Dick and I continued to play many gigs as Cavanaugh & Kavanaugh, and everywhere we played, people asked if we had any music to sell. I’d never been able to do any major recording project and never imagined I would, but we decided to explore our options. Dick and I had been members of the local food co-op and were connected with a man who had his own studio. He offered us a reasonable price. I was getting more and more work, and with both of us splitting the cost and my extra work, I figured it was doable. So, we started planning. We were both composers and had plenty of material. Dick mostly wrote tunes while I wrote songs, but he had taken my songwriting workshop and wrote a wonderful lullaby that was included on the CD. Between us, we played guitars, mandolins, fiddle and mountain dulcimer, and we both sang. We got a couple of friends to collaborate on some of the pieces, playing guitar, fiddle and stand-up bass, and got started. It was all recorded live rather than tracked, making it easier for us and less studio time.
Once the recording was done, it was time to think about the art. I said I wanted to find an artist to do the cover and thought about contacting the art schools when we got invited to a friend’s party in Cherry Plain, NY. When we walked in, I looked around and saw that everyone seemed to be in a different class than we were. The men wore leisure suits, and the women were dressed to the nines. We wore our usual casual hippie garb and felt out of place. Then, I glanced across the living room and saw a large man in another room wearing a kilt and an outrageous necklace. I thought to myself, “I need to meet that guy.” I walked up and asked if he was an artist. He was. He showed me some of his work, and I was impressed. We made a date to meet and talk about the CD cover. A few nights before we got together, I had a dream about a large oak tree that had all the different seasons represented in the colors of the leaves. The title song was “Returning” and was about the seasons. When I relayed the dream to Donhall, he gasped and ran off to grab a photo he had taken of a large oak. It was the same tree as in my dream and became an integral part of the cover. Some of the other images referred to other songs. I've always loved hearing people's interpretations of the cover. Everyone sees it differently. But I find that's true with my songs as well. I may have an idea when I write it, but everyone has their own interpretation, and who am I to say whether they're right or wrong. It's all subjective after all.
Writing and recording the music was the easy part for me. Coming up with the order of the songs was much more difficult than I expected. It was a learning curve for both of us. We also had to decide what to include for the text. Then there was the layout and design. I didn't have a clue how to do that, so I hired another friend to help out with it. I hadn't realized, until working on that project, how much went into putting out an album. Because it was the first one, I also had no idea what to do with it once it was released or how to promote and launch a successful release. Now, each time I do it, I do a little better than the last and certainly better than this first one.
The whole process was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. The CD turned out great. It was mostly original material and was well received. I still sell copies today. I love the artwork and have the original drawing framed with the CD cover and CD. It was a dream come true, something I never thought would happen. I also thought it would be the only CD I would ever make, so I cherished everything about it. It just goes to show that you never know what’s up ahead. Life has had a lot of surprises for me and continues to surprise me every day.