Saturday, January 13, 2018

Chord, Key & Covenant....

Chord, Key & Covenant....

"Covenant Love" CLICK to PLAY!

Our newest recording, "Covenant Love", was written by me, Mark, back in the 70's as part of our commitment to Covenant House. We performed it many times through those years, but it fell out of the rotation for the most part by the mid-80's. Recently, it has been revived and re-produced in a marvelous way. I thought it would be interesting to look at the song structure a little bit, in terms of chords, key changes, and, also, at the arrangement we used traditionally and here. 

Intro/Outro? It's interesting that we used an intro and outro that is not a direct musical quote from the melody in any part! That gives it a sort of wistful quality, perhaps. Back in the day, we used to use the ARP synthesizer to play over this little guitar intro. On our recording, Josh has added something similar. (By the way, the bass part was transcribed by Dave himself, reflecting what he used to play in concert.)

Chords & Keys Let's look at the key changes or modulations. The song opens in the key of G with the lead vocal in a low register and a sparse arrangement, and it actually ends up in the key of G at the end with the lead vocal an octave higher, building up in key and arrangement to a rousing finish and a gentle outro. After, the plaintive "can you hear me" echoes, it modulates up to A, using the fifth or D chord, into the "not much I can do here" verse. When it goes into the first chorus, it modulates to E in the same way as before, using the fifth. Each chorus has a 1-7-4-5 chord pattern. The modulation out of the chorus is achieved by a C#-B-F-G chord pattern going into the key of C, finding a positive place for the kid in the story. This is the part that includes the little guitar obligato. Then it uses the D to switch back into the G key. We vamp a little bit on a G octave towards the end until the background vocals hint at the chord changes and finally all the instruments come in and play G-Em-D-F-G, finally ending with the same tune for the outro as the intro.

Guitar Lead! I say I wrote the song, but, you know what? Most every song we did had parts 'written' by different members in the group. The guitar solo for "I laid it on the cross for you...." is a case in point. Greg really 'wrote' this originally. On our Classic Tracks site we have a really early version of this where Greg had still not entirely worked it out; on there he played high first and then low. But what I'm playing there is how Greg finally 'wrote' for us, starting low and ending high, bending ever so slightly. It is SO sweet, isn't it? It talks and sings like a six-string angel. Thank you, Greg!

VocalsIt was a great experience for me to sing this one again - in my closet! We used to have extra female vocals in the early days, including Marcelle Foucre, Celine Vachon, Kathy Hilliard, Barbara Mulholland and many others. Not having any of them on hand, for these tracks, I sang the very same notes they used to sing, singing in my closet. I have actually sung female parts on our recordings before, but let's face it, my voice is not ideal for THAT! BUT, Josh made them sound pretty good! The entire arrangement is pretty true to the early days, perhaps missing a few good turns by Mike & Greg, but, nonetheless, a nice clean modern take that does justice to the song's origin and to great modern techniques.

Mixing Josh's contribution is high-quality mixing and some great choices for sound. I just love the piano tone he chose for all the Mike-type twinkling. The soaring organ on the last chorus is absolutely perfect. I played the guitars, but Josh made them perfect. He made that rhythm guitar perfectly chunky and strong, especially as it comes into the positive lyrics from the negative.

In the end, I hope you can hear Him yourself, pleading to reach these poor kids, yes, but to also reach every single one of us. He has "prepared a place" for us, in this life, in His Eucharist and Church, and the room and mansion we have reserved in eternal life. Can you hear Him? Can you hear Him.....?

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE!

Friday, January 5, 2018

"A Brand New Mix of A Brand New Covenant Love"!

"A Brand New Mix of A Brand New Covenant Love"!

*As of January 5, 2018 there is a newer mix of this song with more keyboards - "can you hear me? can you hear me...."

An earlier symbol used by the Covenant House ministry to runaways

Click this line below to listen!

"Covenant Love" New Studio Production

We are very pleased to present to you a new version of one or our classic concert songs, “Covenant Love”. I originally wrote out all the parts on Noteworthy Composer. Dave edited this along the way, and added his wonderfully authentic bass line. I spent a few days recording in my closet this summer; I tried to give some idea how it sounded to hear this song in person back in the day. Josh added his wonderful mixing skills, and the result is a true Living Waters treasure. I don't think there is one of us who can hear this song and not remember the amazing 'anointing', power and joy we had back in those days. There was one church in Worcester, in particular, that I was remembering, where the hospital walkie-talkie kept breaking into our show all night! The local paper was impressed with us during this show and quoted this song and “Light of the World” in particular, at some length. (A new version of L of the W is coming soon, by the by!) Below, I reprint a previous discussion about how and why we became involved raising money for Covenant House in New York. Please, enjoy!

We were wearing these t-shirts at the time we visited Covenant House & raised money for them
Early on, the group was invited to play at St. Anselm College Chapel for a talk on behalf of Covenant House. [Ironically several LW kids have later gone to St. Anselm 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 (something we call “human trafficking” today). 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 as 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 phlanger! Julia’s friend joined up with them and went to the Covenant House in South America for several years; they really do some great outreach.
St. Anselm where we first found out about Covenant House
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. 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.

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 shouldn’t 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.

(Mike McBride also did many related songs like “Prodigal Song”, "I Will Not Stay", or "Don't Run Away" which formed the backbone of the Prodigal Daughter show.) Here a couple songs mentioned in our story:

"Covenant Love" New Studio Production

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Story About "O Holy Night"

A Story About "O Holy Night"

O Holy Night (live) Click and listen!

Living Waters just LOVES Christmas! For decades, starting in the 70's, we did Christmas concerts every year, increasingly featuring our original Christmas songs. We loved doing the carols and our crowd-involving "Twelve Days of Christmas" with the placards. 

We kept it going all the way into the 90's, when we stopped 'touring' in a regular fashion. A couple of years ago, we did it one more time with all the trimmings; how glorious that was! It was just SO awesome! Here are some pictures:

One time in the early 90's we were going to do a really big Christmas show at what was our home base at the time, the Sons of Mary in Framingham. As I recall we were doing the concert with our good friend Jon Polce. Jim had set up off-the board straight recording lines that night, so it really captured our live performance well. I also remember it as one of the most electric-feeling concerts we've done. Something special was going on! Many of the live Christmas songs we've posted to our online sites and on our album are from this night; that's how good it was.

We had another guest, a married couple who performed through stylized actions and dance, like St. Francis. They came up to me right before the concert and asked me to play "O Holy Night" for them to perform to. They wanted to do two verses and then add the end of another verse. I loved the effect of this choice. Without any prior preparation on my part, the time came during the concert, and I just began to sing. A lot of times you can't really tell how well you're singing on a given night; you just trust and do the best you can. But this? This was special. I knew it was something special right from the start. I really meant every word of this wonderful carol with every fiber of my being. I think the lyric choice they made had something to do with that. It is on our album.
So, sit back and tune in to this. A Blessed Christmas to all of you....

O Holy Night (live) Click and listen!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE! of Living Waters

Sunday, December 10, 2017

There's a Woman....MARY Christmas!

There's a Woman....MARY Christmas!

As Christmas approaches, our mind goes back to our old song, "There's a Woman". It features our classic vocal blend of Mark, Denise, and Dave, Greg on organ at the beginning and end, and Dave's infectious bass line. There's a classical feel to it, but it is also a rocker in that special LW way, featuring Greg at his best. We actually improved the song further after this multi-track was done. Please! Enjoy it with our compliments and prayers. Click below:

There's a Woman (multi-track) on ReverbNation
There's a Woman streaming on Spotify

Saturday, November 25, 2017

An Award for Contemporary Christian Song!

An Award for Living Waters!

Yes, Living Waters has won the 2017 Radio Music Award for "Best Contemporary Christian Song", for our recent song, "Do What He Tells You to Do". It is given out by the Indie Music Channel in LA, and our song got featured on their site as a result of this. We qualified for the award, because our song was played on Adoration Radio and some other small stations. One person - one whom I happen to deeply respect! - said he listened to it 15 times in a row! Guess it's good. Here it is on YouTube and Spotify

Do What He Tells You to Do on "Alive Again" EP - Spotify

Peace & Love & JOY!
Mark LaJOIE!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Great Mercury Chill: A Faith Story!

The Great Mercury Chill: A Faith Story!

This is just an example of a '70 Marauder; mine is long gone!

The big early chill we are going through around here has brought to mind an amazing faith story that happened to me that bears re-telling. It involves not only low mercury, but a Mercury...the car.

Back in 1983 I was driving around my first car. It was big, bright red boat of a car, a 1970 Mercury Marauder; it had a 390 V8 engine that guzzled gas at probably less than 10 miles per gallon. The wooden bumper fell off in the street in Natick, so, up in Maine, my dad made a new one from mill steel; he had to rig struts going up to the middle of the vehicle because the whole back was so rotted out there was nothing to attach to. Well! That bumper was something! If anyone had rear-ended me with that steel bumper? they would have totalled their car!

This was back in the days when Living Waters was in full concert swing, but before we had moved into the 505 Pleasant band house. I was working at the detox in those days (plus many other endeavors!). It was Christmas Eve, and I decided to drive home to see my mother in Augusta, Maine. (I probably had a back seat full of dirty laundry! Bad boy.) I was going to leave detox in the evening and drive straight through. One problem: it had gone deadly cold! The temp had gone many degrees below zero, plus more from the wind-chill. But, I didn't give it a thought and set out. By the time I got to the Maine Turnpike, there was absolutely NO ONE on the road except me. (It was only later I figured everyone had been strongly warned NOT to go out. It was one of the coldest nights in history!) After awhile, the engine started to lurch and whine. It would slow down, stutter, speed up again and act erratically. Pumping the accelerator did nothing to help. [By the way, the explanation for this is that the gas line was FREEZING SOLID!!] I began to feel an immense fear. If I stalled, I knew it was so cold that I would die very quickly. And, as I said, there was not a soul anywhere.

I began to pray urgently for help from my guardian angel. (I've said for years I must have several big fat guardian angels looking out for me! I really should have been dead several times.) I remember calculating how far it was to the next rest stop in Gardiner, and it was too far for me to make it. But, suddenly, I was there pulling in. I pulled right up to the gas station and stalled out for good there! The guys in the gas station had to use a blowtorch to thaw out the generator so they could give me a start and fill me up. I ran it for a good while and then made it all right the next short distance to Augusta. I really believe some special angelic help saved my life there, or so it would seem.

Now, here' s the rest of the story! Many years later, I used to read stories to my students from the book "Where Angels Walk" by Joan Wester Anderson:

For years, I read the story in the book by the author about her son's angel encounter that led here to write the book in the first place. Her son was driving home Christmas Eve with a buddy when the car started to stall, chug & surge in the freezing cold. It totally died, and then a tow truck came out of nowhere and brought them to his friend's house, without leaving a trace, not even tire marks. Well, believe it or not, I never made the connection between this and what happened to me until many years of reading the story. Finally, I said, 'wait a minute! that's what happened to me!'. Well, at last, it occurred to me that what happened to her son took place on December 24, 1983, the very same night I had experienced the very same sort of thing! That really validated her story in my mind, let me tell you!

So, if things get really dangerously cold in your heart and life, ask the Good God and his angels to help you warm up...and come alive!

Peace & Love & JOY,
Mark LaJOIE! of Living Waters

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Giving Thanks Through Teaching and Song!

Giving Thanks Through Teaching and Song

by Mark Lajoie, Theology Teacher
(An article for "Guertin Pride" about Mark)
“Thanksgiving”. That word means so much to me, as to faith, as to my band, and as to my school.
When I was a teen, I was such a sad case in so many ways, but the Lord saw my poverty and reached out to me in my need. Our Mother, Mary, and her Rosary saved my life and gave me joy and a purpose in faith & music, mostly through a young group of friends who became my band and my faith family, Living Waters. (I also became an academic who loved research, learning, and teaching.) Here is a song that Mike and I wrote together, around the summer of ’78, in which the ‘thanksgiving’ just poured out of me. Click to listen: “Song of Love”. Many years of great music, faith, and friendship followed.
I continued to grow and experience so much! As time went on, I got married to Julia from the band, had kids and, late in the game, I began to teach Theology to high school kids, which seemed so perfect for me. Then, in 1999, I lost my job and most everything, and we had to leave the place where we were living immediately, with nowhere to go and a newborn baby! The mover we contracted to store our stuff took one look at our stuff and drove away, leaving us in an impossible quandary. I called my best friend in the band, Chuck Rossignol; within an hour, almost the whole band family showed up with two moving vans and moved our stuff into WHY storage in Nashua and got us set up at the Residence Inn in Merrimack! You cannot buy friendship like that; I am forever grateful for this kind of love they have always shown. Every Thanksgiving I truly celebrate how many blessings like this we have received from this group!

Around this time, I interviewed at Bishop Guertin and I was amazed at how active the service club and campus ministry was, how alive the spirit was, how perfectly the Brothers seemed to fit my own background and temperament. I prayed and prayed I could get in there – and the Lord heard my plea! I was SO happy and thankful! I told everybody that I felt I had ‘landed POW! right in a pot of jam’! I got up at the Faculty Meeting in the A/V Room and said ‘I LOVE this place!!. (Coach Mac used to make fun of me for this, but I would just say, ‘well, it’s TRUE’. It STILL is true!) It has been over 18 years and I know how blessed I am to be here. Here is a recent song I wrote to express this! Do What He Tells You to Do Video

This all fits our Catholic faith here at BG. A sacrifice of thanksgiving is what Abraham sought, the bread & wine offered by Melkizedek. Eucharist means, “thanksgiving” or “Good Gift”. We could not get a better gift than our Risen Lord truly present with us at Mass and in our life of faith and charity. I have been able to experience this fully in my band and in the wonderful school known as Bishop Guertin High School!

My band gave a song to Pope John Paul II, and, in recent years, we have won awards, thrived on line and worked on new recordings. You can read some of the stories of our band on our official blog AND you can listen to the music we have produced for over 40 years on Spotify and other streaming services. Here are some links below!
My most recent work: Light of the World DEMO