8 Years Later: No More Than You Can Handle
(Note: If you have not yet read the "backstory" to this post, 2012 Revisited, you might want to)
Today is Sunday, June 21st, 2020. On the eve of publicly releasing our virus-induced "in isolation" video of "No More Than You Can Handle", I'm compelled to reflect on the meaning of the song in relation to the past 8 years of this "long and winding road" journey for both Orleans as a band and for me, personally. Read on, if you care to. I'll try to keep it concise.
In 2010, Larry and I were at the helm. John had been in Congress for several years. Lane, Fly and Charlie were our stalwart bandmates.
An initiative had been promoted by management to enable Larry and me to find hit Nashville songwriters to collaborate with, in hopes of doing a new album's worth of recordings. We wound up writing only 2 new songs. One of them was No More Than You Can Handle.
Our co-writer was Sonny LeMaire, from the band Exile (who proved to be a perfect fit). Among other things, Sonny had co-written When She Cries, which became a huge hit for Restless Heart ... exactly the kind of song we were looking for.
Larry brought this title to the writing session and had written a full-length lyric to it, based upon the then-current BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Sonny and I both liked the title but hated the lyric! So we threw all of that out and started from scratch.
I remember we left that day with a good start ... maybe 85% done ... but my experience has always been that the "polish" happens after the fact. I did as much or more revising as the other 2 guys, and we collectively arrived at a final version of the song.
|We then recorded all the tracks at Charlie Morgan's home studio - just Larry, Charlie and me, with an assist from John Jorgenson. Larry and I sang all the background vocals, and each of us sang a lead vocal to the track (both versions later appeared on our double CD of the same name).
Fast forward to 2012, which is where the above-mentioned backstory kicks in. That series of 5 blog posts sums up the process of getting from July 24th through November 12th which, at the time, I thought would be the end of Orleans' long 40-year life span. But that was not to be, and you can see where the story picks up again in the post 2013 --- Orleans Rides Again!
So much for the facts of it. Now for some more depth.
Just last month, I sent an email to the list attached to this website, announcing the broadcast of our 1990 Bearsville Theater "reunion" concert. In it, I apologized to that list of fans for not having sent them much of anything in many, many years - nothing at all since August 2014. Is that any way to treat your friends? I think not.
And what was that about?
To be honest about it, in the wake of Larry's untimely demise, I just lost my mojo. My limited energy was needed for the behind-the-scenes, uphill climb of all things pragmatic. Under the circumstances, I had difficulty bringing myself to be our designated PR spokesperson, too.
Those who know me well know that I am generally introverted, private, even reclusive. I have never had a personal Facebook page (and doubt I ever will). So, once I fell out of the role of communicator, it was easy to stay there.
But I digress ... back to the song itself ... so much irony!
The fact that No More Than You Can Handle was Larry's title, yet he was the one unable to hold on to that message, has never been lost on me. (insert heavy sigh)
In his wake, he left an enormous hole to be filled on so many levels, forcing every one of us in Orleans to grow of necessity; to step up into that void and fill it. I think it's safe to say we've done that successfully, which is how and why we get to still be active in 2020. But it's ironic that, without the space having been created, that growth would likely have been stunted.
So, if it was the emptiness of the space that created the opportunities for growth, is this what we would have hoped for? Obviously, not at all. No way! And yet, at least in part, is this not how the Universe operates?
The last piece of this song to fall in place was the short chorus after the bridge, which simply states, "All is well - and this, too, shall pass." When that timeless thought completed this particular songwriting puzzle, I knew the song was done.
In these most trying of times, a perfect storm of viral pandemic isolation, economic strife and social unrest, I believe this song has found its time. We offer this message of "hope despite duress" not as mere pollyanna, but as a potential life-preserver in a sea of stresses. Our intention is to be of service to anyone out there struggling to find a reason to hope, maybe near the end of their rope. This is the bigger, higher purpose contained herein, beyond any benefits we might wish to derive for ourselves by its publication.
As for the production ...
Creating the stay at home, remotely-recorded video for this tune has been a unique adventure for each of us. Believe it or not, skills related to home audio/video recording are not automatically bestowed upon musicians at birth! Some of us (including me) had no prior experience in using some of these modern tools. Yet each of us in the band did what was needed in order to supply our pieces of the whole.
Special praise goes to Michael Malfesi, our dear friend and audio engineer, who first started working with Orleans in 1980 ... a full 40 years ago. Mike graciously donated his time and ample talents to this project.
And it's no less than serendipity that I just recently discovered that my friend, Rob Arthur, is GREAT at making mini-movies! I knew him as a fine musician (with Peter Frampton's band for 20 years), but I had no idea he had such video editing chops until it was time to put all the pieces together.
In closing, I must say that, going into this project, it was not my intention to create a memorial to Larry. But, as it progressed, it moved itself in that direction. It was not until the video editing began that the form of that homage took shape, right in front of my eyes. And it was a very, very good thing.
With this piece, we honor Larry as Orleans band co-founder and backbone for 40 years, as co-writer of the song and, most importantly, we honor his life and legacy.
Peace, out ... Lance Hoppen