Kevin F. Montague & Joani Sturgis | Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet

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Blues: Mellow Blues Easy Listening: Lounge Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet

by Kevin F. Montague & Joani Sturgis

SINGLE: Created back on March 23, 1983 which was reviewed by Warner Bros. executives as a potential hit single for the time. Captures the heart of all love relationships and what they are about in a new style pop form of the day.
Genre: Blues: Mellow Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet
Kevin F. Montague & Joani Sturgis
3:37 $1.25
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Somewhere in time, before there was you
I was alone in my life and tied to the blues
And the highs of the feelings,
I tasted from being alone.
At times it was sweet with no one to worry for
Bitter when there was no one to love
Sweeter still from the freedom to move at will
Bitter when there was no one to share it. Yet…

Somehow right now, while I am with you
I feel in my heart, the pains and the pleasures
That came in my life;
I realize comes from being in love
Love has been sweet when we carried each other
Bitter when understanding grew thin
Sweeter love came from growing together
Bitter when we would quarrel in anger.


(Part instrumental verse)

Though it’s sometime since we first got together
Through it all it worked out just fine
Somehow, someway through the days and the errors
Love got sweeter in both of our lives

CODA: Through the good and the bad that we’ve had
Bitter or Sweet, our love is still alive.

© Kevin F. Montague 1983 ● All Rights Reserved

I was living in North Hollywood, California at the time working at Gibraltar Savings and Loan as a bank teller. I shared expenses with a fellow I met at Loyola University. We both loved music. My friend Kevin L. Norwood worked for the American Song Festival back in those days while I was learning how to write and arrange songs in a new style I had created; a sound I always had heard deep inside me, but never had the money or equipment to produce the colors and rhythms.

One day, as I sat in my bedroom in our studio apartment in North Hollywood, I got the inspiration for this song that combined Jazz and Blues concepts with Rock rhythms to create a coloration to a new song I entitled "Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet". The subject for the lyrics had nothing to do with sex actually, but had to do with all the types of friendships and love relationships I had experienced in life, up until that moment in writing the new song.

I pretty much cranked out the lyrics in a few days, as well as the chord structures. Then I started to get ideas for the arrangement using double compression recording technique for my 4 track recording system, as I ping ponged the layers together beyond the four track capability of the master mix. This allowed me to get very close to studio quality resolution using modest equipment. I’ve never been rich in my life, so I’ve always had to work hard for everything and use my cleverness and technical learning to challenge me to do greater things, even with my engineering ability.

Right from the start, I thought of a gal I had heard sing who I thought would be able to deliver this song. I had met her years previous through my friend Kevin Norwood. Kevin, along with doing computer engineering work, has been building an acting career for himself over the years. He has finally earned some modest credits on IMDB hoping for a break like most actors do, who want to make a worthwhile living at their craft. We both wanted to make it in the entertainment industry when we were younger, but it just never came together for either of us. Still, while living together as room mates, we learned much about each other and helped each other to overcome the hurts of our past, while even trying to collaborate our styles into the music pursuits we both loved. I learned a lot about Mowtown, jazz and blues from Kevin Norwood, while he learned more about my culture. It was an interesting friendship in those days, but eventually ended after a few years given we both were moving in different venues of thought that needed to go their own way so we could each become who we each wanted to be eventually.

The gal singing the song in this recording was Joani Sturgis. I was first introduced to Joani while playing Phantom of the Opera at Magic Mountain. The crew had set up a mock organ in the park using a Leslie organ where I would sit cranking out the favorite Halloween pieces; like the Hitchcock theme “Funeral for a Marionette” or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue. I was good at attracting crowds the first year and so they moved me to the front of the park the following year. One evening I had close to a thousand people around me as I cranked out some fugues. People thought they were listening to a recording and didn’t think the organ was real. So I invited a few kids to come up to the stand and watch me play while touching the keyboard so they would see for themselves I was the real deal, a born prodigy and master. When I had the final arrangement ready for “Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet”, I made a date with her to record the song at another friends apartment by the name of Dan Kimbel, who owned a four track system.

I worked with Joani, as her producer, while we did 36 takes of her vocal. With each take, I would coach her more and more to help her understand the lyrics, so she could deliver the meaning better with each recording. When we reached take number 36, magic took place in the chemistry of it all. So I had her do one more take before calling it a day. We used up most of the afternoon talking the whole thing out while attempting each recording. When we finally got it right, Dan called out from the adjacent room; "All right girl! I knew you could finally get it right!" We then hooked up the four track to their stereo system to hear the final mix and it sounded simply great! I was well pleased with Joani's performance too. I knew she could pull it off!

Later on, Joani made a connection with a friend, who made an appointment with a Warner Brother Records executive at the time. Joani had been struggling to get noticed by the record companies too in those days. We all were struggling to make it. She put four songs on a cassette tape to take with her to that meeting. The second song on the tape was the one we had done entitled "Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet". When the executive heard the whole tape, without saying a word, he rewound the tape and fast forwarded to the second song, which was the one I had written for her to sing.

He played my song again and again. When he was done; the conversation went something like this Joani told me:

"Who wrote this incredible song!?" Exec

"My friend Kevin Montague did" Joani

"Was this done in a 24 track studio?" Exec

"No. It was done on a 4 track machine" Joani

"Oh, no! It couldn't have been! You don't get this kind of sound on a 4 track!" Exec

"Well, along with being a musical genius, my friend Kevin is also an engineering genius as well" Joani

"Well, you’ve got a hit on your hands!" Exec

From there, negotiations started to secure the song we had done together, but I was the copyright holder, not Joani and I had made formal submission to the copyright office to record it with the Library of Congress. Back in those days a copyright submission was only about $10.00 USD. These days it’s a lot more to fill out the forms and submit them. I even dropped by the main lobby of the recording company, when Joani was not telling me all that was going on. I needed to talk to the people in charge who were working to possibly raise us up as new artists and had a nice talk from their lobby one day.

I learned all was going well and gave my full consent for Joani to sing the song, if they felt she was recording artist material, which they thought she was. If not, they asked if another artist could cover the song and I said that was fine. I was finally thinking of my own career after giving so much to others over a life time when I gave the additional consent. One of the problems with my own life was that I always gave others what they wanted, but not what I wanted. I was changing and learning, but I still hoped that Joani would be the recording artist for the songs I had in mind. It would have been a good mix of cultures and backgrounds resulting in a new style that mixed Mowtown, with rock, with gospel, jazz and blues in the end, no one had ever conceived of before. I also had a number of other songs in the works I thought would make a great album for her, with me writing the material and arrangements with her singing them.

Getting back to the record deal; one Saturday afternoon, she got a call from the record company, asking her to meet with a producer who was interested in the song: She was helping someone move that afternoon when a phone call came in asking her to be at a producer’s party who would take her on and fund the project. It was here where she made a colossal mistake in the business as an unknown. She told them she couldn't just drop everything to run to a producer's party and leave her friend high and dry In that moment she spoke death to both our potential careers when it comes to the business world on this planet. When you do that in business, you shoot your one and only chance usually for a career, right out the window, when you are an unknown. A second chance seldom comes along again also. After that response, Warner dropped her and my song, "Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet" never got covered, even though I did try to intervene, to see if they could get someone else to cover it. They were very offended by her attitude and did not see her as a team player, but a trouble maker, which corporate executives don’t need, given all they have to keep track of. When it comes to the battle of the egos, team attitude wins, not a star stuck diva. Diva looks good on television stories, but is pure poison to the real world of business. No one makes it alone. That’s why God created teams and families. I knew that, but she was making the deal in the end. So I had very little say. I was just the song writer who had a potential hit song who never made it.

Joani and I had quite a confrontation afterwards, while I explained the facts of life to her. She lost her temper with me and I departed from her the night she yelled at me over how they were treating her. I told her how to handle it all, but she wouldn't listen. Three weeks later when she got the news they had dumped her, she told me I was right about I advised her to handle it and fix it. I told her to let me in and I would square the deal. She said, she should have listened. If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me “I should have listened” I’d be a very rich man these days. I was born with great wisdom and was also learning along the way. I knew how to keep the peace which is what my middle name “Frederick” means; which means “Peaceful ruler” or “Peaceful Lord”.

I've had to watch lives destroyed from too many people who don't listen to me all my life. So what could have been a deciding opportunity for a door open into the Music Industry when I was 28 years old, back in my late twenties, the door never opened for her or me ever again. I had run into my first issues of chronic disease at that time when I bought some contaminated food at a local Pup N Taco. I was still functional, but finally hit the wall with my health when I walked into a local Vons supermarket and ate their mild Italian sausage one morning which sent me into 18 years of the chronic disease process to my current age of 54. Thanks to CDBaby, I’m at least able to offer my old recordings to those who never got to hear my work. There was so much more I wanted to create, but injustice happens in life beyond God’s planning I’ve learned which I learned in my first NDE at age 25, where I was encouraged to leave this life and come home to our Lord who knew what had happened to me and tried to console me for all the ilk others had given me over a life time. I have a very charmed and gifted life with always my feet somewhere between heaven and earth it seems with the Devil trying to take me out all the time it seems.

Still, the recording survived through the decades and is now available on CDbaby, under my artist page; Kevin F. Montague. It still sounds good today, though not in a stereo mix. The fidelity quality is still very good and so is the arrangement, but more importantly, so are the lyrics which speak of the universals we all go through in our attempts to love those in our life, who mean so much to each of us from moment to moment in our journey through life.

I hope you enjoy this musical endeavor of mine, as well as high lights of the story and will support me, by not pirating the song, but purchasing it and asking your friends to buy it as well, to help support my creative talents before God takes me. I fight cancer these days and need the money for my natural treatment approaches. So you’re support is greatly appreciated when you purchase my work.

© Kevin F. Montague ● Bluefire Music Enterprises 1983
All Rights Reserved Internationally

Kevin F. Montague
Words & Music
Composer and Arranger



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