I remember looking at the Michael Rockefeller wing in the museum of modern Art in Manhattan, where there was an exhibit in Michaels’ honor about the indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea (where he disappeared), some of which were cannibalistic. Until the 1960’s and in some cases later, many had not been exposed to the outside world or modern culture, so they existed in an undisturbed state. One thing I found fascinating about them was that their daily lives were filled with expressions of Art and music, though they had no word for “Art”. They made elaborate carvings on their canoes, and spent a great deal of time singing songs and playing various instruments. The purpose of this expression was to stay in touch with their lost love ones and stay connected to the spirit world.
I think this intrinsic quality is behind our need to express ourselves in Art as well. I think it is hard wired in, just as various calls and vocalizations are for many animal species. All I know is that throughout my life, songs and Art work have poured out of me – and the need for this expression was often urgent and on what I can only describe as a “soul” level, often during a time of crises, or after a great realization, or in memory of a loved one.
My own musical journey has taken many twists and turns over the years. As a producer and composer, I have learned how to make many different kinds of recordings for many different kinds of artists, music, markets and purposes. But my own songs that were written purely out of my spiritual need to write them with no other purpose in mind had their own unique quality. During the 1980’s I produced 4 of my own albums, and in 1992 I signed a 7 album deal with noted producer Dan Hartmann (who I had met at an ASCAP conference in 1990). He had just finished producing Tina Turners “Simply The Best” when I met him – and Dan was just that, the best. He had become a dear and spiritual friend, and the deal, recording with one of the world’s best producers who was also a best friend, was everything I had ever dreamed of.
What I did not know at the time was that Dan was HIV positive. Unfortunately not long after our signing Dan became Ill, and I watched this incredibly alive, energetic wonderful human being wither away before my eyes. He passed away in early 1994, just after my first daughter was born. His own last record and my first major label album lay unfinished for good.
There were other deals after this, but ironically after signing with Dan I never released another recording of my own songs even though I have written over 600 songs since then, and produced hundreds, of demos and dozens of records for clients. That is, until now.
In 2007 I was diagnosed with colon cancer and after coming dangerously close to exiting this life myself, it became increasingly important to me to have a record of who I was and am musically, when I am making my own unique spiritual expression.
In 2010 I lost almost all the master tapes for twenty years of recordings in the Nashville flood. I decided to salvage what I could, as best I could.
In this collection of songs are the demos I made for the record with Dan that was never completed, newly mastered, some brand new songs I’ve written over the last 4 years, and a few from between those time periods. They were done with different technologies, but amazingly enough feel somewhat cohesive.
So here, 20 years after Dan’s passing, are will be several albums worth of my original material, with me as the artist and primary instrumentalist. I will be adding new songs continuously in 2015. If nothing else a unique expression inspired by the spiritual need to make it. Why most of us, whether we realize it or not, probably got into music in the first place. I know it’s the reason I did.
I dedicate these recordings to my departed loved ones who were also my biggest fans and supporters when they were alive. My parents David and Carol Wilder, Dan Hartmann, and Jill Clayburgh. I love and miss you all, though I know you are all somehow still with me. And to my wife Kerstin, and my children Landon, Lily, Ellie and David.