Eleven years ago I was looking for a new musical project, something I could do purely for enjoyment. A friend suggested I consider “A Child’s Garden Of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson, with an eye towards adapting the poems into songs. I knew Stevenson as the author of “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped,” but was not aware he wrote poetry. I went right out to the bookstore and bought a copy. When I was back home I opened the book and looked in. What I saw was pure magic. The poems transported me back to my childhood - simple joys, unlimited imagination, and the curiosity of our world seen thru the eyes of a small person.
“A Child’s Garden Of Verses” took hold of my heart and I heard music instantly. When I finished reading the book, I felt that if I was going to undertake this work, I had a significant responsibility to these words and especially to their author. I chose to adapt the poems exactly as they were written - word for word with nothing repeated or deleted. This decision yielded three wonderful consequences: it made my task more enjoyable and challenging, accorded me a strict boundary, and honored these classic works of literature. A Child’s Garden Of Songs was the resulting work – a true labor of love.
For my second album, I found inspiration in the timeless words of five American poets. The title song, The Days Gone By, was written by James Whitcomb Riley. It’s a beautiful and nostalgic piece that became a song in minutes. This was followed by odes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Eugene Field.
My latest album Back To The Garden (September 2011) is a second collection of songs based on poems from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden Of Verses.” All the artists who played on A Child’s Garden Of Songs reunited for this new album. It was wonderful to hear the uilleann pipes, the fiddles, the penny whistles, and all the gifted singers perform just as they did before (only everyone was ten years better.) It was an honor to play in Stevenson’s garden once again.
These poems have been shared lovingly from generation to generation. It continues to be my happy task to translate them into songs.