“It’s Time” CDs now available

As I promised two weeks agits_time_albumso, “It’s Time” is now available in CD form.

For those of you who enjoy something to hold onto and the thrill of reading liner notes, this is for you! Read about each song, as well as what inspirations fueled the entire album.

They can be purchased directly from CD Baby. I’ll also have them for sale at the 13th Annual Concert for Life on March 10, 2013.

Thanks as always for your support!

Baseball down under

Apparently Australia has baseball. How do I know? Because I had this email in my inbox this morning:

Hi Matt,

The members of the Baseball Umpires’ Association of South Australia (BUASA) send you their regards. They really love your song.

I mean, really love it.

All the best.

(Signed by one of the umps)

My favorite emails to get about my music are from people I’ve never met. It makes me think that slowly but surely my music is creeping its way into new pockets of the world and earning me new fans. Or if nothing else it’s a comfort to know that thanks to the Internet anyone in any country can stumble upon one of my songs.

I wrote this guy back and told him his email made my day. And that I had no idea they played baseball in Australia. Maybe the Cubs should send some scouts there to find some talent …

And now all this talk about baseball has me excited for spring training. So I’ll leave you with the 2007 Concert for Life version of the Baseball Song.

Place of Mine

Admittedly, this is my favorite among the ‘new songs’ on the album. I love its warm, electric guitar beginning. I love how the piano comes in on the first chorus. I love the drum beat. I love the harmonies. And then there are the words.

“Place of Mine” is a song about living life as a journey and not as a means to an end. It’s important to have goals in life — things that we set our eyes on and pursue with determination until we’ve reached them. But if we pursue those destinations with such blind fervor that we fail to enjoy the journey that gets us there, then we’ve failed to live.

In my case, I’m still not sure what my desired destination even is. There isn’t one job I want above all others or one city I want to live in above all others. Perhaps that will take shape in the next few years, but for now, I’m at a point where I’m pretty clueless as to where I’ll be 10 or 20 years from now. All I could tell you is that I’ll probably still be in Milwaukee and I hope to have a handful of kids and a nice house. I think that would make me the happiest person in the world, actually.

But I still do wonder about my place in life and what it is I’m destined to do and who it is I’m destined to be. “Place of Mine” talks about this point in my life. The song is me wondering aloud about where my life is going and coming to the realization that the path I’m supposed to take has no known ending. This “place of mine” that I’m searching for is still a mystery to me, but I’m now convinced that the path I’m on (going to Marquette University … working for the Milwaukee Bucks … meeting my wife, Katie … getting my MBA … moving to Germany for a year …) is all part of the plan and I’d be a fool if I spent more time worrying about the destination and less time enjoying the journey and all of experiences along the way.

Life is an amazing gift. And so much can happen and change with one year — months, even. “Place of Mine” is a reminder to me and a call to everyone else to take life in those small increments. Enjoy the present. Wonder about the future, but don’t be so consumed about where you want to be that you forget to enjoy where you are.

Lyrics to “Place of Mine”

A summer night.
I’m standing here. A starry night.
And searching for a satellite
To help me find my way.
Suddenly
A path appears in front of me
I know that this was meant to be
And now I’m on my way.
I’ll go and find this place of mine
Even though I cannot see the ending.

Now’s the time
To open our hearts and to see
Our lives are drawn by the places we seek
In this world, the journey defines who we are.

Another day
I might have gone another way
In search of something. Not today.
The path’s in front of me.
Maybe I
Was meant to find a starry night
To help me see with open eyes
This is my destiny.
So I’ll go and find this place of mine
And I hope to see amazing.

Now’s the time
To open our hearts and to see
Our lives are drawn by the places we seek
In this world, the journey defines who we are.

Chances come to greet us every morning.
Chances come to greet us in our sleep.
Chance is all around us.
A chance is all we need to find
The way to the places that we seek.

Now’s the time
To open my hearts and to see
My life is drawn by the places I seek.
In this world, the journey defines who I am.

Now’s the time
To open our hearts and to see
Our lives are drawn by the places we seek
In this world, the journey defines who we are.
Who we are.
Who we are.

“Place of Mine” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.

Ladies and gentlemen: “It’s Time”

its_time_coverIt’s here! Well, in digital terms at least. As of today, “It’s Time” can be purchased and downloaded in its entirety from iTunes and Amazon, with other online retailers soon to follow. If you’re willing to wait a little bit longer so that you can purchase the actual physical CD, those should be available for purchase (through CD Baby) by the end of the month. I will send out another blog post at that point.

But back to the exciting news — “It’s Time” has been released! And before I go into a few details about the album, I’ll pause for a few minutes to give you time to go buy and download a copy.

(pause)

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, I want to share a few facts about this album that I find kind of interesting.

  • “It’s Time” includes over 45 minutes of original music — my first such album in seven years (wow)
  • There are 11 tracks in total, including two instrumentals
  • It’s my most secular album ever (I intentionally saved the religious pieces for another album that I want to start on soon), with the exception of “Prayer of St. Francis
  • This album was truly an international project: pieces of it were recorded in three countries (United States, Germany and Poland) and in eight separate cities
  • Never before have I had a piano-less track on an album and “It’s Time” includes three of them: “Eternity,” “Prayer of St. Francis” and “Lorraine’s Song”
  • Six of the 11 tracks (“Place of Mine,” “Wherever You Go,” Eternity,” “Doolin,” “Prayer of St. Francis,” “Lorraine’s Song”) were written in 2012 and five of those were written from Germany (I wrote “Lorraine’s Song” during a visit back to the States in April)
  • The oldest song on the album, “This Could Be,” dates back to the summer of 2006 (“If We Walk” was also written in 2006)
  • Just as “Carry On” had several references to the title throughout the album, “It’s Time” also includes several songs that talk about time. Of course, there’s the song the album is named for. Here are some others:

Now’s the time to open our hearts and to see our lives are drawn by the places we seek. (“Place of Mine”)

No more hesitation. We’ll have the time of our lives. Every indication says it’s time. (“Wherever You Go”)

Everything I have in life always happens on my time. That’s changing. (“Eternity”)

Time goes on. Never slow. Seasons come. Seasons go. (“Eternity”)

It’s an Irish home in an Irish land and I’ll pass the time with cards in hand hearing stories of this town I’ve come to see. (“Doolin”)

I also want to give a quick public ‘thank you’ to Larry Pajakowski and Mike Przygoda. Larry has been the sound guy behind most of my albums. He was the one who knew ‘how to record stuff’ back in 1998 when I wanted to record a piano CD called “Pure Inspirations.” He is a true friend, full of knowledge, patience and enthusiasm. Because I lived in Germany, we spent most of the album sharing files back and forth on Dropbox and trading early-morning and late-night emails. It was a blast. And Mike, a friend of mine from high school and a force behind my recordings and live shows for several years, served as an assistant producer for “It’s Time.” He gave Larry and I a fresh set of ears to help us critically listen to the tracks and offered sound advice whenever we were stuck as to which direction to take. On top of that, he single-handedly played and recorded a vast number of the instruments you hear on the album. He’s a true friend and a great musician. (Side note: If anyone ever needs recording help of their own, he just started his own company with a friend called “Speed-Fi.”)

So there you have it. A little bit of information about an album that I can proudly say is my best ever. I am so excited for people to hear it and even more so to hear which songs they relate to. This was a very real album for me. Every single song was born out of some experience — good or bad — and I know that others are going to identify with them for one reason or another.

Another thing that made this project so fascinating was the way technology has opened doors that were closed back in 2006 when I recorded “Carry On.” I alluded above to using Dropbox with Larry when doing the mixing. Thanks to “the cloud” I could go into a song, make some edits and Larry could instantly see my changes and hear them on his end — even though he was in Illinois and I was across the ocean in Germany. Think of how much time and effort that saved.

Another example is when I saw a viral video on YouTube of a guy, Ryan, playing drums on this summer’s mega-hit “Call Me Maybe” (which a friend had forwarded to me as part of a random conversation we were having via email — unfortunately the video is no longer public). I was so impressed with his drumming that I reached out to him on Twitter, asked for his email address and then asked if he’d be willing to record some tracks for my album. Turns out he and a friend own a studio and he was able to take my audio (thanks to the cloud) and lay down drum tracks from Minneapolis and shoot them over to be in Munich. How awesome is that?! YouTube + Twitter + the cloud = access to musicians anywhere in the world.

And then there’s Daria, the cellist on this album, who is the reason I get goosebumps every time I listen to the song “It’s Time” (just wait until you hear it!). I heard her playing one day in Munich’s Marienplatz. She was the leader of a cello quartet. In between one of their songs I asked for her email and whether or not she’d like to be on my album. She said (in broken English) that she’d love to, but she was going back to Poland later that day. Normally that would have been the end of that, but thanks to technology, I was able to email her the tracks and sheet music and she was able to work with her engineering friend to record and send me pristine tracks of her playing the cello.

Maybe this doesn’t fascinate you as much as it does me. But the fact remains that independent musicians like me who record albums on our own now have access to an infinitely greater number of musicians than ever before. Technology is so amazing.

I could go on and on about the album, but think it’s time I shut-up so you can go and listen to it. I’ll leave you with a portion of the liner notes that explain a little bit about each song.

Place of Mine — Our lives are defined by the people and places we seek out and experience first hand. And while none of us can know with certainty the destination, it’s the journey that makes life worth living.

Wherever You Go — The message of ‘wherever you go I will follow’ has been around since biblical times (Book of Ruth 1:16). For me, I never felt this way more strongly than when my wife and I decided to take a leap of faith and spend 2012 in Europe.

It’s Time — We all have demons in life that we need to face at one time or another — things that drag us down or keep us from being who we were truly meant to be. This song is about rising above those challenges and helping others do the same.

Eternity — Waiting is hard, especially when it’s for something completely out of our control. But there are just some things in life worth waiting an eternity for.

This Could Be — A song about realizing the person you’re dating could be the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. And in my case, she was.

Eileen’s Song — Dedicated to my wife’s grandmother, Eileen Rickey, whose motherly presence will forever be remembered.

Doolin — I wrote this song after visiting the town of the same name on the western coast of Ireland. As Irish as an Irish town can be.

My Love — The first person to ever hear this song was my wife, Katie, who heard it just minutes before I proposed in April of 2008.

If We Walk — I’ve always said that the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” is the greatest fundraiser idea ever — millions of people raising millions of dollars one step after another. It’s amazing how much hope and change comes from a simple walk.

Prayer of St. Francis — One of my favorite prayers and a reminder that the path to peace, love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light and joy begins within each one of us.

Lorraine’s Song — Dedicated to my grandmother, Lorraine Kitzke, who lived life with unparalleled beauty, grace and enthusiasm.

I hope you enjoy the album as much as I enjoyed making it! I’d love to hear what you think: matt@mattwesselmusic.com.

This Could Be

The oldest song on the album! This one goes all the way back to the summer of 2006 when I put pen to paper (well, more like melody to head) in order to express my feelings for this blonde college girl I was dating. We were five months in — almost twice as long as any other relationship I had been in at that point — and I was starting to think beyond months or years and more along the lines of a lifetime.

Now, when you’re a song-writer, it’s sort of an endless well you can go to if you want to impress a lady friend. But this song was more than just scoring romance points. I wanted to tell Katie — in the best way I knew how, through song — that I couldn’t shake this feeling that she could be the one for me (hence the title of the song).

I can still vividly remember Katie sitting next to me at the piano in St. Hedwig’s Church in Milwaukee as I played and sang the song for the first time. We were on bike ride and I intentionally pedaled us past the church so that I could surprise her with the tune. What Katie remembers most is when I got to the third verse and sang, “Slowly, I know this might sound crazy, but I’ve begun to see you next to me for years and years to come.” Apparently I had come to that realization before Katie had and, while she wasn’t scared or turned off by it, she was certainly surprised. (Her version of the story has her saying, “Holy sh–” to herself in her head.)

From then on she knew I was in it for the long haul. And not long after that she had her own epiphany when she, too, realized that I was the one. (Long story short, it involved my bringing a low-budget, low-class appetizer to a high-budget, high-class Bucks event. She loved that I didn’t care what anyone thought, but simply that I thought to bring something for others to share. As for me, I genuinely thought I was bringing something fun and cool that might impress my girlfriend. Although I guess it doesn’t matter how it happened, so long that it did!)

I’ve been playing this song on and off at my concerts since that fateful June day, so it’s certainly not a new one. But the arrangement is. Instead of adding vocal harmonies, I went with a cello line in the second verse and added two violins in the bridge. My buddy Mike Przygoda — who helped me out tremendously with the entire album — gave the song a great feel with acoustic guitar, bass, drums, vibraphone, organ and tambourine (he didn’t play them all at once). The end result is a piece I’m incredibly happy with and think you will be, too! You can hear an audio sample and see the lyrics below.

Update on “It’s Time” — The album is back from the mastering studio and will be uploaded to iTunes tomorrow. It will be available for digital download in about a week and physical purchase in about two weeks!

Audio Sample of “This Could Be”

Lyrics to “This Could Be”

Lately I have found I’m thinking
Of you every morning
Long before I open up my eyes.
And now I am wondering if you might be thinking
Of me every morning
Long before the sun begins to rise above.

Tell me everything about you
Tell me of your passions
And everything that makes you who you are.
I can’t remember feeling so inspired
Or such a strong desire
To open up and let somebody in
And this could be.
This could be.
This could be.

‘Cause the person that you are
Is the person that I’ve longed for years to find.
Someone to help me,
To challenge me and raise me to new heights.
And here you stand
Behind me.
Beside me.
You lead me.
Behind me.
Beside me.
You lead me.
You lead me.

Slowly, I know this might sound crazy,
But I’ve begun to see me next to you
For years and years to come.
And those who know me know that it’s unlike me
To think about what could be,
But then again, it’s you I’m thinking of
And this could be.
This could be.
This could be.

“This Could Be” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.

A little cover art

While the mastering studio is wrapping up the audio for “It’s Time,” I’m also working with a friend of mine — and former colleague from Marquette University — Sharon Grace on the design and layout of the album itself. Both should be done by the middle of this week, which means we’re literally only days away from release!

I decided to go with the eco-wallet packaging. For years the music industry used jewel cases for CDs — and many releases still come this way. They’re the hard plastic cases that we’re used to seeing when we buy CDs — and what I used for “Pure Inspirations,” “Come Run With Me,” “One Step Forward” and “Carry On.” But in today’s increasingly sustainable and ‘green’ society, it turns out that those cases are not the greatest for the environment because of the amount of plastic they use and their shipping weight.

Then came “digipaks.” They replaced the plastic of a jewel case with a cardboard-like material that’s usually made with recycled paper. And since the only plastic in this casing is the tray that holds the CD in place, it ends up using 63% less plastic! This is what I used for “Daily Bread,” “Be With Me” and “CFL Live.”

The eco-wallet is a new option that’s even greener than the digipak. It uses no plastic and is made entirely from premium recycled stock. The CD fits into a die-cut sleeve rather than a plastic snap-in tray. And the entire product is much lighter than a jewel case or digipak, making it cheaper (and more environmentally responsible) to ship. Plus, I feel it’s a much more practical CD case given that most of us don’t keep the cases around for very long anymore.

Now that this tutorial is over, I can share with you the real reason for this post — my cover art! Sharon didn’t have too much work to do here since I used a photo instead of actual art. This is one of my favorite pictures from my year in Europe. It was taken in the town of Lindau, Germany, a Bavarian town that sits on the southern tip of Lake Constance, just minutes from Austria and Switzerland. Lindau is a quaint, well-preserved German town with gorgeous views of Lake Constance and the Swiss Alps. The photo is of the Lindau lighthouse which is a commanding site to see when standing on the water’s edge. I remember seeing it for the first time in May – on a stop from Munich to Basel by train – and thinking to myself, “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. We were meant to come to Europe.” I had such an overwhelming feeling of peace and confidence at that point. I think that’s part of the reason why the photo became one of my favorites.

I used a filter to give it an Instagram-like look and Sharon added in two simple fonts for the title and my name. She also took the lighthouse’s clock (which sits on the other side of the lighthouse) and popped it in to this photo to help with the message of “time.”

Original photos:

Lindau Germany lighthouse

Lindau Germany lighthouse

CD cover:

It's Time Matt Wessel album cover

The rest of the CD has additional photos and design elements, but you’ll have to buy the album to see those! : )

You can also find more photos from my trip to Lindau on my Flickr page.

Prayer of St. Francis

Waiting for a new album to be made publicly available is like a 6-year-old waiting for Christmas morning. And just as a child might be given a gift on Christmas Eve or even earlier to satisfy the need to open at least one present, I always like posting one song in its entirety before the whole album is made available for purchase.

So my gift to you — “Prayer of St. Francis” from my new CD. It’s the only religious song on the album. I plan on doing an all-religious album in the next year or two, but I chose to put “Prayer of St. Francis” on this album because I wanted its message of peace and love to reach all audiences, not just those interested in liturgical music.

I’ve wanted to write a musical version of St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer for years, but every time I sat down to work on a melody, nothing sounded right. Things finally clicked for me late one night in Munich this past spring. I retreated into the bedroom after dinner to play the piano and try and write some new material for the album. I kept the lights off so that I was playing in a mostly dark room. I wasn’t planning on working on this text, but as I started to play the beginning chords, the song sort of just wrote itself from there. From beginning to end, the song took about 5 minutes to write. Sure, there was tweaking afterwards, but the core of the song — the original MP3 of which I still have (I always record my brainstorming sessions so I don’t forget the melodies later) — took only a few minutes to write. Like I said, it just sort of wrote itself, almost as if there was a higher power at work.

As for the recording, I chose to use a guitar instead of a piano. My good friend Chad Griesel recorded both a strummed part and a picked part from his basement in Wisconsin and sent them to me via ‘the Cloud.’ I then layered the two parts and added my voice. I was working on harmonies when I made the decision that this song would be infinitely more powerful with just a solo voice, giving the listener a better reason to truly hear the words.

I hope you find the prayer’s text as inspiring as I always have. And I hope you like my musical interpretation. Enjoy!

Audio of “Prayer of St. Francis”

Lyrics to “Prayer of St. Francis”

Make me an instrument of peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon let me bring.
Where there is doubt, let me sow the awesome power of faith.
Where there’s despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me give light.
When life is sad, let me spread happiness and joy.

And grant that I may
Never so much seek to be consoled as console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
To be loved as to love,
As to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
And it is in pardoning, we find our pardon.
And it is in dying that we are born,
Born to eternal life.
Amen.

Make me an instrument, an instrument of peace.

“Prayer of St. Francis” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.

Wherever You Go

As I count down the days until “It’s Time” is available for purchase, I thought it would be interesting to write blogs about one or two of the new tracks.

“Wherever You Go” is one of the truly new, never-before-heard songs which make up over half of the album’s 11 tracks. This particular song is about my relationship with my wife, Katie, built around our decision of whether or not to move to Munich, Germany. When I was weighing the pros and cons of going versus staying, I came to a realization that I was far less scared of a potential move because I knew I’d be doing it with Katie. I realized that I didn’t really care where I lived or what I did, as long as I was with my wife.

The concept of ‘wherever you go I will follow’ is hardly new. The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament says:

“Where you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and Your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

As you can imagine, this piece of scripture has been used for ages at weddings. It’s the perfect message for two individuals coming together as one; a perfect message of unity. And there are no shortage of songs with this text, songs that are titled – as you would likely guess – “Wherever You Go.”

But this song isn’t a religious or liturgical song. It has a mainstream, pop feel and was written to be more of a love song to transcend cultures, ages and religions. The lyrics have the “wherever you go” message, but with a personal spin that ties in our Germany decision (“And now we have a choice to make.” “We’ll have the time of our lives.”). But in the end, the song is a love letter from me to Katie saying, “As long as I am here on this earth, I will go wherever you go and be by your side.”

Audio Sample of “Wherever You Go”

Lyrics to “Wherever You Go”

From the day we started
My heart and mind, they always knew
That this world I live in would mean nothing without you.

And now we have a choice to make.
Which way to go, which path to take.
The one less traveled or the one we’re walking through?

Every indication says the time is right.
Every explanation: you and I.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

Better days will find us.
Some days will hurt more than before.
But I’ll protect you when the rain begins to pour.

My life will never be the same.
The life I’ve started here will change.
But how amazing that my life will change with yours.

No more hesitation.
We’ll have the time of our lives.
Every indication says it’s time.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

From this moment on I trust that we will always see the brighter side.
From this moment on I give to you all I have, what’s inside of me.
From this moment on I pray that God will walk with us, talk with us.
From this moment on where you live is my home.

No more hesitation.
We’ll have the time of our lives.
Every indication says it’s time.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

(Visit my website for lyrics to all of my new songs.)

“Wherever You Go” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.