About Rio Grande Songs,In His Words...
Many people ask why I have utilized the general theme of the Rio Grande
Songs for the music I compose and record.
The Headwaters of the Rio Grande are outside of Silverton, Colorado, and
the river runs for 1885 miles to empty into the Gulf of Mexico. The river
flows past Albuquerque, New Mexico, Las Cruses, New Mexico, as well as the
Texas towns of El Paso, Del Rio. Laredo, and empties into the Gulf of
Mexico at Brownsville. I have either lived or spent extensive time in all
these cities along the river which embody the sights, sounds and aromas of
Having played steel string electric guitar since age fourteen, I quit
playing for nine years and then picked up a nylon string classical in
1994. Immediately I began composing the Rio Grande Songs.
I currently record with a Le Patrie concert series acoustic nylon with
D'Addario J46 strings and perform with a Kirk Sand custom, hand made nylon
electric also with the J46 strings. The Sand guitar is an incredible
instrument that continually brings out more that one would think possible
and needs to be kept in a cage instead of a case. Kirk Sand hand crafts
between thirty and forty instruments a year. He is a top Luthier and has
his shop in Laguna Hills, California.
My Le Patrie is normally recorded with two Nueman tube microphones in
stereo. I record exclusively at Rosewood Studios in Tyler, Texas. Gary
Leach does my arranging and programming, Greg Hunt engineers and mixes and
Austin Deptula masters on site.
Moreover, I am constantly asked about what influences the music and
especially the titles. The following list of the compositions contains
THE RIO GRANDE SONGS
While living in El Paso, Texas, after being discharged from the U.S. Army,
a "back porch" apartment in a Hispanic neighborhood and would often spend
listening to music and would experience occasional loneliness that was
due to the sounds of the Spanish language all around me.
This feeling together with my ensuing life experiences formed the basis of
Rio Grande Songs" collection.
"The Juarez Waltz"
My first thoroughly original composition, a true three beat to the measure
that captures the pure mariachi two trumpets and violin harmony line. The
melody has stuck in my mind since the early 1960's and I used bits and
of it to lull the babies to sleep. Having lived in Juarez, Mexico, for a
and a half obviously influenced the feel for this composition.
"Cross The Border"
A two movement composition that represents my experience of living in
Mexico, in a $20 a month apartment at Posada de Fredrico's hotel and
the international border at the main Juarez/El Paso bridge four and five
a week to play with bands in El Paso. Each of these nights I would cross
into El Paso, play the gig and go back across the border from El Paso to
Many mornings as I awakened in my apartment in Juarez I would go out the
French doors to the verandah overlooking the main street and think to
"What a life experience. Here I am a young man (22 years of age) totally
living in Mexico and supporting myself playing music. I will remember this
my life"…. I remember.
"The Lonely Flower"
While in the high desert foothills outside of Cuchillo, New Mexico, I was
up to a ledge under the crest of a mountain peak. Upon reaching the level
beneath the peak I stopped to rest and saw a small yellow and purple
out of the rocks and gravel. I thought to myself, "What a lonely little
growing here all alone nourished seemingly only by rocks and pebbles, the
and an occasional drop or two of rain."
Many sections of the Rio Grande River is reduced to shallow puddles due to
and networks of dams, one of which is Lake Cochita on the Cochita Indian
between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Other sections of the river,
to the Spring snow melt, flow deep and rhythmically especially in the
Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. I have sat on the banks of
river and watched as it created a slow, flowing, steady rhythm that I used
the framework of the composition.
As a child I lived in Laredo, Texas, and remember the feeling of the warm
on my body (There seem to be a few sans diaper pictures from that era
in the family photo album). I do not remember anything more specific about
experience but I remember what it sounded like.
The daytime heat of the high Desert Mountains is intense but as the sun
down a breeze softens and cools the darkness of night. This particular
track has a syncopated bass line that jumps ahead to the next chord
listeners are of the opinion that the song has a haunting quality to it.
A Clint Eastwood "Spaghetti Western" sound that came to me while horseback
at the Wueco Tanks in New Mexico where the water source is derived from
Grande. A lope along rhythm that matches the sound of hoofbeats on the
floor. The rhythm sound of the hoofbeats represent a steady gait and a
The composition is licensed to Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Arizona for
phone and communications system.
THE RIO GRANDE SONGS II
"Agua Verde" (Green Water)
As the Rio Grande flows through the Big Bend Country of Southwest Texas
takes on a distinct green hue. Nowhere else have I seen this color of
lazy rhythm of the river projects a certain magnificence. The trumpet in
announces the flavor of the composition which ends with a flowing
"Rio Amour" (River Love)
To see the Rio Grande in the Spring as it runs full and strong in areas is
leave a special part of creation. The rich orchestral arrangement lends to
appreciation of the wonder of nature created by God and still untouched by
A high desert rainbow extends from one end of the horizon to the other and
it's vastness gives an appearance of being relatively close, the closer
the farther away it moves. Always chasing the horizon but never reaching
chorus of the song is strong and vibrant but ends in a resolve not unlike
experiencing exhaustion before resting up to return to the verse.
A very special composition announced with a haunting viola. A true Spanish
feel. Originally I wrote the song with a fast tempo. After accidentally
back a scratch work tape at low speed below pitch, the song took on an
new feel which I immediately responded to on a spiritual level. The song
with a distinctive low register followed by a much higher register
with a chorus that to me explains the mystery of life as a full circle as
viola introduction starts the cycle all over again. I must say that of all
compositions I perform in public, Star Gazer stops certain people in their
as they are struck by the devotional emphasis it projects. I have been
many, "Is your music gospel music?" My answer is that the music is not
marketed as gospel music. However, through the music many people have been
emotionally and especially by Star Gazer.
A simple, light hearted melody that builds to a full movement without any
A rich, full orchestral experience that leaves one at peace. The chorus
so very powerful that it attracts the attention of certain people and
them in some spiritual way. Dream Catcher is used in the soundtrack of a
short entitles, The Hundred-Dollar Bum, that we filmed in the Yuma
of Yuma, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Big Bend country of Southwest Texas is a wonderful river-rafting
when the Rio Grande runs full and deep with the Spring melt off from the
Along the way the river glides through the Santiago Mountains as the
Border between the United States and Mexico. Outside of Terlingua, Texas,
river rushes past the little village of La Linda, where the rafts pull
so that one can walk across the small international checkpoint into Mexico
the tiny two street village to have a beer or Coke thus officially having
Mexico". Then it is back across the checkpoint and back onto the rafts to
the river journey.
A passionate music experience with an angelical background chorus
the second verse. This composition has the potential to bring one face to
with the unconditional love of the Creator. It has the potential to soften
hardest of hearts. To this day I do not remember writing nor recording
yet when I perform it, I myself am struck with an intense feeling of
"Senor Toro" (Mr. Bull)
Trumpets, castanets and the bull ring was the inspiration for this
After reading a number of Hemingway's books recounting his intense
the bull rings in Spain, I was left with mixed feelings concerning the
My having experienced bullfights in Mexico did not measure up to the
by Hemingway as he researched the background, breeding and raising of
bulls throughout Spain. From his books I came away with the feeling that
was afforded a measure of respect and honor as well as judged for courage
personality. Animal Rights Activists groups would certainly disagree with
issues herein but the feeling for the composition was not judgmental but
a musical interpretation of a visual interpretation. The title of Mr. was
THE RIO GRANDE SONGS III
Dining in a small café outside of Yuma, Arizona, during the warm winter
I looked up to see a women walk in and remove her sunglasses. Her face
tanned and wind burned but was untouched by the sun where her sunglasses
face from the elements. Her face reminded me of a raccoon with the colors
and without thinking I remarked, "Look, she has Desert Eyes". The term
with me and led me to compose the song. Desert Eyes is licensed by the
Texas at San Antonio Cultural Affairs Department for use on their Website.
The introduction is a classical Spanish movement that seagues into a
swaying, motion that to me projects an image of dancers clothed in
particular composition causes children and infants to sway back and forth;
many for the first time to the amazement and delight of their parents.
This composition was named by my wife. I claim no knowledge as to the
"La Boda" (The Wedding)
A long violin introduction brings the composition into focus at the altar.
the vows of the Sacrament the song modulates to a higher declaration of
an Angelic Chorus Background. To date, La Boda has been used in many
that I am aware of.
A fun song that develops a serious nature in the bridge or second
the classic mariachi twin trumpets with a violin in between provides a
the guitar harmony melody line. Ms Margarita is used in their soundtrack
movie short we filmed in Baja California, Mexico, entitled "Stone Curse".
"The Last Bull"
Originally composed at the direction of now deceased Movie Producer,
for use in the Soundtrack of a film adapted from a screenplay written by a
American born Matador who was seriously injured in the Plaza deToros in
Spain, and was deported back to the U.S. when it was discovered that he
a true Spaniard. I actually had written two separate compositions and was
with both of them. Out of desperation I tied the two together and was
However, my arranger, Gary Leach convinced me through a series of his own
interpretations that the song accomplished the desired effect, so I kept
it is. Unfortunalty, the Movie Project was canceled, due to the death of
To date my most drastic two movements composition. Many times I have spent
looking across the International Border of the Rio Grande outside of the
town of Eagle Pass, Texas. I have viewed Mexican families living in a
different society and environment just across the river and on one
watched as a mother came out of the woods on the Mexican side of the
had two young boys at her side and a baby cradled under one arm and with
arm she was washing a garment in the river. From where I was standing I
see the strength and resolve in her face as she stood up and looked across
river where I stood. The river was very narrow at this particular spot and
clearly see her strong facial features immediately dissolve into
she must have realized that just a mere 30 or 40 feet width of the river
our worlds. She made the sign of the cross across her chest, gathered her
and walked away from the river back into the woods. I felt certain that
to God was for strength and a continued willingness to be faithful to her
and commitment to accept reality as a Border Woman.
"El Rio" (The River)
I wrote the melody and chorus as it was given to me as I had considered it
be the final track with no thoughts of a future Rio Grande Album. The
the song was an idea that had swirled around in my mind since the early
an idea given to me by Ray Navarez, in Redwood City. If anyone is from the
Grande Valley of Texas and hears El Rio, they will invariably come up to
ask if I am from "The Valley" because the song immediately reminds them of
I lived in the area as a child but left at the age of six. There is no
sound for the area that has been identified or marketed but somehow I seem
have captured a sound that commands the attention of anyone from that
I will someday be considered as one who developed the Rio Grande Valley
THE RIO GRANDE SONGS IV
the appreciation of Flamenco style while at the same time attempting
retain a romantic posture. Actually, I wrote the composition in approximately ten minutes
night prior to going into the studio to finish recording the background music
I was unhappy with one of the songs that already had the background
and decided to replace the entire composition. The next day I went into
produced all the background musical tracks and later overdubbed the lead
lines. My style of production dictates that all the background tracks are
and put into work tape which I study for some time prior to returning to
to record the final guitar solos.
"Always In My Heart"
This composition is another special effort to reach the heart. I wrote
in approximately one hour while looking out over the Pacific Ocean in San
Del Mar in Baja California, Mexico. I try to spend the summers there to
the heat and actually wrote most of the music for this album while living
and this song happened to be the first. Usually the first song comes very
and sets the mood for the remainder of the album. This song seems to touch
nationalities of people and is one of the most requested of all The Rio
A very strong brassy composition with trumpets in the chorus. This song
recorded and had the title of #3 for the studio log. All the other songs
recorded and titled but #3 just didn't draw me to any specific ideas for a
until I was in Laredo, Texas, and saw some children splashing and dancing
water on the bank of the Rio Grande and the title "Riverdancer" came to
After returning to the studio to complete post production I still didn't
title and finally settled on the current title. Approximately a month
saw the first excerpts of the Irish production Riverdance and wished I had
my original idea. People still come up to me and ask if the song is Irish.
the title of the song is not subject to copyright, but rather the
Irish production of Riverdance is not a specific title of a composition,
title of an entire production.
"Adios, mis Amigos" (Goodbye, my
This song was written as a farewell to my brother-in-law Gary McDaniel;
R. Reed, my friend in the movie industry; and "Wild Bill" McCollough, my
at Cactus Tree RV park in Yuma, Arizona, where I normally use as a winter
of operations. These three individuals were so very supportive of my music
were among those who inspired me to continue writing and recording. The
of them were taken by cancer within a five-month period.
"Quinceanera" (She's Fifteen)
The "coming out" celebration for a Mexican girl on her fifteenth birthday.
known as Quince Anos. I have seen many of the celebrations over the years
started to notice that the Mother, Aunts, and Grandmothers of the girls
be very caught up in the event and ultimately would become emotional and
tears. My feeling is that they were remembering their own Quinceanera and
was a way for them to relive their own experience. So the composition was
written for them. Perhaps this would explain why explain why the song has
that touches especially the Mothers, Aunts, and Grandmothers. When I
song they are the very ones that exhibit a distant, sentimental
"Dream for Me"
A very moody song that is announced by the violas and bass in unison and
in the half intro between verses and at the ending. When performing the
notice a quiet, inquisitive expression exhibited by those listening that
to slow down all movement and activity. The title deals with the subject
commonly found in The Rio Grande Songs catalogue. I personally experience
and answers to decision in awakening from sleep and this song asks for
else to dream in my behalf. Many of my songs are initially in bits and
and at times I will awaken, reach for a guitar and immediately complete the
In fact I have awakened to instantly compose an entire song.
Written for my wife and partner Joy. Perhaps the most happy song of all
Grande Songs. Joy says she always wanted to live like a Gypsy since her
experiences with a circus group. We have fulfilled that desire by
since 1994 and meeting new friends everywhere along the way. It is a
that demands constant movement. The appearance of our bus tells our
we are back and in a few days we are gone again. Our travels have taken us
coast to coast and we generally try to follow the path of favorable
look for warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer and each year we
many of our friends who follow the same path. The chorus of the song
a happiness in the anticipated arrival to a familiar place as well as
on a journey to the next destination whether it be new or revisited. Our
been our permanent residence for the past six years but the experiences we
and the kind people we meet along the way is rewarding and we always keep
eyes and ears open for a new song.
| Hewlett Crist |
Fan Club |
Guest Book |
Website designed and maintained by Robin Kelly, Advanced Web Design
Entire Site Copyright
© 1999 - 2000
- River Grande Records Inc.
-- All Rights Reserved--
All music from this site © River Grande Music