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!