Things of the Heart
Album Theme: These songs arise out of a profound, growing sense of disturbance with the course of American culture. Our country was once highly principled, where principles informed every aspect of life, from family to government. But we have slid off a precipice into an abyss of self-indulgence, passivity, and moral carelessness which is destroying the fabric that held us together as a nation. Only from recognizing the extent of our departure from that which once endowed us with greatness, can there issue any possibility of recovery. These songs hit hard, but it is hoped that with the injury ...offered only in love... there will also be healing. God grant it! Song Notes: Things of the Heart: In a world filled with fear and uncertainty, what can we count on? The Flag Has Touched The Ground: 'When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object. ' (from 'flag etiquette': usflag.org). Faith St. Yves: Several years ago, in a small Maine community, an infant was found dead in the house trailer of a young couple. A Dusty Robin Sings: A country has lost it's ideals. Family: An institution still stands. Ice Storm: The great winter storm of 1998 in Maine inspired this song. Shelling Bethlehem: Does anything sacred remain in our day? Faces: What will become of the next generation? The next? And the next? Linda: I love you. The Executioner: Actions have consequences. Artist Bio: My parents, Nathan and Rebecca B. Kaliss, through their love of music, established a tremendous musical context for me as a child. The house was always alive with classical and international folk music recordings, with Mom's adept piano-playing, and with amateur chamber-music groups which in my earlier days sometimes included my father on the clarinet. Guests were frequently invited over to hear impromptu concerts, one of the highlights often being my parents' lively four-hand piano renditions of the poignant works of Dvorak and Brahms, or my mother soloing with the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, or Chopin. The music and composers of Eastern Europe, reflecting our ethnic Jewish roots, seemed especially to find their way into my blood. The area of coastal Maine we lived in had a large, high-quality music culture, active especially during the summers, with frequent concerts. Mom schooled me on the piano for several years (no easy deal!), and Dad instructed me on the clarinet. Early on, I was drawn to jazz, boogie-woogie, and ragtime, some of it recorded on ancient, heavy 78-rpms, such as Meade Lux Lewis' "Yancey Special". My older brother Jeff was a rock-and-roll aficionado of the '50's/early '60's popular music explosion, the strains of which filled the kitchen, much to my parents' horror, --"Turn it down, Jeff!"-- while he performed his nightly compulsory teenage duty of dish-washing. Both older brothers played guitar, Tony's style reflecting the folk/protest songs more characteristic of his age-group. Performers and songwriters from this genre whose works played a big role in my development included Pete Seeger (and the Weavers), Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan in his earlier years. Tom Lehrer and Phil Ochs were also an influence. Other records I played to extinction included those of Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba. In my teens I finally came down off my classical high-horse, and embraced the Beatles, the Stones, the Byrds, and Donovan, with an ongoing admiration for Bob Dylan. During a stay of several years in San Francisco, I befriended a fascinating Jewish immigrant from pre-World War II Germany who built band-organs and composed magnificent music for them, mostly waltzes and marches. In 1971 I became a Christian; the 'Jesus Movement' of the early '70's with it's accompanying spate of West Coast-based musicians added another strand to my musical 'whole cloth'. My advancing years have led to a revisiting of the classics, especially the great sacred classical choral works, with a particular passion for the extraordinary, unparalleled compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.