CD Interviews: Roger Talley (The Talleys) on The Test of Time
In the CD interviews column, instead of sharing a reviewer’s thoughts about a project, we interview the artist to get the artist’s own thoughts. Our family has taken the structure and adapted it into a 8-1 format: eight questions from each member of our family for one singer. In this edition, Roger Talley shares thoughts about The Talley’s most recent release, The Test of Time.
David: Your latest CD is The Test of Time. Did you have the concept of “the test of time” in mind when you started selecting songs or did it just develop as you brought those songs together?
Roger Talley: We did a record a few years ago called Songs You Know by Heart, and some of those songs have been some of our best songs. We had done three or four more projects of new songs and felt like it was time to do a project of classic songs again, that we loved, but had already been cut. We decided to do a couple of new songs on the project, that would allow us to have a little more options as far as radio singles. We recorded a song that won the Singing News Songwriting Contest called “Hidden Heroes” and another new song titled “What You Leave Behind”. It is kind of a story song about someone who was left certain things by his father after he had passed away. I heard it immediately after my father passed away. That song really spoke to me. One of the lines says, “Stuff will rust and turn to dust, but it’s love that will stand the test of time.” I think it sums up the project well, because these are all songs that have stood the test of time. So that’s how the two things fit together; a line from one of the new songs that it describes all the classic songs.
Kris: Is there any song on this new project that needed to be recorded because it was a real personal song for The Talleys?
Roger: We recorded “Serenaded By Angels,” which my brother Kirk wrote several years ago and was also his signature song. A lot of folks come up and ask questions about that song. They want to know, first of all, if we sing it, and then they want to know the story about how it was written. We just felt like that was a song that had not been sung a lot lately, and had a personal connection to us.
Ben: As a producer, what stands out the most on The Test of Time? What did you enjoy the most about the project from a producer’s perspective?
Roger: I felt like this project allowed us to go back a little bit to a sound we had a few years ago. To me, this project is a little more like the old Talleys. I hear a lot of elements in this that remind me of things we recorded maybe ten years ago when Lauren was younger; when she sang a little different style then she has been singing lately. This kind-of harkens back to a sound that I missed and I’m really glad that we got it again on this CD.
Taylor: You mentioned “Hidden Heroes” earlier, in your first answer. Could you tell us a little bit more about that song and how it came to be on your CD through the Singing News Songwriters Contest?
Roger: The Singing News Songwriting Contest is sponsored by Crossroads, which is our recording company. This year this song was chosen as the winner. Chris White had it sent to us and said that he thought of us when he heard the song, and he wanted to know if we would be interested in doing it. I told him, “Well, I’m sure it’s a good song, but we’re doing a record of classics this time, so it’s probably not going to fit with that CD.” To be honest, I didn’t even listen to it for a couple of weeks. We were in a meeting one day, and somebody asked what I thought of the song. I said, “I have to be honest, I didn’t listen to it because I didn’t think it was something we’d do this at time.”
When we listened to it, Lauren said, “Oh, this is a great song. We need to do this song.” It speaks to us on such a personal level, for a couple of reasons. The first verse is about a mother who cares for her special needs child. She is the hero to that child. But nobody sees— I mean, caregivers give all their time and they take care of people, and nobody sees, but God. Those people are heroes in His eyes. We have a friend, a very close friend in Nashville, who has started a ministry called the Veranda. It is like a daycare for dementia patients. It gives that healthcare provider, the caregiver, a day off. My wife, Debra, is on the board of directors of that facility, so we have a real soft spot for that.
The second verse talks about a husband and wife who have been married for fifty years and she has Alzheimer’s. It talks about how he faithfully cares for her, even though she doesn’t even know who he is. My mom and dad were married sixty years and my mother died of Alzheimer’s about two and a half years ago. My father had cared for her for the past ten years before she died, day in day out, and he went to the nursing home every day after she had to go there. That verse just was their story.
Leesha: How many projects does this make for the current line-up of The Talleys?
Roger: Now Leesha, you have asked me a question that I’m not even sure I know the answer. I was going to try to sound intelligent on this interview! To be honest, I would have to go back and count. [count CDs] If I am looking right, I think there’s sixteen, and the first one, I think, with Lauren was in 1996. I guess the average is one a year.
Sam: What was it like to record vocals in your own studio, Summit Recording Studio?
Roger: Oh, it’s great! We are fortunate to be home here; that way we can go in and if someone’s not feeling good, the others work a while. One will say, “Well, I’m going to the bank and the post office, so you finish your verse and I’ll be back in a little bit.” We end up taking twice as long as we should because we’re all trying to do something else at the same time. It’s better than having to drive somewhere a long way away and stay at a hotel —to be able just to do it at your own pace. At Crossroads, they always want to know when I’ll have it finished, and I’ll say, “Well, whenever we all get enough time to get in there and do it, I’ll let you know.”
Jayme: Where there any special memories made while recording?
Roger: I think there are always special memories made when we record. I think the thing that made this one a little special was the fact that we were recording those two new songs I talked about. We had such a personal connection to them. I’ll be honest, when you’re recording you aren’t always able to sing on an emotional level. You’re usually thinking on a technical level of “this is the note I’ve got to hit” and “I hate the way my voice sounds right there,” and “I cut off before you guys,” and all that. But we were actually able to feel some good genuine emotion in recording those two songs, “Hidden Heroes” and “What You Leave Behind”, because of the close family connection with them. So I would say that would be the special memory from this project.
Caleb: Was there anything different for The Talleys musically on this project?
Roger: We always try to be diverse and interesting musically. A lot of times it’s really hard to find songs that fit a mixed-group, with women in it, because a lot of songs just seem too masculine, if that makes any sense. It’s a different type of song usually than what a quartet would pick. Now there are some songs that are universal. But since we weren’t finding new songs, we were able to take some that were sung by female artists already. Songs like “Holy Ground”, “I Go to the Rock”, and “I Ride on Wings of Love”, we knew already worked with a female singing them. And a song that I had just loved forever, an old song recorded by the Speer Family called “He’s Ever Interceding”, we recorded that song as well. Debra sang it and it just gives me warm goose bumps; I know goose bumps are usually thought of as cool, but it just gives me a warmth every time I hear her sing it.
David: Well, that covers the eight questions that we have. But Caleb is still standing right next to me and he’s just busting to ask a bonus question.
Roger: Ready, go for it!
Caleb: What is your favorite snack food to eat in the studio?
Roger: Well, I am the cookie monster — that is my nickname. I never met a cookie I didn’t like at all. If anybody knows we’re going to be around, they know that cookies are always a plus. So that’s my favorite snack food, and if I had to pick a flavor: oatmeal raisin.
David: Well, Roger, just one other thing, is there anything else that’s on your heart or mind that you want to say about this project, The Test of Time?
Roger: I never know when we finish a project whether or not we hit the mark we were aiming for. I think we get too close to the songs and especially going over every little detail trying to make it the best we can, just trying to achieve perfection — which we never will. Sometimes you never know how it’s going to be received. We got our CD just a little over a week ago from the manufacture, and two or three of my friends got a copy and listened. It’s been really exciting to hear their responses. They say that it’s exactly where The Talleys need to be as far as songs and style-wise. And so that gives me a good feeling and a good barometer that hopefully we’ve achieved what we were going for. We sang a few of the songs this past week and they got a really good response. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, “When He Calls (I’ll Fly Away)”, and “Isn’t the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful” — an old John W. Peterson song — and the response was really, really good. I am optimistic and I am happy that we were able to, I think, achieve what we were going for. I hope everyone else enjoys it.
Thank you, Roger, for taking the time to talk with us! You can get your own copy of The Test of Time at The Talleys’ website: www.thetalleys.com.