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What It's All About - Ray Agnew

1. Come and Gone
"I've always known that it's good hard work if you want to stay in love
You don't just fall one day and stay there the rest of your life
But we've got our kids and you've got your friends and I'm…
I'm somewhere between
I don't believe you think it's worth the fight"

Come and Gone is what happens when the second kid comes along and you begin to feel a bit older and sorry for yourself… I suppose it's a twist on the "I love you more than you love me" nonsense that most couples pull on each other. Of course, once you've finished bickering and finally talk, you discover that the one you love really cares and really does want you. Good love is unconditional, but you cannot take it for granted. It takes good hard work.
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2. He Is The Word
"It's not the politics, the parlor tricks, the scare tactics that brought me here
I believe in the Man who walked this land without the hype - he gave his life
Now I will persevere
These lessons I'll hold dear
He is The Word - and the Word is Him"

This song was born out of my getting tired of people flashing their self-righteousness in my face. It's a simple song with an emotional undercurrent about believing what one believes without having to buy into the partisan political dogma yuck that seems to permeate American Christianity. This song is the perfect counterpoint to "Come and Gone." Once you've finished complaining, take a moment, place your life in His hands, and give thanks for all you've got. Jesus is not running for office. And He's not taking sides; He is going for the inside.
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3. Finer Things
"As I grew older, I found my dreams erased
By the lure of a paycheck, the fire inside replaced"

The constant fight to have more stuff just doesn't cut it in the end. The finer things are right in front of me, and even the lesson of my dad's travails couldn't keep me from learning it on my own the hard way. I've found I have, "my wife and family, I've still got wings."
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4. I Will Be With You
"And if it's fear of the fall, if the hill is just too steep
If everyone around you thinks you've gotten in too deep
When you reach out for my hand, or whisper my name
No matter where you are, I will be with you…"

I am married to the love of my life. No one is more beautiful. No one moves me to joy, laughter, anger, or tears like she can. She is the mother of my children, the keeper of my flame. And in the end, when the kids are gone and the light grows dim, she will still be all of this and more to me.
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5. Canyonlands
This is an instrumental suite that was written for the Canyonlands Field Institute in Moab, Utah. Canyonlands is our newest National Park. My dad was engaged to the woman who was the executive director of the field institute (actually, he was engaged to her twice some 30 plus years apart…but that will be another song!). The suite was used (and perhaps still is – I really don’t know) as accompaniment for their slide show in the visitor center. Before I could come to Moab to see it, and to share the beauty of the place with dad and Robin, Robin was diagnosed with and soon died of cancer. Her passion and her stories inspired this music.

6. God Save Our Little Girl
"God save our little girl
Keep her safe from harm
Take her on to a good old age
A loving man on her arm
Grant her wisdom and the sight
To fill her days with laughter, love, and light
May her children hear this song one day
And know Gramma and Gramps did all right"

We had to drive 65 miles to the hospital for the births of both of our children. On the trip the first time, I became aware of something called faith. By the time we made the second trip I had stopped saying, "I’m not a religious man, I am a spiritual man," because I had come to realize that I am a believer. This song, I think, simply says in words in music what we all want for our babies. And it turned out to be a favorite of my daughter’s – I sing her to sleep almost every night. However, her first take on the lyrics was a bit different. She would sing, "God save our little girl. Keep her safe from farms. Take the fawn to a good old age. A little man by her arm." Ya gotta love it!
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7. The Water is Wide
"The water is wide, I can’t cross o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I"

I’ve always wanted to do this song ever since I heard Karla Bonoff sing it with James Taylor and Art Garfunkle 25 years ago. And I’ve always wanted my baby sister (almost 14 years my junior) to sing with me. So here you go! This is a traditional folk song that can be traced back to the British Isles. There are actually many more verses, but these are the lines most often sung. And the final verse is a bit terse – so I’ve added a descant to soften it a little.
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8. Here With Me
"Tell me you remember how it felt to love someone with no thoughts of possession
No need for possession
Still I can’t recall a time, when I’ve felt so weary for you are my obsession
My obsession"

Every now and then you just long to be absolutely one with the person you love. All the games you’ve played with each other haunt you like a bad dream and you want to make it all go away. So you seek what you’ve shared before: the passion and transparent power of being in love.
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9. Georgia's Flowers
"Bring to me a love
Just like Georgia’s flowers
Like sunshine and showers
Feed my soul"

The remarkable Georgia O’Keefe is the inspiration for this song. It’s in the style of a traditional folk song, I think, and is simple in tune and tenor. Just like Georgia.
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10. I Will Be There
"My words will live in you forever
My voice will be with you every day
And with each and every righteous endeavor
That you may undertake
Think of love for my sake
And I will be there"

It’s a long, difficult road through college when you are 17 or 18 years old. Throw in the death of a parent, the loss of family as the surviving parent fails to cope, and you have a recipe for flunking out. Pete Baker, professor of Speech Communications at the State University of New York at Potsdam refused to let that happen to me. He was my friend for 25 years. We lost Pete to cancer during the Holiday Season in 1999. This song was written for Katie and Steve – Pete’s kids – and is meant to share Pete’s vision and legacy; do good work, and make room in your heart for all good people of character, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, or their sexual preference. Royalties and other proceeds from the publication and sale of this song benefit the Pete Baker Scholarship at SUNY Potsdam.
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11. What It’s All About
"I look into my children’s eyes
Amazed at what I see"

From early memories of Grandma’s house to the birth of Grandma’s great grandchildren, life is a constant celebration. That is what it’s all about.
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Words & Music By: Ray Agnew (except The Water is Wide)
Produced, Performed, Arranged and Recorded by Ray in the Elbow Room

© 2000 Ray Agnew (ASCAP). WARNING: All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable law.