I have wonderful memories of Spring blossoming in Yorkville – the sidewalk cafes coming to life overnight. Everything colorful and young – everything promising. It was also a time when hippiedom ( rather sadly ) was giving embryonic form to yuppiedom.
Grey Lord was recorded at Eastern Sound Studios in the Yorkville area of Toronto in the spring of 1976. I remember my first night in the studio. We had been booked in the 24 track for the evening but when we arrived we were informed that we had been bumped to the 8 track. Elton John was in town and, of course, took precedence over me for the big studio. Welcome to the big time boy !
Like many early indie recordings the budget was devoured by production costs, leaving no capital for marketing and promotion. Despite this we were able to bring into existence with our meager financing, an album that was regarded as “ one of the most memorable events of 1977 ” – “ easily the best recording by a Newfoundlander to date.” ( The Newfoundland Herald )
The album was supported by performances from some of the very best available musicians in Canada at the time ( see musician’s bios ) . In short, it was an album that received good critical acclaim but was destined, like most of the independent productions of that time to collect dust in the libraries of the godless radio stations.
Both my Newfoundland roots and my early spiritual path are very evident in the content of this album.
I had become a follower of the Persian Prophet Baha’u’llah ( Baha’i ) and was greatly influenced by those teachings. Through them I gained a view of the past and the future that connected all parts right here in the present. It taught me to look at the world as an unfolding process – to look at man as an ever evolving, dual natured creature who is constantly moving away from his animal self and towards his spiritual identity. Viewing past history and the present in this way has made much more sense to me and continues to give it a clarity that might not otherwise have been available to me. There was a description given in the Baha’I Writings of modern man being “ on the edge of darkness and the beginning of light. ” I see this everywhere I look.
The influence of Baha’u’llah is mostly expressed on the title track Grey Lord, the instrumental piece Funeral, and historically in Tahirih and The Merchant of Shiraz. To better grasp these pieces, one should investigate the Baha’i Faith and it’s teachings.
My Newfoundland roots come through musically on tracks like The Ugly Truth, Jubal and Funeral. Lyrically, some Newfoundland imagery is expressed in Charlie ( It Was September ).
Thirty years have elapsed since the recording of this album, but the experience of it is still as clear to me as if it were yesterday. I am told by many, especially the young, that it’s relevance has that same timelessness. I hope so. I believe so.
Grey Lord was – and is – a huge piece of my soul.