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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Albums (4) - Lost and Found (1987)

I already wrote a lot about this recording ahead of the Lenten Sunday with the parable of the two lost sons ("the prodigal son"), upon which this album was based. Lost and Found: A Musical Parable was recorded on cassette only in 1987 and released just in time for its debut at Youth Sing Praise at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. But to keep things complete, I'm going to put another post in here, and do two things I didn't do in the last post, give a synopsis of the play with the songs, and mention the people who worked on the recording.

Lost and Found was the first recording we did that was produced by Gary Daigle. Tom Kendzia was in the process of relocating to his home state of Rhode Island, and I would go there to record Cries of the Spirit in 1991. But Lost and Found was recorded by Gary, some of it in the studio, and some in his home. Later, as I mentioned, when OCP purchased the copyrights and recordings of NALR and was not interested in having musicals as part of their ministry, the copyrights reverted to me, and Gary and I had CDs manufactured. Terry also recorded two of the songs on her GIA CD, Family Resemblance.

As always, the players and singers on this recording were the best no money could buy. It's a truism to say that so much of what we do as musicians we do for love, and what makes it a truism is that it's damn true. Our musical relationships and love of making music together form strong bonds among us that transcend even the tiny amounts of money publishers of Catholic music are willing to pay for the recording process. The late Bob Warren played drums for the sessions. The amazing Beth Lederman, one of the coolest women in Phoenix and a demon both in Latin and jazz music on piano, played the keyboards except on the country-flavored "Someday Gonna Be Mine," which was played by Ron Herndon of the Herndon Brothers Band, one of the most successful bands in Arizona history, the perennial house band of Handlebar J's in Scottsdale. Fred Forney, everybody's main cat and jazz prof at ASU, did the trumpet and arranged the horn parts for the recording. Many of Gary's colleagues from the Casa and mine from St. Jerome's did singing parts, along with their spouses - Lon Krueger sang the part of David, the older son; the late Pat McDonald, husband of Mary Pat, was a bartender; local songstress Debbie Lippmann killed with her rendition as a floozie of the song "You Made It, Kid." Yes, it's that Debbie Lippman, who now has her own line of celebrity nail polish, and sings in NYC at places like the Plaza. Mike Wieser, Pittsburgh's operatic baritone who escaped to Phoenix and became an essential part of the new diocesan music network, sang the part of Papa, and Mary Pat McDonald sang the part of Mama. Terry sang Sharon, the sister of the two boys in the story, while Gary, who also played guitar and produced, sang Juda, the younger brother.

Jody Serey, a writer and editor and wife of NALR VP David Serey, collaborated with me on the musical, writing the original version of the script, to which I added the songs. We sat together a couple of times at a restaurant (or bar? who can remember?) and sketched out the story, characters, and how the songs might move the narrative along, and then put it all together. I'm pretty sure that some of the original words of "The Proper Attitude" were hers, too. The droll humor of the song, with just a little menace in the undertones, sounds just like Jody, at least in those days.

This is the synopsis of the play. I'm just lifting it from my website. The links are SoundCloud clips of each song.

Lost and Found: A Musical Parable begins as the cast, in street clothes, assembles and begins to discuss what a “parable” is, and as they begin to assume their characters, they sing about the “Family” they are going to become. The scene is the family farm, where the usual morning work has begun, and banter between Mama and David, the elder son, leads to David’s gleeful assessment of the real estate that is “Someday Gonna Be Mine.” He goes off, and Papa and Judah, the younger son, come on the scene, and Judah’s discontent with his situation in life brings him to attack his father, asking that Papa “Let Me Out of Here.” Reluctantly, Papa gives him his share of the inheritance, and lets him go.
The scene switches to the Distant Land Bar and Grill, where Judah is welcomed by comely lasses who assure him that “You Made It, Kid.” Soon, Judah is regaled by all of the bar’s customers who sing and dance about the joys of “Wine, Women, and Song.” By the end of the song, Judah’s money is gone, and he loses his friends. The bartender sends him down the street to another establishment, “Hog Heaven,” a bar for...pig bikers.

A new bartender gives him work in the bar that keeps him alive, but the patrons of the bar amuse themselves at Judah’s expense, seeing how far he’s fallen, by telling him to lower his expectations and assume “The Proper Attitude” for his new environment. Devastated, Judah leaves the pig bar, finds himself alone, and begins to regret his actions in “Judah’s Lament.” In the entr’acte, his sister, Sharon, sings her lament to the audience as well, that there are “Too Many Walls” in all of our houses.
Back at the farm, Mama and Papa are rising to do their chores, and each prays a prayer, Papa singing a lament about the pain of a life that knows “Sons that Slip Away.” Mama, concerned for all of her family, begins her work by singing words from Psalm 40, “Long was I waiting for God...”, when Papa hears her, and realizing that wherever his son may be, he is in the hands of God, begins a duet with Mama acknowledging that all of us are “Lost and Found.” As Papa finishes his prayers, he sees Judah approach in the distance, and runs out to meet him. Summoning the family and servants, he orders a celebration and all set about with a joyful heart to “Let the Feast Begin.”

Out in the fields, David hears the noise, and comes in to find that his brother has returned. David angrily confronts his father. It doesn’t matter how we act? he wonders aloud. “Now You Tell Me!” But Papa insists that Judah was dead and has come back to life. Everyone is rejoicing. He, and the whole cast, ask David to join in the feast, and the set goes dark.

As the lights come back up, the cast is getting back into their street clothes as they ask the audience, all of us, to “Step Inside the Door,” and “Let the Feast Begin.”

As I said, you can read more about the show on the link in the first paragraph from March, or just go to my website. I'm going to renew the $10 CD offer one last time, and then remove it from the blog. If you would like a copy of the CD for $10 (it's $15 on my website), use this Paypal link, and I'll send it to you. The $10 includes shipping and handling. Thank you for reading!