A musical autobiography through song and words: Storyteller is an autobiographical “songbook” that represents a variety of vocal compositions that are musically, and lyrically, important to me. When I set out to record Storyteller, I focused on assembling a variety of compositions to create a portrait of songs through different points in my life. I focused solely on songs with vocal melodies and lyrics for this project, while at the same time, writing and recording a set of songs for an autobiographical account, released in 2019, that is solely acoustic and instrumental. My “vocal” record is told through lyrics in Storyteller, while its instrumental, biographical counterpart, Amaris (set for release in 2019) does so through instrumental guitar.
In writing, recording, and sequencing Storyteller, I settled on 13 tracks (out of 29 vocal compositions I was working on at the time) to chronicle various points in my life through music and words.
To effectively see my vision through, I reached back to revisit several songs from my past. For example, the song Another Lonely Night is one of the earliest songs I ever wrote and was written during my sophomore year in high school. Another song titled This Winding Road was written late in the evening on my 20th birthday and is based on a poem I wrote earlier that morning about my parents, my family, and the countless dreams of the Irish that came to America and contributed so much to this country.
When I originally wrote the liner notes for Storyteller, I did so in early September, 2018 with a release date of October 8, 2019. I was especially proud of the song This Winding Road and how it turned out. I completed recording This Winding Road almost 30 years after it was originally written and I loved how it sounded. One of the reasons I enjoyed This Winding Road was based on the lyrics in the chorus:
But if you take it for life
And hope that everything will be alright
And you take it in stride
Knowing you will always have your pride
And don’t you know
Running down this winding road
And don’t you know
When it’s time to move on…
I was struck by how my lyrics, written 30 years earlier, had such a different meaning to me now as compared to when I was 20 years old. On January 19, 1990, I wrote those lyrics as an optimistic reflection on where I had come from as an Irish American and where my dreams could still take me. In early September, 2019, these same lyrics held a different meaning and had quite a different impact on me. In many ways, I was pessimistically looking for inspiration, reassurance everything “would” be alright, and that it was time to move on. Life experiences, as it turns out, does impact outlook and vision.
On October 6, 2018, two days before the release of Storyteller, my father, Christopher “Danny” Dignam, passed away. He never got to hear this recording of the song that he inspired me to write. The man who inspired the first line in my original poem, which resulted in the entire focus for the rest of the song’s lyrics, was gone. For the third time, these same lyrics suddenly had renewed (and different) meaning. This caused me to once again shift, but this time away from the “self” in Running Down this Winding Road, to the “selfless.”
My focus was once again looking towards the future, and not dwelling on those individuals in life whose only goal was to obscure the path towards happiness; a path they cannot walk, as they, themselves, are eternally lost. I refocused my efforts and beliefs far from those who try to trip you as you travel down this winding road, have certainly done so to others in the past, and will do so again. My sense was they carry pain wherever they go and their road does not wander. They run in circles. However, their path would not be mine. For me, much was put in perspective and it was time “to move on” based on my desire to continue my personal journey through life and live.
The songs on Storyteller were written and inspired by the people I have known, experiences I have had, and their impact on me. Each song is an affirmation of my personal passage and sojourn and serves to musically narrate the “art” of storytelling.
Produced, Engineered, and Recorded by Chris Dignam at Red Cell Studios Chicago, Illinois for Gram Theft Audio Sound and Production, LLC
Published by CANE Dubh Music (ASCAP)
Equinox Management / 606N Entertainment Group
All songs written and arranged by Chris Dignam except No Time 4 Crying, uNSPOKEN wORDS, and W84M written by Chris Dignam, Liam Carolan, and Domingo Castillo. Still Loving U written by Chris Dignam and Liam Carolan.
Photography by Norah Dignam
Art direction, design, and layout by Chris Dignam
Chris Dignam – Electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, mandolin, lap steel, bass, keyboards, piano, accordion, harmonica, percussion, and backing vocals
Liam Carolan – Lead vocals on The Promise, Lost in Your Name, No Time 4 Crying, Another Lonely Night, uNSPOKEN wORDS, Desert Rain, I’ll B There 4U, Still Loving U, W84M, This Winding Road, and Where the Wind Blows
Eric Martinez – lead vocals on D’ton Nkwo Wyh and Worlds Apart
Andrea Pokrefke – Lead vocal duet on Desert Rain
Bob Repin, Jr. – Drums on The Promise, Lost in Your Name, uNSPOKEN wORDS, I’ll B There 4U, Still Loving U, W84M, and Where the Wind Blows
Jeff Moehle – Drums on D’ton Nkwo Wyh and Worlds Apart