LOVE RULES! © 1998 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey.
Northfield Mt. Hermon school provided not only the home for my wife and I during the 8 years of her tenure there as chaplain, but a chance to dialogue with 14 to 18 year olds about what was important in their lives. In looking for a way to express the commonality of a spiritual hunger, I found myself trying to musically describe love as if it were capitalized.
CAPRICIOUS BIRD © 2010 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey.
The soul's relationship to the heart has always been a subject of curiosity to me. Are our deepest feelings those which are held in the heart or simply sensed there and truly dwell in the soul? My conclusion might not be proveable but I sense that souls are the resting places of our spirituality to which our hearts, searching for the meaning in life, inevitably return.
THE CONNECTION © 2010 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, John Boit, David Zee
A conversation debating the wisdom of the United States military presence in Afghanistan led to the conclusion that many Americans were not aware of the relationship between the cultivation of poppies, the production of opiates, drug traffic and the funding of global terrorist activities. This song addresses those issues from several perspectives – none of them comfortable.
NOT THAT KIND OF MUSIC © 2011 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, Jim Mason
Some songs are for listening, some for dancing. Some are as ubiqutous as wallpaper and others become soundtracks for spectacles. But the songs that move us the most are the ones whose melodies invoke a passion and whose lyrics inform and inspire our lives; songs that transcend the moment because they are the articulation of our hearts.
JEAN CLAUDE © 2009 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, Lan O'kun, Richard Unsworth
Begun backstage over 20 years ago as a pattern of harmonics played on guitar, this song was eventually born out of a marriage of rhythmic experiments in 5/4 time (the chorus), audience suggestions (the conceptual theme) and the incendiary serendipity of a simple pamphlet discovered in a bookstore in Paris, France describing a most horrific period of time in humankind's history: the holocaust. The song had it's liturgical premier at Temple Beth El in Michigan on Yom Hashoah, April 19th, 2012.
PONY © 2009 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, Rebecca McCall.
In 2009 I was asked if I would contribute a performance to a fund-raising CD by creating a song in response to a painting done by a Maine artist of my choice. I immediately thought of my talented neighbor Rebecca McCall and, after a visit to her studio, came away impressed by her series of sensitive portrayals of the Iraqi people. This piece then grew out of her rendering (and my musical interpretation) of a young man standing proudly before his horse in one of the Baghdad marketplaces.
ONE AND MANY © 2008 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, Elizabeth Stookey, Sam Lardner.
As citizens of a world made smaller by travel and technology, we are continually challenged to accept the differences between our perspectives while renewing and maintaining the integrity of our beliefs. But, no matter my hesitancy, I am always surprised (and enlightened) when I join that community in the 'hall'.
THE BIG PICTURE © 2004 ZANE WILLIAMS MUSIC PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Zane Williams.
I first heard this song as one of the finalists in the MUSIC 2 LIFE songwriting contest of 2006, and it would just not leave my heart. Unassuming and vulnerable yet at the same time declarative, prophetic and bold, the lyric and melody conspire to bring the listener to those meditative moments where we cannot escape our mutual responsibility to one another and to the planet upon which we live.
SUCH A SIMPLE SONG © 2011 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey
The bridge to this song says it all. “...you'd be surprised what goes on backstage, getting ready for the show. A little bit of pressure on the boy up here to keep the music flowin'. I'm not a 'boy' anymore but sometimes, trying too hard to bring a musical moment to life in a performance, I forget about just letting it arrive on its own.
CUE THE MOON © 2010 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey, Marvin Messex, Sally Farr
It truly was “A twilight sky...” that began the evening and brought about this song. The host of that night's dinner party, when advised by his wife that all the guests really 'must come see the sky', casually waved his hand and said “Cue the moon...” Twenty four sleepless hours later, the music and most of the lyric had been written.
AND IF IT'S NOT TRUE © 2009 PAX MUSIC PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Tom Paxton
As I said from stage the first time I performed this song (with Tom and his wife Midge in the audience) "...I'm happy that Tom has finally gotten in touch with his inner senior citizen". Though I knew Peter and I would inspire each other's performance (as we have for over 50 years in the trio) on this recording, I was totally unprepared and blown away by his creation of the french answers in the last choruses. In the words of Paxton, 'magnifique!'
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE © 1983 EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC, BMI / Gordon Sumner
Most everybody knows this classic hit by Sting and the Police from the late 90's and that it is a lyric written about a rejected - and somewhat obsessed - lover. I found the melody so tender and endearing that I recast it as a ballad, transforming the hard edge bridge into an instrumental and with a few word 'nudges' sing it as if it were from the perspective of a all-seeing all-caring Divinity.
IN THESE TIMES © 2007 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey
Written to provide a musical underlining of topics discussed during an ecological EARTH DAY symposium in Maine, this song eventually expanded lyrically to become an encouraging commentary on the delicate balance of our political system and it's ultimate dependence on our mutual and respectful participation.
AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL © 2011 NEWORLD MULTIMEDIA PUBLISHING, ASCAP / new lyric and arrangement by Noel Paul Stookey / original music by Samuel Ward / original lyric by Katharine Lee Bates
Argueably the most melodic of patriotic songs, I felt this well known anthem might be sung even more often if there were contemporary verses written in thanks for the 'immigrant and for the native son' as well as a sense of respect for the earth and the recognition of hope in hands of generations to come.
ONE AND MANY (reprise) © 2008 PUBLIC DOMAIN FOUNDATION, ASCAP / Noel Paul Stookey
This song is very much a metaphor for the multi-faith work begun by my wife Betty during her tenure as chaplain of the Northfield Mt. Hermon School from 1997 to 2005. Now titled One Light, Many Candles, the presentations alternate readings from the great diversity of the world's spiritual disciplines with many of my songs, including this one.