Sleeve Notes/ Working On Love/ Niall Toner/ 2015

November 16, 2014

Working On Love. I wrote this up-tempo love song with Keith Sewell in Nashville, and we were lucky enough to have it recorded by the great Albert Lee on on his Sugar Hill Album. Albert gave it the full Country-Rock treatment, but I had always wanted to sing it in a more Acoustic Bluegrass style, and it also made an obvious title track for this Album of mostly love songs. Justin Weaver [ Wynonna Judd Band ] provided the groove on his Mandolin, and Keith played Guitar, with Scott Vestal [ Sam Bush Band ] on 5-String Banjo, and Samson Grisman [ The Deadly Gentlemen/Dave Grisman Band ] on Bass.

 

The foundation of this building, we've laid it stone by stone,

From the day we broke the ground and vowed, to make this house a home,

With forever as our blueprint, sometimes the goin' is tough,

But the job is just beginning, girl, we're working on love, we're working on love.

I know I don't always say, the words you wanna hear,

I don't claim to be an expert, at understandin' a woman's tears,

But I'm learnin' as I go, and with the help of GOD above,

We'll make a perfect building, we're workin' on love, we're workin' on love.

       We can't throw this thing together, we gotta make each angle right,

       If it's gonna last forever, no matter what obstruction, don't get so downhearted, we're under construction, we're workin' on love, we're workin' on love.

With attention to the details, we'll make this structure sound,

And the future of this romasnce, will stand on solid ground,

Keep chippin' off the edges, 'cause we're a diamond in the rough,

And hold on to me Baby, we're workin' on love, we're workin' on love.

 

Josie's Reel. This is another Toner/Sewell composition, and the story is based on Keith's Grandmother, Josie, who was a very keen dancer, and attended local Square Dances on a regular basis. The song is part-fiction, but, I think, manages to paint a picture of innocence and charm. We were also lucky to have had this recorded by a great Band from Chicago, Special Concensus. Our take on it has a little bit of Ireland and a little bit of Georgia, with Keith on Fiddle and Banjo, and John Mock [ Dixie Chicks ] on Whistles.

Friday night on the old town square, there's a squeezebox and a Fiddle there,

Music rings through the cool night air, at the midnight Jamboree.

Josie swings her gingham gown, twrirls the fellows 'round and 'round,

Do-see-doin' to a fiddle sound, but she's got eyeys for me, I know she has eyes for me.

       Underneath that Georgia Moon, I took her hand for her favourite tune,

       We felt love like the flowers bloom, her green eyes revealed,

       An Angel with a step so neat, felt my heart skip a beat,

       Just a workin' man with two left feet,

       We danced to Josie's reel, we danced to Josie's reel.

I stood there by the bandstand, watched a stranger take her hand,

Not exactly what I planned, but I had a nifty scheme,

Slipped a twenty to the boys, said next song is a Ladie's choice choice,

Shoulda seen that girl rejoice, when she heard that fiddle ring, when she heard that squeezbox sing.

 

I Know What Lonely's About.  Over the past twenty years or so, I have spent many long periods of time in Nashville, and on one such occasion I had being staying at Spence Manor on Music Row [ Guitar-shaped swimming pool, et al ! ] for almost six weeks, on my own. Most days were taken up with various writing appointments, but without my wonderful Wife, Moira, the nights were, to say the least, very lonely. Keith asked me about how I was feeling, and I blurted out that 'I Know What Lonely's About' .....Bingo! Song title! I always wanted to record this song, and when we cut the scratch vocal at 16 Tons Studio, I got caught up in the emotion, and shed a tear or two. Asa Sewell was heard to say ' Why's Niall cryin'? [ Note: Keith plays the 'swell' on the Electric Guitar.]

 

Sittin' in this hotel room, starin' at the wall,

Only been an hour, Baby since you called,

Lights of the city, out my window, there's a million places I could go,

I'd rather lie here alone, baby missin' you tonight,

'Cause I know what lonely's about.

 

Only been a couple of days, but it seems like years,

I'm only half a man, without you heare,

Eighty-four Channells on TV, room service, but I can't eat,

Only thing I want is your arms around me,

'Cause I know what lonely's about.

 

I may not be the wisest man, there's a whole lotte things I don't understand,

Don't know much 'bout what makes the world go 'round,

But I know what Lonely's about.

 

Back in your arms again, I know what I was missin',

Can't believe the two of us, huggin' and a-kissin',

Remember the night that I made you mine, we swore vows to stand the test of time, 

From now on, Baby I'm gonna love you stronger, 'cause 

I know what lonely's about.

 

Old Tyme Love. My most sucessful and prolific song-writing partnership has undoubtedly been with Keith Sewell.[ Dixie Chicks/Lyle Lovett/Sam Bush Band ] We first met in Dublin in 2001, and have been writing together ever since. When it came time to record this Album in late 2014, we set to writing at least one 'new' song for the project. Old Tyme Love was the result. Our aim was to sound like a combination of Roscoe Holcombe and Ralph Stanley, and we had fun reaching the high  D in the bridge section. A little 'Mountain' combined with some Irish roots ......

 

This old heart might seem brittle, from travellin' 'round this world,

I'm a sucker for a reel on a fiddle, and I love a Dublin Girl.

       I'll never have a million dollars, but GOD knows I got enough,

       It don't matter what road we follow, we got an Old

 Tyme Love, we got an Old Tyme Love.

 

This old guitar's got a thopusand stories, and a thousand to be told,

As much as I'd love to sing 'em all for you, I gotta hit the road.

 

It's been a dozen days and countin', she's waited long enough,

I gotta make it over the mountain, back to my Old Tyme Love, we got an Old Tyme Love.

 

 

When Tomorrow Comes. When I wrote this song, I was making a serious effort to include as many of the traditional Bluegrass influences that I had absorbed as a listener since the early sixties. If you're an affificanado of the genre, I think you'll hear some echoes of Flatt and Scruggs, Red Smiley, Ralph Stanley,Jimmy Martin, The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and others in here. It's what I call 'hammer-and-tongs' Bluegrass,where the actual lyrical content is sad, but the song drives along at a pace.  I got the title idea from the Garth Brooks song, If Tomorrow Never Comes. [ Just turned his title up-side-down! ] Goes to show that you never know where inspiration may come from.

 

When tomorrow comes don't be surprised, to find yourself alone,

You gave me so much heartache, and wrecked a happy Home,

You told me lies, you made me cry, and caused me for to roam,

When tomorrow comes don't be surprised, to find yourself alon.

        You swore that we'd be Lovers, until the end of time,

       Then you gave your love to someone else, and broke this heart of mine,

I'm leavin' you forever, gonna amke it on my own,

When tomorrow comes don't be surprised, to find yourself alone.

 

When tomorrow comes, don't be surprised, to find yourself alone,

The things you did just turned me cold, and chilled me to the bone,

You tried to keep it secret, but now everybody knows,

When tomorrow comes don't be surprised, to find yourself alone.

       You tempted fate, by stayin' out late, and paintin' up the town,

       'Till I heard about your cheatin' ways, and how you let me down,

I'm leavin' you forever, gonna make it on my own,

When tomorrow comes, don't be surprised, to find yourself alone.

 

 

The Mountain and the Sky. Buddy Mondlock and I have been friends and writing partners for at least fifteen years or so. We first met in Galway at an Americana Festival, and we have written together on many occasions since then. Last year, Buddy came to stay with me in Coolasnaughta, and while looking out on Mount Leinster one misty morning, we wrote this song. I have a feeling that it may also show up on the next Buddy Mondlock Album, but I got there first ! Thanks Buddy ...... 

 

When I woke, it was still, the wind had stopped blowin',

The Birds not yet bold enough to sing,

On the Mountain a blanket, of mist almost glowin'

On your hsand, a tarnished wedding ring.

 

As you lay there so peaceful, lost in your dreamin', I thought of the day we were wed,

All the promise and hope, in you face it was shinin',

Unaware of the tears that we would shed.

 

       In the place between, sleep and wakin'

       Where our dreams fall to Earth, and come to lie,

       There's a mist that hides, the wishin' from the knowin',

       In the place between the Mountain and the Sky.

 

Now I see you are stirring, I pull you close to me,

The SUN throws it's light into the day,

On the Mountainside, the mist is burning,

Soon I'll know if you'll go or if you'll stay.

 

Walk On Water. During my early times in Nashville, one of the writers I was priveleged to meet was Terri Lynn-Weaver, who has since entered Politics in the US, and very successfully, at that. Terri Lynn is a strong Christian woman, and we wrote this song straight out of the Bible, based on the Parable of Jesus walking on the water. I recorded this song originally with Clem O'Brien and Dick Gladney on a previous Album, and decided to re-cut it this time 'round, simply because I love the song. By a strange co-incidence, Terri Lynn's Son, Justin, plays Mandolin on this track. [ Hence the in-Studio banter of, 'Here's one I wrote with your Mother '!]

 

It was dark out on the ocean, the wind and rain a-blowin'

The terrified DICIPLES, thought surely they would die,

In the fourth watch of the morning, they saw JESUS walking towards them,

Speaking words of comfort, take courage it is I.

 

       Have a little faith, have a little faith,walk on water,

       Keep your eyes on JESUS, and you won't be afraid,

       Have a little faith, have a little faith, and you won't falter,

       Have a little faith, have a little faith, walk on water.

 

Master, if it's really you, let me walk out on the water,

JESUS said to PETER, step out and come to me,

But PETER started sinking, and he thought that he might drown,

But the SAVIOUR took him by the hand, saved him from the sea.

 

Now sometimes you and i, we get caought up in the Storms,

Tossed by circumstances, make it hard for us to see,

We must put our faith in JESWUS, and reach out for his hand,

For he will come to save us, if only we believe.

 

Bill Monroe's Mandolin/2015. This is another re-cut song, and one of my personal favourites. I had  also recorded this on my first Album, There's A Better Way, with Clem O'Brien and Dick Gladney, and it must be said, in a version which has garnered much air-play on US Radio. Once again, I had harboured an ambition to re-record this epic story about Bill Monroe's Gibson Mandolin, and to tell it more in the way that I would narrate a tall tale, although this is a true story. I first read about the Auction in the Tennessean Newspaper. The result you can judge here, complete with 'talking-bit' intro. [Note: it's a sad thing to say  that all these years on, Bill's Gibson F-5 is still mired in controvosy. The funds used to purchase it for the Country Music Hall Of Fame turned out to be the proceeds of fraud, and so the Lloyd Loar is considered to be "a ward-of-court", at least until the legalities are sorted out. ] 

 

Hey, I just bought a Mandolin, at an auction on the Row,

It cost me quite a bundle, but it was shure worth all my dough,

I guess you'd call it 'second-hand', but it belonged to BILL MONROE,

Hey, I just bought a Mandolin, and I thought you'd like to know ...

 

He paid twohundred bucks for it, in nineteen forty-three,

But a Million-and-a-Quarter, is what it just cost me,

I coulda bought a STRADAVARIOUS, the Violin and the Bow,

But I preferred the Mandolin, that belonged to BILL MONROE.

 

       Her body's worn and battered, but her heart is warm and strong,

       Her voice is loud and lonesome, on every Bluegrass Song,

       On RAWHIDE and UNCLE PEN, she's the star of every show,

       That old GiBSON MANDOLIN, that belonged to BILL MONROE.

 

She plays waltzes, and quicksteps, hollers, reels and rags,

Breakdowns and hoedowns, outros, intros, tags,

She'll even sing the tenor part, when the Chariot Swings Low,

That old GIBSON MANDOLIN, that belonged to BILL MONROE.

 

Now Bill's gone to his reward, on GOD'S Golden Shore,

He didn't need that old F-5, beside him anymore,

Though she travelled half-way 'round the World, from a Florida Barber's Store,

That old GIBSON MANDOLIN. that belonged to BILL MONROE.

 

Planxty Coolasnaughta/The Flower Of Liffey Hall. [ Inst.] This instrumental is probably the most 'Irish-Sounding' track on this project, and I composed it on my old Gibson Guitar, which, according to Steve Cooney, is the nearest sounding instrument to the Traditional Irish Harp. The PLANXTY is' in-the-style-of' the legendary blind Irish Piper, Turlough O'Carolan, and is named for Coolasnaughta, which nestles at the foothills of Mount Leinster. The second tune, a kind of a Hornpipe, I composed on PJ O'Neill's Guitar while we were baby-sitting in Newbridge, and is named for Caolinn O'Neill, my Grandaughter, who is truly, The Flower Of Liffey Hall.

 

 

The People Wondered. I have always been fascinated by the old style of Shape Note Gospel songs as practised by the Mountain Christian Communities in the Applachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains. My idea for this song is based on the concept of the 'Doubting Thomas', and the time when Jesus was preaching his message to the people of the Holy Land, and the thought that even when they heard his word 'first-hand', many still were left 'wondering'. I did my best to stay in tune without my trusty Gibson, and Wendy Buckner and Keith Sewell lent their sweet Vocals to this Acapella track.

 

 

He walked upon the waters, of the Sea of Galilee,

He preached his Holy Gospel, to Jew and Pharisee,

He cured the sick and lame, and caused the blind to see,

And every time he spoke, the people wondered.

 

       Is he the man to follow, is he the CHOSEN ONE,

       Can he save our souls, when our Earthly race is run,

       Can we believe the Father, sent us his only Son,

       So every time he spoke, the people wondered.

 

He walked the dusty byways, all through the Holy Land,

Preaching as he travelled, to save the Soul of Man,

The truth about the FATER, and our SAVIOUR'S great plan,

And every time he spoke, the people wondered.

 

He walked that awful pathway, to death upon the hill,

On that rugged cross, his precious blood to spill,

And just before his finasl breath, they could hear him still,

And every time he spoke, the people wondered.

 

 

Musicians and Singers.

Keith Sewell/Harmony Vocals/Mandolin/Guitar/Fiddle/Banjo/Electric Guitar

Scott Vestal/5-String Banjo

Justin Weaver/Mandolin/Guitar/Slide Guitar

John Mock/Harmonium/Bodran/Whistles

Samson Grisman/Upright Bass

Niall Toner/Lead Vocals/Mandolin/Guitar

Wendy Buckner/Harmony Vocals

Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Keith Sewell at 16 Tons and The Toolshed, Nashville Tennessee/October 2014

Engineer/16 Tons/Michael Esser

 

Random Notes : As with any recording project, there are many people without whom it would not happen at all. Principal among these is my good friend, Dave De Bhal. I have otfen said that every Artist needs someone to believe in what he does, and Dave has been a supporter of mine since First Thrust in 1973. Working On Love would not exist if it were not for Dave's love and continuing support. Dave, I owe you, big time.

 

Nothing at all would be happening if it were not for the continuing support and love of my wife, Moira, and my Family, and Keith Sewell and Wendy Buckner, and Asa Monroe Sewell and Ana Sewell. Also, sincere thanks to Pat Buckner for her amazing and generous and un-stinting hospitality in Mt.Juliet.

 

Sincere gratitude to all the writers and Musicians who have shared their time, talent, skills and wisdom, including Justin Weaver, John Mock, Samson Grisman, Wendy Buckner, Keith Sewell, Scott Vestal, Michael Esser [ Engineer ], Buddy Maondlock and Terri Lynn-Weaver

.

Also, I need to thank my home crew, Dick Gladney, Johnny Gleeson, Richie Foley, Fiaz Farrelly and Laura Hale, Aidan Butler, Peter Bardon, Keith Donald and all my colleagues at IMRO, and all my colleagues at RTE.

 

Finally, to all the Radio and TV Presenters and Producers without whom we could not go on doing what we do, thanks in advance for your support. Thanks to IMRO/ASCAP/BMI/SOCAN and RAAP who continue to protect our Composing and Performing Rights. Copyright is vital and matters very much in this digital age. Please respect our rights, and do not download our songs and tunes illegally.

 

Niall Toner, January, 2015.

 

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