Philip Howard
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 i will follow

…came from a conversation about surrender. It comes in all forms, surrender to an illness, a commitment, a relationship, faith, an inevitable outcome, or a lover. Do with me as you may.


 Leave Yesterday Behind

…was inspired by a conversation about letting go, starting over or getting a second chance. My association to these themes is the saying you can’t step into the same river twice. So this piece never returns to its beginning or repeats any part the same way twice, because tomorrow is a new day and we all get a chance to leave yesterday behind.



Following in the tradition of many songs and pieces written for the seasons, this piece to me has a sense of getting ready for a long rest, a time for reflection before preparations of a new start. The other story that keeps presenting itself is that of a good guy or presumed hero, who has to come to terms with unintended consequences or realizing that his ideology and actions weren’t that pure after all.


i’d just like to say…

…is the only piece on this album that started as a purely musical idea first. I have many of them, but they seem harder to finish than the pieces that start with a clear intention or concept or triggering thought. My association to the title comes from a scene from the movie French Kiss, in which Meg Ryan’s character, a somewhat embittered and sarcastic woman, in the middle of one of her rants about how the entire world is conspiring against her, is stopped in her tracks by letting in, for the first time, her new surroundings. “Woah”, pause, “beautiful!” Only to go right back to her rant. It is this innocent, childlike awe at the beauty and mysteries around us that, ultimately, provides the crack in her character that lets in the light and starts turning things around. This experience has been a thread throughout my life and has helped me, many times, to back away from the ledge and start again. I’d just like to say…this is beautiful. I’d just like to say…I love you.


 once upon a time in the west

I think this piece by Ennio Morricone, written for the score of the Sergio Leone film by the same name, is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. I’ve had it in my head since childhood and have seen the movie many times, including on the big screen in glorious 70mm. As impressive as Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda were made to be, strutting their stuff, no one touches the introduction of Claudia Cardinale’s character who represents beauty, quiet strength, resilience and hope. Clearly, someone was in love when they wrote this. Just sayin’.



…was written as part of my vows for our wedding. I am grateful I was able to express some of what I wanted to say to my wife Nancy with music. Our first interactions felt refreshingly uncomplicated and to this day I maintain that my wife, our love and our relationship are blissfully uncomplicated. That does not mean simple, as conveyed in the complexity of the final C chord.


 the calling

What is our purpose? Do we know? When will we know? Over the past few years I feel I have come closer to serving my calling. It doesn’t always present itself in the way we expect. That the desire to share my music overpowers all the reasons not to is still a surprise to me.


 Say Something

This beautifully haunting expression of a desperate attempt to reach someone who has closed themselves off has become a favorite piece to play. Not sure whether it is the personal experience of a similar situation or not, but the title and the music say it all.



I wrote this piece at a time when a couple of friends where struggling with depression. One of them was posting on Facebook what he was feeling and going through. I wanted to reach out and say something, but every comment I could think of felt like the answer to a rhetorical question. So I sat down to let music express what my words could not. While we all struggle at times to see the light, there’s always a glimmer.



…was inspired by the birth of the second grandchild of good friends. He was born on January 5th, 103 years to the day after the birth of his great-grandfather and namesake, Reno. On the day of his birth I came up with Reno’s theme, which became the bookends of the piece. As the middle section developed it presented itself as the journey of an ocean wave. Reno’s middle name, Kainalu, is Hawaiian for ocean wave.


chip in the sugar

Fresh out of school, a friend at Marshall University asked me to write a piece as an introduction to his performance of A Chip In the Sugar, a dramatic monologue by Alan Bennett. I never saw the performance but I vaguely remember my friend’s description of the character Graham. What I remember intending to express with this piece was a sense of unfulfillment and loneliness.