By Dale Woodard on January 5, 2021.
Allan Roy Wilson struck a chord. He then struck a few more and soon the songs kept coming.
The end result of that two-year writing session that began in August 2018 is “I Just Want You To Come Home,” a 10-song CD Wilson penned in honour of his son, Josh, who died of cancer in 2000.
Copies of “I Just Want You To Come Home” arrived in Calgary via New Jersey at the end of December.
“The Interfaith Food Bank (on 3 Avenue North) will be having the CDs on their counter,” said Wilson.
“That will give people the chance to both pick up the CD and possibly make donations to the food bank.”
Five dollars from every album sale or download will go to the Terry Fox Foundation.
Payments can also be made by email/etransfer at email@example.com and, if need be, Wilson will deliver the CD.
Wilson started playing music again seriously after his son passed away in January, 2000.
“On Jan. 13 it will be 21 years,” said Wilson. “The reason (I chose) the Terry Fox Foundation is Josh had cancer in the exact same place as Terry Fox, in the leg.”
The inspiration behind the CD title and title track came after a conversation Wilson had with Toby Boulet, another parent grieving loss after his son, Logan, was one of 16 people killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018.
Talking with Wilson about the events after the crash, Boulet expressed the sentiment of the CD title and the title track.
“I knew exactly what he meant, the unreality of it all,” said Wilson. “We spoke after that and he gave me permission to use that phrase as the title.”
After spending some time with the church band in McKillop, Wilson played in a series of cover bands.
“As time progressed leading up to three years ago it was getting harder and harder to find places for a band to play,” he said.
“That’s when I decided to investigate how to write my own songs because I’ve always wanted to do it after 10 years in cover bands plus playing in the McKillop Church band.”
Having written publications about his son, Wilson had a head start.
“I had an essay in the Globe and Mail and Readers Digest and those were all connected to Josh,” he said. “So, I started to try and do my own songs, both writing and recording. To be successful at songwriting, you’re usually writing about things that are important to you. The second song I wrote was the single ‘I Just Want You To Come Home.’ The first one was about American politics (‘What Are You Doing Now? (America, America’), just to get started.”
By the time Wilson got around to penning the title track, he knew he didn’t need to put a band together.
Instead, he enlisted a who’s who of local musicians to record his songs.
Lending their talents to “I Just Want You To Come Home” are studio owner, engineer and arranger James Oldenburg, who is also a member of Hippodrome, various jazz duos and trios and a guitar teacher; Jason Gibson (McKillop church band, Reid & Writes trio); Mark Rodgers (cello with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra); Megan Wittig (voice teacher at Casa); Robert George (bassoon with the Lethbridge Symphony); Gerry Clewes (former member of Dory & The Weathermen); Jill McNally (McKillop Church band); Ryan Heseltine (jazz musician and music teacher in Raymond); Steve Keenan (Steve Keenan Band); Michelle MacMillan (McKillop UC choir); Gerald Rogers (Hippodrome and McKillop UC choir); Jen Misura (vocalist for McKillop UC recordings); Paul Holden (acoustic and electric bass); and Mario Argueta (bands in El Salvador and following for Internet Karaoke).
“The song about America, Gerald Rogers plays trombone. For ’I Just Want You To Come Home’ I got Mark Rodgers to play cello,” said Wilson.
Wilson put the title track on Facebook and YouTube to rave reviews.
“I Just Want You To Come Home” has passed 14,000 YouTube hits as of last month and earned positive reviews from listeners in 79 countries.
That includes the Bereaved Parents of the U.S. — who called the song “Haunting and moving” — as well as Jeff Beck and Pretenders drummer James Hood and Bruce Good of the Juno-winning Good Brothers.
Even the Black Velvet woman herself, Alannah Myles, gave the song a thumbs-up.
“The Soul of The Butterfly” was done roughly nine months ago and features a solo with a bassoon from George.
“It makes a very unique sound, as with the other songs,” said Wilson. “There’s a spot above the verse and the chorus structure where he plays a bassoon solo.”
The songs started with the lyrics and followed with the melody, said Wilson.
“I’d keep repeating the melody until I memorized it and all of that was done before I got to the studio. So, when I arrived in the studio the song was 99 per cent written.
“The combination of chords, melody, rhythm and lyrics generally put so many variables into the equation. If you’re careful you’re not going to copy someone deliberately and you don’t want to. It just turned out, out of the 10 songs, no one has ever said ‘Your song sounds like somebody else’s.’ They could say you have the feeling of Leonard Cohen, but not the song. I just went ahead and kept doing the song over and over in my head until I felt it was unique enough.”
Working in his Moberly home studio, Oldenburg helped with the song arrangements.
“Sometimes James had suggestions like ‘Why don’t you do the solo over the verse structure and then come back and sing the chorus?’ Things like that,” said Wilson.
“In terms of arrangement he’s really good. Being able to work with James and bringing in different musicians for different songs was really gratifying. I’m not famous, but I’ve learned to make good facsimiles of songs from the ’60s and ’70s. It’s been a really good experience.”
For eight of the 10 songs Wilson used Gibson on the drums.
“Megan is a keyboard player for a couple of the songs and she teaches at Casa,” said Wilson.
“She also has a really good voice. So, when you hear ‘You Should Not Walk Alone,’ she’s doing the keyboard.
“She’s also doing keyboards for ‘The Roadhouse’ and ‘Music Makes Me Fly.’ For the last two songs I got a keyboard player just to keep bringing in different people for each particular song. ‘Music Makes Me Fly’ is about the fun of playing live music. The guitarist I got in to do the solo is Steve Keenan.”
In anticipation of the CD’s release, Wilson has used CD Baby to launch “I Just Want You To Come Home” to YouTube, Spotify and other streaming sites.
A few of his songs have even wound up as part of TicToc videos.
“It was a really interesting experience to do it,” he said.
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