A few words about the songs...

Everyone Surrenders, Everybody Wins In addiction recovery circles, it is often said that one must surrender to win. In other words, your chances at recovery are slim until you throw in the towel. This song takes that belief to a higher level as it considers world peace and extends an invitation to all to choose love, union and gratitude, and give up the literal fight that perpetuates the planet's vast sorrows.

The Journey I wrote this about twelve years ago while visiting my hometown of Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. It seemed to write itself over a couple of days. Tying gypsy tea, briar barbs and Celtic Runes into the lyrics is in tribute to my Irish upbringing and the clans, Sullivan, McDonough and Nihan, of counties Galway and Cork. I miss the lilting brogues of grandparents and of being called Seamus, Gaelic for James. The song reflects on one's origin, life's journey, and its inevitable and acceptable end, "when I sail across the blue".

Points of View Appropriate words from my book, ReVisions: Seeing Old Stories with New Eyes: "A reactive mind need not be master over one's heart, sabotaging true happiness and blinding us to the beauty of life. By revisioning our old stories we can turn ruminations into illuminations. How do we see the world? Do we count our injustices or our blessings?" This song presents a few oppositional perspectives, using nature and metaphor, and encourages love and acceptance. There is so much more than resistant black and white thinking, there are all the limitless shades of gray in between. Sometimes we have different points of view and we are all right, and alright. One perspective does not require making someone else wrong.

This World Just Takes My Breath Away This is the newest creation for the album. In late October, 2021, I was at my job at Onsite Workshops. It was about 5:45am and I was sitting in the dark outside on a bench, drinking my first cup of coffee and playing a guitar, one of my best ways of meditating. An early-rising client passed by and she said, "Look behind you." When I did I saw the colorful beginnings of a new day, extaordinary hues of rose and violet. I turned back to the client, saying with a smile, "The painted dawn." She continued on. I began to think of all the glorious things I have been gifted to see during my life. I've always thought that we should maintain a gratitude list of the things we've seen. Lyrics continued to float in during the next couple of days: "The painted dawn, the spotted fawn, the crescent moon above the sea...". I am grateful for this song and its message. The production is minimal but beautifully enhanced by Nashville's renowned studio pianist, Gary Prim.

This Land Is Not Our Land This was my first collaboration with singer/songwriter, Becky Hobbs, who is known for penning many songs, including Angels Among Us for Alabama. We wrote this at my previous farm residence in Bon Aqua, Tennessee, circa 2001. Its focus is on the conflict of beliefs between the Native Americans and the encroaching Europeans. The indigenous people considered all land to belong to the Great Spirit, whereas the Europeans believed you could buy it. Becky is an Oklahoman and descendent of Nanyehi (Nancy Ward), Beloved Woman of the Cherokees. A decade ago, Becky went on to complete a dream project, a musical stage play celebrating her ancestor. The National Museum of the American Indian initially awarded a grant to the producers of the musical and it has since opened several times, most recently at the Hardrock Theater, near Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Cherokee reservation. Our song is prominently featured in the musical. It took me twenty years to record my own version. To learn more about Becky, the musical, and her music, visit www.beckyhobbs.com.

Cinder in the Wind This song morphed a bit as it was created over the last several years. It is another song about looking back, reflecting on potential regret, but also of looking forward at one's mortality and hopefully beyond.

The Art of Letting Go In January, 2011, I was in idyllic Big Sur, California, supporting my Dawn as she led a women's spiritual journey. We cavorted and engaged in ceremony in the redwood forest and on the secluded beaches at the ends of switch-back trails. As an observer of courageous and transformative events, I was inspired, as I oftem am, to journal the visuals and feelings that I witness, interpret and experience. The Art of Letting Go is a song that entwines and melds the ladies on the journey: Dawn, Heather, Kelly, Lindsey and Perrin. I am pleased to present this with lyrical poetry and a complex and interesting guitar accompaniment. My old Nashville friend, Mike Stidolph, was able to add the fiddle parts remotely from La Crosse, Wisconsin.

I Am a Human (Being Myself) I first wrote this in 2004 as a sad, regretful ballad. I was director of an addictions outpatient program at the time and I played it for a few clients. It was effective in generating a few needed tears during therapy. But I shelved it, not quite satisfied with a message that did not suggest change and redemption. In recent years, I dusted it off and started again. I always loved the title, and the way the word "being" could be both a noun and a verb.

For the Love of Liza Jane As I approached my 65th birthday, I was reflecting on life and five decades of working in music. I began songwriting and performing in earnest in 1976, appearing in coffeehouses and other venues around New England. In 1982, I wrote this song while living in a cabin in the redwoods of Camp Meeker, California. It was inspired by the name of a girl I knew in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, circa 1975. I've always liked the sentiment. I chose it while looking back and considering the many choices, crossroads and inevitable regrets that, I'm sure, impact every life truly lived.

A Wall Around Your Heart I began pushing these words around during the last two years, as the country became divisive and immigrant issues were a front-burner issue. My consideration was personal as I contemplated the choice between being open versus closed, and how such perceptions shape us on the inside, not just in the world. In September of 2019, I brought this to a writing session with renowned songwriter, Wood Newton. Wood and I had success in 1990, with our song, "I Can See Arkansas" (recorded by Steve Wariner, Anne Murray, David Ball and others), and this session was like a reunion after a twenty year hiatus. We finished it on the front porch of his country home.

Everyone Surrenders (Reprise) Just what the title says. Minimal lyrics merged with the music, a meditative mantra and finale to this album.

Liner Notes and More

1. Everyone Surrenders, Everybody Wins (5:30)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Gary Prim: Piano
Ron de la Vega: Cello
Dawn Zurlinden: Vocals

2. The Journey (3:30)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Duane Sciacqua: Dobro, bass, percussion

3. Points of View (3:57)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: Mandolin, dobro, bass, percussion

4. This World Just Takes My Breath Away (4:43)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Gary Prim: Piano

5. This Land Is Not Our Land (4:43)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar, flute
Duane Sciacqua: Electric guitar, banjo, bass, percussion

6. Cinder in the Wind (2:52)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, ocarina
Duane Sciacqua: Acoustic guitar, percussion

7. The Art of Letting Go (5:12)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: Acoustic guitar, percussion
Mike Stidolph: Fiddle

8. I Am a Human (Being Myself) (4:35)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: Acoustic guitar, B3, bass, percussion

9. For the Love of Liza Jane (3:28)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: mandolin
Gary Prim: Wurlitzer

10. A Wall Around Your Heart (4:08)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Duane Sciacqua: Electric guitar, bass, percussion
Ron de la Vega: Cello
Wood Newton: Backup vocals

11. Everyone Surrenders (Reprise) (2:29)
James: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Gary Prim: Piano
Ron de la Vega: Cello
Dawn Zurlinden: Vocals

Heron's Feather Productions

Produced by James Nihan and Duane Sciacqua
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Rough Edges Studio,
Nashville, TN, 2017 & 2021. Visit www.jamesnihan.com
to view and download lyrics, and to explore other available
music, books & art by James.

Art, photos and design by James, except back cover
photo by Kelly Gardner, taken 2019 in Sedona, AZ.

James plays Butch Hall flutes. Visit www.butchhallflutes.com

Changing the world, one song at a time.

ęCopyright 2022 All songs written by James Nihan and published by
Composure Music (ASCAP), except for This Land Is Not Our Land, written
by Becky Hobbs and James Nihan, published by Becca's Mecca Music(BMI)
and Composure Music (ASCAP), and A Wall Around Your Heart, written by
Wood Newton and James Nihan, published by Rope A Note Music (BMI)
and Composure Music (ASCAP).

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