the song. It just came out of me completely done and this recording is very close to how it sounded that night when I first wrote it.
It has been nearly 30 years since I wrote this song and we are still the best of friends.
PS: The third to the last photo in this slideshow is of my older brother Grant who died last year. As I was making this video, he popped into my mind, and I realized I felt much the same about him, but rarely said so. I just felt the need to include him here. The last two pix are of the “heavens” because I am sure he is up there somewhere, watching over me as he always did when we were children.
“A Million Miles Too Far”
The Story Behind “A Million Miles Too Far”
I wrote this song for Hanz and Heidi, a father and daughter separated by an entire ocean. I was there on one of their rare reunions and their hearts touched me in such a deep way, I had to express it through music. I will never forget the look in their eyes, of love and pain, happiness and sorrow in equal proportions. They loved being together, but their eventual separation hung over them like a looming grey cloud.
The human heart is so brave. Despite the pain that was to come, they were able to let go of their circumstances, and just BE with each other. Love. Laughter. Joy. To look at them from afar, you’d never know they were about to lose each other again. But I knew, and it broke my heart. It still, to this day, brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.
When they asked for a copy, I pushed record on my little cassette recorder and played/sang the song once through (this was the late 70s), and then gave it to a friend to give to them. They were so moved by the gift that they never forgot me even though I had only met them once.
The reason I know this is because, decades later, I got a message from Heidi on FB. She reached out to me over distance and time to let me know her father was in the hospital and dying. When they asked him if he wanted anything, he said he wanted to hear “A Million Miles Too Far” one last time. His cassette version had disintegrated years ago (as cassettes often do). So I made them a CD copy (crying all the way through the transfer) and sent them this recording… a version they had never heard before… a duet I did with my musical partner Russel Taylor, back in the early 80s.
In my new Christmas book, THE SAINT OF CARRINGTON coming out in November 2017 St. Nick says, “Love transcends all boundaries including time and space.” I know this to be true from personal experience. What separates Hanz and Heidi now are not a continent and ocean, but heaven and earth, yet somehow I know their hearts are as connected now as they ever were.