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Mission of Mercy … 3rd Time’s a Charm!

Mission of Mercy … 3rd Time’s a Charm!

This week’s YouTube video offering is a remake of a remake. Let me explain …

It was maybe 2004(?). John Hall was living in Nashville part-time, as was I (Lance Hoppen) full-time since 1989. John had a big head start on a certain song he had hoped to interest Michael McDonald in finishing with him. Alas, that was not to be, so he did the next best thing — he got someone who kinda looks like Michael … ME! 🙂 John and I then finished Mission of Mercy, each putting our own big stamps on it.

Sorry … this has been a running joke for many years, so I just had to fit it in! 🙂
Really, other than the coloring, we really don’t look that much alike, but I’ll accept the compliment.

One thing worth mentioning is that, although John and I had written together before, it was always with 1 or 2 of the other bandmates involved … Larry Hoppen, Bob Leinbach, Fly Amero. To this day, this tune remains the ONLY song that John and I have written just with each other.

When we presented it to Larry, he just LOVED it. In fact, he said many times that this was among his most favorite of Orleans’ song catalog. So, when we set about recording 2005’s Dancin’ in the Moonlight CD, this tune became a prime addition to the album. Larry, of course, was delighted to sing the lead vocal. We then added it to the live show, up until his passing in 2012.

The recording band at that time was simply John, Larry, myself and relative newcomer, Charlie Morgan. We did the entire album in an 8′ X 20′ room at the back of Charlie’s garage, where he not only played drums and percussion, but also engineered.

Fast forward to 2016. At that time, I undertook the recording of my Conjuring album. Mission of Mercy was a prime contender for an update. To do that, I took some of the existing tracks … Charlie’s drums and percussion, John’s acoustic guitars, Larry’s electric guitars … from the previous 2005 recording and used them as a start to a new version. I shortened the arrangement, added a new bass track and acoustic guitars of my own, re-sang all the vocals and used sax to replace Larry’s melodica solo and fills. Second version done!

Fast forward again to 2020 and employ a similar process. But this time, replace Charlie’s drums with Brady‘s new tracks, add Lane with a new keyboard approach, have Fly add his power chords and solo. While we’re at it, replace all my background vocals with new ones from Lane, Fly and John. Voila! Now we have a 3rd version, representing the current quintet.

And that’s just about the audio. As for the video

In thinking about how best to present this song in the visual medium, the idea was to create kind of a mini-movie within a music performance. To do that, we took what we’d learned from having done the No More Than You Can Handle video and went a few steps farther.

For one thing, we are very fortunate to have discovered the talents of Rob Arthur, now our go-to guy for all things video. I had known and worked with Rob as a player (he’s been in Peter Frampton‘s band for 20 years!) before I learned, by “accident”, that he had this skill set, too. Rob has been very active lately doing productions for Peter, The Doobie Bros., Dave Mason, etc. and we’re so lucky that he’s made time for us, too.

I described to him what we had in mind, conceptually, and suggested some specifics. Rob first shot me singing at my home, but he also arranged to do the “movie” part at a restaurant (Moby Dicky’s in Hendersonville, TN) where he is very close with the owner, Dicky Moran.

Scene of the crime … Moby Dicky’s Yvonne Smith

To pull this off, I knew we needed a woman to play the part of the “other” in the storyline of the lyrics. It was obvious to me that it should be none other than my very good, long-time friend, Yvonne Smith. She has done a lot of backup singing with and for me over the years and we’ve written several songs together, so we have a very comfortable familiarity. The fact that she’s easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt, either! And, thankfully, she consented to play the part.

To round out the cast, we employed my best bud, Shawn Gallaway, as the ex-boyfriend. Finally, blink and you miss it, but the couple at the bar are none other than our intrepid house mixer/road manager, Mike Malfesi, and his wife, Breda, whom we’ve been blessed to know since 1980!

Finally, Rob coached Lane, John, Fly and Brady as they recorded their personal performance video segments from their respective homes, utilizing iPhones. We left it then to Rob to do the video editing. With very few revisions from his first draft, this is the result … and we couldn’t be more pleased.

Hope you agree. Enjoy!

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