We Are Brothers


    Lennis and I considered the song We Are Brothers our “theme song” and closed every live show with it. I remember the song fondly, and I very closely identify the song with the persona of the Summers Brothers.

    But that’s not exactly how the song started out.

    In high school, I was close friends with brothers Chuck and Joe Kohr. Lennis and I hung out with Chuck and Joe a great deal during my senior year and in the period immediately following graduation.

    That year, Chuck sketched out a drawing (that I wish I had now) of two hands clasped in friendship. The hands were not drawn to depict a traditional handshake, rather they were sketched as two hands joined in a warm brotherly clasp. Arching across the page above the clasped hands were the words “We Are Brothers” in block letters. Chuck’s drawing struck an emotional chord with me. Over the next few weeks, I began playing around with song ideas, and the basic structure of the song began to take shape.

    That summer, Lennis and I started singing together as the Summers Brothers. After the song had started really taking shape, Lennis and I began working on it and quickly worked it into our repertoire. The song continued to evolve over the next couple of years.

    We Are Brothers isn’t just a song about sibling bonds and brotherly love, it’s also about a journey through a spiritual awakening and hope for the future.

    There are probably better recordings of We Are Brothers than the one I chose for this video, but the performance here is the closest I could find to how I want to remember it.

    One final note about the song:

    Listening to it now, so many years after the Summers Brothers last sang it, I realize the song was probably too personal and lacked universal appeal.

    The world’s most successful art tiptoes along a fine line between the artist’s personal expression and themes universally satisfying for the audience. We Are Brothers probably strayed too far from that sweet center, yet it remains one of my sentimental favorite Summers Brothers songs.

    We Are Brothers will probably be the last Summers Brothers video I put together. (I know…never say “never”.) There are still some good songs sitting around on tape, but I have provided a new home for the ones that were most special to me: A New Day’s Begun, The River Song, ’Til We Are One, The Morning Sun, and now We Are Brothers. (If I could find a good Summers Brothers recording of Lennis’ song Crosswinds, I’d probably make a video of that one as well.)

    Thank you for joining me in celebrating the Summers Brothers’ music. Be good to one another. Hold your loved ones extra tight, because none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

    God bless, and peace out.

    The Morning Sun

    The Summers Brothers–The Morning Sun © 1974

    The Morning Sun is special to me for several reasons.

    Lennis and I–as the Summers Brothers–had been living in Austin trying to make a splash on the Austin Music scene. This was the fall of 1973.

    Come October, Dad’s declining health had resulted in us deciding to move back home from Austin to help him get his business in order so he could retire and get the rest he desperately needed. After telling Dad our decision to move back home, we headed back to Austin with the intent of putting in order our affairs to prepare for moving back to Stephenville, Texas where Mom and Dad lived.

    Dad died while we were driving from Stephenville back to Austin. (This is another story worth telling. Perhaps I’ll tell it someday.)

    Many dreary and dismal weeks followed Dad’s death. Autumn gave way to the grayest, deadest winter I can remember, bringing a chill that settled in the bones and into our very souls.

    Then, Lennis wrote The Morning Sun.

    It is a song of hope and encouragement. It is a song about a bird flying toward a morning sun, but I always felt like it was a song about Dad’s spirit and his journey beyond this earthly plane. Now, when I hear it, I can imagine the song being about Lennis’ journey as well.

    I always loved the song’s lyrics, and I feel like it has some of the Summers Brothers’ best harmonies and guitar playing.

    I hope you enjoy The Morning Sun.

    ‘Til We Are One


    The Summers Brothers–‘Til We Are One © 1977

    ‘Til We Are One is a Summers Brothers song that features acoustic guitar, mandolin, and two-part harmony.

    When I listen to this song, one thing strikes me. The primary theme is a longing for the unity of mankind. I think this song is even more relevant now than it was in the ’70s when we wrote it.

    I hope you enjoy ‘Til We Are One. Let me know what you think!


    The River Song


    The Summers Brothers–The River Song © 1976

    Lennis and I wrote The River Song in 1976. It’s one of my favorite Summers Brothers tunes.

    The Summers Brothers’ songwriting approach usually went something like this: Lennis or I would write a song. Once one of us had completed a song, we’d play it for the other, and then work together on vocal and instrument arrangements.

    One of the reasons I am so fond of The River Song is that it was an entirely collaborative effort from start to finish. As such, it has a very special place in my heart.

    Here’s how it unfolded:

    Our good friend Manoutch Kazemzadeh was an accomplished photographer and had introduced us to the nature photography of Eliot Porter. Mr. Porter (occasionally referred to as the Ansel Adams of color photography) sometimes used a technique that involved photographing a flowing river using a long exposure and a high f-stop. This resulted in sharp photos with a great depth-of-field, and with a mystical-looking blurred effect transforming the flowing water into something magical and otherworldly.

    Here’s an example of that technique:

    Eliot Porter: Portfolio entitled China
    From: Eliot Porter–Portfolio entitled China

    Lennis and I were intrigued and inspired by these photographs. One day we were sitting around, fiddling with various guitar parts. Pretty soon we were singing melodies and jotting down lyrics as they came to us. As the song came into being, it turned out to be about a river. The song was written start to finish in just a few short minutes.

    Another reason I like this song is the spoken verse at the end of the song. It’s one of the few recordings I have of Lennis’ speaking voice.

    The recording was made on cassette in 1978. I hope you enjoy the song.


    A New Day’s Begun


    The Summers Brothers–A New Day’s Begun © 1975

    A New Day’s Begun is one of Lennis’ best songs. The Summers Brothers began playing this one shortly after Lennis wrote it in 1975. Even after the Summers Brothers split up, this song was in Lennis’ song list and was played by many of the groups that Lennis was in after the Summers Brothers.

    The video is special to (and emotional for) me. I prepared this video to honor Lennis, his life, and his music. It was used in his online memorial service.

    The video is—loosely speaking—the story of Lennis’ life. It starts with showing pictures of Lennis as a child, and then as a teenager. It moves into his involvement with music and the Summers Brothers. Then it transitions into his family life in which he sees his son, Will, grow from a child into a man, and finishes with Lennis spending time with his first granddaughter.