News

Alumni Feature: The History Of "Morning"

May 1, 2018

For this month's alumni newsletter, we asked Kent Lineberry to share his experience with the corps song, "Morning." Kent was a member of the Colts from 1996 to 1999 as a tenor player, and was on staff from 2000 to 2005, 2007, and 2017 to 2018. The corps song holds a special place in many alumni's memories with the corps, and Kent was excited to share his memories of the piece and the story of how it became known as the corps song.



Lyrics to “Morning”

Aurora breaks with passion and glory
To harken the song of sunrise,
The opening eyes of everyday morning
And the rose wine blush of the sun.
As I hold you near in silence,
I drift between my dreams and the dawn.

A whirlwind of emotion
takes me tumbling into dreams of you
Lost inside darkness all around me.
Then soft, like the sun,
which sparkles with beauty,
You take all the shadows away.
As I hold you near in silence
You are the joy of morning to me.

In the stillness...
In the first light of dawn I see.
No more shadows, only light cradles me.
I am strong again.

A soul that once was hungry for beauty
Now rejoices with you in the morning.
It's love so strong that makes me wonder
Would my heart still beat on its own?
As I hold you near in silence
How precious is the time that we share
Together

Hold on...hold on to your dreams.
Hold on...hold on to what morning brings.

In the stillness...
In the first light of dawn I see.
No more shadows,
Where only light carries me on.
I am strong again, but I'll need you when
Morning's gone again...
Hold on...to morning.




Background of the corps and “Morning”

No matter which era you marched in, you know that the corps, known as the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, founded in 1963 as the Junior Dukes, is one of the most special and valuable youth organizations in the United States. The organization’s mission statement is, “We use music and excellence to teach each other about success in life.” This mission is achieved through a rigorous audition process where hundreds of potential members try out for a few spots and culminates in a two month long national tour.

The experience of marching in the corps is something that sticks with all members. Some members march only one season. Some move on to march in other corps. Some march their entire career with the corps until they “age out,” when they become too old to compete in a Drum Corps International corps. But all members are changed in fundamental ways, grow as human beings in ways that are difficult to describe, and cherish this experience forever. It is something a person cannot be told; one can only experience the love and honor that comes with sacrificing their comfort, and sometimes literally blood, sweat, and tears, for the noble pursuit of an art form.

The corps did not select a corps song for many decades. It was presumably brought up many times, with many suggestions, but all I can share with you is my perspective. I was a member, on staff, or connected to the corps from basically 1996 to the present. I also gained some insight from my wife, Debbie, who marched 1991 - 1997 and also taught on staff for years.

In 1998, the corps played “Morning” as a part of their program, “An A Capella Celebration.” The lyrics of this piece became very important to the corps, as this was the year they were involved in a three bus accident in Montreal, Quebec. Multiple members were rushed to the hospital with major contusions, concussions, and facial injuries from the impact. The 1998 corps quickly realized that their time together on this good Earth and as a drum corps for the summer was precious, not guaranteed, and fragile. The lyrics of this piece helped power that edition of the Colts into finals in 1998 after being a semifinalist in 1997.

In 1999, the Corps leadership wanted to institute “Morning” as the corps song. The discussion was tabled after purposeful discussions with some of the most influential staff members of that era, as this is not the sort of thing one rushes into. However, the corps began to truly and palpably feel the absence of that unifying element of their experience. They noted that other corps had a unifying corps song, and felt this was something the Colts deserved, and would soon demand. The seed was sown.

"Morning" continued to be important to the members, even without being a corps song, and was often played to wake the corps on finals day, or during morning stretch to start the day. The lyrics were constantly referred to in context of the corps: sacrifice, the special bonds that are formed, and what makes the Colts special.

In 2005, the corps was finally allowed to choose a corps song. They were made cognizant of the fact that what they would choose would reflect on generations of Colts, and that they needed to choose with great care. However, traditions must begin somewhere, and it was decided by Corps Director Greg Orwoll that it would begin here. The members and staff were allowed to submit suggestions for review. The choices included “Old Man River,” “Summertime,” “Morning,” and several others. All of the works considered were important to the corps in one way or another, at one time or another. Staff members “adopted” a corps song candidate, and presented the song to the corps, with explanation for why it was a good choice. I was honored to represent “Morning” by Vox One to the corps.

Due in no part to my bumbling presentation, the membership overwhelmingly chose "Morning" as their corps song. It continues to this day to be special to the members and alumni that are aware of the meaning.

An explanation below will hopefully help alumni before 1998 understand why this work was chosen. It was chosen to honor the special experience that is being a member of the Colts. There is something that connects alumni of the corps that transcends uniforms, music selections, asymmetrical drill, and the like. It’s the shared bond of coming to Dubuque to test one’s mettle and audition for a corps, hoping for the chance to work incredibly hard all summer while your classmates from school were relaxing at home. It represents the closeness that members get by shared misery and joy, common living conditions, and uncommon brother and sisterhood. It’s pushing a bus. It’s doing four parades on the 4th of July and then doing a show, with a loud carnival going on 100 feet from the end zone. It’s helping a bloodied corps mate off a totaled bus on a Canadian superhighway. It’s connecting during the off season after the loss of a beloved member to a tragic accident. It’s the fact that when members get back together decades later, it’s as if they just walked off the field and are standing in line at the cook truck again. It’s those things that make this special, and it’s those things this corps song celebrates.

 

An explanation of why “Morning” was chosen.

Again, this is my interpretation of this, and it holds slightly different meaning for each member. My intention for this is to reach out to those that came before me, and let them know why this song means so much to the corps today, and how it actually reflects the intangibles that make this corps great. It refers to our past and the connections we all share.

Aurora breaks with passion and glory
To harken the song of sunrise,
The opening eyes of everyday morning
And the rose wine blush of the sun.
As I hold you near in silence,
I drift between my dreams and the dawn.


Analysis: waking in the morning is a sacred part of drum corps. Most of the time, the drum major wakes the corps gently, to help us begin our day. The morning is different for every member, but we all share the experience of sore muscles and sun burnt skin.


A whirlwind of emotion
takes me tumbling into dreams of you
Lost inside darkness all around me.
Then soft, like the sun,
which sparkles with beauty,
You take all the shadows away.
As I hold you near in silence
You are the joy of morning to me.


Analysis: these lyrics remind me of the way Colts support each other, and the difficult way we are ripped apart one evening in August. Competing for what could be the last time, whether it’s Thursday night or Saturday night, is the very definition of “a whirlwind of emotions.” I remember very clearly the feeling of darkness all around me when I was finally alone on an airplane, in my first shower at home, wherever that moment was, I felt incredible sadness that was tough to deal with. But, as we all know, all it takes is a phone call or some other communication with the people we marched with, and it is like we never left each others’ sides. It truly took all the shadows away during that tough time right after tour ended.


In the stillness...
In the first light of dawn I see.
No more shadows, only light cradles me.
I am strong again.


Analysis: I feel like these lines remind me literally of the mornings waking up on tour. You’ve achieved this amazing dream of being a member of a drum corps, you’ve met these amazing friends, and sometimes I woke up wondering if it was all a dream. But there was Jeff “Ed” Caswell, or Jason “Ankle” Long, or even my own brother Matt there on the gym floor, and I knew it was all OK. The line “I am strong again” is particularly poignant in that way.


A soul that once was hungry for beauty
Now rejoices with you in the morning.
It's love so strong that makes me wonder
Would my heart still beat on its own?


Analysis: if you need much explanation on this, you never felt drum corps like I did. I wondered, literally, if I could make it without my corps mates when the season ended. It turns out I could, but that’s how much these relationships meant to us. And it resonates with the members today in just the same way... the year is irrelevant.


As I hold you near in silence
How fragile is the time that we share
Together


Analysis: these lines, unfortunately, remind the corps of some difficult things. First, their time together is always coming closer to an end. Second, no matter how hard we may try, we will never get the same members and staff in the same place ever again, period. Because third, we have lost members during their marching years, shortly after aging out, or later in life. The time we shared as members of the Colts came to an end. It’s an incredibly important experience and incredibly important relationships that are incredibly finite.


Hold on...hold on to your dreams.
Hold on...hold on to what morning brings.


Analysis: these lines encourage us to make the most of our time as a member. To get your toes up a little more. To straighten the leg a little more. To tune that note or do that visual just right each time. To really mean it when the drum major called the corps to attention. We all dreamed of being that person carrying that drum, that horn, that flag, and during our time we must make the most of it, and be completely spent at the end of each block.


In the stillness...
In the first light of dawn I see.
No more shadows,
Where only light carries me on.
I am strong again, but I'll need you when
Morning's gone again...
Hold on...to morning.


Analysis: I think this simply ties a bow on all that is above. We need each other. We miss each other when we are not together. And even when we are older, some mornings, when we wake up, we wonder why our buddy isn’t there next to us. And we get up anyway, and move on to take care of our day with the same class and effort that we put into our time in the corps.


I realize after writing this how hollow my words are compared to the power this song truly holds for the members of the corps. However, I cannot help but point out that each point along the way, each reason for meaning behind these words, should be universal for us all. It has nothing to do with a certain style of uniform, the pieces we played, G bugles or Bb horns, free floating snare drums or sling harnesses. It has to do with the relationships and the specialness that is our corps. I hope that this honest attempt to explicate the lyrics will make “Morning” special to you as well. I hope you someday take the chance to attend the home show in Dubuque and hear the corps play “Morning.”

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