It’s a contemplative feeling I have as I look at the trees outside. From my chair in the family room, I see the towering magnolia in our courtyard softly sway as the wind gently brushes through her branches….and I’m listening to the music of one very dear to me.
In my earliest days of the music business, I began working in a small recording studio with Bill Townsend in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was called Tri-Art Recording. We recorded jingles, custom albums and did remote recordings in the local area. At the same time, I had the high school orchestra as well as teaching music appreciation and theory.
One day my partner was contacted by a fellow from Aberdeen, South Dakota. He was a Catholic farm boy of Irish persuasion, who was an aspiring singer songwriter. His name was Phill McHugh. I worked on his first album, and in those days I had to wear a lot of hats. I played piano and bass, bringing high school students in to play drums as well as for string and brass sessions. It was crude but workable, and we managed.
Then on his second album, we recorded strings at Pinebrook studios in Alexandria, Indiana. It was my first professional orchestration. and as I conducted these real studio musicians, I was scared silly. That album, “Canvas For The Sun” was picked up for distribution on Lamb and Lion Records by Billy Ray Hearn in Canoga Park, California.
Phil is a phenomenal lyricist and songwriter. He moved to Nashville, and we worked for a time together. Over the years, we have not been in touch but for a few ever so brief meetings. I remember that season with him. I spend little time living in the past, but I do miss that maiden voyage, our primitive ways, the unspoiled excitement and unbridled passion we felt as we created together in those early dreaming years.
One of my favorite songs that Phill wrote was “I Am Stone”. I so enjoyed him singing that song back in the day. That day is gone now….but not from my heart. Those were the days of my beginnings.
I AM STONE
You’ll be water you’ll be fire
You will meet my souls desire
As with all creatures on your earth
Your love sustains my birth
Lord of Jacob, Lord of Paul,
Lord to me and of us all
I am stone please use your tool
To make my life a jewel
I find life and love and more
As I follow you my lord
Holy one of Israel
No human tongue could ever tell
The glories of your majesty
And yet you walk with me