My first thoroughly original composition, a true three beat to the measure waltz that captures the pure mariachi two trumpets and violin harmony line. The basic melody has stuck in my mind since the early 1960’s and I used bits and pieces of it to lull the babies to sleep. Having lived in Juarez, Mexico, for a year and a half obviously influenced the feel for this composition.
While living in El Paso, Texas, after being discharged from the U.S. Army, I rented a “back porch” apartment in a Hispanic neighborhood and would often spend evenings listening to music and would experience occasional loneliness that was more pronounced due to the sounds of the Spanish language all around me. This feeling, together with my ensuing life experiences formed the basis of “The Rio Grande Songs” collection.
Cross the Border
A two movement composition that represents my experience of living in Juarez, Mexico, in a $20 a month apartment at Posada de Fredrico’s hotel and crossing the international border at the main Juarez/El Paso bridge four and five nights a week to play with bands in El Paso. Each of these nights I would cross the border into El Paso, play the gig and go back across the border from El Paso to Juarez. Many mornings as I awakened in my apartment in Juarez I would go out the small French doors to the verandah overlooking the main street and think to myself, “What a life experience. Here I am a young man (22 years of age) totally independent, living in Mexico and supporting myself playing music. I will remember this all my life”…. I remember.
While in the high desert foothills outside of Cuchillo, New Mexico, I was climbing up to a ledge under the crest of a mountain peak. Upon reaching the level directly beneath the peak I stopped to rest and saw a small yellow and purple flower growing out of the rocks and gravel. I thought to myself, “What a lonely little flower growing here all alone nourished seemingly only by rocks and pebbles, the sun and an occasional drop or two of rain.
Many sections of the Rio Grande River is reduced to shallow puddles due to irrigation and networks of dams, one of which is Lake Cochita on the Cochita Indian Reservation between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Other sections of the river, due to the Spring snow melt, flow deep and rhythmically especially in the areas of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. I have sat on the banks of the river and watched as it created a slow, flowing, steady rhythm that I used for the framework of the composition.
As a child I lived in Laredo, Texas, and remember the feeling of the warm sun on my body (There seem to be a few sans diaper pictures from that era somewhere in the family photo album). I do not remember anything more specific about the experience but I remember what it sounded like.
The daytime heat of the high Desert Mountains is intense but as the sun sinks down a breeze softens and cools the darkness of night. This particular rhythm track has a syncopated bass line that jumps ahead to the next chord change. Many listeners are of the opinion that the song has a haunting quality to it.
A Clint Eastwood “Spaghetti Western” sound that came to me while horseback riding at the Wueco Tanks in New Mexico where the water source is derived from the Rio Grande. A lope along rhythm that matches the sound of hoofbeats on the desert floor. The rhythm sound of the hoofbeats represent a steady gait and a gallop. The composition is licensed to Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Arizona for their phone and communications system.