April 15, 2012
I didn’t write this song. But like most musicians, I wish I had. The melody was probably a slave chantey. Most of the words came from John Newton, an 18th century sea captain.
I wanted to emphasize some of the complex rhythms of the songs origins. And was lucky enough to have Ron Powell do the percussions on this track. Ron was just off tour with Kenny G or Diana Ross. What he can do with a drum is incredible.
Think of yourself in a slave ship, pounding on anything you can find to produce rhythms to accompany your song. And then sing along.
March 1, 2012
This song was written by blues legend Thomas A Dorsey. He helped found northern jazz, Chicago jazz.
After the death of his wife, Dorsey was devastated. She died given birth to their son, who died shortly after. I think you can still hear the pain he felt in his words: I am tired. I’m weak. I’m worn. [Read more]
February 10, 2012
I recorded this at the end of a very long day in the studio. I was tired. The musicians were tired. And my voice was shot. After I finished this song, I couldn’t talk for nearly two hours.
I finished writing this song shortly before flying to N. Carolina for the session. No one had seen it or heard it. It was a last minute addition.
I asked Richard Putnam (who was doing the charts for me) to look at the lead sheet. While he did, I recorded another track. There was Richard, off in a corner, trying to make sense of my song and ignore the song I was singing. He only had time to jot some notes; “charting” would be too generous of a term. So we mostly flew by the seat of our pants.
The result is one of my favorite songs. I like the thought of noel (peace) being an on-going event. The birth of Christ may have been the first noel but not the last. I believe God is still saying: Peace.