Music From The Movie: A Rundown
We receive loads of comments about the quality of the music in our movie, A Chemical Reaction. For a documentary like ours, which was made with passion and grit and very few greenbacks, music is usually lacking. In our case, though, calling on major favors from friends made the soundtrack soar.
We’re proud to say that virtually every note of the soundtrack came from Maine-based songsmiths. Here’s a rundown of three of the performers who contributed their amazing talents:
The film’s musical director, Dan Merrill, hails from North Yarmouth. A lifelong performer, he earned his first gold record in a duet “Magic in Memories” with Canadian performer Joan Kennedy, and earned widespread critical acclaim for his songwriting by winning the prestigious New Folk winner at the Kerryville Folk Festival in Texas in 1995.
His music career has been widely varied for more than 30 years, from fronting the popular Maine band Cornerstone, to a collaboration with a popular Russian performer, the late Victor Reznikov, to joining a trio Under the Song Tree, to performing as lead singer with the progressive rock band Simon Apple. In 2005, Simon Apple scored Dan’s first top-10 single on the adult contemporary charts with his composition “Hold Me Like a Lover,” that also netted Dan the award for Male Vocalist of the Year in the United States.
For four years, Dan was also the musical director of People, Places & Plants, the Gardening Show, that aired on HGTV from 2004-2007. That show, incidentally, starred Roger Swain and yours truly as the hosts.
In addition to numerous music beds in the movie, Dan contributes the song “Revolution” from his album of the same name. With ageless lyrics and soaring vocals, the song is the perfect accompaniment as the movie winds to its satisfying, albeit ironic, conclusion. Here’s a link to the album: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/danmerrill1. Most recently he released an album titled “Tomorrow to Yesterday,” which can be found here:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/danmerrill2. A few of the songs on this record are destined to be bonafide hits, but if you’re only going to listen to one, check out “Hear it in My Heart.”
Jimmy “JD” Drown — Among the most accomplished and versatile performers in Maine’s history, Jimmy was the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for a legendary rock ‘n roll group known as The Blend, a band that toured and performed nationally from 1973 to 1982. The Blend released two albums under the MCA label in 1978 and 1980, with the single “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” charting in 1979.
Since his death from cancer seven years ago, Jimmy’s friends and family have run a 501(c)(3) non-profit known as The Rusty Rocket foundation. Proceeds of a memorial concert (this year June 12 in Biddeford, Maine) and a golf tournament are used to purchase musical instruments for underprivileged or terminally ill children.
Jimmy’s estate contributed two songs to A Chemical Reaction, “American Working Man” that we now affectionately call “The Michael Elliott song,” along with “Cryin’ Out Loud,” that accompanies the Canadian pesticide protestors marching at a rally in Richmond, B.C. Jimmy originally wrote that song to protest the use of nuclear power, yet the same sentiment fits when you’re talking about pesticides: “For cryin’ out loud won’t you keep it away now, for cryin’ out loud far away from me . . . “
In recent years, Jimmy’s son, Ty, has made all of his songs and even The Blend CDs available for sale through www.rustyrocket.com. All the proceeds go to the charity.
Larry Crowley — From the instant I heard “Stand Up,” I knew it would be our lead song — if we ever did put a movie together about Dr. June Irwin and the town of Hudson. We did, of course, make the movie and, as predicted, the song provides the dramatic opening salvo as we tell the story of one of the most powerful community action initiatives in North American history.
Larry’s musical roots trace to Maine as the lead guitarist for the Maine band Cornerstone (with Dan Merrill), but Larry has followed his love of music to all corners of the United States in the past quarter century. He has shared the stage with everyone from Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town and Deana Carter, to The Bellamy Brothers, and Ted Nugent. A highly competent session musician, he has recorded with Garth Brooks and Danny Davis on selected Royal Wade Kimes CDs. He’s even made an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage with gospel legends Legacy Five.
At long last in 2009, Larry released his first solo album “Bang!” A blend of country and rock, It’s rollicking fun from start to finish. Here’s the link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/larrycrowley. I’m partial to “Stand Up,” but you should also check out “She’s My Baby” and “Faith Makes the Man,” which Larry wrote with his old friend, Dan Merrill.
We can’t thank all these performers enough. We’ve been asked about releasing a soundtrack album for the movie and it’s definitely on the wish list. We’ll continue to cross our fingers. In the meantime, check out the albums. You won’t be disappointed.