Son releases dad’s song in support of MND battle

Chris, John and Janis McConville
Chris, John and Janis McConville

Carluke musician Chris McConville has released a charity single to show his support for his dad as he battles motor neurone disease (MND).

Chris’ father John McConville, 66, was diagnosed with MND in December 2015.

John in his younger days as a singer and musician

John in his younger days as a singer and musician

MND is a rapidly-progressing terminal illness which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles, which can cause the loss of the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe unaided.

The single, titled Try Another Day, has been produced by Chris, with the lyrics and melody composed by John.

Chris, 39, grew up in Forth and went to Carluke High School, but he and his brother Justin, 41, are now musicians living in London.

He said: “My dad was a folk musician and singer back in his youth. He also wrote his own songs.

He’s been living with MND for a couple of years now, and on his last visit to London, he told me he had written a song, and I said we should record it the next time I visit them in Carluke, so I took my little mobile recorder the next time I went up, I learned the chords and then I recorded him singing it.”

Chris then took the recordings to London, where he produced the track in his own home studio.

While recording his father’s vocals in Carluke, Chris’ microphones picked up even the faintest background noises and he had to tell his mother Janis , 63, and wife Noelle, 48, to stay quiet while John was singing.

Despite having to record three versions of his dad singing the track, in retrospect Chris is glad that he was given an opportunity to capture normal family life.

“Listening back to the raw recordings, it was great to capture him in his home environment and funny to be able to hear it all around in the background,” he said.

“The idea of recording the song was initially a fun activity to do together, but on a deeper personal level for myself and for our family, to have something unique to remember him by in years to come, to capture him while we still can and have our dad and his two musician sons on his song together.”

In his later life, John was a television engineer but then noticed symptoms developing.

Speaking of his condition, he said: “It’s mainly my limbs.

“My arms and legs can’t do much. I get around in a wheelchair. I do manage quite well on a daily basis with daily living.

“The most challenging thing is my mobility – moving about, walking.

“When I was going through the tests, everything was a bit vague. I didn’t get the final diagnosis until December 2015.”

Despite his deteriorating condition, John remains passionate about music.

Explaining the origin of the single, he said: “I was in the bathroom or the shower singing away and you sing melodies. ‘That’s not a bad tune,’ I said. I got the guitar out and started playing the song that was in my head.

“The words came after. I wouldn’t say I was particularly badly disabled when the title came around. I don’t know if it was my subconscious, but it wasn’t really anything to do with my illness. The lyrics just came to fit the melody.”

Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s Head of Fundraising said, “I’d like to thank John for sharing his story with us. Sharing personal experiences of MND is a great way to raise awareness of how this illness affects people’s lives, and shows the strength and courage people can have in the face of a devastating diagnosis.

“I think its absolutely fantastic that Chris and Justin have produced this single for their dad to raise money for MND Scotland, particularly during what must be a challenging time for the family.

“John, Chris, Justin and the whole family can continue to count on our support and I hope everyone will go online and download the single.”

Try Another Day is available on iTunes, and Chris has set up a JustGiving page to raise cash for MND Scotland at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tryanotherday-charitysingle