KRIS BLACK: EVOLUTION OF A SONG
If you knew Kris Black growing up, it would not make sense, that he would inevitably write the “theme” song for “Five Good Years”, the poignant “If We Have to Say Goodbye”. He was the high school jock, the antithesis of a campus “artist”. And although a hero on the football field, Black was always privately rushing the “quarterbacks”, not so much to score the winning point, but to keep on running toward something much more that was happening inside his head.
A lover of music, particularly fascinated with discovering new artists, Black had an ear for those yet unknown artists (like Ray LaMontagne), singing their praises to fellow music lovers. He rarely followed the trends in music, always finding someone “different” before someone in a higher position did.
He knows what he likes in music. He seeks out small bars, clubs, venues, after being told by a friend, some living thousands of miles away, to try to “catch” that new local singer-songwriter if he can. He usually would, eager to hear something that he himself felt he was unable to create. Music.
But, as Kris moved further into the entertainment arena, his “voice” yearned to grow louder. He came to Los Angeles to be an actor. But within a short few years, he was selling screenplays; and soon after, co-producing his own films. But it wasn’t enough. Kris Black never thought of evolving into a “renaissance man”, but he did. First, extending himself into abstract art, where his unique canvasses shot his creativity out of a cannon and onto the walls of galleries, homes, and Hollywood movie sets.
Music kept calling; because it was always an integral part of his creative process. The song he listened to while “revving up” for an emotional acting scene with Joe Mantegna, or the catalog of tunes cascading in his ears while “painting”; music, for Kris, made his art, acting, writing, and painting… organic.
After completing the script for “Five Good Years” with writing-producer partner, Bruce Reisman, it was no accident that the primary character of “Alex Winston” was not only a West Virginia coal miner; but he was also an aspiring musician as well, performing in any local bar that would grant him a stage, a stool, and a mike.
“If We Have to Say Goodbye”, an ode to every mother’s loyalty and courage, emerged. Lyrics by Kris Black. He’d written dozens and dozen of poems, but this one just jumped off the page. Not yet a composer, Kris figured that as the project grew nearer to production, he’d find someone to put his words to music. And like so many good things that come out of “accidents”, he found a legendary rhythm and blues composer named Harry Middlebrooks. Though he had an extensive career writing for legends like Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, and even Elvis… Harry’s name was merely something to “Google”.
Where’d they meet? At Kris’s chiropractor’s office, where Harry had just been “adjusted”. He overheard Kris in the waiting room discussing his song-writing. Not shy, Harry coolly interrupted with the raspy voice of a man who’d apparently” been through “it”.
“I write music”, Harry told Kris. And the rest, as they say, is history. Within weeks, Harry Middlebrooks put not only music, but a voice to Kris Black’s “If We Have to Say Goodbye”. And it’s just a touch of a poet, evolving. Listen.
If We Have To Say Goodbye Lyrics
If we have to say goodbye,
I thought it best to speak my mind.
And though the tears are in my eyes,
My heart remembers better times…
Taking each day, one stride at a time-
Wondering how you’ll win this fight.
You never complain, through all your pain,
Even though the end may be in sight…
You stood alone-keeping us safe and warm,
Working your fingers to the bone-
Making sure we always had a happy home-
Always thinking of your family…
You need to know how I feel inside-
Watching you sacrifice to help us survive.
And I swear somehow I’m gonna make you proud
Of the man you always hoped I’d be…
I’ll try to hide my fear-knowing you might not be here-
Your body shows the struggle you’ve been through.
It’s time to let you know how we all love you so-
Cause we know the heavy cross you’ve had to bear…
You filled our lives with better times…