Songs of Family and Home
Songs of Family and Home
“Songs of Family and Home” has been a labor of love.
All of the material on this project was written in the 1990’s, while I was in my early to late teens. (The only exception being “I Wonder” on Vol. I.) During that time I was dealing with the death of my grandfather, my grandmother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and my great-aunt’s (who was very close to us) decline. I was hurt, angry, broken and bitter and these feelings were only exacerbated when my father decided to move us 10 hours away from them and our home in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I was devastated, and I responded the only way I knew how - by expressing my emotions musically; pouring my heart out through raw, unpolished (and yes, somewhat naive) melodies and lyrics. I shared these songs with very few people, mainly family and close friends who understood what I was going through. Writing and sharing these songs with my mother also helped in her healing, and she treasured them.
For nearly thirty years, most of these songs lay dormant. I attempted to release “Reunion” in the early 2000’s, but I wasn’t completely happy with the production of it. I felt like the producer made the song so Country and Southern Gospel sounding that it took away from the simplicity of it. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it - in fact, I’ve included it on the physical release to pay homage to that stage of the song.) I’d dust off a few of these songs every now and then for family gatherings or at my mother’s request, and would sheepishly share them knowing that they really weren’t my best work. When my grandmother passed, “Grandma’s Hands” and “Grandma’s Old Button Box” were played at her funeral. After that, I really wasn’t emotionally able to play them or even think about them anymore. They were tucked away and I tried to forget them.
Unfortunately, I also pulled away from music and songwriting for several years. I was in an abusive situation and was belittled to the point that I felt unworthy to be creative. Plus, I was working nearly 24/7 at a job and business that ended up breaking me. It wasn’t until I got out of these situations that I once again felt my creativity rising up within me. I began writing again and found a community of singer-songwriters that supported me and brought me back to my craft. I began to release new material and slowly gained enough confidence to pursue music again.
When the pandemic hit and we were all suddenly homebound, I opened up my shoebox of old tunes, scraps of ideas on bits of paper, and some horribly written songs. And. once again I was faced with my songs of family and home. I could hear my mother’s voice echoing in my head, “Joel, when are you going to give me a CD with your songs about my mother? Please, don’t wait until it’s too late for me to hear them again.” With both her and my father approaching their 80’s, and me contemplating my own mortality due to the threat of Covid, I decided to see if there was a possibility to salvage the songs.
After several months of re-writing, starting over using some of the original ideas, and changing lyrics and melodies on others, I felt ready to record and release my EP “Reunion: Songs of Family and Home” in September of 2022 on Grandparent’s Day weekend. I intentionally kept it simple, as these songs were never meant to be grand productions. I was pleasantly surprised by the response to the EP, even getting reviewed by a prominent blog. “Sleep (Grandma’s Lullaby)” did especially well.
Still, I wasn’t satisfied. There were still more songs, some that I had resigned to scrapping. But I knew in my heart of hearts I couldn’t. So I continued working, and finally came to a place of completion.
The second volume of “Songs of Family and Home” entitled “Garden of Memories” will be released on September 8, 2023 on Grandparent’s Day weekend to all streaming platforms, with the lead single, “Welcome Home, Weary Traveler,” distributing to radio in early August.
I will also be releasing on CD only, “Songs of Family and Home: The Complete Collection,” which includes both volumes, and four bonus tracks. The first of the bonus tracks is a recording of “Whisper” done in Nashville from 1993, 30 years ago. “Whisper” is what I consider to be my first viable song, and while I have rewritten some words, added a new verse, and changed the melody a bit, I wanted to honor 17 year old me and preserve the original. I’ve also included two spoken word remembrances honoring my grandparents, and the 2004 recording of “Reunion.”
My work with these songs is done now. I finally feel I can move on. I am looking forward to placing that CD in my mother’s hands and saying, “here they are, Mama.” Yes, some of these songs will make it on a set list or two, but there are still some that are too emotionally difficult for me to sing live. I sincerely hope that you will do me the honor of listening, whether it be on your preferred streaming platform or buying the CD from me directly. I’ve included the links below, hint hint.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. “I won’t mind if you shed a tear or two, as long as you don’t mind if I do.”
Spotify pre-save for Garden of Memories: https://show.co/UJS61AA
Reunion: Songs of Family and Home Buy on Bandcamp
Garden of Memories: Songs of Family and Home Vol. II Buy on Bandcamp
Songs of Family and Home: The Complete Collection (CD) Buy on Bandcamp
or contact email@example.com for direct orders