Monday, July 28, 2014

“Do What He Tells You to Do”!

Detail from “The Wedding at Cana” by Veronese

Click this link to listen!

Julia and I and a couple of the boys were driving down to the Christmas Party at Tony & Denise’s this year.  It was pretty lively all the way, but, despite the noise, throughout the drive, this song just kept coming into my head: a ‘bluesy rocker’, perfect for Living Waters, and with a strong message. (And, of course, it fit in perfectly with my faith journey at the time.) I showed Dave the song when I got there.  It was so catchy and yet so meaningful!  I used the chorus in my class when we prayed that Mystery, and the kids just loved it so much.  When I first showed the song to the group, Tony very astutely observed, “Hey, that’s the second Luminous Mystery!”…yeah, that’s right!

When the Mellos asked us to do a concert this summer, I thought this would be PERfect! We learned this song, and “Save Me from Myself” by Mike, as brand new band songs for the concert.  We learned it very quickly, and it came out beautifully live.  It really is a great Living Waters ‘band’ song! Jim recorded part of the concert version; it is posted on YouTube here:  Do What He Tells You to Do VIDEO

It became clear that we needed a studio version of this. Josh and I got together on Tuesday, June 22, 2014, and spent most of the day working – it was ‘flowing so easily’ as it says in “Love’s in a Name”.  It was so great! It only seemed like a few minutes. Mike was there in the morning as support. I was so glad to see him. We actually got most of it done on that day! Greg & Josh tweaked and added some more and? Voila! I think this really does the original vision of the song justice.  [We put out a first mix and will probably add some more in coming weeks.]

One group history story: You may notice I yell “Change!” a couple of times in this song. I do that on purpose. Back in the 70’s & 80’s, when we were doing so many shows, we used to wear these awesome costumes, like the dashikis and the blue ruffled shirts. Well, when it was time to change for the show, I used to yell, “CHANGE!” and then I would freeze into a distorted body tableau…and then another – “CHANGE!”! (Tony especially enjoyed these performances!) It was a visual pun! (Love those!) And then we would change into our clothes. This song is all about the Lord changing our hopelessness – I just had to take this opportunity to yell “Change!”….

The message is a crucial one for right now, I think. The 'beloved disciple' represents US throughout his Gospel, and that is true of this story. The Miracle at Cana was the first of Jesus’ signs and the one which first caused the Apostles to believe; and, He, Himself, is the orchestrator of the Church’s mission of love.  If we do what He says, there will be REAL change that people will see for themselves; they will be able to choose the Kingdom for themselves.  And, there IS such a thing as a “household of faith” and a “communion of saints” (a phrase from the Apostles in the earliest creed), and this truth is modelled for us right from the start in this incident.  The Apostles are brought together with Mary and Jesus by a common, living faith in the Eternal Power of Christ.  It seems Mary knew this instinctively (that happens when you’re full of grace, I guess), and that’s why she said what she did.

Further, like John 6, John 2 is very Eucharistic.  In the early catacombs, the most popular triptych of murals, seen in many places, had the Last Supper in the center flanked by the Miracle of the Loaves, and the Miracle at Cana.  This imagery was preaching the Presence of the Risen Christ when we “DO THIS” in memory of Him. When we ‘do what He tells us to do’ in this case, a miracle happens & the Risen Christ is there!  If He can change water into wine, can He not change the wine into Himself to commune with us? If He can multiply regular bread to feed so many, can He not multiply His own Body to all times and places to feed us all spiritually as we need our “daily Bread”? 

One more interesting fact is about the very unique word for “woman” from Gen 3:15, a verse sometimes called the Protoevangelion or “first Gospel”:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.  She will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel. (DRV)
This very singular word is used here in John 2 when Jesus says, “Woman, my hour has not come” AND from the cross in John 19, when he says, “Woman, behold your son”.  The “hour” when Jesus, “the seed”, and “the woman” crushed the serpent’s head was precisely on the cross! By performing his first miracle, Jesus was consenting to begin this journey to the cross! Jesus uses this special word to definitively link the Protoevangelion prophecy with the beginning and end of his mission. Of course, St. John is the perfect person to make this connection!

Well, that’s enough theologizing for one post! Bottom line? You really ought to follow Mary’s excellent advice for real in your life! “Do what He tells you to do”.  And then? Watch what happens!!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Living Waters Concert!

Living Waters Concert!

What a day it was! Paul & Helene Mello had asked us to go to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their church, St. Peter's in PetersHAM (the pronunciation of which, Chuck learned, to his chagrine)! We went into the rustic, tiny church to pray together beforehand. The weather was PERFECT. We got to see and talk to so many old friends, and catch up to what's been going on in our lives. We got to sing happy birthday to Paul (at St. Peter's on the day of Peter and Paul)!! As Chuck Trella observed, it was like a slice of heaven.

We got to do a couple of brand new songs which were received very well. Jim managed to catch some footage for us. The sound quality is obviously not the best, but I think this captures the spirit of things. (Parable of the Talents was really effective; my son said it actually reached his heart.) Here is a link to an excerpt from my new song, "Do What He Tells You To Do":

The Trellas went up there to give us a spell, and sing several - excellent - songs. I loved their adapted hymn. Here is a short excerpt from one of their originals:

AND, here is "Love in Arms", featuring Josh Loell and Sam Vassel on brass! You'll notice we're singing "can't you feel the love OUT here"!:

If anybody who went has any other anecdotes to offer, please feel free! We are rejoicing....

Here is a song list (we did "It's Not the Same" as an unexpected encore):

SHOW/SONG LIST 100th Anniversary Celebration – St. Peter’s

LOVE YOU LORD                                                 
GREATEST STORY                 
FIGHT FOR ME                                                     
YOU WERE THERE                                          
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS                       
ROLL THE ROCK OVER                
I'LL SURVIVE                                                       

LOVING ARMS                               
SAVE ME                              
PETER THE ROCK                    
PRODIGAL SONG                        

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Save Me From Myself"!

Save Me From Myself!

Peter learned to turn in faith to the Lord! Then he turned to 'strengthen his brothers'

The 'Loell Studio' where the magic is happening!

Brand new Mike song! Inspired by Psalm 64, it turned into a hymn of gratitude. LW Greg shines!:

I have a comment to make about the thematic direction Mike took here. He started with the whole 'world situation' depicted in Psalm 64, but where did his eyes of faith find an answer to all? 'Hearts must change before the world can change.' We must discover how good the Good News is and let grace transform us. If we all really believed in the great joy of what happened in the Great Act of Salvation, there would be an awesome time of peace in THIS world, drawn from the worth we have in heaven. What a joyfully marvelous thought!

Here are some thoughts he just shared about the experience of recording:

My original intention was to try to bring Psalms 64 to life, observing the moral challenges of life as we know it today.  After the first verse, this song took off in its own direction.  When the words "save me" came along, I knew this would be a tribute to Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection.  Everything else just flowed.  This song came so quickly that I was worried it wasn't strong.  After we recorded it, I am pleased to say it is profoundly moving and the timing is so appropriate for Easter.  The title was a struggle because "Save Me" is so similar to "Take Me".  Josh Loell produced (again) and even played the drums (he is not a drummer!) in addition to guitar tracks and his usual background vocal cameo.  Greg Loell gave it his trademark "Living Waters" guitar/lead sound.  And, Ryan Moran joined us with background vocals and those high notes that I just didn't want to try to hit!

I am pretty sure more is coming from both Mike and I, especially this summer. Stay tuned!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Song of Love"

Mike, Dave & Greg jamming in ancient times! We think it's Mike's house in Natick...
Click to hear "Song of Love":

An L and M song! Lennon & McCartney?? Nah! Lajoie & McBride!

When the band first started in 1976, Mike hadn't yet written any music, though his piano playing already dazzled us. One day, he started working on this song on the piano in the Charismatic Hall under the chapel at Oblates. He came to me and showed me what he had done and asked me for help in finishing the song. I think he had the the chorus and words done and that basic happy little riff you hear in the intro. I came up with some words and structure for verses and a basic overall flow of the song. And voila! song. After that, Mike was off and running, writing masterpieces like "Lonely Dancer" and all the songs we used for the Prodigal Daughter shows for Covenant House like "Prodigal Song". This past year, he has written NEW masterpieces in "Take Me" and "Good Samaritan".

This is really the only song Mike & I co-wrote that we performed, although we always added crucial touches to each other's songs as long as Mike was with the group. I remember playing it for Beth Medeiros' house party and a few other early gigs. (This was beFORE Greg had joined us as our lead guitarist, and that little lead is actually mine. The way I played, it was very good that Greg joined us!).

VERY early LW

This rough demo version I created in the past year and we tried to work on it as a band this summer, but there were problems. This version is too slow and is missing a bridge I forgot about. But I thought I'd publish this to give you an idea of how special what we had was even very early on. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of music, but, much more, for the gift of our love as a group....

Mark LaJOIE!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Covenant House Songs: "Covenant Love" and "Streetwalker"

Covenant House Songs: "Covenant Love" and "Streetwalker"

This is a re-edited version of a post originally published on July 20, 2010

A new *ROUGH DEMO* of "Streetwalker" w/vocals & guitars on 8/31/2013: for “Covenant Love” for "Prodigal Song" }

Early on, the group was invited to play at St. Anselm’s College Chapel for a talk by Fr. Ritter on behalf of Covenant House. [Ironically several LW kids have later gone there for school.] We were impressed by the plight of runaway kids in New York City. Many of them are snatched up by pimps and others into a world of white slavery, drug addiction and disease. Now, many have captured the growing trend by the phrase "human trafficking". Some of us especially Chuck Rossignol and Tony Vassel strove to make contact and see if we could help. (After all, Kids and teenagers were our ministry as well with our Confirmation days and youth-oriented concerts.) They met a fantastic guy with Covenant House named Joe Donnelly, who was a highly effective advocate and organizer Chuck remains friendly with to this day when he works at the UN). We ended up doing fund-raisers and benefit concerts. Then, we went to stay at Covenant House right in Times Square [when it was really bad, pre-Giuliani]. We gave a concert there in the late 1978; this was when Omer Bourque was managing the group. I remember sleeping on the floor in the Chapel there and I actually lived there for two weeks. We did an early version of “Rock and Boat” (or “Boat of Peter”) with my guitar hooked up to a flanger! [Julia’s friend joined up with them and went to the Covenant House in South America later on for several years; they really do some great outreach.]

Later, we came again and gave a concert right in the lobby of Covenant House for the kids. I had written a couple of songs specifically with them in mind. We performed “Covenant Love” there and we did it a lot in concert at that time. “In the streets of New York City, you’re a kid without a home…” This is one of which I’m pretty proud – it draws an analogy between the ‘covenant’ offered by the workers to the kids and the New Covenant the Risen Jesus makes with us in the Eucharist, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We have since found and posted a version of this song from early in this time period on our Classic Tracks site. 

This is also one of the few times we performed “Streetwalker”, which pictures one of these kids out there stuck in prostitution. The song got limited, I think, because it could be so easily misinterpreted if the context of Covenant House was not understood. I created a rough demo for it in 2013 which is now posted above. We still hope to record further on this in the coming year.

Later on in 1984, we were doing that big show at Providence Civic Center (?) (when we had that whole “Prodigal Daughter” production going on). We were standing outside (waiting for the Union workers to carry our things a few feet further in order to wait for the next Union worker to carry it a little further!) Chuck heard us jamming unplugged on “Streetwalker” and he freaked, “That’s fanTAStic! It fits the theme of what we’re doing so well and it’s AWESOME…” or something to that effect. But then he had us play it through some more and decided we should NOT do it. I remember two reasons: it was ‘too upbeat’ and – once again – it could be misunderstood. So, it went by the boards and, probably, rightly so. But it sure is one cool, happening piece of jive. I am very glad I was able to reproduce a version you can hear!

(Mike McBride also did related songs like "I Will Not Stay", "Don't Run Away" and so on. We'll try to get them here for you, too.) A later, shorter version of "Don't Run Away" is on our site and "With You I Am" is on Classic Tracks.

Peace out
Mark L.

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Good Samaritan"

"Good Samaritan"

Click to hear "Good Samaritan":
As of 1/15/14, a new remix:

Mike has written a superb song with a message about as central to the Good News as there is, the Commandment to love our neighbor as presented in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It reminds me of the entire show we used to do, in support of Covenant House, about the Prodigal Daughter.  (Notice that it is a Commandment, not a suggestion to love our neighbor; if we don't live this, we CANNOT know happiness with the God who is Love. Providentially, God provides all the grace we need to do this if we choose to respond to it!)

Musically, I think this song is genius. It reminds me of the synagogue cantor with a raucous touch of the blues; it is the roots of the great Gershwin & Berlin on the Broadway stage, set to rock - a perfect fit for the tone and theme. I think Greg's guitar sounds like Queen at the end. Love the scratchy vinyl intro and that's Josh Loell on the horn, by the way. It's a fantastic arrangement all the way.

When I played the song for Julia, she was doing a prayerful study of the Confiteor prayer, focusing on the phrase "what I have done, and what I have failed to do". The theme of what she was reading was that it is not good enough to merely avoid sin; we must 'clothe ourselves' with the virtues of Christ, especially charity which binds all of them together. Listen to this song, and then read this prayer: the timing was perfect for her, wasn't it? She just couldn't get over that!  [There is a reference in the Didache in 97 AD about saying such a prayer at the beginning of Eucharist, by the way. As the letter of James advises, it is a very good thing to confess our failures to each other, especially failures of charity.]

"Mea maxima culpa...."  Coincidentally, at this same time, a friend posted an awesome story on Facebook about a new pastor who disguised himself as a homeless man and presented himself to his new congregation. Guess what? no one greeted or smiled at him, they acted embarrassed and he was told to go out back! When the new pastor was presented? it was the man they had ignored and rejected! Fantastic lesson there, wouldn't you say? Here is the link to the story:

Listen to this song! Let it urge us all on together to show the most beautiful Thing there is - Caritas, agape!

Friday, July 19, 2013

“Take Me” 2013: Mike McBride Breaks Through

“Take Me”
2013: Mike McBride Breaks Through

Click to listen to "Take Me":

As of August 5, 2013 we have added "Good Samaritan"

The last couple of years, Mike McBride ‘came back’ to us. For many years, circumstances beyond our control had kept him away. But now, he was back at our get-togethers and re-discovering all of our music. We played our reunion concert in 2011 and he came to help me play music and we all jammed at our get-togethers. But recently, he was expressing to some of us how he had this new music he wanted to write, but felt blocked somehow. There seemed to be no way to get it out in the way he wanted. Well, we are here to report that the dam has BROKEN – BIG TIME! Josh has mastered a lot of the art of recording and has helped Mike record what he has in his heart. (And this is just in time to go along with a new impulse I’ve had in recent months to arrange and prepare our songs for recording.) 

Just now, Mike has finished recording the finishing touches on his new song, “Take Me”. (In theme, it sort of reminds me of Clapton’s "Tears in Heaven”.) The result is absolutely beautiful.  These are a few thoughts he had about it:

The music always comes easily for me.  The message takes time, prayer, focus.  Then, as with "Take Me", the message comes and flows.  That's not to diminish the writing process.  I still juggle the organization of the song, write, delete, rewrite, struggle with doubt and insecurity.  Most of my recent music writing is focused on our humanity, where I've been, where am I going, ‘what did I do?’. 
"Take Me" started with events like the Dark Night Rises theatre shooting and so many attacks before and after.  We see so much violence in society today.  Being the parent of two beautiful young children, and I am surrounded by so many wonderful friends (you in LW are the people who give my life reason), I think of the pain and suffering that the survivors feel.  The anger, the lack of control, the inability to conceive how this could happen….so many emotions…The inability to forgive, the guilt of surviving, not being able to protect the loved ones: "Why them God and not me?"  But, somehow, we must continue, always respecting the will of God, being ready when it is our time.  So, we do our best to live a good life, always remembering those whom we have lost, waiting to get to the end, when we can be with them again.

It's difficult to write words about the words.  My hope is that the combination of music and words bring out the emotion that moves others to get meaning that applies to their own life, struggles, pain, and that they can let go and let God take them to eternity.

Chuck saw another level of meaning in that it is our Lord who ultimately said ‘take me’, taking our place in the experience of sin and death, knowing He can take ALL of us with Him to life.

Mike has been a gorgeous piano player right from the start, and this is classic Mike-in-Living-Waters-style (as my son, Peter, recognized immediately. “Wow! That is REALLY Living Waters”, he said.) Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mike sing anything better than this, not anywhere, not anytime. Perfect timing; for the song, for him AND for us as a ministering band. For me, this song is a miraculous confirmation of everything God has done and will do for and through us. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, “Take Me”!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

“Take Me”
by Mike McBride
Copyright 2013

I’ve got a one track mind and it’s to be on time
When it’s the right time, Lord, for me
So, steady ahead, and we will get to the end
And we will catch eternity
Take me….
Please take me!

You are the reason for my life
You are the beauty
You are the light
You're everlasting from the start
You are the motion, you are the mind
You are the only one of a kind
You are the potion in my heart                         

So please don’t take our love too soon (please don’t take our love too soon)
Even the darkness has its moonlight (the dark night has its moon)
We will remember all of you (we will remember you)
So please don’t take our love too soon


How can I learn to forgive?
How can I go on living?
When all I ever wanted was to hold you in my arms
To protect you from all harm
To keep you safe and warm
Next time, Lord, take me
Please, take me….

I’ve got a one track mind and it’s to be on time
When it’s the right time, Lord, for me
So, steady ahead, and we will get to the end
And we will catch eternity
Take me….

So I keep living with the living
And I keep giving all I’m giving
And I know one day I’ll come home
Take me home with you
Take me
Please take me…..
Take me

I’ve got a one track mind and it’s to be on time
When it’s the right time, Lord, for me
So, steady ahead, and we will get to the end
And we will catch eternity
Take me….
Please take me…..
Take me