Under the Mountain: The Complete Metaballad

Track Listing

“Calling Me Home”
Composed by Jack Nielsen
Trombones & Tuba – John Edward Nielsen

The sound of the desert wind awakened me and I heard the Mountain calling me home.  I remembered . . .

“Under the Mountain”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen

In the winter, the snow fell on the Mountain.  The warmth of spring began the melt, and along with runoff to the valley floor, the water percolated down through the shale slides into the clandestine caverns below; down, down, until it burst, in a torrent from the Hole in the Rock.  The Ghost Creek was diverted to ditches we used to water our crops.  The Mountain sustained our family: it gave us life; it saved our lives; the Mountain is life.  

“Big War (Shining: Part 1)”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars – Jack Nielsen

Christian and Dorothy were born on opposite sides of the country and may have never met, but for the advent of the Great Depression.  Somehow, amid the economic turmoil, with a war raging in Europe, these two kids found each other and married in the Autumn of 1941.  When the Japanese attacked, Dorothy was with child.  Christian’s brother joined the Marines and went to the Pacific. Christian’s lottery number was called and he entered the Navy.

“In the Dark”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals  – Bethannie Nielsen & Jack Nielsen

The brothers Rasmussen’s petition to be released from their wartime military service was granted on hardship grounds.  Christian, Dorothy and their three children, joined Christian’s father and brother in Central Idaho, taking up residence in the log house Christian was born in.  It was temporary, he assured her: as soon as his father sold the Ghost Creek Ranch, they would resume the normal life they’d had before the war.  They just needed to make the place into a profitable operation long enough for someone else to want to buy it.  While Christian worked, Dorothy cared for the children singing them lullabies.

“So Free”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals –  Bethannie Nielsen

Dorothy didn’t like moving so far from the world she’d known before the Ghost Creek Ranch.  She found peace in the outdoors, and inspiration…

“Hard Times (Shining: Part 2)”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Christian’s brother had returned from the war in the Pacific a changed man: he drank heavily, seldom worked and eventually washed out.  His father died from a heart attack while discussing sale of the ranch to a potential buyer.  His mother, now a widow, was dependent on her son and daughter-in-law for her survival.  Christian and Dorothy agreed to buy the ranch from her.  The same two kids who faced the terror of world war, now faced a hard life on the waning American Frontier.  Three children soon became six, and six eventually became nine.  When Christian and Dorothy couldn’t have more children of their own, they adopted four more.

“Needle’s Eye (Christian Jr.)
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Christian and Dorothy’s eldest son grew up and wanted to be just like his father.  To make room for a second family, Christian and Dorothy expanded the operation, doing something rarely done: they went into debt.  Tragedy struck…

“The Little Tree”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic-electric guitar – Jack Nielsen

Vocals – Jack Nielsen

After burying their daughter, Christie, Christian Jr. and his young wife left the Ghost Creek Ranch.  The generation forged in the Great Depression and tempered by World War II was known for its stoicism.  Christian and Dorothy also possessed a quiet dignity, best illustrated in small, beautiful things they did.

“Cloudburst”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Still recovering from debt in the late spring of 1977, a deep winter snowpack gave Christian & Dorothy reason for optimism.  Then an isolated rain storm over the Mountain reduced the snowpack to slush and sent it down the Ghost Creek in a torrent, tearing out the old irrigation machinery, some of which existed before Christian’s father homesteaded in the valley.  The land was scarred with washes, ditches were destroyed and an entire year’s water is lost. 

“All We Got”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Christian and Dorothy raised all of their children.  The Ghost Creek Ranch became profitable and attractive. We, the next generation of Rasmussens, endured our own hardships and enjoyed our own successes.  We learned to behave with the quiet dignity of our parents.

“Shining Star
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Each generation continues what came before: we pass along our oral histories to our children and grandchildren;  we live and work and contribute to the development of our communities; and from generation to generation, we are shaped by the intangible genius of motherhood.  Dorothy was and is my shining star. 

“Legend”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

I shared stories about Christian with my children and grandchildren.

“Needle’s Eye (the Pall Bearer)”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Christian and Dorothy finally found a buyer for the Ghost Creek Ranch and retired.  They had several, golden years together before Dorothy died from a stroke.  At Dorothy’s graveside, I was saddened by the apparent loss of the little tree my mother and father had planted for little Christie.  Looking up, I found the tree had grown large and strong.  Years later, when cancer spread into Christian’s bones, we knew he hadn’t long to live. I dreamed I saw Christian & Dorothy together, holding hands as I’d seen them do, countless times before.  I threw my arms around her and said, “I’ve missed you so much.”  I felt my mother’s kiss on my cheek and awoke in tears, knowing my father’s time had come. At Christian’s graveside, I was comforted by Christie’s “little” tree once again. 

“Through the Darkness (Shining: Part 3)
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

There are fairy tales of “happily ever after.”  Then there are the tales of families who endure.  “Shining” spans the breadth from youthful optimism, through hardship, to a genuine, permanent love for each other.  Christian and Dorothy went through it all.  We remember the “two kids,” the mother singing to her children, the father in his cap & vest, but mostly, we remember them together.  And so, they still shine…

“Under the Mountain (Reprise)”
Words & Music by Jack Nielsen
Acoustic & electric guitars and electric bass – Jack Nielsen
Vocals – Jack Nielsen

Whenever I enter the valley, I round a bend on the highway.  It’s the first time the Mountain is visible from that distance.  I’ve seen this view countless times, but each time I first catch a glimpse of the Mountain – our Mountain – my emotions race, as though I’m in the company of a loved one, someone I’ve missed.  The Apache believe that the landmarks of your youth are sacred.  These landmarks stalk us all of our lives, set us straight when we are on the wrong path: they make us live right.  Like my father before me, I am a son of the Mountain.  I find this a comforting thought: that wherever I go, as long as I live, the Mountain will be with me – just as Christian and Dorothy shine in my thoughts and memories and always will.

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