Tim Rhodes had never written a song before last December. Then again, he had never been so inspired, he said.
It took the fears and anxieties of a group of middle-school students to move the Anne Arundel County teacher to write not one, but two songs about families being separated by the war in the Persian Gulf.
Now, Rhodes is taking the most recent of those two songs, "Will They Be Reunited?" to local radio stations hoping to get it on the air.
So far, about six radio stations in the Baltimore metropolitan area have played the song, including WAMD in Aberdeen, WHRF in Bel Air and WLIF in Towson, said Blane Kubin, the engineer who worked with Rhodes on his songs.
"It's usually hard for someone new to get their song on," Kubin said. "But, in a case like this, it's not too hard because it relates to current affairs."
Rhodes said his song is not a statement in support of or against the war. It simply tells the story of what he sees going on with his students and their families, he said.
A music teacher at George Fox Middle School in Pasadena, Rhodes said he first noticed the change in his students late last summer when the first troops were sent to Saudi Arabia. He was teaching a band camp and immediately "saw the mood go
down," Rhodes said.
Two weeks before Christmas, Rhodes sat down on his living room sofa and wrote "Will There Be Any Peace This Christmas?"
"The first thing I wrote was 'Evening news show tearful goodbye,' " Rhodes said. "It just started to get to me how the media was capitalizing on people's emotions. We had seen the same scene played out over and over again the past few months -- the tearful goodbyes.
"I never thought I would do anything with it. I've written poetry since I was in junior high school, whenever I got upset. This was just another form of that."
Rhodes and three fellow teachers played the song at a party before Christmas. One of the teachers even had her students sing the song during their Christmas pageant. Listeners wept, ,, but no one made any moves to put the song into distribution.
Later, Kubin, an engineer at ABBA Productions in Baltimore, did a remix of the song and sent it to distributor Jonas Cash, who is the brother of country singer Johnny Cash.
Rhodes said he was told that if he had made his song available three weeks before Christmas, 500,000 copies of the song could have been sold.
Instead of becoming disheartened by the news, Rhodes said, he did just as the distributor asked -- he wrote another song, without a seasonal reference.
Since Rhodes and the other teachers recorded "Will They Be Reunited?" Rhodes said, he has received a lot of support from co-workers. Two teachers gave him unsolicited checks for $100. One told him that if the song made any money, he owed her If not, the $100 was a gift.
But Rhodes said he is not out to profit off the soldiers. If the song makes any money, it will likely just cover recording expenses. If some profit is left over, Rhodes and his collaborators have decided to donate a portion to the Disabled American Veterans.
"There's a large portion of guys out there who've been through this," Rhodes said. "We just want them to know they're not forgotten. Someone cares about them."