THE STORIES BEHIND THE SONGS
FORE & FORE 2: THE BACK NINE, DOUBLE ALBUM (10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Released 2010 & 2020
The 'FORE' project was originally created as a concept album featuring a collection of instrumental pieces about golf, life and relationships, and letting the music tell their various tales. The songs all have peculiar similarities, in theory and principle, and each one represents a moment in time, a lesson learned, a test of patience and faith, and a few small victories along the way. The journey begins with FORE, Hole/Track #1....
#1. "ON THE GREEN" - this is where every golfer wants to be, and to get there in as few shots as possible. In life, being 'in the green' (or more appropriately, in 'the black') is pretty much where everyone would like to be, and likewise, in as few steps and with as little effort as is necessary. But there are far more ways to being 'rich' than just financial or material, and with a little more love, understanding, and thankfulness, we can get out of the 'rough' and experience a soft, smooth landing in the 'short grass' of life.
#2. "BUNKER HILL" - turmoil, stress, pain, judgment, depression, anger, frustration....these are a few of the 'bunkers' in life. It's usually not our intention to 'land' in them, but when we do, it may take more than a good sand wedge to get out. That's when we can turn to the ones we love, our family, our friends, and most of all, to God to help us find our direction again and get back out onto the fairway.
#3. "SUNSET ON 9" - they say that sometimes you have to just stop and smell the roses. Likewise, at times we need to set down our clubs (or whatever "weight" we might be carrying) and stop and look around at the awesome world, and admire what wonderful gifts God has created for us. Following each sunset comes a new day. Each new day is a gift for us to open and enjoy to the fullest.
#4. "HOLE IN ONE" - this is the ultimate achievement in golf. Trouble is, most of the time you get it, there's no one around. What is your ultimate achievement in life? Is it something flashy and extravagant so that everyone can witness it, or is it an achievement from within? Finding love and happiness doesn't have to be as rare or as difficult as hitting a hole in one.
#5. "SWEET SPOT" - this is the preferred part of the club face that, when it makes a direct strike on the golf ball, can result in a very 'sweet' shot towards the green. Do you have a 'sweet spot' somewhere inside you, that when struck by the right persuasion or motivation, can result in a keen sense of joy, peace and serenity?
#6. "EASY PAR" - many golfers step up to the tee on a par 3, and anticipate an easy shot to the green, maybe score a birdie or even a hole in one. Golf is a game of confidence, but not over-confidence. A shot in golf, or a decision in life, made with patience and wisdom, is better than one made out of haste and carelessness.
#7. "STRAIGHT FLIGHT" - this is when the ball travels in a direct path towards the green, without hitting any obstacles. Wouldn't it be nice if life also was a straight, smooth, unwinding path?
#8. "BOGEY BLUES" - a bogey is a hole scored one over par. A simple mistake. An oversight, or an over shot sometimes by mere inches, and in a moment, your golf game can be ruined. A true golfer knows that you are only as good as your next shot (or opportunity in life). Failure is only an option if you allow it to be; if you think you can, or you can't, you're absolutely right.
#9. "THE FINAL TEE" - whether it's the 9th, 18th, or even the 36th hole, eventually you reach the last tee box and it's time for you to wrap up your game and tally your score. In golf, you can choose how many holes you play; but in life, we don't know how many 'holes' (or years) we're going to get. At best, we can choose the clubs (or tools) we use to get through them and maybe even leave a few great shots and memories in the record books as part of our legacy.
The Story Behind the Songs - Part 2 - FORE 2: THE BACK NINE
2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the original FORE album. I had always hoped to produce and record a sequel album to the original, but never realized it would take a decade to complete it. Ironically, the songs for FORE 2 were written, arranged, and recorded over a span of just seven days in early February 2020. As 'par for the course' would be, the numbering for the songs on FORE 2 take us to Hole #10....
#10. "THE BACK NINE" - this song was actually the last of the 10 tracks to be written. I wanted a song that would somehow transition the two albums together. So I incorporated a few of the rhythms and melodic patterns from "Bunker Hill" and "Sweet Spot" into this song. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and if the first round was not our best achievement, the 10th hole allows the golfer to wipe the slate clean and begin a fresh '9'.
#11. "PUTTING AROUND" - this was the first tune written that jump started the FORE 2 sequel project. It's just a groovy tune with a funky beat that I really enjoyed arranging and recording. In golf, putting can take some serious concentration and patience to make those final strokes to the hole. But then again, sometimes you feel like putting around and being creative just for the fun of it.
#12. "TIN CUP" - this song was actually inspired by one of my favorite films aptly titled "Tin Cup", starring Kevin Costner as a down-on-his-luck has-been golfer, turned instructor, who happens to fall in love with his PGA rival's girlfriend. I was playing with some dominant 7th chords and even added a whimsical 'tin cup' sound effect to create this song.
#13. "INSIDE THE LEATHER" - this is a golf term that references putting. If your preceding putt finishes close enough to the hole that it's within a circle from the lip of the cup whose radius is the distance from the end of the blade of the putter to the bottom of the putter grip, this is being inside the leather. In the old days, the grip of the club was almost always made of leather. So if the putt was 'inside the leather', then the expectation was the golfer wouldn't miss the next shot and he was allowed to just pick up his ball and move on. I also liked the suggestiveness of the play on words so I composed the music with a provocative R&B sound.
#14. "WORM BURNER" - (this is my personal favorite track on the CD!) This song was so fun to write and record. When I was researching golf terms, I found 'worm burner' and I immediately knew exactly how I wanted it to sound. A worm burner is a misfit shot where the ball zings along, or just above, the ground in a frenzied trajectory. However, this is not the same as a 'straight flight' shot. I imagined all those poor worms in the ground, barely sticking their tiny heads up and aggressively and desperately dodging all those speeding golf balls on the course! Being no stranger to 'worm burner' shots myself, whether on, and off, the golf course, this tune captures the frenzy feeling that can occur when things get out of control.
#15. "ALBATROSS" - this was another tune that I 'heard' in my head just with the title. An albatross in golf is known as a 'double eagle', or a score of 3 under par on a single hole, a very rare and difficult shot. In aviary terms, an albatross is a very large, oceanic bird with long, narrow wings. Their strong body allows them to fly, or rather glide almost effortlessly on air currents, and are capable of traveling thousands of miles in a single journey. This song was originally composed with 7 different instrument tracks, but I ended up using just 4 of them, each of which was recorded and completed in a single take. This song is my albatross....
#16. "THE YIPS" - this is not a real common term used in golf. But if you're a golfer who has ever stood in the tee box and experienced racing thoughts, nervousness, shaky hands and a lack of confidence, then you know exactly what the 'yips' are. Comparable to a musician experiencing stage fright, the flop sweat and performance anxiety can get the best of you. I tried to re-create those feelings in the music with some abstract chording and sound effects in a staccato-style rhythm.
#17. "DOG LEG BOOGIE" - a dog leg hole is one that either bends to the right or the left, and you can't always see what's ahead. This song is comprised, in part, of a short piece I actually wrote in my much younger years, that I had shelved for a long time. I didn't know when I wrote this little tune, that it would later become part of a much larger, successful project. It was fun pulling this deep cut out of the archives and giving it new life.
#18. "MULLIGAN BLUES" - I used my recent infatuation with the 'blues' for the inspiration of this song. Getting to the last hole on the golf course can be exhausting and sometimes a bit defeating, depending on how good (or awful) we played. In golf and life alike, sometimes we just need a little break and be allowed a free 'mulligan' to move ourselves out of the rough spot we're in.
#19. "THE 19TH HOLE" - since 'Final Tee' was already taken, I thought about this small tavern near the last green of a golf course I used to play that was appropriately named "The 19th Hole" bar. This song pretty much sums up the whole game/album. It's time to tally up our score sheets, celebrate our achievements, evaluate our mis-hits, and make plans for the next round.
I hope you enjoy this anthology of jazz instrumentals, featuring a musical and whimsical perspective of the ups and downs of golf and life.
All music and instrumentation was created by use of Yamaha keyboards and synthesizers.
"MIDNIGHT FIRE" (from the "What Might Have Been" album)
This song was composed in Wautoma, Wisconsin in 2014. It was a very cold and breezy evening, and my husband was outside making a bonfire of leaves we had raked up in the backyard. As I watched from my studio window, the flames grew taller and brighter; at one point, the fire split into two parts, but it appeared as if the flames were simultaneously flowing together, moving back and forth in sequence with the wind. It was reminiscent of two people slow dancing in the darkness. I composed this tune to the tempo and rhythm of the flames.
"I FOUND MY LIFE AGAIN" (from the "LifeSongs" album)
This song was composed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2004. At the time this song was written, I was going through some significant changes in my life, in my surroundings, and I was feeling a little lost, like an outcast in a strange new world. I went through all of the usual emotions that come with facing 'the unknown', but I worked hard (and prayed even harder) to endure, have patience and find my way through the storm. This song is a celebration of triumph in finding one's inner strength and survival, and hopefully will be an inspiration to others facing struggles and trials, knowing that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
"THE REASON" (from the "LifeSongs" album)
This song was composed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2005. There was a song by the band Hoobastank called "The Reason", released in 2003, and at the time I heard it on the radio, it really hit close to home for me. The lyrics are basically a petition for forgiveness and through an act of contrition, the singer explains that someone special to them is the 'reason' for their change. When I wrote my song, "The Reason", I had some serious angst going on, even to somewhat challenge the 'powers that be', but in the end, realizing that no matter what circumstances we may go through, or in what environment find ourselves, we can always discover a 'reason' to continue on. In my version, the 'Reason' is God.
"LOVE MUCH" (from the "LifeSongs" album)
This song was composed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2008. An interesting story about how this song came to be....Oshkosh had just experienced torrential rains in late Spring of that year, leading to horrific flooding in the city, and many homes in my neighborhood, including mine, were under several feet of water. For days, we spent cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and throwing out so many personal items, pictures, clothing, appliances and furniture.....many old keepsakes and memorabilia that were now beyond restoration. Shortly after the clean up and life calmed down, I returned to work and one day as I was in the ladies' restroom, crying from exhaustion and frustration, I looked up and noticed that one wall had recently been re-painted with a floral mural, and underneath these oversized tulips and roses, someone had written: "Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much." In that moment, I forgot all about the flood, the damage, the mess, the work, the loss... and I went home that night and wrote this song. The lyric in the song will finish the story.
"WALK ON WATER" (from the "LifeSongs" album)
This song was composed in both West Bend and Wautoma, WIsconsin in 2013. This was a joint project with my lyricist, Sara Zingsheim. I had given this song title to Sara and asked if she would work on a lyric. This song became an anthem of overcoming obstacles, fighting our battles, forgiving our shortcomings, and all those things we need to rise above. It takes a lot of faith to keep from drowning, but through faith, we can truly 'walk on water'.
"YOU'LL NEVER HEAR THIS SONG" (from the "LifeSongs" album)
This song was written in Wautoma, Wisconsin in late 2012. It was composed as an ode to my father who had passed away earlier that year. It was ironic because the day he suffered his final stroke, it was Mother's Day and my dad had ventured out of the house and attended church service with my mom. I happened to be performing an original song during that service that I had composed for all the moms. It would be the last time my father would hear me sing. "You'll Never Hear This Song" not only encompasses the loss of a parent, but also mourns the loss of time and opportunity to tell someone what we want or need to say, before they are gone. This one is for him.....
"DOWN THE ROAD I GO" (title track to album)
I spent a few months in Kentucky in 2021 and I met some great people there. I was asked to play at a small coffeehouse in Horse Cave called Savannah K's. Since I was from out of town and no one knew much about me, I thought I'd write a little tune to sort of describe my life 'on the road' as a traveling musician.
"VIA SATELLITE" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
Co-written with Joe DeLucas in 2020, this song came out of the situation with COVID, when things were shutting down and there was no place to go and not much to do. Joe's concept for the song was about two people trying to stay in touch and maintain their relationship on a long-distance, out-of-touch basis. The song encompasses the social distancing and separation anxiety and struggle the world encountered during that time.
"LIFE'S TOO SHORT" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
Another co-write with Joe DeLucas, I came up with the line "Life's too short to take the long way", a lyrical antonym that I thought we could build upon. I was in Arkansas and Joe was in Tennessee at the time, and this fun, country tune was my initial introduction to Nashville music. The oxymoron describes taking chances, living life in the fast lane as opposed to stopping to smell the roses along the way. We only get one shot at life, it's not a dress rehearsal and we only regret the chances we didn't take were guiding philosophies when we wrote the song. They say it's not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years, and life's just too short to waste....
"COLD DECEMBER" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
Joe DeLucas sent me this lyric he had written in memory of his father who passed away in 2001, a month before Joe's wedding. I also experienced the loss of my father in 2012, so the lyric not only meant a lot to Joe, but to me as well. Although both of our fathers passed away during the warm months of May and June, Joe titled the song as a metaphor comparing the pain and loss of a parent to the harsh, bitter cold winds of winter. While it was a very personal retrospect for Joe and myself, the song was well received publicly, and in 2021, we won Best Song in the Pop/Rock category of the Tennessee Songwriters Association International awards.
"WHEN I'M HOLDING YOU" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
This song was uniquely inspired by the movie, "Shawshank Redemption". There is a scene where the main character escapes from prison and after tunneling through sewer lines under the institution, he finally finds himself free and far from view of the guard tower. As he throws off his prison uniform, the rain pours down on him and he raises his arms and hands to the sky, letting the raindrops wash away his anguish, as he celebrates his newfound freedom. There was something about this image that inspired the line in this song, "Your love is like the rain fallin' on me, to wash away the pain".
"HONEY BOURBON BABY" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
I was in the studio rehearsing and was having a 'froggy' voice, so I grabbed my favorite whiskey and without a shot glass, proceeded to take several sips to soothe my throat. I said to my engineer, "I'm drinkin' Jack straight from the bottle!" and as soon as I said it, I knew there was a song idea. I sent just the one line to Joe DeLucas, who returned back a great lyric about a young couple, experiencing their first date, their first taste of whiskey and their first love. I was able to perform this song several times in Nashville in 2021, and I was proud that it was so well-received.
"FOREVER MAN" (from the "Down the Road I Go" album)
This was the first song I composed while "on the road". I was living in a motorhome at the time, and so space was very limited for any kind of "studio". I had been working on the lyric for a few days, but my keyboard was packed away and all I had was a piano app on my cell phone. I composed the melody on the app and wrote out the chord chart in a notebook. About a week later, I was able to set up my keyboard and as I sat on the couch, I recorded this song.