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‘I Just Called to say I Love You’ . . In this song Stevie Wonder expresses how simply telephoning someone to convey one’s love for them can make an otherwise unremarkable day so very special. Love is the power that binds us together.
In 1950's Britain, Ronnie Ronalde’s version of‘If I Were a Blackbird’was heard on the radio often.
It was one of my mother’s favourite songs and she could often be heard singing it . . torturously off key. In my arrangement of this melody I have woven it around an opus that I composed for my mum - ‘Betty’s Song’.
‘Mountains of Mourne’. . Written in 1896, a traditional Irish song about the Mourne mountains ‘sweeping down to the sea’ in County Down, Ireland, an area of outstanding beauty. In keeping with the gentle nature of this piece I endowed it with a mellow arrangement using the warm articulate voices of oboe and flute.
A very popular folk song from the ‘60's,‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’was recorded by everyone and their uncles. A British group called ‘The Wurzels’ did a version called ‘Where Be All Them Flowers To’..
‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ . . A ‘Bach’ flavoured pop classic originally written and performed by the British band Procol Harum. This song made its debut in 1967. At that time I was well established as a Hammond organ player and was performing with a number of bands. I was in my element with this music because of the significant influences on it by the haunting sound of the Hammond. In the opinion of many, including myself, this was the main reason for the song’s success. In 2004 Rolling Stone listed it as #57 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
I so enjoyed working with this piece. It actually took me almost a month to complete the arrangement and the recording. I composed a section to go between two rounds of the main theme - ‘Variations on a Theme’.
‘Cindy, Oh Cindy’. . was recorded by many singers including the Beach Boys and Perry Como, but the most popular version was recorded by Eddie Fisher in 1956. I always liked this song and was pleased to include it in this collection.
‘Lullaby for the Doves’ . . I draw much inspiration from my own private little world in our small village of Milford.
Every morning before I begin my work day, I wander around the property surrounding my home refilling the many bird feeders hanging in the trees. I put cracked corn on the ground for the doves and then watch them waddle around in circles pecking at the ground. An unexpected movement will have them in flight, their wings creating a wistful whistling sound.
Most evenings after a day’s work in the studio, I like to sit in the bay window of my living room overlooking the front garden while sipping on a glass of wine and watching the approaching dusk. By this time, the doves are usually settled in the trees and giving voice to their soulful song. Eventually, feathers are all puffed up as they ready themselves for their sleep. I am much moved by these gentle creatures.
‘Mexicali Rose’. . This waltz ballad from 1923 has enjoyed a long history of popularity. I must admit that, when I was asked to include this song in this collection, I had never heard it before. The friend who requested it promptly sat down at the piano and played it for me. Before I started arranging this song, I took a look at the words and found a sad story. I chose, anyway, to style it and voice it as a happy country waltz.
‘What’ll I Do, Shadow Waltz and Fascination' . . For those who love to dance in the old fashioned way and have an appreciation for great song writing, here are three lovely songsthat make a great slow waltz medley.
‘In The Summertime’. . We were all doing a really neat dance to the great rhythm of this song in 1970. Celebrating the carefree days of summer I flavoured this arrangement with a Pop Blues style on the Hammond organ.
‘Tranquil Garden’ . . Composing this little sonata conveyed me to the inspiring peacefulness of a quiet garden where the fragrances and sounds of nature, and a whispering breeze, give tranquility to the spirit and healing vibrations to the soul.
“I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and for you. . . And I think to myself . . What a Wonderful World” . . . so sang Louis Armstrong in his famous rendition of this lovely song.