I entered the Jesuits in the fall of 1969. Our novice director used to sit and play piano, singing “A Foggy Day in London Town” and “Danny Boy.” His name was Vince O’Flaherty, and he entered the Society after the war. He had done some piano-bar playing before entering the Jesuits. He was very influential on me and on us; he was kind of an artistic guy, and he encouraged the music among us. It was a fortuitous thing to be around his influence at that time.
Who were your musical influences?
As I got older, out of high school and into college, I loved all kinds of folk music and bluegrass. I played bluegrass in a bar after I left the Jesuits. I could get people up and dancing but they’d throw stuff at us, too. I also liked Motown when I first became aware of that music — the Temptations and such. That was St. Louis dance music. Later on, there were classical influences as music became more a part of my life.
Looking back, what do you remember? What are your impressions?
It seems like I have fifty billion memories. I remember Christmas lights in a recording studio in July in Phoenix so we could do Gentle Night. I remember doing one album, and the other guys had to scatter for the holidays and I was there working on the editing. When I picked John up at the airport, I said, “There are two pieces of news. First, we’re moving right along on the editing. Second, the producer has been arrested and the tapes have been seized!” My overall feeling is I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was totally formative of who I am. The St. Louis Jesuits remained the center of my life for a number of years after I left. I went with them out to Seattle, got married there and had my son there. It was an absolutely central and formative part of my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was good, the time I spent with these really different guys with different takes on life, on everything. Of course, we had times when all I wanted to do was rip out somebody’s throat. It was the kind of experience that has that texture. As I look back on it, I know intellectually there were times like that, but I really can’t