Kindness – Album Notes

/ The New CD by Steve Bell / Album Notes


Kind | ORIGIN Old English cynd(e), gecynd(e), of Germanic origin; related to  kin


This time last year I had no intention of releasing a new album any time soon. I had a few of my own songs lying about and a growing interest in particular songs by other writers, but I had no real pluck or vision for a new project in the immediate future.

When, in spring, Kinsey Posen of CBC Winnipeg called to say he was producing a project of Manitoba artists recording the songs of other Manitoba artists, I jumped at the chance to record a couple of gems penned by songwriters Gord Johnson and Byron O’Donnell – two of my favorite songwriters who are regrettably under-sung and under-celebrated.

It was during the recording of that project that I started to take inventory of potential songs for my own project and suddenly realized I had enough for a fairly strong album.  My manager was a little taken aback to get a call from me saying that I wanted to record. But after a two-day woodshed session with Winnipeg veterans Gilles Fournier (bass), Daniel Roy (drums) and newbie-wunderkind Joey Landreth (electric guitar), we were all convinced of the strength of the material. And so, with a little schedule adjusting and more than a few fundraising calls, we set out in late August to begin work on my 16th career album.


Initially, I wanted to call the album Changes.  The last few years have been a season of relentless change it seems.  The music industry, as we knew it, has all but collapsed. Hard-copy music formats have given away to digital ones. Traditional marketing schemes have become impotent. And the recent recession, for many of us, has greatly magnified the worrisome impact of seismic changes already underway.

Socially, we’ve seen great change. South of our border the Bush years have given way to the Obama years with an accelerated and alarming degradation of public discourse.  Among other things, it seems we have thoroughly abandoned thoughtful, public debate for vitriol and smug insult. Canada may have some vestige of decorum left but among other indicators, recent mayoral elections across the country have perhaps shown a trend otherwise – exposing a people who have “forgotten how to blush.”

Environmentally, the changes being demanded of us are enormous while collectively we are perhaps experiencing a failure of nerve to address decisively a crisis we will no doubt pass on to our beloved children. We may yet come to find the shame more crippling than the crisis itself.  Heaven forbid.

Personally, well… I’m getting older. I just turned 50. To commemorate this auspicious occasion I recently went straight from wearing no glasses to wearing progressives.  Adding to my vertigo, there are now two young children who call me grandpa while my own children are becoming peers and colleagues. As well, I’m finding that my body is less and less agreeable to the rigors of touring and the consequences of neglecting this reality are increasingly unpleasant.

I thought Changes was an appropriate title.

But in the early fall, I was testing a few of the new songs on some friends after which one of them blurted, “you should call your CD Kindness! Kindness is the clear theme running through the songs!”  This wasn’t immediately evident to me, but on a bit of reflection I realized she was right.

Kindness… hardly a quaint sentiment… is fundamental to the fabric of authentic, good life. Neither utopian nor naïve, sustainable kindness flows from a deeply internalized knowledge of the kinship of all things. What the saints have ever known, that a lived conviction of positive regard for the other, cherishing  – even enemies – is the sanest way forward. Indeed, it is a fundamental intuition of my own Christian faith that understands God to be a familial communion; a unity of self-donation, mutual othering and ecstatic overflow, which issues forth as creation –  you and I, field and stream, songbird and leviathan, soil and sky.  It’s all-good. It’s kin(d).

When I consider the songs on this recording, and think behind to the  ecstasies and agonies that created and chose them, I recognize that the simplest words carry the greatest freight:  Love, Kindness, Grace, Beauty, Truth, Goodness.  We know these profoundly and painfully in their absence.  But when they are present… glory!

Obviously this small collection of songs is ill-equipped to carry the freight of a word such as kindness, but if in any way it serves as a signpost, I am very pleased.

Be but your own good friend
And be good to the other
Cherish those sisters and brothers
Along the road

And to the earth extend
Every reverence and wonder
Tend to the wounds of your blunders
And honour God who formed our home

-excerpt from Good Friend / Steve Bell

from the album KINDESS.  Release Date: February 10/2011

19 thoughts on “Kindness – Album Notes

  1. Really looking forward to the new release and loved reading the story behind it as well – your story has always been an important part your music and I thank you for sharing so willingly.

  2. Steve, I treally enjoyed reading your note regarding your recording of Kindness.

    I think it is a wonderful name for your CD, as it seems to be a commodity, kindness that is, that is slowly but surely being lost in our society–not to be negative as there is always hope and love, but kindness–well, that is wonderful.

    I’m sure it was a huge project and I can relate re: the 50 thing–that’s behind me now and I’m moving, not too willingly, to the next decade, but yes, its a different time. but the best thing that I found was that I’m gentler with myself and “kinder” to myself.

    Best wishes for much success with your new CD – Can’t wait to hear it !!- and…I look forward to your next visit to Ottawa!

    C 🙂

  3. Yahoo! We’re thrilled to know you’ll soon have a new CD out! We’ve all waited & hoped. It does take work & you’ve been thru a lot in the last few years but your “God” gift is there t/b shared & lives change because of your sharing. Thank you for your honesty in relating your struggles. It’s good that we know these things about one another so we can be lifted in prayer, right? Blessings Steve. It is our hope that we can see you in concert again someday but, untill then, we will enjoy your songs via CD.
    In Christ,
    Sue & Ron LaMarche, Eugene OR

  4. I’m very excited to hear the new album, Steve! Praying for you as you complete it in the next few days.
    love to you and Nanc!

  5. Loved the liner notes and looking forward to seeing you in St. Catharines and getting the new CD. I have all the rest…so it goes without saying. Funny…when I first met you at Kingdom Bound…I did not know who you were and you gave me your greatest hits CD. I did not want to take it (I said I would pay for it) but youinsisted…and 20 plus CD’s later…well…it is always a priveledge and pleasure. Many Blessings. Howard and Sherry.

  6. Hi Steve, I agree totally with you about what is going on around us. Things are spinning out of control and folks are troubled, bewildered and more than just a little “fed-up.” “Kindness” is a superb title for your latest compilation,for I like to think that I have a pretty fair idea of what and who inspires, empowers and motivates you. God bless you and your ministry. We continue to pray for peace and kindness in this world. I look forward to hearing the new cd and from you and Dave hopefully in the next year or so. Peace and blessings my friend, Lane

  7. Hi Steve

    Thanks for the joy you bring. By the way, will your new CD be available as MP3s? CDs are not recyclable, so going digital would save on he environment.

    reply: it will certainly be available on the major download sites – iTunes, CD BABY etc.

  8. Thanks for the reflection. Looking forward to hearing the music, hopefully live as well. Blessings in the journey.

  9. Hi Steve,

    I am looking forward to listening to your new release. You are an incredible story teller, which makes your songs so interesting over and over again.

    I wish you God’s Blessings as you continue to
    encourage the Church through your music.

    Miriam in Prince George B.C.

  10. I appreciate your heart, Steve. Your willingness to do the more honorable thing in circumstances that bring constant changes to our lives/world.
    Be blessed with your new album, and may the Lord continue to bless those who walk along side to complete the work! Family – togetherness – true kin…

  11. I am in the midst of writing my second book and know just what you mean about how difficult it can be to put your thoughts or songs down in concrete form, versus the joy of interaction with friends or an audience.
    Go Steve Go!
    I love the cover design and I resonate with what you have written.
    Let Kindness reign!

  12. Wow! I love the understanding of kinship to kindness. Can’t wait for the CD.
    Oh, and welcome to the world of progressives! 🙂

  13. It’s so interesting how your album theme, kindness, emerged over time. You did not intentionally set out on this particular theme, but there it appeared in the midst of your work. I think it’s very much like God’s work through Jesus’ life. Jesus stayed kin with God and kin with the world (people and places) around him, and the theme (love in this case) emerged as he went about doing the work he needed to do.

  14. HI Steve,
    Thanks for the CDs! They just arrived today. Only had time to listen to the first eight songs or so.Very much enjoyed that and look forward to listening to it all many times over. Especially enjoyed “In Billy’s Wake”, of course. Still amazed at how you wove the themes of Jessie’s article into so few words.By the way, are you at liberty to tell us who Jim and Rachael Van Eerden are and/or where they live. Could be long lost relatives.Interesting that they appear on the same CD as the song based on Jessie’s article, though we know of no connection. Not a very common name. Anyways, blessings on your tour.
    Roy and Jane

  15. As simply one of this worlds complex creations my lifes journey of 53 years has seen me work in the field of child caregiver, hospital administrator, bank clerk, animal hospital staff, administrator for homes of children with developmental dissabilities and finally a senior homecare worker with training in Alzheimers Disease. Before work I was a “Child” and in a few years from now will be considered a “Senior”.
    In the last few years I have quoted this line from Singer Songwriter, Jewell many, many times. “In the end……..only kindness matters. It has become my mantra and place of sanity in a world rife with unkindness. It also becomes my conscience in my own unkindnesses.
    My brother Ken Delmage is a fan of you, your music and work. He has invited me to see you perform music from your newest and I believe well named album “Kindness”.Of coarse I am already biased to the title and
    I look forward to the evening. I really only wanted to comment on the word “Grace”. I read it among other words you called freight words because they carry weight in their meaning and in their doing. I feel that I understand the other words fairly well but the word grace always causes me to stop and think. It doesn’t just come to the edge of my understanding. I guess in context I don’t see it as often and rarely hear it or use it in conversation.
    Our Minister has begun to reminds us that the word means deserving and I feel that I am getting closer to a clearer understanding and what that means, as he repeats it’s defination with a few words of explanation, weekly. I am thankful for this and see it as a simple kindness. (I deserve to know and understand this most important word). Please help us all come to a closer understanding.
    If you have a song in your repetoire and I am just preaching to the choir(ha ha) I hope to hear it on April 8th.
    Kindest Regard,
    Leona Jimmo

  16. OMG!! I didn’t even understand that post a comment meant right here, right now. I thought it was more personal and that a friend or colleage would read through it and give feedback to you.
    I was musing mostly as it helps to put it down and see it. Very visual
    Ken will tease me forever now and may be annoyed but will most likely laugh……and I’ll deserve it!

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