MP3 Robert S. Nakamoto - Here or There
To glorify our Heavenly Father, Christian songs surrounding a military deployment to Iraq.
20 MP3 Songs
GOSPEL: Country Gospel, GOSPEL: Contemporary Gospel
By R. S. Nakamoto, March 20, 2007
Greetings from Tennessee! May the grace, salvation, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you and your house! The album, "Here or There", is centered around a National Guard deployment (June 2004- July 2006) that included service in Iraq and Kuwait. We believe that God blessed and protected our efforts, so we are very grateful for His help and mercy on this endeavor. We hope that you will enjoy listening to the CD and that it will be a true blessing to you and all who hear it.
The album has some brief narration that introduces you to the songs, and to our family, so that you the listener become familiar with the songs and us. The narration helps guide you through the album. The music has a gospel, country, and pop flavor to it.
Most of the songs, except for the well-known hymns “God of our Fathers” and “Sweet By and By”, are originals. Five of the songs were written during the deployment, and the rest had the lyrics, and in some cases, the music and/or arrangements, altered during the deployment. One of the songs was a poem written by another soldier to his wife while flying to Kuwait/Iraq and Robert put the music to it and added in some lyrics for the bridge. We are thrilled to have included our children in this project, from introductions to their background singing! We ask for your prayers that God will our family and our efforts to share His Word through song.
May God bless you always!
Robert Sherri Luke
William Adam Anna Sara
Notes of Songs on the “Here or There” Album
By Robert Nakamoto, November 26, 2006
Here We Stand
“Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” (from Proverbs 5:18) This is a Christian love song that was written in the summer of 2005, in the FOB Cobra Chapel in northeast Iraq, near the Iranian border. I often went there to relax and play music in the solitude of the chapel when no other human was there. It is a love song that is meant to incorporate the principles of the Scriptures into a song about Christian marriage and family.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (from Luke 2:13-14) This was a song written back in the early 1990s about the birth of our Wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Yeshua of Nazareth). I re-wrote some of the lyrics and added the third verse during the deployment. Sherri joined me for singing through the entire song. Ed’s electric lead and harmonica playing added some real dynamics to the song.
Here or There #11
This song was written in November 2004, while we were in a staging area in Kuwait, waiting to cross the border into Iraq. I was waiting on some equipment and Eric Whitman, who was on our team, was kind enough to let me borrow his guitar. The song just flowed and was written in the space of about an hour. It is a musical prayer and love song that asks God to preserve one’s life, and marriage, in a time of separation. Ed’s electric rhythm guitar and electric lead really added to this song’s quality. For Ed’s lead guitar playing on the album, this was my personal favorite. His rhythm guitar also helped support the song’s message. Jim’s string arrangement also added to the song’s impact.
The Cowboy Song
This song was written during the late 1980s. During the deployment, some of the men liked it, so I re-wrote some of the lyrics and added in the third verse. Greg Wood, our business advisor and promotion agent, was insistent that this song be on the album. We’re grateful to God for Greg’s insistence and vision. Our sons really love cowboy movies and the music of Roy Rogers, The Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, Riders in the Sky, and numerous other western musicians. During my absence from home they had acquired a taste for old Westerns and Western music. The song was recorded in such a fashion as to try to pay homage to that genre. Ed added in the wonderful drum beat on this song as well as the harmonica. Rex played a great acoustic bass line on this one. Jim’s and Andy’s and Sherri’s background vocals helped give it a further “Old West” flavor.
God of Our Fathers
This is one of my favorite hymns. During the “bad days” that our nation sometimes faces, I often think of this song. This song was written to celebrate our Republic’s first centennial. We pray that it will still ring true at its third century mark. It was written by Daniel C. Roberts & George W. Warren. To me, it is a musical prayer for our nation. I wish all government officials would periodically sing it (perhaps many of them do indeed sing it often). Our hearts are grieved when we look at the challenges the American Republic is facing, but we are also full of hope. Ed’s drum beat and Rex’s bass made the song flow in a gentle style that is hopefully pleasing to both God and man.
For He Is Christ
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (from Romans 10:9) This song was written in 2003. During the deployment our chaplains were kind enough to incorporate it into our chapel services. We sang it as a praise song. Can you imagine a chapel full of soldiers singing this song? That is what we did in Iraq. Please pray for our soldiers, sailors, marines, and Air Force and Coast Guard personnel, as well as their families and those civilians working to support them. Our sincere thanks to Chaplains Wood, Berry, Jones, Ryan, and Sergeant Litton (chaplain’s assistant) for letting us use this song in our worship service in Iraq, and for some really anointed preaching and leadership. Our thanks also to Chaplain Davis for her encouragement and sermons during a medical treatment stay at Fort Benning, Georgia, and for letting us play the song there. Jim stuck in some real nice piano color as well as some great background vocals.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD; and the fruit of the womb is His reward,” from Psalms 127:3. This song was also written in the FOB Cobra chapel in Iraq in the summer of 2005. It was meant to be an upbeat children’s song. Although we recorded it as a “band” song, it also sounds great with a single acoustic guitar. We know, since that’s the way we play it at home! In our nation, our children (whether ours or those we teach, work with, etc.) are the precious heritage Almighty God has entrusted to each of us. It may be a child we work with in a Bible class, as a teacher, as a coach, in our own home, as a customer at a store, etc., but however long or short a term God allows us, may we all help raise our little ones to be giants in the Christian faith. On a musical note, this was an “Ed” song, where he played banjo, dobro, and electric guitar, as well as the drums! This was done via “tracks”, where the musician, in this case Ed, played one instrument, then we started the computer recording over while he played another instrument along with what he had already played.
It Took Leaving
During the deployment I met a man of similar spirit to myself. He is a wonderful Christian and first class soldier. He was Sergeant First Class “Ranger” Allen Lewis. In Iraq, at Camp Caldwell, he shared a poem that he had written for his wife and asked me to put it to music. I was a bit dismayed, for sometimes poetry and music are hard to mesh, but God blessed our efforts. I nudged the words here and there to make it fit the tune, and added in the words for the bridge. Jim’s piano playing helped make the song click.
Precious Are the Days
This song was also written in Iraq. It is a song about marriage and family. “A prudent wife is from the Lord . . .” is from Proverbs 19:14. God must hold our marriages together. It is also a comment on how precious time is with our loved ones and friends. “Precious are the days with you, whether they are many or few.” We never know when God has ordained that we must be apart for a season.
This song was also re-written during the deployment, and the arrangement was also altered a substantial amount. Every day, thousands of babies are aborted in the United States, as well as many thousands in other nations. It is a complex issue with many views. Some are “pro-choice” while others are “pro-life”. Many of the people who have an abortion are confronting some very hard choices. There is a great deal of unkind words and thoughts on this issue, as well as guilt and pain. We personally believe that in an ideal world abortion would probably not exist. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an “ideal” world at present. People make mistakes and face temptations in the world in which we live. Sometimes the counsel we receive is good, other times it isn’t.
Fortunately God is there to provide forgiveness and mercy. However, God is also our judge and judges both individuals and nations. Our prayer is this song helps to reduce the practice of abortion in our land, and also to help heal the wounds that this issue has caused. One twist to the song is that it is addressed to fathers. “For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but throws away his child?”
The song was inspired in part by the poem, “In Flanders Fields”, the classic poem of World War I, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D., that described the destruction of that generation. The song is an attempt to describe “Abortion’s Fields”. The poem “In Flanders Fields” is below. It is a reminder of our nation’s present struggles.
On a musical note, it was just Sherri and I on the singing. Jim put in some wonderful strings that really personified the message of the song.
This song is about the evangelist “Samuel Porter Jones” who was an evangelist in the 1800s. We often played this song in Iraq also during chapel services. Sam Jones had been a brilliant attorney but lost his law practice to alcoholism. When things looked totally hopeless, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour, gave up the bottle, and became a nationally known evangelist. His Spirit filled preaching inspired, and helped lead to, the building of the Ryman auditorium which became the “Grand Old Opry”. This song features Ed’s electric guitar licks and Jim’s piano playing that really helped make the song sound great (at least to me). Ed also did the drums. The children joined us on vocal support on this song. Jim’s, Andy’s, and Sherri’s background vocals helped provide a feeling that yes indeed, Jesus Christ does save us from our sins.
Sweet By and By
This beloved hymn is another favorite of ours. It was written by S. Fillmore Bennett and J. P. Webster. By God’s grace and mercy, through His Son Jesus Christ, we can all gather one day in a world better than this. Ed played dobro and banjo on this one. Rex joined in on an acoustic bass to give it a more “acoustic” sound. Come to think of it, it was all acoustic instruments on this one. Jim, via his own background vocals, and studio magic on the other vocals, helped give it an “old time religion” sound. Andy, Sherri and the children joined us with vocal support on this song also.
In closing, we’d like to remember the famous poem of the First World War. Unfortunately, its message is still relevant today. We would like to especially dedicate it to those who were killed or wounded during the deployment.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Album Production Notes
By Robert S. Nakamoto
November 26, 2006
I truly believe, on looking back, that each of the people who helped on this album was someone that God had ordained to help us make this album a success. Isn’t it funny how things like that work? You may have seen it more than once in your own life. However well the album may do in man’s eyes, reference sales or popularity, or the lack thereof, we are grateful to Him for those who gave of their time to help us.
Robert S. Nakamoto – I’m the only amateur musician on the album who played instruments. Excepting playing at church, I had essentially quit musical endeavors back in the early 1990s. During a two year military deployment the idea for this album was conceived. During the deployment in Iraq I rediscovered the gift of music and played on an almost daily basis, including three chapel services a week. I was encouraged by several military chaplains, on separate occasions while serving in Iraq, to pursue an effort in Christian music. I believe God also blessed me in that He raised my musical gifts to a new level. I say that not to brag, but simply to acknowledge that God has been very merciful to me and I’m better than I was before I went to Iraq. I sang, and played the acoustic guitar and the electric bass on the album. I also played the electric rhythm guitar on most of the songs, as well as electric lead guitar on a couple of songs.
A note on the guitars I used. While in Iraq I came under a deep conviction to use U.S. made instruments when I returned. It occurred to me that life is indeed short, and that it was the U.S. companies and citizens that were helping to make it possible for me to get safely home. I resolved that I’d try to switch over to U.S. made instruments. My wonderful wife encouraged me to get two U.S. made guitars. For this album I used a U.S. made Martin Acoustic (a budget one) and a U.S. made Fender Stratocaster. I believe, with God’s blessing, that they helped me to sound better than I did with what I was formerly using. That was about it on the instrument budget, so I used a Japanese made bass guitar on the electric bass parts I played. I thought that was nice since I’m partially of Japanese heritage (and also Scottish and German descent).
Ed Cantwell – Ed is a professional musician who is obviously a man of many talents and also has many wonderful stories and great advice. He has played professionally across the U.S. and also professionally toured Europe. He played electric lead and electric rhythm guitars, dobro, banjo, harmonica, and drums. That’s quite a statement as to the breadth of his talents. His work helped “take” several of the songs to a higher level. One example is the drum beat he put into “The Cowboy Song”. It gave it a real Western ring. Ed’s wonderful playing brought out the feeling in the songs. His electric guitar work on “Here or There #11” was, to us, a real classic. Ed is a known locally in the Nashville area as a first rate studio musician and live performer.
Jim Troutner – Jim was our mentor and advisor during this process. He has a state of the art recording studio. He made us feel at home and gently guided us out of some real musical and production ditches. He also coached me on my guitar and bass playing, as well as singing, which occasionally ran off of the “musically acceptable” road. His trained ear could spot mistakes and was of immense help during the editing and mastering processes. His superb background vocals (he did the fancy ones) and haunting string and piano arrangements helped make the album a success. Jim also put in percussion on most of the songs Ed didn’t play drums on. Besides being a first rate recording engineer, Jim is also locally known as a superb music teacher (voice and instruments) who is especially known for his expertise in voice and music production. Another plus was that Jim is a Vietnam veteran who was a “dust-off” (medevac) pilot. His counseling helped me make the transition back to civilian life. If God allows us to do another album, Jim would definitely be our first choice.
Rex North – Rex played acoustic bass on four of the songs. An acoustic bass helps give a unique foundation to the music. Most music today uses the electric bass, which is much easier to play and transport, but lacks some of the attributes of its acoustic ancestor. An acoustic bass also has a “percussive” quality to it, as the strings echo through the big bass body. It gives it a “drum and string” effect. Once you hear it, you can really appreciate its beauty. Rex is a professional musician who donated his time to play on a few of the songs. Rex has extensive professional playing experience on both the acoustic and electric bass. Rex’s bass playing made a wonderful addition that helped to polish up the songs. Rex has a sunny personality that shows his love of God, family, and people in general.
Lee Wilson – Lee is a professional graphics designer whose work on this album, and other albums, has drawn numerous comments of praise. Early in the design process of the graphics, Lee “lost” me. He started talking about things and concepts in a way I hadn’t heard of before. Looking back, it’s rather clear what route Lee was taking and what he was talking about. Lee is not a “shake and bake” designer, but one who matches the album design with the album’s tone and message. If God allows this album to do well in terms of sales and distribution, it will be due in large measure to Lee’s work. Lee definitely demonstrated some real genius in his help to us.
Andy Evans – Andy is one of our beloved long time friends from church. We have watched Andy grow into a giant in the faith. Like us, he isn’t a professional musician, but braved the recording studio to help provide some vocal support. We have similar musical taste and richly enjoy services where we sing hymns and praise songs. We’ve sang with Andy for about ten years now at church, so we knew his voice would blend in.
Sherri Nakamoto – My beloved wife and mother of our five children. Sherri, like Andy, had never been in a recording studio before this project. She has also helped me over the years with polishing up my song writing (editing, etc.) and critiquing songs and arrangements. She also helped muster up the financial resources, and large doses of encouragement, for the album. She also advised me to get the Fender Stratocaster (what a dream wife)! Sherri has been blessed with a beautiful voice that helps convey her love of God and family. One irony is that I realized at some point during the recording process, after thirteen years of marriage and singing together, that Sherri and my voices blend well together. I believe it is one of the ways that God reminded me that He is ultimately in control.
Luke, William, Adam, Anna, and Sara Nakamoto – These are the wonderful children that God has blessed us with. This was their first time in the recording studio also. They pitched right in. Right now we’re in the process of putting together a family band. Our sons play guitar with us now when we play at home or at churches. Please pray that God blesses this effort. The children joined us for background vocal support on “Sweet By and By” and “Sam Jones”. It helped give those songs a “family” flavor to the music.