Music & Video

 

Missing Signals, released on March 3, 2015, is a collection of 12 of my original songs. Recorded by Cory Tetford at CTM in Dartmouth, NS except: my vocals, piano & keyboards and Lily Campbell’s vocal recorded by me at The Velvet Cod Studio in Hubley, NS. Clean guitar on Shameful Things, flute, Hammond B3, Billy & the Bruiser’s horn section, & Byron’s bass, recorded by Darren Pynn at the Nickel Sound Works in St. John’s, NL. Strings and horns on You Don’t Have to Explain recorded by Darren van Niekerk at The Sonic Temple Studio in Halifax, NS; assisted by Mike Hastings. Guitar on Nowhere Train and You Don’t Have to Explain recorded by Dean Parks in Los Angeles, CA. Pedal steel recorded by Chris Ledrew in St. John’s. I arranged the horn and string arrangements and co-produced the album with Cory. Missing Signals would not have been possible without his endless work ethic and creativity.

1. Friend of Mine (Jason Campbell, Greg Tobin)

IMG_9633Chain might break but I won’t let go
Kicking this can’s a lonely road
Just one more thing I’ve gotta see
Before the lights go out on me

I’m restless and I get so tired
Fast asleep but still I’m wired
Take me to these promised lands
Not in my head, but in my hands

Grab your coat, I’ll start the car
Let’s drive around, see where we are
And if we just run out of road
I’m calling all the debts I’m owed
Amazed to be this far

And now before I forget
To tell you, ever since we met
I might let you down sometimes
But you are a friend of mine

And I don’t mean you no harm
When our happy dance has lost it’s charm
When I think about my life
My son and daughter, where’s my wife
There’s only empty arms

So take me or send me away
Blast me into outer space
Place me on the flight, I can’t wait
If I fly up there too long
Will I burn out or return
Will it be too late to come home

No I won’t let go
Until I know
Something I gotta see
So shine a light on me

We have come so far
To learn who we are
And if there’s more than sand
In our promised land

Before I forget
Ever since we met
Though I’ve let you down sometimes
You are a friend of mine

vocals, piano – Jason Campbell
guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris MacFarlane

Friend of Mine started out as a demo from Greg with Jay Meadus on Bass. The piano break in the middle was originally a “Na na na” vocal idea Greg had on there. I wrote all the lyrics and melody. Cory stayed pretty true to the original demo but rocked it up quite a bit – distortion on the bass for example. For this drum track Kris removed all his toms and brought out 18” high hats. I’m pretty sure this was done in one take. I over-dubbed 9 vocal tracks for the “take me or send me away” lines in the end.                                                 

2. I Wish (Jason Campbell)

When I think about the things I writeIMG_9292
In these letters that I never send
Around the world I’m just a satellite
Same old story and it always ends with you
Always with you

Will you sit down next to me a while
I try to figure out just what you need
Take me with you if I make you smile
Or put some shoes on and come run away with me
Far away with me

I wish I could be someone who makes you happy

When I think about the things I’d say
If I were someone who spoke out loud
All the secrets others hide away
Roll the windows down and shout it out to you
All this to you

Could you be spoken to in this way
And not just saying what you wanna hear
Could that motion carry the day
Could it move you for to lend your ear to me
All this to me

vocals – Jason Campbell
mandolin, acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, bass – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris MacFarlane

I Wish began as a crowd favorite Signal Hill song. The chorus had a very similar feel to On My Way. We never recorded it though and being mostly a cover band, we never really promoted it beyond our live show. We now play the Missing Signals version most nights. I later re-wrote I Wish as a piano tune but still wasn’t satisfied until I gave it to Cory. When Kris recorded his drum part I left the room confident in their vision for the tune. As was the case with much of this record, what I heard then inspired me to re-write a third and final lyric. Cory arranged this song on his own and played all the other instruments. It was released as the first single from Missing Signals on March 2, 2015, spent 18 weeks on the East Coast Countdown and peaked at #1.

3. You Don’t Have to Explain (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9591Here lies the truth
I still want you
Though I know that it’s wrong
And we don’t belong together

Time won’t erase
All our disgrace
Or provide
Reasons why

You don’t have to explain
I don’t really need to understand
You don’t have to explain
Sometimes that’s the way love goes

And after the fall
In no time at all
Tender words from the heart
All about starting over

Now look what you’ve done
You forced me to lay down my guns
Reach for the sky
Each time you cry

You don’t have to explain
I don’t really need to understand
You don’t have to explain
I don’t need to know

Where we are
That ship has sailed
And we’ve gone too far
To turn back now
Or try again
So the story ends

vocal, piano – Jason Campbell
Blue Engine String Quartet
violin 1 – Jennifer Jones
violin 2 – Anne Simons
viola – Alexandra Bates
cello – Hilary Brown
flugelhorn – Jody Lyne
alto sax – Sean Weber
trombone – Eric Landry
guitar – Dean Parks
double bass – Ron J Hynes
drums – Kris MacFarlane

You Don’t Have to Explain has seen several completely different lyrics as well. It was written just after the Nickel Sound Works sessions for What Did We Know, Looking Back & I’ve Got News and was previously recorded and released on Signal Hill’s Sepia Tones CD. We never played this song live though. I re-wrote the lyric and arranged the little orchestra for this final version. It is one of two songs on Missing Signals where I reached out to jazz guitarist Dean Parks in LA who easily sailed through the fairly complex changes. You can hear more of Dean Parks on thousands of famous recordings including a lot of Steely Dan, the film The Note Book and even Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The orchestra and crew at the Sonic Temple were all so professional and fun to work with that I wish I could do it all over again. Cory and I weren’t sure about how “jazz” we were going to allow this record to be but in the end, the song cried out for an upright bass and Ron J Hynes ably obliged.

4. Turn up the Sunshine (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9609You won’t let me walk
Away and say good-bye
I confess I would have
Never let you go
You won’t show me love
Why you keep it all inside
I just don’t know

Sitting here waiting for
The other shoe to fall
But I’ve been blessed with
Happiness from you so far
I can take it slow
Just to get to you I’d crawl
But it’s so hard

So turn up the sunshine
Let the rain go back to bed
Forget the bad times you’re recalling
Turn up the sunshine
Just remember what I said
It feels like we’re falling

Some people hide their hearts
Upon an empty shelf
I admit that it’s a
Lonely way to go
But when you find someone who
Frees you from yourself
You just know

So I’ll be here if you should
Ever change your mind
I’d go anywhere just
To be where you are
Now I’ve been laying low
Just waiting for a sign
But it’s so hard

I’d sure feel better if
I could give my love
To you instead
It’s the most I’ve ever
Wanted anything

But I’m gonna have to try
To disguise what’s
In my head
When I’m with you
I just wanna sing

vocals, piano – Jason Campbell
backing vocals – Lily Campbell
guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris MacFarlane

I have recorded this song twice before; with Higher Ground on Somewhere Under the Sun and with Signal Hill on Sepia Tones. It has always been a crowd favorite and Signal Hill’s version even spent some time on OZFM in Newfoundland. I love singing this song and we had so much fun recording it that  I can’t wait to play it live. On the last drum day at Cory’s, Kris brought out a trunk full of percussion. We just let him have at it and I was thrilled that Cory decided to keep every shake and beat. The real story here though is my darling daughter Lily who graciously allowed me to record her beautiful voice. She can be heard clearly on the “Woah woah’s” at the end especially. Lily has a wonderful sense of melody and pitch even at 6 years old. The coolest part was that she was able to level out her lovely vibrato in order to blend in with the other backing vocals.

5. I’m No Cowboy (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9261Say hello
You’re beautiful, this I know
Pleased to meet you
Come on let’s go

Yesterday
A wild mare, they could not tame
Compass turning
Ain’t no shame

It’s such a long road that winds along
I can guide you yeah

But I should tell you
I’m no Cowboy, hardly a hero
Just an old grey horse
In the same boat
But if you need rescue on sea or land
Then I’m your man
That’s all I am

Wave good-bye
Voyager, tide is high
Plans to keep you
They try and try

Everywhere
Seas are crashing in the air
Head for the mountains
Meet you there

It’s such a long way down to fall
But I will catch you yeah

And I won’t chase you into traffic
And I won’t try some other tactic
To keep you for my own

vocals – Jason Campbell
pedal steel – Chris Ledrew
acoustic and electric guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums – Kris MacFarlane

I originally wrote this song as a piano tune called Captain Cowboy. It always sounded too much like Elton John so we dropped the piano and gave it to Chris to try his hand at a pedal steel part. With Cory, this lead to a beautiful call and response between guitar and pedal steel. They simplified the jazz changes to mostly triads but by that time Kris had already laid down a swing section for the solo. In the end I loved the jazz / country conversation so much that I completely re-wrote the lyrics.

6. On My Way (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9497I am in the sky
High above the world
Looking down on my life
Thinking about a girl
And I am on my way

She is on the floor
Wide awake and cold
Staring up at the light
22 years old
And she is on her way

And she is on her way
Love it when she comes
I hate it when she cries
I love it when she smiles at me
And I don’t even need a reason why
But I love it when she does

I hate it when she cries
Everything is wrong
I’m always somewhere else
She’s waited far too long
Yes, but now I’m on my way

And she doesn’t like to fly
She’d rather be in bed
Staying up half the night
Just running through her head
All the things she’ll never say

The things she will not say
Love it when she comes
I hate it when she cries
I love it when she smiles at me
And I don’t even need a reason why
I just love it when she does

But what if she’s gone
By the time that I get home
I’m almost there
I swear I’m on my way, yeah

I am in the sky
High above the world
It’s the story of my life
Won’t someone please tell her
That I am on my way

vocals – Jason Campbell
guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums – Kris MacFarlane

Written at the same time as Blue Jean Girl, Signal Hill played this song for a while when I first wrote it. Other than a little quicker entry into each chorus it has remained pretty close to the original, except of course for the guitars which were arranged by Cory. My only directive to him was that I wanted it to be heavier. As with much of the record I tried to let the musicians be as creative as they pleased.

7. What Did We Know (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9484There’s a song
I still remember
That I sing
For you every night

Just how long
Is until forever
I don’t know
But some day I might

I was lost
But then I found you
There were things
That I’d never seen

The world was strange
And then I found you
In a place
Where I’d never been

We were young
What did we know
Of promise and
Forever

We had everything
And no place to go
When it seemed
That time passed by slow
What did we know

There were times
We took some chances
Other days
I just played your fool

Hard to find
The right circumstances
When this world
Can be so cruel

But it was easier
When we were alone
That was yesterday
I’ve been wondering
Where the time has all gone
And if you feel the same way

vocals, piano, Hammond B3 – Jason Campbell
trumpet – Jim Prowse
alto sax solo & fills – Chris Mitchell
alto sax – Craig Follett
trombone – Andrew Cooper
guitars – Cory Tetford
bass – Byron Pardy
drums – Kris Macfarlane

This and the next 2 songs on the album began at The Nickel Sound Works in St John’s, NL. They are meant to serve as a brief interlude into my jazz side, which was my focus at the time the arrangements were written. A version can also be found on Higher Ground’s, Somewhere Under the Sun (with synthesized horns), which was played for quite a while on OZFM. The whole song was based on that Bernard Purdie shuffle found in Toto’s Rosanna though Cory and Kris convinced me we needed a bit more of a modern sound on Missing Signals. I have changed some of the lyrics here but of course Chris Mitchell’s new alto saxophone parts have brought this song to a new level of completion. Thanks to Kirk MacDonald for the recommendation. Cory rerecorded his old guitar parts and at my request added some power chords to the intro to help it jive with the rest of Missing Signals.

8. Nowhere Train (Jason Campbell)

IMG_8983I’ve been patient
And the world
Keeps spinning around
A sheltered life
That’s seen a lot of rain

All for no reason
That vessel ran aground
And I won’t see
Your face again

I guess somewhere down
The rails I lost my way
All my regrets
Are debts I’ve yet to pay

I want it back
I’m off my track
On a train getting nowhere
And travelling until
My life is through
Missing you

But who’s to say
How I’m
Supposed to feel
We all rise and shine
Then fade to night

And in the darkness
How much of this is real
I’d trade all my greys
For black and white

I need some time alone
To clear my head
Of all the things
I should have said

vocal, piano, Hammond B3 – Jason Campbell
guitar – Dean Parks
trumpet with Harmon mute – Jim Prowse
flute – Mary Brennon
bass – Byron Pardy

From the Nickel Sound Works sessions, Jim’s trumpet with a Harmon mute and Mary’s flute were arranged in unison, a sound borrowed from Miles Davis. The song was originally called Looking Back but I was never completely satisfied with the lyrics. In the spirit of keeping it jazz, we again passed it on to Dean Parks in LA. I was so inspired by, not just his superb solo but the entire guitar track, that I immediately rerecorded my piano part and rewrote most of the lyrics. Nowhere Train is dedicated to my mother Gloria Campbell. 

9. Shameful Things (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9470She is a restless kind of girl
Not in a lonely world
No she’s a lot of fun
He is a fleeting type of boy
Two feet always employed

And often on the run
With his shoes undone
Away from everyone
She is not fooled by slight of hand
Each time he tries to lay a plan

She says all the things you do
Won’t ever take away
The shameful things you’ve done
Now I can’t get over you
Or all the shameful things you’ve done

Hardly an angel without wings
He is a lot of things
But not of wealth and grace
She’s not a shy forgotten soul
She cannot be controlled

Or easily erased
In her gentle face
There’s nothing out of place
He’s built a glass house of his own
Each time she tries to throw a stone

He says all the things you do
Won’t ever take away
The shameful things I’ve done
But I can’t get over you
Or change the shameful things I’ve done

But then some people change
It’s hardest to arrange
With heavy weight on your mind
But then some people lose all they find

vocals, piano, Hammond B3 – Jason Campbell
trumpet – Jim Prowse
alto sax – Craig Follett
trombone – Andrew Cooper
guitars – Cory Tetford
bass – Byron Pardy
drums – Kris Macfarlane

I’ve been trying to write this song, originally titled I’ve Got News, with these horn tracks from the Nickel Sound Works sessions for years. It was never released or played live so I consider this the only version now. The most novel idea in the arrangement of this song was Kris’ idea for the swing section (similar to I’m No Cowboy which is why I didn’t place these songs too close to each other). The horns, bass and guitar you hear under the piano solo were originally played to the funky grove found in the rest of the verses. It’s placement on Missing Signals is meant to be a bridge back to the rock side of the record.

10. Blue Jean Girl (Jason Campbell)

_DSF6661Where did you go
Blue Jean Girl
I’ve been in search of you
All around the world
Are you somewhere sad and
Lonely as an ocean pearl

Or are you alone at all
Do you remember when
I was your favourite friend

Did you fly away
When I set you free
Did you curse my name
Or just walk out on me
Are you certain now that
All is as it ought to be

Or am I the foolish one
Was that your starting gun
Or just a ricochet

In the summer time
Blue jean girl
I couldn’t wait to catch your eye
Saying I will make you mine
Sure as the sun will set and rise
My blue jean girl

When I saw you there
I knew for sure
That I had to have you
Nothing I wanted more
I was in a place with
Faces I’d not seen before

And there you were
The rest is all a blur
But something went wrong

Where did you go
Blue jean girl
I’ve been in search of you
All around the world
Do you remember when

vocals, keyboards – Jason Campbell
guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris Macfarlane

Written at the same time as On My Way, this one hasn’t changed much. Ever since I first discovered Led Zeppelin I’ve loved the sound of bass and electric guitars playing riffs together. In this case I was trying to add some elements of jazz harmony over that idea, with a min7b5 for example. In contrast to that I kept the choruses very simple.

11. Wonderful (Jason Campbell)

IMG_9557She calls me on the phone
I hate to sleep alone
Seven minutes and I’ll be there
To lay down beneath her hair
Feels like home

She’s kind of wonderful
Like stars in the pouring rain
She’s just wonderful
It’s something I can’t explain
About her

Under a velvet sky
I love it and that’s no lie
Sweet secrets to behold
Won’t let her toes get cold
I’ll tell you why

We close our eyes
And don’t worry about tomorrow
If the sun should rise
We’ll hang blankets from the windows

Wandering in the dark
I’ll never stray too far
No telling what it’s all for
Throw the pillows on the floor
Yes there you are

vocals, keyboards – Jason Campbell
guitars, bass – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris Macfarlane

The challenge to this song was to give it a harder edge, in contrast to the lighter theme of the lyrics, which I again rewrote as I was recording. I remember this song in particular as one where I encouraged Kris to really play out, especially in the out solo which he thought was going to be a fade…a little trickery on my part that lead to some awesome drum fills you normally would only hear at the end of a fade! I played the B3 solo but I honestly I have to admit I just copied an idea Cory sent to me. Also interesting about this song, the changes are deceptively simple. Something we noticed during the recording as we tried out different ideas and even different players, the pattern goes by quickly and for some reason seems to be the opposite of what you’d expect. I also wanted to pay tribute to my favorite singer, Sam Cooke by quoting his song Wonderful in the ad-lbs at the end.

12. I Should Leave You (Jason Campbell, Cory Tetford)

IMG_9266Take this place, burn it down
Loose change on the ground
Keep your head in the game
We are always the same
We are all ways the same

Promises promises
It’s all pretend
You give it to me
And you steal it again

Why should I believe you
Don’t you lie when you speak
Why should I believe you
You are wise I am weak
After all I will follow
When I know I should leave you

Take control, there you stand
My whole world in your hands
Save my soul with your voice
Tell me I have a choice
As if I have a choice

Hide all your secrets
We fall in line
Yes I am all yours
But you never mine

I Fall down on my knees

vocals – Jason Campbell
tenor sax – Chris Mitchell
guitars, keyboards & sequencing, backing vocals – Cory Tetford
drums, percussion – Kris Macfarlane

When I asked Cory to help me with this album, the job was essentially to “toughen up” my demos and maybe write one more song together. Once we got Kris involved it became clear that we were going all in on the project. 20 musicians later here we are, but I digress. The essence of the song was written quickly as we hung out in his studio. I wanted it to be pop but I didn’t really know how to get there. Cory dug into his synthesizer and soon produced the basic tracks you hear on the album. The only reason we didn’t stop there was my desire to make it fit more cohesively with the rest of the record…enter – Kris MacFarlane. By this time Cory was away so Kris recorded his drum parts in his own studio. The guitars were added and at the very last minute I got the notion to call Chris Mitchell in again. We weren’t sure what we were doing but that What Did We Know session was so much fun, it was bound to be interesting. He came in armed only with a Tenor Saxophone – not charts, no plan. There were 3 takes and they were all brilliant. Some day I hope to release an alternate version just so the world can hear what we were up to that day.

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