Story behind the music:
It all started with a melody bouncing around in the cranium of Jason Arvanites way back in 1994. At that time Jason was asked to be front man for a band called Meridian and to perform a one time show of original songs with a few covers thrown in. In the process of preparing the event, Jason was handed a sheet of lyrics without any music. Thus was born the melody that would eventually become Great Escape. This was ultimately was replaced by another melody by the song’s lyricist. But that’s a whole other story. In any event, it went back into Jason’s mental file cabinet to be revisited at a later date.
In the early 2000’s, using a bunch of wav loops, Jason created a dance mix that would be a suitable vehicle for this haunting melody. The goal was to evoke a mental image of a flowing, ever moving stream of sound. (Side note): At one point American Idol held a song writing contest that would hopefully lead to a hit for the winner of the show. Jason got the bright idea to send in “Great Escape (Dance)” as an entry. There couldn’t have been worse lyrics for the show. Seeing as the song has to do with getting out from under the pressures put upon us by the world and escaping them. Something the producers of the program most likely would not find suitable content. It was suggested that the contest was rigged anyway just to get people to watch and send in their hard-earned money to submit their songs. Ultimately, some professional songwriters “won”. But, with the title track back in full control of its originator (unless something was missed in the contest contract) it became apparent that it was better suited for this project.
Track list details:
“Great Escape”- Sung by the bluesy boca of Tom Granata. This version came about purely through experimentation on an acoustic guitar one day. It ended up in more of a Jack Johnson style. Tom’s music can be heard on CD Baby as well. Type in: “Left foot Lightfoot” for some great Gordon Lightfoot covers.
“In My Room”- Sung by the harmonic fusion of Jason & Elaine Arvanites. This well known Beach Boys song has always been a favorite for Jason and Elaine to practice harmonies to in the car. Given a 21st century treatment, with synth embellishments, African rhythms and today’s popular vocal effects, the theme of escaping to one’s room was too hard to pass up.
“Brazilian Waves”- Sung by the silky styling of Alycia Wright. The working title was “Latin Song”, but after hearing it, Alycia & her husband Jamie felt it had a strong Brazilian style. With the opening and closing ocean sounds, it seemed the most obvious title was this one. The lyrics and melody were written by Elaine and pertain to a person viewing the vast sea and being moved to commune with the creator in wonder.
“Flying Without Wings”- This song, written and sung by the chameleonic chops of Jason, was inspired by a conversation he had with his friend, collaborator and former member of Serenade’s acoustic act, Gary Alt. ( www.garyalt.com) His friend Cliff took him to see a movie where the characters were flying on their own. Cliff felt that this was something man might be able to achieve someday. The thought of flying unaided by machinery or even wings has always been a fascinating subject of many a dream. A high escapism factor made this inclusion a no-brainer. This is also the first recording Jason has ever made of himself playing slide guitar.
“Coffee Cup Diaries”- Sung by the cream soda-like, Bossa Nova voice of Elaine. This little ditty, using a borrowed electric-nylon string guitar, could easily find itself in a coffee commercial. Only true coffee lovers can fully understand the comfort that comes from that afternoon sip and the happy little world into which they are cast.
“Dreaming”- A little Eastern culture finds its way into this project with Jason on heavily effected lead vox. This piece was highly inspired by the auspices of George Harrison’s songwriting and the cool styles of today’s ambient artists. Lyrics and melody were co- written by Elaine & Jason. The escapist theme cannot get any more obvious or germane. Eerie guitar using a volume pedal and other effects was provided by Robert Waddington the bass player for Serenade’s full band.
“A New Revelation”- Sung by the vigorously vibrant vibrato of Lyndsay Alt. Written by Jason, this song has a style not unlike Lenny Kravitz doing his Beatlesque thing. The theme comes from the Bible book of Revelation. Chapter 20:12 of that book indicate that scrolls would be opened and that resurrected mankind would get a second chance at life based on their education and observance of what was contained therein. For them it would be quite the “revelation”. For those who had a head start through their current understanding and compliance, it would be more of a continuation of what they’ve already come to learn. In any case, this song stays thematically consistent as it tells the story of the ultimate escape from a world of defunct rulership to a much better one.
“Stars in the Sky”- Sung by the mild-tempered tongue of Eric P. Moore. At this point in the project, Jason felt there needed to be a piano based song. Probably the most reflective sounding song in the bunch as it portrays a fellow lying on the hood of his car staring up a star filled night sky. Turn the clock back about 3,000 years and picture another man doing the same thing on the back of his camel. His song was recorded in Psalms 8:3, 4. Both carry the idea of a state of awe and forming a bond with the Designer and Maker of those magnificent bodies of light. It’s easy to get lost in that state of mind.
“Swimming in the Night”- Sung by the sultry-smooth tones of Kyuok Kim-Santana who just happens to be Jason’s niece. Kyuok can also be heard on Jason & Elaine’s children’s CD “Brain Jam” singing “Love Your Neighbor”. This song was evoked by memories of cool summer nights, diving in a friend’s pool and watching the steam rise from the water. The senses are on high alert and euphoria ensues. Escapism at its best.
“Favorite Kind of Blue” – Sung by the hickory smoked larynx of Tom Granata. This song explores the interesting nature of mixed emotions. It’s a fantasy about a guy who wakes up on a desert island and is hit with a sense of relief and contentment, only to find that the love of his life is not there with him. As he looks around and sees nothing but blue sky and water he vacillates between the love of the literal blue that surrounds him and the melancholy blue he feels from the absence of his wife. Upon waking up to reality, he is overtaken by an even greater happiness as he realizes that this loss, however imaginary, confirms his true love for her. A romantic escape indeed.
“Clouds” - Sung by the powerful, Croatian lungs of Gerry Musap. In fact, inspired by Gerry’s fascination with what she calls “Jehovah’s clouds”, Jason wrote this song with her voice in mind. Who isn’t moved, now and then, by the grand, cumulus, white formations that majestically drape the sky? A nebulous wonderland awaits as we imagine ourselves floating among these gentle giants. Escape to the heavens with this musical tribute to the vaunted vaults of vapor and the one who ingeniously produced them to keep us well watered.
“Great Escape (Dance) - This is the one that started and ends it all. Sung by the morphing maw of Jason, this composition employed vocoder effects to give it that modern, dance style so popular today and to finish this venture with a bang. Move your feet and escape to another world as this musical ride comes to a close.