Writing and recording music has been a fun hobby that I've enjoyed for many years. While it has never been something that I've excelled in nor could ever dream to make a living on, it has helped me deepen my spirituality, as well as been very therapeutic for me. After I shared one of my songs with Jim, my honest lawyer, he aptly noted that I shouldn't be quick to give up my day job!
Being a product of the 60s and 70s generation rock music and contemporary Christian music more recently, it has been neat to pen some ballad type songs like the Beatles did, as well as simple sing-a-longs like by Peter, Paul and Mary. Inspiring songs dedicated to faith filled heroes like Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta have also brought about more meaning to my religious practices.
It was also neat to be able to use this God given gift to dedicate songs to friends and my eventual wife. There's something magical and special that words put to music can create—especially when you are in a courtship with someone. While roses from a guy in the doghouse may convey a direct forgiveness request to a special gal whose been hurt by some transgression, a song written for that purpose blooms more and peels the thorns that were inflicting the pain.
With Valentine's Day coming up, I remember how much Maria loved it when we were in a long-distance relationship and I recorded my own version of the late John Denver's "My Sweet Lady" on a cassette tape and mailed it to her. While we had been able to speak to each other often per phone and had been daily letter writers to each other back then, which was long before the internet, email, Facebook, and texting was available, that song went a long way in softening whatever the burden of separation we were experiencing and whatever I may have said or done that gave rise to my recording that song.
In 2001, per cultivating a friendship with Kenny, a cousin on my mother's side of the family (Kleinpeter) who is a musician with his own music and studio, I began to inquire about the possibility of putting together my first CD. We would also go over to Kenny's to fish with the kids, since he resided next to a lake. So after some planning, we scheduled some recording dates. It was really exciting to think that I could be able to put some songs together that I'd collected over the years and had more recently accelerated in working on.
It was awkward at first in the recording sessions to play the music first and then do the vocals separately, so as to allow for more control by Kenny on the enhancing the songs and in some cases, he added background bass and other music per a synthesizer. After a few tries and mess ups, I got the hang of the process. Once we forgot to turn off a telephone in his studio, so you can still hear a phone ringing slightly on one of the songs. Also, Kenny's dog, "Dooty," can be heard on one tune!
I was able to put 15 songs on that first CD, which was mainly dedicated to Pope John Paul II with the proceeds from sales that benefited a local nonprofit organization. I also included a song for my wife and some other special friends, as well as a tune dedicated to my dad. Donna, another Kleinpeter relative and who has a specialty in graphics, designed a beautiful insert for the CD that included a neat public domain pic of Pope John Paul II from his visit to New Orleans in 1987.
A few years later, I was able to record 18 songs on my Divine Mercy CD dedicated to another great no-for-profit agency. One of my favorite tunes from that LP was "Still Storm," which was based upon the Mark 4:35-40 account of Jesus calming the sea.
I was inspired to write this tune while I was with our oldest son in a sleep study he had done to rule out seizure disorder. You never know when you will be inspired as was done in that setting when I quickly put together some lyrics:
Oh how you dreamed, Just for me, When You slept on the boat, Out at sea
How You longed, For the faith in me, And to die on the Cross, Just for me
And behold a storm arose, It tossed the ship with the friends You know, You were fast asleep in prayer, And we thought that You just didn't care
Yes we feared and we woke you up, We couldn't yet drink from the
same cup, We asked you, "Lord save us, Lest that we should perish?"
And You asked us, "Why the fear?" "Where's your faith when you know I'm near?" You stopped the wind and You stopped the waves, You brought Your Peace, Yes Jesus Saves!
Since I wanted to create an aura of calm and peace in the song, I used the chords to that beautiful classical tune Pachelbel "Canon in D." Kenny added some cool rendering of classical music per his synthesizer that you usually hear with an orchestral version. It was magnificent! When I was a Loyola, we used to do tai chi while listening to Pachelbel's "Canon in D," and you'll usually hear it played at weddings.
Anyway, it was neat in 2003 when I somehow won a contest to be able to play a song live on 92.7 The Bridge FM. So I chose "Still Storm." Kenny and I went with our instruments and played it live one morning—it was so neat when friends and associates later told me that they'd heard it and liked it. I couldn't really believe that they didn't notice those missed chords and etc. that you always worry about and no one catches!
I thank God that I have been able to deepen my relationship with Him per His wonderful gift of music and writing.
So while I'll never make it my "day job" with writing and recording music, I'll always make it a daily passion to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord!" (Psalm 100:1) And as St. Augustine is noted to have said, "When you sing, you pray twice!"