To Belong (Graduation Song)

I originally wrote this for my own high school graduation, but was never totally satisfied with it, so it’s been rewritten countless times over the years. Someday I’ll grab all of the demos and make one (unlistenable) EP out of them. We had an amazing audition choir at Mt. Hope High School in 2018, and they inspired me to finally finish the song and write an SATB arrangement, which we then recorded and performed for graduation. It was the first official release by Mt. Hope Music, and due to the terrible events of that year, it was also used as part of a fundraiser to benefit the Stoneman Douglas High School victims fund.
Released as an online single in May, 2018.

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The SATB arrangement is available through JW Pepper and SheetMusicPlus.

Listen Above

The idea behind Listen Above is very simple: write songs with a universal, positive, message, and put a band behind them that sounds like the best of all the 70s hard rock bands wrapped up in one. By far, our favorite review referred to the song “Your Love Prevails” as sounding like ‘Linda Ronstadt fronting Deep Purple’. That was the idea, exactly. This album (and band) turned out to be very popular, and features some incredibly talented musicians, including Luke Imbusch of The Rare Occasions on drums.
Album (CD and digital) originally released in August, 2016. Please check our website for tour dates and more information about the band.

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Speechless. She was just speechless.

Patricia leaned in to me and whispered, “I can’t sing.”
“Sure you can,” I crooned (into the mic.) Really, all you have to do is yell ‘doo, doo, doo, or dah, dah dah,’ or any old nonsense, really. Can we get someone with a camera over here?”

What’s the easiest way to get the crowd back up for the final set at a wedding reception (at least in New England)?  We rely on our old friend Neil Diamond, and his “Sweet Caroline” symphony.  Last Saturday was no exception, and as we neared the last chorus I did what I frequently do: went to the bride and groom to cajole them into singing with me.  It makes for great pictures, especially if they’re horrified by the idea.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I shouted, “everyone gather around for our big finale. Let’s get Richard and Patricia to sing it for us!”
Patricia leaned in to me and whispered, “I can’t sing.”
“Sure you can,” I crooned (into the mic.)   Really, all you have to do is yell ‘doo, doo, doo, or dah, dah dah,’ or any old nonsense, really.  Can we get someone with a camera over here?”
She looked at me again and mouthed, “I CAN’T SING.”
“I think Pat might need some help here!”  Let’s get everyone in the room singing along, too! DC, kick it in!”
Pat grabbed me by the shoulder and whispered, “I can’t sing because I LOST MY VOICE.  Aren’t you wondering why I’m whispering in a room full of people?”

…and they called it ‘puppy love’

On the other side, in a clearing on the outskirts of the ceremony area, several dogs were tied up. They looked like pets but were acting like sentinels, which was a bit creepy in a Stephen King fashion.

“It Was A Wedding That Went To The Dogs!”
No, how about:  “Hope They Weren’t Dog-Tired By The Time They Got Married!”
Or this:  “Forecast For Tonight’s Nuptials:  No Cats, but Raining Dogs!”
I’d be a great headline writer for a crappy Sunday newspaper magazine.
Recently, we had an event in southeastern RI, the part of the state that makes you wonder why everyone makes such a big fuss about Martha’s Vineyard.  It was a picture-perfect summer evening. H and I drove down a long driveway which skirted a rundown barn then turned toward the water and headed through a cornfield.  On the other side, in a clearing on the outskirts of the ceremony area, several dogs were tied up.  They looked like pets but were acting like sentinels, which was a bit creepy in a Stephen King fashion.  The ceremony was in progress, so we sneaked over quietly (sentinel-dogs watching our every move) to watch the vows.

The ring-bearer was a greyhound.

I finished setting up my equipment during cocktail hour and there were at least a half-dozen other dogs running around, which we assumed belonged to the guests.  Those I met personally (in other words, the ones that came up to the bandstand looking for food) were a St. Bernard, a beagle, twin spaniels, and the one we came to refer to as  “Hot Dog dog.”  This was a chihuahua wearing a costume like the old Oscar Meyer wiener car, whose owner kept throwing him up in the air as if he were some kind of yippy beach ball.  I kept expecting him to look at me and announce, “Yo quiero Free Bird”. “A Reception Fit For The ‘Dog Days’ Of Summer!” Or, “All Dogs Go To …Weddings!” At one point the St. Bernard passed behind the band, very deliberately stopped and looked at DC, then peed on a tent pole.  We were hoping that one of the demon-sentinels would reprimand him, but they were oddly preoccupied with the band.  The twin spaniels spent most of the night by the buffet table, probably wishing in vain that someone would let them climb inside the roasted pig.  The rest of the unleashed dogs camped out on the dance floor, but somehow the guests all escaped serious injury.

On our way out we passed a couple of rusted-out cars, half-buried in the weeds.  H remarked that one could easily dispose of a body in such a place, just as we saw one of the sentinels disappear into the cornfield.

I can see for miles, if I wear bifocals

Was it Halloween on Sunday? I could swear I saw the reanimated corpse of Pete Townsend at the Super Bowl.

Was it Halloween on Sunday?  I could swear I saw the reanimated corpse of Pete Townsend at the Super Bowl.

I was once a fan of The Who for many reasons:  “The Who Sell Out” was an ahead-of-its-time look at the confluence of art and marketing; “Who’s Next” was a collection of songs so breathtaking that I grew up thinking it was a greatest hits collection; Rock opera is an absurd concept on its face, but they went for it anyway; and, not least, they had an attitude so aggressive that they were the only classic rock band the punk movement embraced.  But unlike the Stones, who at least make an attempt at relevance by putting out a new cd each time they tour (a terrible cd, to be sure, but new) the Who haven’t been a functioning band since 1982, at best.  Trotting out the oldies as a ‘safe’ choice for the entertainment at the halftime show would likely have made young Townsend want to smash something, a guitar probably.

Of course, we’re the morons for even allowing them to call this “The Who”.  Why are people so desperate in their nostalgia that they will pay obscene ticket prices to see a few (or a couple) of the musicians from a band they loved when they were kids pretend to play the same old songs, while the musicians in the back carry them?  (See Eagles, CSN, Billy Joel, et al.)  It would have been GREAT if they had played “My Generation”.  By embracing the irony they could have flipped us off, hilariously, something that band was the best at once upon a time.  “I hope I die before I get old,” Daltry would have sung, thinking, “Moon and Entwistle DID die, and none of you idiots even noticed.  Here we are shoving crap in your ears, letting our kids do the actual playing, and you all cheer because you remember how ‘Teenage Wasteland’ made you feel thirty-five years ago.  And that’s NOT EVEN THE NAME OF THE SONG.” Instead, the crowd just sang along to the other hits, unthinkingly, and Pete sold a ton of “Pinball Wizard” downloads on iTunes today.  Would “The Who Sell Out” refer to artistic integrity today, or just to the fact that there’s never an empty seat?