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For Freedom Track #6
What a Wonderful World


What a Wonderful World – Jenny & Tyler – For Freedom
- Read about the rest of the project here
 - Download the album (Mastered for iTunes) here: http://bit.ly/4freed

What a Wonderful World holds a special place in our hearts. Songs celebrating life without being cheesy are hard to come by.  What a Wonderful World is probably the best example of this we can think of.  The lyrics are simple yet profound; the chord progression and melody, emulating the brief journey of our lives, bring us through peaks and valleys.  The song served as the mother/son dance at our wedding and Tyler’s dad played piano and sang. When we decided to cover it we knew that it needed to retain its simplicity and subtle beauty.  We decided to sing the entire song together to communicate the idea that marveling at the wonders of life should be a ubiquitous and shared experience. Harmonies naturally followed.

This song was the last that we recorded for the album, just a few weeks after Jane was born.  We tracked some of the vocals while she was napping and the rest after she woke up.  Her cries can be heard softly at the end of the song, from 2:20-2:25.  We also added her heartbeat throughout the entire song, taken from the ultrasound the two days before she breathed her first breath (it’s best to listen with headphones to hear these well).  New life brings new hope. The way we enter the world is miraculous and truly wonderful.

Listen to the original version here:

Read more about the song on Wikipedia here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_a_Wonderful_World

Add Comment | Posted on 11.19.13

For Freedom Track #5
The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence Jenny & Tyler For Freedom

The Sound of Silence – Jenny & Tyler – For Freedom
- Read about the rest of the project here
 - Download the album (Mastered for iTunes) here: http://bit.ly/4freed

Simon & Garfunkel are our favorite duo of all time. Their voices, harmonies, and songwriting are exquisite. We can only hope to create songs as beautiful and poignant as theirs someday. Paul Simon’s writing is truly unparalleled.

The Sound of Silence is our favorite song by Simon & Garfunkel.  Right from the beginning, it seems like every time we hear or perform this, the simple arpeggiated guitar and haunting “hello darkness, my old friend” lyrics, the song captures us.  And though we don’t know what Simon was thinking when we wrote it, there’s a mystery and ubiquitous quality to the lyrics that we relate to (that apparently many relate to), something general yet specific, something for which every good songwriter strives.

Hear the original version here:

We recorded this cover a couple of years ago and decided to release it as a single, with all of the proceeds going to organizations that fight human trafficking.  The subject of human trafficking is an interesting one, one we were first introduced to at college.  A few years later, Jenny’s good friend started working for an anti-human trafficking organization in D.C. and a year or so after that, we went on tour with Sara Groves, who is passionate about the subject.  We seemed to be drawn into it from many different angles, and finally, after praying about an organization to partner with, we felt led to choose one that fights human trafficking.

Human trafficking is an issue that has gained a bit more spotlight over the past few years, which is encouraging.  But it still not on everyone’s radar.   The fact that there are an estimated 20-30 million slaves in the world today is appauling.  That’s more than at the height of the trans-atlantic slave trade.  Slavery is illegal almost everywhere in the world.  The problem is not necessarily the law, but the justice system in general.  If there aren’t courts or police who enforce the law, the law is essentially null and void.  What organizations like the International Justice Mission do is partner with local governments to ensure that laws gets enforced.

Somehow this song transports us to contemplate the depth of the darkness of human trafficking.  We see hope in, “Hear my words that I might teach you.  Take my arms that I might reach you.”  But there is also the sad reality that that hope, in one sense, does not always avail – with, “But my words like silent raindrops fell. And echoed in the wells of silence.”  The opening line, “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again” also stirs up in me the striking truth that I have befriended darkness, and I often return to darkness, as those responsible for human trafficking do.  It gives me pity for those who enslave the 20-30 million women, children, and even men, because I know they themselves are enslaved; they are living in darkness.  They must be brought to justice, but they must also be forgiven if true healing should take place.

When we recorded this, we asked our friends to come over to form a choir.  If you listen with headphones, you should be able to hear them speaking “people talking without speaking; people hearing without listening” from 1:34-1:40.  They provide a texture suggestive of the “ten thousand people maybe more.”  Paul Zimmerman-Clayton played the trumpet to imply a sort of a battle cry, as if to say, “Come join us. Fight the oppressor.”  Jenny’s clarinet, entering in verse 2, adds indistiguishable third voice, as sort of an invitation for the listener to lend theirs.  Bruno Jones of the Vespers played the upright bass and killed it.

Read more about the song on Wikipedia here:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Silence

Add Comment | Posted on 11.04.13

For Freedom Track #4
We Will Become Silhouettes


We Will Become Silhouettes – Jenny & Tyler – For Freedom
- Read about the rest of the project here
 - Download the album (Mastered for iTunes) here: http://bit.ly/4freed

At the beginning of this year we were asked to contribute to a Postal Service covers compilation album. Our friend Stephen Carradini over at Independent Clauses has written some kind reviews of our music in the past, and when he asked us to be a part of the project we were happy to lend our voices. All of the proceeds from the sale of that compilation benefit Hurricane Sandy relief. Check out that album here: http://independentclauses.bandcamp.com.  When this song is purchased through our For Freedom covers record, the tune supports anti-human trafficking organizations, just like the other tracks.

We didn’t know much about the Postal Service before Stephen asked us to be a part of the compilation. He sent us a couple of songs to choose from and we settled on We Will Become Silhouettes. We thought we could incorporate lots of harmonies and a’cappella-esque vocals to the track and we had a lot of fun doing it. The original is really bright and has more of a pop feel to it than most of the music we listen to. We thought it’d be nice to do something different.

Tyler actually began programming and arranging the tune on a flight home from California last spring in Garageband on our iPad. Technology is amazing. We began recording real instruments the next day. It was the first time I recorded vocals while pregnant and I remember being challenged by how difficult it was to breathe deeply and support my voice. As Jane continued to grow over the next couple of months I learned how to sing effectively and I actually think that some of my best vocal takes are on this EP.

Have a listen to the original if you please.  The video is pretty quirky.

When we recorded this, we were going for something sort of grandiose, almost anthemic.  The song seems to be about the near-death of a relationship and in some sense approaching the end of the writer’s world.  The imagery throughout the song speaks of preparation for a nuclear fallout or global catastrophe of some kind, hence the “I’ve got a cupboard with cans of food, filtered water…”   You don’t hear lyrics like this often, and that’s part of the reason we like it so much.

Read more about the song on Wikipedia here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Will_Become_Silhouettes

Jenny & Tyler

Add Comment | Posted on 11.01.13

For Freedom Track #3
Dreams

Jenny & Tyler - For Freedom - A Covers EP - Dreams by The Cranberries

Dreams – Jenny & Tyler – For Freedom
- Read about the rest of the project here
 - Download the album (Mastered for iTunes) here: http://bit.ly/4freed

(Jenny) When I started thinking over covers to record, Dreams by The Cranberries was one of the first that popped up.  We thought to put it after The Scientist by Coldplay because it offers contrast, both thematically and harmonically.  Thematically, Dreams differs from The Scientist in that it’s a song about falling in love, a pure sort of love, whereas in The Scientist, love already exists, though it’s been blemished.  In a sense, the line  in The Scientist “O take me back to the start” is thus fulfilled in this song, where the writer’s dreams will “…come true, impossible not to do.”

I remember hearing this song play over and over on the radio when I was in fourth or fifth grade. Just before being introduced to this song, when I was about ten years old, I realized that I could hear harmonies and successfully sing them with most songs. I remember standing next to my mom in church around Christmas time singing “Joy to the World.” She was singing the alto part and I chimed in. I know it sounds crazy, but from that point on I could always hear harmonies. I think that’s why I am so drawn to Dreams. The majority of the song is sung in harmony and the harmony throughout is just splendid.

When we recorded this song, we decided that because it’s about new love we wanted to bring a much happier sound to the track than the original. Our friend JJ Heller, whose voice carries a sweetness such that one can almost picture her smiling while singing, assisted us with this.  Not only does she has a beautiful voice, she’s someone with whom I’ve wanted to sing for a long time. Of course we still wanted Tyler’s voice to be very present on the track, so we filled certain parts with three part harmony – one of my favorite things in life. Tyler even convinced me to play clarinet!

We hope this song brings a freshness to the way you think of love.  Read more about the song on Wikipedia here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreams_(The_Cranberries_song)

Add Comment | Posted on 11.01.13

For Freedom Track #2
The Scientist

The Scientist – Jenny & Tyler – For Freedom
- Read about the rest of the project here
 - Download the album (Mastered for iTunes) here: http://bit.ly/4freed

When we listen to The Scientist by Coldplay, we are often transported to a state of wonder.  Including this on the album was an easy choice.  The Scientist is the second track on the EP, following Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins.  We felt it both thematically and musically appropriate to do so.  For us, Tonight, Tonight is about starting a relationship.  The Scientist is about redeeming a relationship.  For the full album track list and more information about the project, visit this post: http://jennyandtyler.com/ffblog/

Here’s the original:

It almost goes without saying, but in The Scientist, there’s something almost tangibly sorrowful about the feel of the music and lyrics.  Yet there’s also something subtly redemptive. We find a beautiful humility in the opening lines “Come up to meet you. Tell you I’m sorry.”  Similarly, we find a both contrition and capitulation in the line “O, take me back to the start,” as if the writer is declaring his need for forgiveness.  Jenny and I need what’s in this line. Our marriage needs it. Our relationship both with God and our fellow man needs it.  We know how fragmented our world is; you can see it every day; just turn on the news. Some of us also know how fragmented own hearts, minds, and souls are; fragmentation (some call it downright wickedness) certainly results from our strivings (going our own way without regard for the love of God), wickedness we call righteousness, light we’ve put for darkness and darkness for light, however the great or small the degree.  Still, there is hope.  And we see that hope (of overcoming the fragmented) in those lyrics.  Maybe that’s why they resonate so loudly with us.

On a different note, The Scientist is actually the first song that I sang to Jane, just minutes after she was born.  I kid you not; upon singing this song, she almost immediately stopped crying and looked curiously in my direction.  I’d sung this song and others to her almost daily while she was in Jenny’s womb.  Maybe she recognized my voice.  Maybe she recognized the song.  Maybe neither.  Either way, she quieted down for a minute while the doctors measured and weighed her in the coldness of the delivery room.

When we recorded this goose-bump-generating song, we were aiming for something haunting yet teaming with hope, a hope tried and torn yet mending. Tori Samples captured that haunting through her harp performance. Kara Fox brought the hope with her cello lines. Matt Scibilia played drums and Hitoshi Yamaguchi upright bass, both assisting to drive the song to a sort of final resting place, where hope is no longer hoped for but experienced.  With the outro section of “ahh-oohs,” we thus arrive.
We hope this song causes the listener to pause in wonder, as we do when we listen.
Read more about the original song on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scientist_(song)
Tyler (& Jenny)
Add Comment | Posted on 10.29.13