Hilden musician finally records original songs

Published on November 28, 2012

TRURO - Dave Bartlett didn't let a little thing like not being able to read sheet music stop him from composing music.

The Hilden man started writing his own songs on the piano in 1962 at the age of 27, the same year he met Jerry Byers who would help him write down his songs.

The two struck up a conversation one day while Byers was pumping gas at the Esso station on the corner of Queen and Walker streets.

"We discovered that we had some things in common, especially music and working out," said Bartlett, adding Byers at the time was 21.

"In early 1962, I had started composing music so I played a few tunes (on a grand piano) for Jerry and he was surprised that I couldn't read a note of sheet music," said Bartlett. "It just came out of my head into the keys and off into the air as music."

It was then that Byers said he would write down Bartlett's music to paper so he could have it copyrighted.

"Jerry is a trained violinist since eight years old (by J. Arch Fraser) and a self-taught pianist, so he was fluent in playing, reading, and writing musical scores for both instruments," said Bartlett. "So, by spring 1963 we had completed six pieces. I created the original tunes and played it and Jerry taped it reel-to reel, wrote it on treble staff paper at 1/2 speed for piano and violin, and we made final adjustments for each tune, some for which I also composed the lyrics."

The music was then recorded at CKCL radio station in Truro before Byers returned to Acadia University for his final year.

Once he moved back to Truro for work, Byers and Bartlett resumed occasionally writing music.

The years passed and Bartlett misplaced or lost all his musical compositions in a house fire in 1976.

Ten years later, he composed ‘My Love The Lord,' followed by ‘The Way We Are' in 1987.

Bartlett then gave up playing music in 2002 after being struck by lightning, but last May, his daughter, Paula, wanted him to try to play some pieces he composed when she was a little girl.

"I said I had lost all my music and can't find any of it," said Bartlett. "She said, ‘Try, Dad.' "

So Bartlett searched and last June he rediscovered those musical pieces that he composed and Byers had written to music nearly 50 years earlier.

"Holy mackerel!" Bartlett recalled. "There it was, yellowed but still clear and fresh after 48 years, although sadly, the reel-to-reels must have been destroyed in the fire in 1976.

"I remember Jerry and I saying back then it would be great to hear that music played by an orchestra or sung on the radio."

This past summer, evangelist and international recording artist Ben Everson visited the church Bartlett attends to play piano and sing.

Meeting Everson after church, Bartlett talked to him about ‘My Love The Lord,' to which he had the music and lyrics on him.

"He asked me if I'd like to have it recorded, so I gave him that music. The following Friday he gave me three slight variations of the music and lyrics on CD."

At that time, Bartlett found an old photo of his mother-in-law, Jean Marney, standing beside his grand piano. When she died in August, Bartlett's wife said she wanted the recording of ‘My Love The Lord' played the funeral.

"In addition to that very personal touch, that was the first time I heard my music played publicly," said Bartlett. "After the funeral, the funeral director told me that my music went out over the Internet."

Bartlett said the owner of HOPE radio 106.3 FM in Truro played his music over the radio on Saturday night after the Gaither's program at 8 p.m.

"I called Jerry and he came out to the house. It was now 50 years plus a few months since we had first met at Walter Dean's ESSO!"

Bartlett showed Byers the music of his original written scores, who replied that it was amazing how things come around again to those who have patience.

Bartlett is now hopeful of recording some of those songs in the United States, including his first piece of music ‘Love is Just A Dream' which Byers thought was his best tune. And it reminds him how it all started.

"It was the love of music and hearing Curtis Clark playing next to my home on Brunswick Street that inspired me to start composing and playing piano in 1962, and that tune was my first."