This is the prototype I made of the album cover. The album title hadn't been confirmed when I did it. The title is Never Say Goodbye.
God gave me grace with the photo
because I unwittingly used my new, pristine macro lens to take it, not realizing that the depth of field on
that lens was super shallow and inappropriate for a portrait. But
I didn't know better at that point.
Click on the cover to view a PDF
I made of the lyric booklet prototype.
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Never Say Goodbye had thirteen tracks, eight of which were completed
with Dan at the helm. After we lost Dan,
I was employed to create the tracks for five more songs. All I had was an approxi-
mation of the chord progressions on bits of paper and Lani's remembrance. In one case, I had a tape of a live performance, but no chords.
When I went up to Wellborn to do this, I stayed in the Clark guest house. I recorded the instrumental tracks for two
of the songs on my laptop there, before
I went into the studio. On All You Are To Me and More Than Anything, I took my mac into the studio and fed Donald the tracks. Then Lani added her vocal and I added the guitar solo there. Donald mixed, sweetened, and mastered it all.
I'm only posting the songs I arranged and
There Is Jesus
All You Are To Me
More Than Anything
'Cause I Believe
I made many trips to Wellborn. On one occasion,
I brought my Fostex digital recorder, and, at that time, I had
a professional video camera. I captured an improvisation of
Be Thou My Vision with Dan. He had this fancy augmented
chord that he showed me. I really love it. Please forgive the psychedelia.
In April of 2000, I heard Leilani Clark and her dad, Dan, on a radio show, which used to air on Sunday afternons for us. The show featured a lot of humor, great music, and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegone
monologues. Once, they had a talent contest for residents of small towns. Lani was 12 years old, accompanied by Dan. The whole thing is a wonder, but I can't write a novel here. She won the show and
I wrote the Clarks, telling them how much I loved what they did, and encouraged them to keep doing it.
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This is one of several lead sheets I made with Finale on my mac on my first trip to Wellborn.
I was surprised when I got a response to my message. We corresponded for a time and became friends. Dan invited me to come to their place in Wellborn, which is near Lake City. He told me they'd put me up in their guest house, and I would notate several songs on my mac. I did that, spent a week up there with this amazing Christian family on an amazing property.
Down the road a bit, Dan sent me a recording of the acoustic guitar part of a song Leilani was going to be putting on her new album. He asked me to create a part and come up and record in Donald Johns' studio.
I drove up to Wellborn on September 1, 2006.
I was supposed to lay down the dobro part to There Is Jesus in Donald Johns' studio. Oddly, no one was there when I arrived at the Clarks' place. I don't recall the whole sequence of events now, but at some point somebody showed up and let me in. I don't remember who told me, but I was informed that Dan had gone fishing with his wife, Victoria, and had fallen out of the boat into the waters of Steinhatchee Bay. She had jumped in to try to rescue him and was in the water a long time before the Coast Guard came to her aid. I do hope this is all accurate. In any case, my good friend went to be with God that day.
Victoria came home exhausted, and, I suppose, in shock. Someone had let me in the house and I took many telephone calls and I had to take messages and relate the
little I knew to many people I did not know. I was dazed myself, but I do remember being with Lani when she was
told she had lost her dad.
This event afffected me profoundly. As far as the album's fate was concerned, that remained to be decided. Ultimately, it was decided to finish it. I don't remember how much time elapsed before I made that long drive to Wellborn again to record There Is Jesus. I laid down the dobro part without problems. But the bass player didn't show up, so I offered to sub. So I did the bass. And another acoustic guitar and the Tacoma mandolin. I think Victoria was surprised by
the finished song. After that, I was given the opportunity and responsibility for the remaining four songs. I offered to do the photography as well, and I guess nobody objected.
Val Halloran is a lyricist and collaborated with Dan on
all the songs. There was only one song that wasn't an original.
In the light of all that happened, the lyrics on Never Say Goodbye seem downright prophetic.
12-year-old Leilani Clark on
Prarie Home Companion singing Nitey Nite
Dan and Leilani Clark on
Prarie Home Companion singing I'm Amazed