Jon Dahlander | Songs for Smiler McGee

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Songs for Smiler McGee

by Jon Dahlander

Songs for Smiler McGee is Jon Dahlander’s first full-length release of piano solos in 17 years, inspired by the life and loss of his special needs son, Jared (aka Smiler McGee).
Genre: New Age: Solo Instrumental
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Light of Day
4:04 $0.99
2. Angel Daydream
1:29 $0.99
3. Father's Day
5:13 $0.99
4. Release
4:38 $0.99
5. Origami's Dream
2:51 $0.99
6. Odd Job
1:24 $0.99
7. Be Thou My Vision
2:53 $0.99
8. Far Beyond Words
3:37 $0.99
9. Time Between Tears
4:02 $0.99
10. Metaphor's Friend
3:34 $0.99
11. Faith and Grace
2:47 $0.99
12. Midthought
1:40 $0.99
13. Beyond the Moon
2:50 $0.99
14. Until Then
4:09 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
It has been nearly 17 years since Jon Dahlander’s last full-length solo piano project (Piano Landscapes v.3) and the release of Songs for Smiler McGee. In between, Jon and his wife experienced the joys, challenges, triumphs and ultimately the heartbreak of raising—and then losing their special needs angel Jared (aka Smiler McGee)—a medically fragile child who died shortly before his 14th birthday.
Songs for Smiler McGee, which draws its influences from artists and composers as diverse as George Winston, Yann Tiersen, Debussy, Elton John, and Radiohead, is Jon’s musical expression of his family’s journey with Jared. The songs range from reflective to solemn, from lyrical to whimsical. All are dedicated to Smiler McGee, who loved nothing more than sitting next to his Dad while he composed songs on the piano.
Despite never being able to walk or talk, as well as being visually and hearing-impaired, Jared introduced his family to hundreds of extraordinary people—doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, aides, volunteers and countless friends with special needs—and the experience, while challenging, was filled with many lessons and rewards. Jared endured 20 surgeries and dozens of hospitalizations but his smile and sweet spirit always managed to shine through.
For several years, Jon all but gave up the idea of ever recording again. In 2007, he read about Pandora in TIME Magazine and, on a whim, decided to send the streaming site all three volumes of his Piano Landscapes series. Since then, his recordings have been played more than 100 million times on Pandora and he has developed a following in spite of very little promotion.
Most of the songs on Smiler McGee were created as a form of catharsis following the loss of Jared from a kidney infection. The experience with Jared has made Jon passionate about shining a light on the abilities of individuals with special needs.

Recorded at 2nd Floor Studio, Dallas, Texas
Audio Engineer: Ken Boome

Mastered at Sound Factory LLC by Steve Garrett

Artwork by Monica Eskridge
Photography: © Jon Dahlander

All songs © and ℗ by Blackdog in Snow Music (BMI) 2017.
All songs composed and recorded by Jon Dahlander (BMI) 2017, except Be Thou My Vision (public domain)

All rights reserved, used by permission.

For guidance:
Allan Restrepo, John Dennis, Allaudin Mathieu, Michael Bostick, Charles Eskridge, Gerald Mann

Special thanks for
Ava Faith and Chloe Grace

Special thanks and love always to Heidi.

Finally, thanks to Jared for the joy.

Jared’s Life Lessons
Every day is another gift from God
Love those around you unconditionally
Smile as much as you can
Keep all things in perspective

Liner notes:
It would be impossible to thank everyone by name who was part of our journey with Jared: doctors, nurses, therapists, respiratory therapists, teachers, aides, principals, counselors, hospital staff, administrators, donors, volunteers, friends, extended family and complete strangers who showed kindness to us for years. Instead, thanks to the following organizations: The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, the Night OWLS ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church, Rays of Light, Scottish Rite Hospital of Dallas, Ronald McDonald House of Portland, ME, the Devon Nicole House in Boston, the Dallas Independent School District, Medical City PICU Dallas, and, last but not least, Howdy Homemade Ice Cream.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
I met Jon Dahlander and heard his music for the first time at the Whisperings Solo Piano Awards weekend near Seattle in 2018. He played a piece at the Whisperings Discovery Concert, which featured artists who had never played in a Whisperings Concert in the first half and a mix of the more prominent pianists on the internet broadcast in the second. Before he played, Jon introduced his piece by telling us a brief story about his special-needs son who had recently passed away. Although the piece was sad - especially in the context of the story - there was still hope and optimism in the music that made me immediately like and admire Jon. I was very impressed with his performance and looked forward to hearing the whole album. I know that with music the old adage “it’s never too late” is very true, so here is my long-overdue review of "Songs for Smiler McGee."

In a nutshell, "Songs for Smiler McGee" is a collection of thirteen original piano solos inspired by the not quite 14-year life of Jared Dahlander, the first child of Jon and Heidi Dahlander. It also includes Jon’s arrangement of the classic hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” which was played at Jared’s funeral. Born with a genetic syndrome that medical experts were never able to identify, Jared wasn’t ever able to walk or speak. Instead, he expressed himself with big smiles and cooing, touching the lives and hearts of everyone he came in contact with. “Smiler McGee” was one of his many nicknames and he loved it when his father played the piano for him. The fourteen tracks on the album overflow with emotion and a tenderness that is expressed in every note. A few of the pieces are on the sad side, but mostly they express love. Warm, gentle and very soothing, there are no dark, mournful or angry pieces - they are all reflective and full of grace.

"Songs for Smiler McGee" is actually Jon Dahlander’s fourth album, but he took a seventeen-year break between his first three albums and this one to care for Jared. A mostly self-taught pianist, Dahlander’s heartfelt sincerity and the expressive nature of his music more than make up for any kind of dazzling technique or blazing bravado. The album is a profoundly moving listening experience!