The Making of Earl Hamner - A Joyful Noise Part 2
I’ve had some lovely comments and some questions about “A Joyful Noise.” In part one of “The Making Of” I described Earl’s wonderful performance - what inspired him, and the overall process involved in making the CD over a period of quite a few years. I’m very pleased that the “tribute section” in which we perform some of the songs in their entirety has proven to be a popular feature. While the CD liner notes have fairly extensive credits, we neglected to specify “who sang what.” As a number of fans have asked about this, I thought I might address it here.
The tribute section was originally planned because although snippets of the hymns and songs appear as underscoring beneath Earl’s narration, we began to feel this was almost like teasing the listener a bit, so the idea of performing the full songs at the end of the CD as “bonus tracks” was born.
“Shall We Gather At The River” - I sang the lead vocal on this one. I’ve always liked the melody, and the chorus has a nice lift to it. Patrick Copeland and Diana Kavilis Morris sang the harmonies. I played a little slide guitar on this track, as well as upright bass, mandolin, and the acoustic guitar solo. (Oh, the wonders of overdubbing!) The beautiful fiddle lines - on this and other tunes - were played by our good friend, Suemy Gonzalez.
“Sweet Fern” - This is an old Carter family tune, and the basis of one of Earl’s stories. Diana Kavilis Morris sings it, with Patrick supplying the harmonies and accordion. “Brighten The Corner” - This one kicks into high gear in classic Bluegrass fashion. The lyric has a lot of syllables, but I managed to squeeze them all in! Patrick and Diana sing harmony. I also played guitar, upright bass, mandolin and snare drum. Suemy knocked it out of the park on the fiddle solo. “The Old Rugged Cross” - This unique arrangement was an idea of Patrick’s. He sings the lead vocal and plays both piano and organ. Patrick and Diana did the “gospel choir” vocals. I played acoustic guitar and upright bass. “I’ll Fly Away” - Another favourite of mine. Years ago, I performed it on “The Waltons,” later at the Grand Ole Opry, then sang it as a duet at “Opryland” with Roy Acuff. This version is actually in three keys! I sing verse one in G, Diana sings the next in D, then Patrick jumps to the melody and Diana and I sing harmony in the key of A. I play guitar, string bass, snare drum (with brushes) and banjo. Fun stuff! “The Old Rugged Cross” - This is not a typo! This year, when the project was resurrected, it occurred to me that this song would be great as a gospel/r&b band track. I added a part on my Lakeland five-string bass guitar, and an electric guitar part - the only one on the CD - ala one of my musical idols, Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MGs. Our buddy Jeff Muzzerole overdubbed his drums, and we were off to church! At this point, the question was, which “Old Rugged Cross” do we put on the CD, the original “acoustic” version or this amped-up gospel version? Solution - we included both! We call this one the “2023 mix.” I think this answers most of the questions regarding the tracks. It was fun to listen through them again. It reminded me of how much fun we had recording them. I think the fun comes through in the music. If I’ve forgotten anything instrument-wise, Patrick played all the keyboard instruments, I played all the strings - apart from Suemy on fiddle. If you’ve already purchased a copy of “Earl Hamner - A Joyful Noise,” I hope these additional liner notes will add to your enjoyment of the CD. As of this writing, “A Joyful Noise” is currently sold out but available for pre-order at jonwalmsleymusic.com - ready to be delivered for Christmas. Happy Holidays!
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