Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Looking Back at ReverbNation!

 Looking Back at ReverbNation!

Noticed this morning that we are #6 in the world on ReverbNation. Their 'formula' is rather mysterious, but I suspect it is because we are creating & communicating regularly. We recorded a new demo with Mark & Mike, put out a brand new Instrumental Christmas album in December, re-worked some volume & other issues to reissue some songs on our older albums. We recently promoted our love song, "We're Gonna Stay for February. I, Mark, plan to record another prayer song in the coming month.

This caused me to look back at how we started. It seems the first three songs I posted were "Glory to God" (shortened to "Glory"), "God is With Us" and "We're Gonna Stay"; this was in July 2010!

RN LOVED "Glory" and gave us a "Feature" on their main page because of that song and "Nobody Else". (Btw, Mike just earned that honor this past year with his individual page!) My favorite memories of that time are of meeting so many different artists on RN.

So! Thirteen years later, we are still 'showing up', aren't we? Let us pray that this great gift of music can continue to be shared and spread for the good of many, here and beyond.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Step DOWN, Volume UP

Step DOWN, Volume UP

CLICK the Pic to get to the video!

Boy, am I glad we found this song in the first place!  (Special thanks go to Joe Prunera.)  This is a live version of “Step Down” from a 1987 show. Joe messaged me while watching a concert video of this show recently; he was asking what guitar I was playing for this song. I had put it out on our Christmas album, "The Joy", but the volume was pretty low on it. Joe's question gave me the inspiration to finally put up the volume for this and re-release it on RN and Bandcamp. (I intend to correct a lot of our songs and re-release them.) I then created a simple photo video to post it on YouTube. What a treasure!

I was thrilled to discover Mike was playing with us in this show, but unfortunately we can't hear his piano, though his vocal is up front on the chorus.  Like any live mix from back then, it wasn’t a perfect recording & there are some flaws, but the energy is great and Greg’s guitar is zinging it out all the way through, isn't it?!  I believe this is one of his best ever leads. This reminds me that for a while Greg and I had an electric ‘guitar brothers’ thing going that was so much fun in concert. Also, listen to Dave's bass while I am singing during a lull in the 2nd verse: his unique funkiness is on full display. And what about the two notes Denise sings on the main chorus? just two notes, but oh so powerful & evocative! She gives the song its anthemic power. And what a classic LW vocal blend on the "Take my heart" part, huh!?! It reminds me of the other group vocals on some Christmas songs like "Glory to God" and "Love's Beginning".

Greg gets a ‘writing credit’ for working that great transition midway through and bringing the music side alive.  He and I wrote this in the cellar.  In concert, we used to say that “Greg and I were fooling around in the cellar” when we wrote this.  (I once also ineptly tried to describe our community living arrangement by saying “some of us are married and some of us are living together”.  After the laughter died down, I had to explain that we actually believed and practiced the Church’s teachings on marriage!!)  As I noted elsewhere, the style and the short lyrical bursts were probably influenced by U2 as in “I Will Go” and some other songs we wrote at this time.

The theme keys off the great kenosis passage in Phillipians, where the Word of God modeled the all-powerful agape love of God by pouring himself out and ‘stepping down’ to be be born, so limited, in order to die, even on a cross, conquering sin & death on our behalf.  (This meshes well thematically with "City of Joy", I think.) This is absolutely perfect for the Christmas/Epiphany season: "Born to die". Love commands us all to ‘step down’ in order to live in God's love and love each other.  He stepped down to be with us in The Bread of Life. To come to realize that is gloriously freeing!  When we learn how to serve like Jesus modeled in everything, we learn true happiness.  I think I probably couldn’t find a better LW way to capture that wonderful thought.

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE! of LW

Tuesday, December 27, 2022



CLICK above to listen!

Now that we have put out an instrumental version of "Merry Christmas", mixed by Jim, which brings out some of the great parts in the song, perhaps we can take a look back.

Mike wrote a great song, and we all pitched in to produce "Merry Christmas" an LW classic. By the way, Mike accidentally erased “Merry Christmas” at one point (reminds me how Brian Eno almost erased U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name”!) but he was able to salvage a version of the song.

Greg plugged into the central effects and added some great guitar “wash” to the background of “Merry Christmas”, which we picked up from some producers of the time. (In concert, I had the duty of approximating this on Greg’s electric with swells and harmonics!) Plus, Greg does a great turn on bass in the song. Mike layered the synthesizers so very well, as he did on all the Christmas songs we did in the basement at 505. We have to mention Sully’s cute spoken section in the middle of “Merry Christmas”; that was awesome! Our beloved Mary Gillis liked to make fun of Kathy for that, but all in good fun.

This song eloquently shines with the joy of the “Reason for the Season” or “putting Christ back in Christmas” without getting at all overbearing, judgmental or preachy and it is attractive and inspiring. What a great gift!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

God is With Us - With & WIthout Vocals


Based on an earlier post

God is With Us - With & WIthout Vocals

To hear the backing track? CLICK this!:

God is With Us - Instrumental

And to hear the full version with vocals? CLICK this!:

God is With Us -W/Vocals

View of the Marist House across from our 505 Pleasant house (where we recorded this)

This is a song that I (Mark) wrote. I wanted to get the effect of chiming bells in the beginning, so I am plucking the C-G-G and then the E-C, with the change from the fifth to the third. And Greg, like some sort of genius decided to add those harmonic hammer-ons, which sound, of course, exactly like bells! (This basic effect is reprised at the end of every chorus.) The verses are in C and choruses in G.

Then Mike CHIMES IN with that da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-daaaah riff that I had composed. I wrote the basic riff, but Mike RAN with it. He did it both on piano and synthesizer. And then he figured out how to continue the effect of the basic riff through all the chord changes, in a way that so sweeeet! so bellissimo! We then mixed the different instruments in a way that perfectly complemented the lyrics of verses and chorus. Mike really is the instrumental star here.

The bridge accomplishes a really cool key change sequence that ends back at the chorus. What Mike managed to do there is just so fantastic; listen to THAT and be amazed. How do you maintain the sense of the basic piano riff while going through all the key changes, meanwhile making it all seem as smooth as silk. I love the baroque-flavored harpsichord thing on the 'Gloria in excelsis deo' segue to the chorus. 

The way Greg chimes in with distortion at just the right times is beautiful, lending power to the key chorus declarations. Listen to Tony on the drums; he is using lower/deeper runs as accents during the chorus, a very nice expert touch, as usual. Dave adds perfect bass runs especially at the end.

I suppose we should mention the funny incident at the end. We were all in the cellar playing certain parts for the lead-in to the end when Mike played that one long C on the synthesizer. What you can't hear is that he was yelling at the top of his lungs, "WHAT'S THE CHORD?!?! WHAT'S THE CHORD!!??!". He finally remembered at the end, but that unintentional held note turned out to be effective and perfect for that spot!

We did some very nice vocal arranging on this, too, so be sure to listen to that. The guys liked to make fun of how I sang, "just LAHK me"! Please, enjoy!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

St. Cecelia

St. Cecelia

When Living Waters mentions the patroness of music, we think of Mark's song, the 'Two Feet Song', a rough version of which is found here: "Endless Dance of Love".

Cecelia was from one of the ancient patrician families of Rome. Her parents tried to marry her to a patrician pagan named Valerian. Here is an excerpt from her history:

Against her will, she was given in marriage to Valerian; but on the first night of the nuptials she thus addressed him: Valerian, I am under the care of an Angel, who is the guardian of my virginity; wherefore beware of doing what might kindle God's wrath against thee. Valerian moved by these words respected her wishes, and even said that he would believe in Christ if he could see the Angel. On Caecilia telling him that this could not be unless he received Baptism, he, being very desirous of seeing the Angel, replied that he was willing to be baptized. Taking the virgin's advice, he went to Pope Urban, who on account of the persecution was hiding among the tombs of the Martyrs on the Appian Way, and by him he was baptized.

Then returning to Caeceliia, he found her at prayer, and beside her an Angel shining with divine brightness. He was amazed at the sight; but as soon as he had recovered from his fear, he sought out his brother Tiburtius; who also was instructed by Caecilia in the faith of Christ, and after being baptized by Pope Urban, was favoured like his brother with the sight of the Angel. Both of them shortly afterwards courageously suf­fered martyrdom under the prefect Almachius. This latter next commanded Caacilia to be apprehended, and commenced by asking her what had become of the property of Tiburtius and Valerian.

The virgin answered that it had all been distributed among the poor; at which the prefect was so enraged, that he commanded her to be led back to her own house, and put to death by the heat of the bath. When, after spending a day and a night there, she remain unhurt by the fire, an executioner was sent to dispatch her; who, not being able with three strokes of the axe to cut off her head, left her half dead. Three days later, on the tenth of the Kalends of December, she took her flight to heaven, adorned with the double glory of virginity and martyrdom. It was in the reign of the emperor Alexander. Pope Urban buried her body in the cemetery of Callixtus; and her house was converted into a church and dedicated in her name. Pope Paschal I. translated her body into the city, together with those of Popes Urban and Lucius, and of Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, and placed them all in this church of St. Caecilia.

Her body was discovered incorrupt in the 800s and her remains revealed again in 1599. The famous scultor, Stefano Moderno was commissioned to memorialize the amazing site. Many noticed that three fingers were joined on one hand, and one finger pointed on the other, an apparent expression of faith in the Trinity. On her wedding day, she prayed continually and sang to God in her heart, which is why she was later named the patron of music and musicians. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Prodigal Song Has Come Back to Us!

 Prodigal Song Has Come Back to Us!

A while back, Jim had sent me a very primitive concert that dated back to the early 80's, and on there was a rare copy of "Prodigal Song". (It was the climax of our 'Prodigal Daughter'-themed show, when Mike & Chuck were still with us. The show told the story of a young runaway girl who comes to her senses.) The cuts he had included the 'witnesses' or talks we would do before songs. I had put this on our extra LW Classic Tracks site with other raw material. Lately, I realized I could just trim off that intro and post the song on our regular site; what a find!

Prodigal Song on LW's ReverbNation site

Here, we see a song being born. It might have been one of the first times we tried it which is true of several songs in this concert - we were trying things out. I noticed some 'missing' elements that we eventually used to do. For instance, my guitar would join the melody line during the bridge, Greg was yet to find his preferred distortion, and the vocals got more developed in time. But, what a treasure it is! Tony's jazz sense on drums, perfectly melded to Dave's funky bass is on full display. It is a very rare case where we can hear Chuck's 'marching valve trombone' perfectly. 

I am thinking of putting out a 'classic live' album. Stay tuned, friends!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!