All the Words to All the Songs
Composed by Dan Welcher (b. 1948)
For flute and piano
Published by Theodore Presser Co.
Includes score and flute part
Duration: c. 6'30″
This little piece for flute and piano was commissioned by flutist Nancy Andrew, in memory of Vinson Hammond. Vinson, a pianist with a stellar career as an accompanist, died in 1992 of complications from the AIDS virus. He was an avid believer in contemporary music, primitive Southern churches, and Elvis – and did a mean impersonation of the latter, if one can imagine The King singing at a piano.
The title refers to a remark Vinson made on the NBC-TV “Today” show, as he was appearing with flutist James Galway. Gene Shalit, host of the segment, asked Vinson if he knew the words to the John Denver song they were about to play, and Vinson looked straight into the camera lens and (in his best Alabama drawl) declared, “I know all the words to all the songs.”
My work is both a reflection on the untimely loss of a young talent, and an homage to popular songs. Knowing “all the words to all the songs” might help a listener somewhat, but it's best to hear the piece as a spiritual benediction. My hope is that Vinson Hammond has, by now, met his idol in Heaven – and hopefully, has accompanied him in a few of the good old songs.