When I first played this for Bob Marquis in early 1993 on the piano, he looked up afterward and calmly said, “There won’t be a dry eye in the house.” I believe even at that early moment in our work on this piece, Bob had every word to the song envisioned.
When a parent says goodbye to a child…for any reason…it’s a very tough experience. For the father of a pioneer woman leaving on a journey across the continent , it was entirely likely he would never see her again. In Farewell, I believe Bob and I captured the type of emotion required in both the music and the words.
“Oh, I know that you must grow up and leave me.
And you know I am wishing you a long, loving life.
But I’d like to be watching as your life unfolds.
Perhaps to see your children….
Beautiful grandchildren to hold.”
“I am standin’ and watchin’ as the clouds sail by.
They go dancin’ and swirlin’ as they float up high.
You can’t catch them or hold them. They just fly on by.
She will never come home again.”
Bob never got to say goodbye to any of his four children. On a frigid January morning in early 1994, only six months after we finished the first take of Pioneer Songs, I received a call from his wife, Karen. “Eric, I have terrible news. Bob had a heart attack this morning. He died. ”
Orchestral & Choral Version
Piano & Choral Version*
*Original Cast CD recording from August 1993:
Joy Bechtler, Soprano
Polly Kopituk, Mezzo-Soprano
David Ronis, Tenor
Martin Hargrove, Bass
Eric Houghton, Piano/Composer