Chord, Key & Covenant....
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,