Late Night OTB – End of My Journey

Not an Easter song, exactly, but certainly evocative of some of the holiday's major themes.

Not an Easter song, exactly, but certainly evocative of some of the holiday’s major themes:

I watched the movie “Cadence” not too long after its release while I was a young Army officer in Germany and enjoyed the song. I’ve found various versions over the years, both audio and video, but none are of high quality. As one account has it:

End Of My Journey is a song originally written under several different names and arrangements. In 1990, the song was then rearranged again, with a totally different tempo and lyrics (and only using the chorus from the original song) for the 1990 US film “Cadence,” starring Charlie Sheen, his brother Ramón Estévez, Laurence Fishburne and Martin Sheen (outside the United States the film is known as “Stockade”).

In the film the song is featured two times: it is sung by the actual actor/singer Harry Stewart on a piano in a church and the entire song is used over the end credits, again with Harry as singer.

Since the soundtrack to the film was never released (and possibly due to legal issues) it is difficult to find a recorded version of this song that not has been burned from the audio portion of the DVD release by those who want the song for its even more powerful lyrics.

While the song has a minor cult following, Stewart is something of a mystery.

His IMDB page gives him credit for special effects work on four films, including “Rooster Cogburn,” “Escape from Alcatraz,” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” and acting credit for his role in Harry “Sweetbread” Crane in “Cadence.” That’s five total credits, in the fifteen years spanning from 1975 to 1990, and then . . . nothing.

A 1991 ”Variety” report (“Success Hasn’t Come Easy For ‘Green Card’ Composer“) had him recently discovered in a homeless shelter:

Harry Stewart was in the right place at the right time. The result is that he composed the theme for the film “Green Card” – and, more important, is no longer homeless.

Stewart was discovered performing in a subway Peter Weir, who directed Touchstone Pictures’ “Green Card.” Stewart had organized a group of a cappella singers while staying at Harlem’s Emmaus Shelter for the Homeless, performing inspirational songs and hymns in the streets, parks and subway stations.

“I knew there were a lot of people down there making money,” Stewart said. “The cops hassled us at Grand Central [Terminal] because we had a crowd of 200 people, so they told us to go to the Port Authority [Bus Terminal].”

Weir happened to be passing through and was so taken with the group and Stewart that he approached him about auditioning some music for the film. Stewart asked about the story line and wound up composing the theme “Eyes On The Prize,” which speaks to the enormous obstacles facing “Green Card’s” unlikely lovers.

Stewart grew up in Reading, Pa., surrounded music in churches, and he later directed church choirs. He moved to New York to pursue a career, and among his projects was performing as an opening act for Elektra artists 10,000 Maniacs. He also arranged a song for the group.

He soon will appear in the film “Cadence,” the result of his getting to know Martin Sheen when they were arrested several times during antinuclear demonstrations in New York. Stewart contributes a song, “End Of My Journey,” to the soundtrack and sings others.

Oddly, the IMDB soundtrack for “Green Card” doesn’t include any mention of Stewart or “Eyes on the Prize.” (Also, both “Green Card” and “Cadence” are listed as having come out in 1990 and yet have release dates of  1 February 1991 and  15 February 1991, respectively, both slightly before the Variety article. Go figure.) But here’s a video of the song:

It’s credited to the Emmaus Group Singers, presumably after the homeless shelter, and that certainly sounds like Stewart on vocals.

A contemporaneous LAT story (“Composer Kept His ‘Eyes on the Prize’“):

“No matter how hopeless the situation, you can’t give up,” says composer Harry Stewart, 27, until recently a member of New York City’s homeless community.

Stewart was in the right place–a New York City subway station–at the right time . . . when director Peter Weir was looking for street musicians to provide music for his current movie, “Green Card.”

Stewart got the job–and his life changed.

Not only was he paid well for composing and performing his spirited song “Eyes on the Prize”–which Touchstone has submitted for Oscar consideration–Stewart is currently cleaning up some bad habits in a Phoenix rehab center.

The “beautiful, haunting” voices that Weir says he heard in the subway were those of Stewart and his Emmaus The Group singers, which Stewart had organized while living at Harlem’s Emmaus House for the homeless.

After Stewart inquired about the film’s storyline–a man and woman pretend to be married for individual reasons, then fall in love–he composed the song especially for the film. Then he surprised Weir with it when the group auditioned in Central Park.

As soon as he heard it, Weir says, he knew he wanted it–as a parable for the seemingly insurmountable obstacles faced by the film’s two main characters, played by Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell.

“The song throws the message to the audience to keep your eyes on the prize,” Weir says. “There’s a lot of hopelessness in the world. . . . Yes, it’s just a movie, but it gives you hope.”

Before his lucky break, Stewart says, he was “throwing his faith away,” a lyric from another of his songs. “That’s what I was doing. I became homeless and I stayed that way because of an addiction to drugs.

“I got the inspiration from seeing the homeless. If I encourage one person who is homeless, then I’ve done something.”

Alas, it’s not clear what happened after “Cadence.” Stewart apparently disappeared for years. This 2010 video of him reprising “End of My Journey” has made the rounds:

But I have no idea where Stewart is now or what he’s doing.

FILED UNDER: Late Night OTB
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But I have no idea where Stewart is now or what he’s doing.

    People come, people go. Hopefully he is living a successful life of quiet anonymity.




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  2. dazedandconfused says:

    I was mildly surprised no well recorded version was ever made. Somebody tried to re-mix it but that didn’t go well. It has been covered, but not by a somebody. About the best sung cover I found was by a nobody.

    She does it justice, nonetheless.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EU-9yJq8fI




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