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Great Seasoning, These Sounds

It may well be that my favourite part of this time of the year is the music. Ever since I can remember, I have found the sound of many voices together to be incredibly moving. Christmas music notes

When concert-goers take over for the singer and deliver the vocals of a tune as one, my voice sometimes catches and I have trouble singing along. Even in the car, when the mood strikes, I will sing along with a song and, beginning to sing a harmony part, the vibrations will kick in, and my emotions will often swell up and bubble over.

Heck, I’ll even get choked up hearing thousands of people sing the national anthem en masse at a hockey game.

There’s just something about several voices blending together that makes me feel full of hope.

Choir group

One of the first recollections I have of this sensation came from a Christmas Eve church service. I was just a kid. I recall that my family and I were in the balcony, the perfect spot to absorb some beautiful sounds. I’m sure there were many songs sung that evening, yet the one I recall clearly was “Silent Night.” Hearing, and feeling, all those voices collectively offering such a gentle song into the atmosphere was a wonderful thing to behold. I will never forget the feeling that overtook me when my grandmother, who was standing and singing beside me, began to sing in harmony to the rest of the congregation, during the third verse of the song. I was young enough that I didn’t really know what “harmony” was, but I vividly remember how completely beautiful it sounded and how I immediately became emotional at the sound and didn’t quite know why. It was one of the sweetest things I could ever remember hearing, and I’ve been hooked on harmony and people singing as a group ever since.

I once wrote a song lyric that says, “One voice alone can be enough to lift an angel’s wings.” I love the line, and believe it to be true. But adding a second voice can give you the vibration of harmony. Add even more, and you begin to generate an energy that fuels a real spirit of hope and togetherness.

Christmas tree

Regardless of what you celebrate or recognize at year’s end, I bet that music is some kind of key part of it. Have you ever wondered why that is?

Music, to me, is the sound of creativity expressed and hope kept alive. If I’m right, the more voices, the better.

Recording Journal Vol. 12: “John Denver, We Miss You”

Last night we worked on “Kevin’s Prayer” and I’m excited about where that song is headed. I’m equally pleased about the progress of “Sunny Day in November,” which KG seems to like quite a lot. In fact, all I had to do was stay out of the way as Kev played through it time upon time to find what he liked and what he didn’t. I can recall a particularly funny moment when he had put a glissando into an organ part. I suggested he try it an octave higher. He did, and it sounded like a cat being sucked into a high-speed fan. We had a good laugh over that.

Still, Kev (bless his heart), will openly employ my suggestions. And likewise. In fact, that’s the most fun of the whole process.

We’ve still a long way to go. However, I’ve become a lot more conscious of getting my voice and guitar playing back into shape, in preparation both for recording and performing, and the endless rehearsals that go with each. Since my life does not allow for large chunks of time to be put to practice, I have to take little bits here and there and give myself more time to come around. In that sense, I’ve learned that improving my musicality is more like a savings account with interest rather than a big stock market play.

Slow and steady wins the race? We shall see.

In other developments, KG and I have been collaborating with a local radio morning show team on a promotion which warranted the creation of an original song. KG did most of the work, but I feel good for having helped bring it together. Since the creation has yet to be revealed on air, I won’t say any more. But it’s been fun. I’ll explain more soon.

Then, aside from laughing ourselves silly at some juvenile movie clips on YouTube (one was from Austin Powers, and that’s all I’m saying), KG and I also shared some thoughts on songs and voices we remember from our youth. He mentioned a song called “The Heart” by Larry Gatlin. We found a performance of it on YouTube. Wow – Gatlin can flat out sing. Incredible performance.

I told Kev that a song I’d always loved was a tune called “When the River Meets the Sea.” Laugh if you must, but I first heard the song on the “John Denver and the Muppets Christmas” album, which was a holiday staple in my home. We dug it up online and we may even cover it when we work up the rest of the act. You never know.

That led us to talking about John Denver, his life and career. I remember my mom having a lot of his records, and knowing (and liking) a bunch of his songs in spite of myself. I went back and listened to some of his work again. Boy, I never realized what a truly gifted singer he was. His voice had such a beautiful, natural vibrato that sounded so effortless. Many of the songs now sound needlessly over-produced, but that was the style at the time. But a guy like that … all he needed was his guitar, his voice, and his songs. That was more than enough. Shame he’s not still here. He’d only now be in his 60’s.

As Jimmy Buffett would say, “Sail on ….”

– Kevin

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