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This compilation is the best of my vocal works, a once in a lifetime songwriting, arranging, orchestrating and recording project. For me it represents the pinnacle of my musical and creative expression thus far. These 15 songs reflect my experiences, my hopes and dreams, and the evolving thoughts and ideas of my adult life.
Some songs had their beginnings more than 30 years ago, and all have undergone continued development over many years. Once the core song has lyrics, chords and a vocal melody, the process has generally been one of scoring a piano accompaniment, further refinement of structure, melody and lyric, and then expanding into orchestral and band arrangements appropriate to the mostly contemporary and modern styles and genres that I am drawn to musically. It has often taken me many years to get a particular lyric right, but inevitably, if one is patient enough, the lyric arrives when least expected.
I have worked painstakingly at each orchestration, best explained as the process of responding creatively and musically to the expanding out of the song’s core melodic & rhythmical elements into the traditional orchestral instruments. One has to perceive when to stop layering sound on sound so as not to overpower, dominate or clutter the main objective, which here is to support the vocalist. I care not to contemplate how many hours this aspect of the work has taken. But learning more and more about the beautiful and demanding art of good orchestration is a reward in itself. Now it is all down and done, and I have this most glorious satisfaction of a job well done.
My songs are about love, romance, childbirth, family, friendship, the beautiful planet we share; but also about grief, loss, a broken heart, death and dying; and ultimately rebirth and renewal. The stories, conversations and experiences they depict are about the everyday events and happenings common to all our lives – the transforming joys, crushing sorrows, passionate desires, desperate confusions, and moments of breathless awe; of what gives us hope, takes us by surprise, or fills us with wonder. My passion has always been to explore through song the deeper realities within these events, the truth of being connected, as we all are, to that powerful force of evolving human consciousness.
Songwriting is really just storytelling within a musical framework. Everyone has a story to tell, with all its highs and lows and in-betweens. I am always amazed that when you scratch the surface of another person’s life, there are often remarkable inner things going on – profound and deep spiritual realities that are part of that individual’s search for meaning.
My spiritual perspective on life has mainly come from nearly 40 years of practising meditation – no one particular technique or discipline, just a regular daily routine of sitting quietly without distractions, listening to the breath, stilling the mind, and over time becoming more deeply connected to that mysterious place that I call the ‘indescribable boundlessness’. This place is beyond words – every day of my life I now long to return there for short periods. It gives meaning and significance to everything, and is a source of calm, well-being, positivity and of course, musical inspiration. I feel blessed to have had a small glimpse into this beautiful reality, where, no matter what is happening on the surface of my life, I know there is this place of healing, peace and light that is always available.
My hope is that this compilation of songs will take you on your own special journey, perhaps even a spiritual journey. It is mostly about my personal journey in evolving consciousness – a gradual ‘waking up’ that probably goes on forever. As a songwriter expressing deep and personal thoughts and feelings, one feels very exposed, out on a limb. It can feel quite scary, like an open book there for all to see. At heart, I am a risk taker and try never to take a backward step in the pursuit of my art.
The song lyrics are really just the ongoing dialogue within myself, which usually results in more questions than answers. In fact, the older I get, it seems to me the less I really know with any certainty. I am learning to like that. Perhaps, as we get older and our perceptions widen, we discover that our insights into the grand mysteries of life are barely scratching the surface.
I have been blessed with a unique, privileged and fortunate life. I am only now really beginning to understand how important it is to express gratitude for all that happens to us – the good and the bad, not to be a victim, but to look for ‘the gift’ within every situation.
The arts, and especially music and song, are often at the forefront of progressive social, cultural, political and economic change, because they can bring to us new ideas surrounded by larger than life stories and emotions, often in very accessible and appealing musical forms. All this is capable of sowing very powerful seeds into the evolving consciousness of humanity. Songwriters can be pioneers in this remarkable process.
I wish to thank wholeheartedly my sound engineer Neil Davies. He is blessed with a finely tuned ear – he hears things that I do not. He has performed vocally on the CD, put the percussion programs in place for me, has added some lead electric guitar work, and he has directed the many recording sessions with some of the best vocalists and musicians in south-west Western Australia. Along the way we have become great friends, discussing each phase of this album over a three year period – his thoughts and musical sensitivities have been indispensable.
To the vocalists on this album – Nerida Mangano, Marguerite Monagle, Gabrielle Chadwick, Michelle Rumbold, Rob Littlewood, Cornelius de Munck, Kelvin Reeves, Neil Davies, Charles Allen & Michaela Mitchell – I am indebted to each of you for your willingness and enthusiasm to record my works. Your efforts have surpassed my wildest expectations. Special thanks to Jacqueline Ross and Jess Brittain for their excellent clarinet and cello work.
For me, the final frontier for humanity is not about traveling to distant galaxies – it is the challenge of consciousness, as individuals and communities – to acknowledge and experience our oneness with the natural world, and our connection as people living in a benevolent universe. May beautiful music surround you and ‘guide your way home …’
You can download all the lyrics to these songs for free from my website at http://www.gordontayler.com.au
1. Overture & Sunrise Fantasy
Some of my strongest memories are from my teenage years surfing on the northern beaches of Sydney. I was often in the water before sunrise, watching the sun slowly rise out of the sea. It seemed to induce a peaceful trance, absorbing me in the quiet beauty. In those moments, there is no fear and all things seem possible.
The long expansive phrasing gives the song a feeling of peace and stillness. The multi-layered orchestral accompaniment rises and falls with the changing heartfelt emotions that bring us this satisfying connection to the raw power and beauty of the natural world. It’s not an easy song to sing. In a wonderful performance, vocalist Marguerite Monagle finds a way through the difficult breathing and the long sustained notes.
2. Together We Rise
The album’s title track, this song plays with the idea that we are all connected to the powerful force of evolving human consciousness. It’s my ‘big event’ song, sustaining the hope that whenever large numbers of people gather together to celebrate a special occasion – maybe a wedding or a funeral, a big sporting or cultural event – there is potential for a shift in our collective consciousness.
3. There is a Love
Many years ago a musician friend of mine fell off a roof and became severely disabled. Despite considerable rehabilitation, he shared with me his fear that no-one would want to become his love, his life partner. His sadness touched me deeply, and my response came several years later in this song, which asserts that there is someone, a partner, a love, out there for each of us, no matter what our circumstances. The vocalist is my sound engineer Neil Davies, who wraps his rich baritone voice around this catchy rock ballad.
4. Out of the Blue
A vocal duet, this is my serendipity song. Lyrically, it is about those unexpected pleasures in life that just appear from nowhere. The song is set in a laid back blues swing style with a big brassy second half. A very simple syncopated four bar piano riff runs through the whole song, allowing plenty of room for Nerida Griffiths and Rob Littlewood to vocally embellish or improvise around the set melodies. The singers get to enjoy lots of conversation and counter melodies with lyrical and melodic echoing. They can play with the the rhythms of each phrase to give it their own feel, with added glissando slides between some notes, some carefully shaped vibrato on long notes, and tapered phrase ends.
5. Love is All We Need
A love song written for Jane, my wife for more than 30 years. Even though we have parted ways, the song helps to remind me of what a blessing she was in my life. She taught me so much, and I am forever grateful to her.
6. Morning Song
A simple song about the joys of the morning. The strings and woodwinds dance together playfully around the vocal duet. We become happy, energized and grateful, surrounded by the blessings of the new day.
7. There’s Enough For Us All
The lyrics to this song were inspired some 25 years ago by the writings of Japanese economist Robert Kiyosaki. In his well-known work, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Kiyosaki presents the two contrasting concepts of scarcity and abundance. He suggests that whichever concept predominates in our thinking determines how we respond, both as individuals and nations, to life situations.
We’ve been trained to think in terms of scarcity, that our resources are limited. But the song explores the idea that abundance could be the new reality; that there could be enough for us all. Kiyosaki’s thoughts are close to my heart, and certainly worth exploring.
8. A Child is Born
This 3-part vocal work represents the unspoken conversation between mother, father and newborn at the powerful moment of birth. It was inspired by the birth of my daughter Sarah in 1984. She was born in the ‘bubble’ or ‘caul’, completely encased in the unbroken fluid-filled chamber of the birth membrane.
Only about one in 80,000 babies are born “en caul”. In years gone by it was thought to be a sign of a fortunate life or a great destiny. Sailors mythology held that possession of a membrane or ‘caul’ would drown-proof them and they would carry a caul on voyages as a good luck charm against sinking or other disasters at sea. Which may explain why the doctor who delivered Sarah very quickly asked if he could keep it. My thought at the time was “Yes, I suppose you can have it, but can we keep the baby please?” I wrote the lyrics the day Sarah was born.
9. For One and For All
A song written when a musician friend of mine, Luke Di Bona, was diagnosed with terminal cancer at a relatively young age. Luke was a fine clarinet player with so much beautiful music still to offer, but it was all cut way too short.
10. If We Could Start Again
My most recent work, lyrically this song commemorates the saddest time in my life. It is about a grand and beautiful love story that crumbled and fell apart after 35 years. In many ways, I feel it is my best musical and orchestral effort so far.
11. The Incredible Lightness of Flight
‘Flight’ is another deeply personal song. My father, Frank Tayler, was a Royal Australian Air Force pilot during World War Two. Twice shot out of the sky over Egypt, he survived and was rescued in the desert by the Allied Forces. Returned by the RAAF to Australia, his job was to fly new planes from Sydney to Perth, before the planes were shipped to the war zones in Europe and Africa.
On their nine-day cross-country passage, the group of about six planes would stop each night in small outback towns to re-fuel and rest. Inevitably, the townsfolk would turn on a big party and dance for these RAAF celebrities, and the next morning, the pilots would again take to the skies, often somewhat hung-over. No aviation authorities to bother them then! These journeys across the Nullabor, heading westward into the endlessly setting sun, was perhaps the happiest time in my father’s life. In later years, he would describe with great animation his love for flying.
My father and I did not see eye to eye on many things. But on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1995, with a large gathering of family and friends, I sang this song for him. He was extremely moved, and the song went a long way towards healing the rift that had divided us for many years; the power of music and song. Some years later as he lay dying, I held his hand and sang this song to him one last time.
12. Dark Night of the Soul
Most of us can look back at our lives and see some dark times, when we were challenged to the depths of our souls to make changes. Part of the human experience, the ‘dark night’ is like an alien creature that looks us in the eye and says bluntly: ‘Sink or swim’. It calls us to move through the pain and loss, break new ground, see the light again, and find new meaning. This song is the soul’s journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope, and from sadness to joy.
13. Heaven & Earth
For many years, as musical director and conductor for musicals and operas, my life seemed completely consumed by music theatre: its fantasy and illusion, its larger than life magic and mystery. The excitement of heading off to the theatre in the evening, to stand out in front of it all and conduct each show seemed to play with my sense of reality – an almost out of body experience. It was a scary, exhausting, educational, inspirational, wonderful ride.
This intense magical fantasy world was like a drug – something from Heaven, not Earth. Sometimes the flood of music, song, darkness and light all mixed together seemed to challenge my grip on reality, and it took a certain amount of will to stay focused on my job.
Out of all of this came Heaven and Earth. It is a song of the evening, night-time, the darkness and light of the theatre, and the uplifting or tragic stories unfolding on the stage. In this song, life is portrayed as a piece of theatre, where what we see with our eyes stretches the boundaries of reality.
14. Australia, Simply the Best
Even though this could be mistaken for a very patriotic type of song, it is really just a joyful appreciation of the gift of living in our “Lucky Country”.
15. Over the Earth
Using some traditional lyrics, this is a three-part vocal melody with just a
cello for accompaniment. A single vocalist, Gabrielle Chadwick, recorded all three parts. I felt this was an appropriate way to conclude the album, as most of my songs are multi-layered, with their subtleties becoming apparent to the listener only after many replays. I offer this as a simple, restful, prayerful piece for your final enjoyment.
CD engineered & mixed by Neil Davies @ Touchwood Studios, Gelorup WA
Percussion programming also by Neil Davies
CD mastered by Mark Whitehouse @ Pro-Copy, Perth WA
CD design by Aubrey Smith
Principal vocalists : Marguerite Monagle, Nerida Griffiths, Rob Littlewood,
Cornelius de Munck, Michelle Rumbold, Gabrielle Chadwick, Neil Davies, & Kelvin Reeves
Backing singers : Charles Allen, Michaela Mitchell, Michelle Rumbold, Gabrielle Chadwick
© Copyright Gordon Tayler 2014 All Rights Reserved