Thursday, February 26, 2009

One more shout-out

goes to my good ol' buddy Fernando Ortega.  I remember when some of my older friends were into him back when I was in high school... Sarah Ladner (then Dykstra), Rachel Selph (Donell), even Amy Molina (Donell), who was always being influenced by those older sibs.  I liked some of his stuff but wasn't really too exposed to him because I didn't have his CDs.  Then in Argentina Amy & I discovered the wonders of Kazaa-- yes, questionable legality, I know now, but we didn't know it then-- and I remember downloading "Come, Ye Sinners" as arranged by him & performed with Amy Grant (she did nothing to enhance the duet, in my opinion).  Then he started performing in Spanish  and Mom & I bought each other that album for Christmas (unintentionally).  I slowly acquired a few more of his CDs, and gave some more to my mom, and realized that I liked this guy, at the time especially his hymn arrangements (like "All Creatures of Our God & King" and "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence").  There was this one odd song, "This Time Next Year" that I found incredibly hopeful and peaceful, and fell asleep to every night for 2 years or so.  ("Turn up the light so we can see/ that redhead grandson on your knee/ You'd better hold him while you can; he'll be walking soon/ [...] This time next year/ there'll be stories to tell/ and he will listen to you, quiet in your arms./ And there'll be songs to sing him/ while he goes to sleep/ when we gather in your home/ This time, next year.//")

But he sings a TON of ballads, too... traveler songs, family songs, snapshot story songs.  I remember seeing some of his lyrics posted on some friends' xangas back when those were the blog of choice.  It wasn't until I took his music with me on an iPod shuffle to Italy 2 years ago, and listened to them on a bus in pouring rain that I was struck by the beauty of his non-hymns.  I love his love-songs ("She's my rose/my Virginia, she's a rose"), his descriptions of the elderly ("She will turn your pity down/Turn away and frown/ Old girl/ She may have a prayer for you/ She can read you, too/ Old Girl."), his depictions of life as a traveling musician (in my heart I'm always a bard ;D), and most of all how he snaps a shot of someone's life, and draws you in to figure the story out for yourself.  He does this hauntingly well in "City of Sorrows," singing as one of the exiled Israelites looking over their shoulders at ruined Jerusalem and weeping aloud.  Not quite a ballad, but close.  He sings worshipful hymns and songs from the heart to God... all with that guttural "h" that belies his Hispanic origins. :)  Check him out!  I'm going to play his album "Storm" all over again. 

PS- those of you who came to my wedding might remember Fernando Ortega's name, as our processional was his version of "All Creatures."  To this day, it sounds incomplete to me without snare drums, and uillian pipes... :)  Some day I'll figure out how to post a link so those of you who didn't get to come can hear the song.  Our musicians blessed us SO MUCH!!!


Amy Donell Molina said...

Go Fernando Ortega!!!! and i LOVED the arrangement in your wedding... it totally rocked the house!!!

Jeannette said...

I loved all your wedding music!