When it comes right down to it, the biggest influence on my music is simply 'living.' In fact, as I look back on my collection of albums,each one seems fairly representative of a particular period of my life. The Tower, my first solo piano album, marks a period of transformation between my college 'rock band' days and my 'solo pianist' days. Thus, the music reflects my youth - it's dramatic, bold, and experimental. While the Trees Sleep is highly poetic, reflecting a poetic time - just out of college, searching for meaning and growing up into adulthood. The Last Waking Moment is based on a dream experience of such an intense nature that it changed lives outside the dream. The Vigil represents a deep, spiritual quest, from a time when I was testing and proving my faith. Postcards from Germany is a musical account of my travels in Europe and O Come Emmanuel is perhaps my most intellectual pursuit - an album done for the pure sake of making something completely new and different - a Christmas album like no other. Sweet Dreams and Starlight, is about a Father's love for his children, reflecting my own experiences as a father and learning how that love transforms, transcends and overcomes. Overcome was a tribute to my father and this faith, and an outpouring of emotion after losing him to cancer. Both Adoration and Revelation are worship albums, representing a five year period of my live spent exploring both traditional hymns and contemporary praise music. Finally, A Delicate Joy is celebration of life... influenced by travels and adventures had with my family. So, as you can see, each album comes from a different place, and represents a little chapter of life.
It's fair to say that the greatest influence on my music has been my onling relationship with my Father in heaven. My music reflects my spiritual journey, the ups and downs, the good days and bad days of my relationship with my God. My music is how I reach out to Him, I call out and express my heart to Him. Sometimes my music reflects my pain, sometimes my joy, but it always - through the good and the bad - reflects my laying my life and heart down before His throne.
But, I'm sure what you really wanted to know is about my musical influences. So here they are...
Each one of these albums had a major influence on my musical direction, particularly during my impressionable 'teen-angst' and college years. Take any one of these albums away and, believe it or not, my piano music just wouldn't be the same. They are listed more or less in order of their impact:
George Winston: December / Winter into Spring / Autumn
I doubt the idea of writing for 'solo piano' would have ever occurred to me were it not for being introduced to Winston's piano works. Truly life changing.
The Monkees: Headquarters / Pisces, Etc. / Head
Yes, it's true. Some people grow up in musical families. Not me. I grew up watching the Monkees. They were the whole reason I wanted to become a musician.
Rush: 2112 / Moving Pictures
It's hard to pick only one or even two Rush albums. Listening to Rush stimulated me intellectually and creatively. They are also part of the reason why I'm fairly intolerant of playing a phrase exactly the same way twice. I'm very paranoid about over-repetition and I want constant progression in a composition. I owe that drive for musical perfection, in part, to listening to the music of this band. 2112 was my first exposure to a 'concept' album, and concept albums are all I've ever done.
Dax Johnson Merciful Dwelling
Merciful Dwelling is the most recent addition to this list. This album has had a huge influence over my style in the last 3-4 years. Listening to Dax has made me want to be a better musician, and it's driving me to a bit more of an eclectic style.
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Pink Floyd, perhaps like no other band, is able to capture painful emotions and put them to music. They have a sound uniquely their own, a sound I absolutely absorbed during my college years. Pink Floyd taught me how to FEEL music, and that emotional intensity still lingers in my own compositions. I can't listen to Pink Floyd records these days, though. I'm past the most tumultuous parts of my life, and I don't want to feel that pain anymore. My life today is about joy, faith, and trust in God. Pink Floyd's music is devoid of all that.
Renaissance: First Album / Turn of the Cards
A strong, strong influence over my early music. You can hear it in The Tower.
Jeff Johnson: Icons / Shadowplay
Icons is a musical masterpiece. Also, Jeff helped me out in my early days and was very gracious in allowing me to ask him questions about the music business. For years, Jeff was a role model to me. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Clannad: Legend / Magical Ring
For months in college Clannad was all I'd listen to. Their music inspired several songs.
Van Cliburn: A Romantic Collection (RCA-ARK1-1176)
The only Classical album I've ever loved. This is the album that really got me into Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Ravel's piano works. I wish I could find it on CD.
Kemper Crabb: The Vigil
Absolutely unique - The whole reason I did 'Be Thou My Vision' was because of this album.
I can't say the following influenced my music per sé, but they are among my favorite records of all time. Again, they are listed somewhat in order:
In my role as the host of Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio, I hear a great many piano CDs. While I enjoy many of them, these are my absolute favorites in no particular order: