Myles Goodwyn has just released “Will the Last Voice I hear Be an Angel?,” the first spiritual song of the Canadian rock legend’s storied career. Photo by Sean O’Connell

Rock legend seeks the transcendent

  • April 22, 2021

Legendary Canadian musician Myles Goodwyn has spent 2021 purely in his element: he’s pouring his energy into writing and recording the songs that will make up his next album, Long Pants, which is expected to be released in July or August.

The founding member of veteran Canadian rock band April Wine is slated to release a collection of his most personal songs to date that dive deep into Goodwyn’s previously unreleased archives. One song’s origins date back 40 years. That song in question is “Forever Amber,” which was written the night Goodwyn’s daughter was born.

But it is another composition on the album, released March 31, that is currently generating buzz. “Will the Last Voice I Hear Be an Angel?” is billed as the first spiritual song from Goodwyn, a singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010 alongside his multi-Juno Award-nominated April Wine bandmates. He’s also been feted by the East Coast Music Association, most recently with its 2019 and 2020 Blues Recording of the Year as well as its Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

It all began this past Christmas season when Goodwyn decided to perform a cover of Gene MacLellan’s spiritual tune “Put your Hand in the Hand” — a song popularized by other artists including Anne Murray — at a Christmas Daddies telethon accompanied by his acoustic group Just Between You and Me Live.

“The reaction to the song was incredible,” said Goodwyn in a phone interview with The Catholic Register. “I realized after the show how people embrace spiritual songs and I thought I should try to write one.

“The chorus came rather quickly. I played it for my partner and her eyes watered up rather quickly. She said it was beautiful, and I thought, ‘I might have a song here.’ ”

Goodwyn asks a transcendent question in this direct and meditative chorus, and his verses illuminate the winding road of life from childhood up until the moment of departure from the Earth:

“Will the last voice I hear be an angel?

Will I leave this world peacefully?

Will the last voice I hear be an angel, Lord?

Saying take my hand and walk with me.”

While this song is one of the forbearers of the album, it is actually the youngest song of the album as he wrote it merely weeks before it was released. The artist received a serendipitous sign that pouring time into this song would be a worthy endeavour as he was asked to be a judge in the spiritual song category of the International Songwriting Competition.

Goodwyn was surprised to get the call considering his catalogue — such classic rock staples as the hard-rocking “I Like to Rock,” “Roller” and “Say Hello” to power ballads like “Coming Right Down on Top of Me” and “Just Between You and Me” — did not feature a spiritual song, but the competition organizers picked him because of their respect of his writing craft.

One could compellingly argue that the COVID-19 crisis, especially the first several months when so much about the virus was unknown, inspired humanity at large to contemplate questions of mortality at an elevated degree.

“Will the Last Voice I Hear Be an Angel” meets this moment.

“The pandemic is such a scary thing with illness and death,” said Goodwyn. “Having this song out there is a good thing. The message is positive. We contemplate mortality and hope to die peacefully hearing an angel telling us to ‘take my hand and walk with me.’ I do the same as I will be 73 in June.

“I have received many reactions stating that the song provided comfort for people who have lost spouses, parents, siblings and loved ones over the past months. That’s what you want as a songwriter — for people to connect with your music and appreciate it. It’s as good as it gets really.”

The new album will see Goodwyn commemorating each of his three children. Along with “Forever Amber” he has penned for his sons Aaron and Cary personalized songs on the album. “Talk to Me” for the former reflects upon how communication enriches the parent-child relationship, and “Over the Moon” for the latter is a hymn of love and optimism that was written when Cary was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Goodwyn spoke to The Catholic Register just a day before recording another track that has potential to strike an emotional cord, “Darling Where Are You,” a tune composed to express compassion and care for Canada’s missing Indigenous women.

Goodwyn is joined on the recording by Bruce Dixon and Jin Henman. Henman was an original member of April Wine when it began in 1969.

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