Winter, Winter, Summer, Winter: Songs From Up North
Released September 2023 – Available now from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and others.
Liner Notes for Winter, Winter, Summer, Winter: Song From Up North
This album is about the upper Midwest. We are all visitors to this land, something well understood by the Indigenous peoples who lived here for thousands of years before the Eupeans came. My own roots are based in the Scandinavian settlers who came to this region in the late 19th and early 20th century. In my many years working at an urban University, I saw wave after wave of people with different roots come to the Midwest, all with their own stories, their own hopes, and their own relationships with the land. I can’t speak for them, nor would I ever try. I can only tell my own stories, but that does not mean I don’t appreciate the rich complexity of the human experience.
About the theme of the album
I’ve lived in different parts of the Midwest and upper Midwest all of my life. I feel deeply connected to this part of the world and although I have traveled widely and experienced many beautiful places, this is home. The songs in this album reflect particular places, especially in Minnesota, and particular people, some I’ve met in passing and others I’ve known intimately. The songs tell stories and try to convey something about the experience of living in an area of great natural beauty and great climate extremes. Climate change may warm the winters up here, but I suspect the character of the people, wherever they originated, will persist. Any characteristics I assign the people up north stem from my own experiences, my own upbringing, and the communities where I’ve lived. I hope to pass along something about the unique character of the people around me. They are practical, generous, deeply quirky, reverent of nature, appreciative of humor that is wry and clever, and pathologically punctual. The wild places here are old and clean and spiritual. And the long winters imbue all things with resilience and hope.
About the making of this album
I’ve written all of the songs and all of the lyrics. I also play all of the instruments and provide all of the vocals. I do this by building songs cumulatively, starting with simple rhythm tracks and adding instruments. In many ways, my recordings are like live performances. Being totally blind, I have quite limited access to technology. I’m sure some blind people learn much more than I do about this, but I am straightforward in how I record. There is little editing. Almost all tracks, all performances are recorded straight through, from the beginning of the song to the end. I listen to previous recorded tracks as I go along, adding layers. It can be a long process and leads to music that, to my ears anyway, emerges organically. Computers don’t correct my pitch, my timing, or my arrangements. For better or worse, it’s just me playing and singing for you.
First, let me thank John Henke. John has been a friend for decades and he transforms my own recordings into music that others can enjoy. I am deeply indebted to his skill as an audio engineer, his ear for musicality, and his assistance and all aspects of production.
I also want to thank those that created the cover art. The wonderful winter photograph is by photographer Laurie Schneider. The graphic design was created by Jordan DePatis. I have worked with both of them before for cover art . Both are highly talented professionals and I am fortunate to have their art.
And I want to thank my wife, Karen. She has stood beside me through many things, including the long road to blindness. She listens carefully to every song, every recording, and provides her frank feedback. Sometimes I even take her advice!
Finally, thanks to all of the people who listen to my music from all over the world. It’s humbling.
This album is available on all streaming services.
To view song lyrics, click on the song title.
Fly So Far Away
Here We Are
Sunrise (instrumental, no lyrics)
With Every Day
Last Day On the Farm
The Northern Life
Pine Point – (instrumental, no lyrics)