John Falcone has just released his new album FALCONE RISING. Produced by Jonathan Crone, FALCONE RISING features a Biblical basis of composition, with every song inspired by specific Bible verses.
FALCONE RISING has grown from just a concept to a powerful vehicle of ministry. With the assistance of Creative Soul Records founder Eric Copeland, songwriter John Falcone (guitars) assembled an all-star list of talent including Jason Fowler (lead vocals), Jonathan Crone (keys, programming, guitars), Adam Nitti (bass) and Tony Morra (drums).
Falcone wears many hats - mostly a surgeon's cap during the day and a baseball cap at night. A husband and father of three, Falcone serves as a general, vascular, trauma and cancer surgeon at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital in Owensboro, Kentucky. But the most defining event of his life wasn't helping cure a patient of her breast cancer, or saving a child that was bleeding to death after a car accident. It wasn't being his high school valedictorian, or getting married, or even having children. He will quickly tell you that the most defining moment was publicly declaring that Jesus was his savior when he was baptized in 2018 at 38 years of age.
Q: John, thank you for doing this interview. Let's start with yourself: tell us about your work as a medical surgeon?
Thank you for the opportunity! Well, my day job involves the practice of surgery. I am a board-certified general surgeon, and I practice general surgery, vascular (blood vessel) surgery, cancer surgery, and trauma/acute care surgery. My days are split between clinic and the OR. The most common cases that I do are gallbladder removals, hernia repairs, colonoscopies/endoscopies, and appendectomies. But, I also do operations on the carotid arteries in the neck, and place stents and perform bypasses of the arteries in the lower extremities. I also operate on patients with colon cancer, breast cancer, etc. Furthermore, I am a surgical educator, and I spend a lot of time doing research in surgical education, as well as helping train future surgeons and medical students. I truly love what I do for a living!
Q: How did you come to know Christ?
This is sort of a long story. But briefly, I was always a pretty "good kid" growing up. I did well in school, and athletics, and music. I was an altar server in my church. I went to Sunday school, etc. Looking from the outside, it looked like I was a Christian. But the inside was a completely different story. In college, I stopped going to church, and I really became an expert at putting on a facade for people to see. But, I was a lost person. I kept doing well academically, and with my career, but there was this emptiness inside. I got into drinking alcohol, and patterns of sexual sin. I was angry all the time... So much for being a "good kid," right?
I realized long ago that a change was needed. I just kept thinking to myself that I was a smart person, and that as a smart person, there was something that I could do to fix it. Two decades later, there had been so many failed attempts. There really wasn't a life-changing definable moment where I realized that I was a sinner in need of a savior. This was sort of a long transition. But, in my late 30s, I found Christ. My eyes are wide open!
In terms of getting to know him, there have been several differences I have noticed. First, there are certain outward behaviors of mine that are clearly different. There are, more importantly, inward changes of the heart that have been indescribable. I am pretty early in my walk, but I am knowing Christ with reading the Bible, prayer, other spiritual disciplines, and my eternal destiny has done a 180-degree turn. I want others to know Him this way.
Q: What prompted you to want to be involved in music? Who were some of the people who helped in this journey?
I have always been exposed and involved in music. Both of my grandmothers sang to me and with me as a child; my Grandma Falcone, at 96 years old, would gladly take credit for my musical talent. I was involved in multiple vocal groups, and I really loved the trumpet. Mr. Kenneth Reid and Mr. John Maguda were instrumental (bad pun intended) in the trumpet as my band director and private lesson instructor respectively. I taught myself how to play the piano and guitar. I was in a select all-east choir in Boston, and was the lead character in Menotti's Christmastime opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. As a trumpet player in high school, I was the first chair in the NY State Symphonic Band, and I joined the musician's union through the American Federation of Musicians.
I put the trumpet down in college, and started playing the guitar. My interest in the guitar and music theory grew even more in medical school. But, music went away again in my surgical training years when I was working around 80 hours a week.
In the last two years, and in concert with being born again, I really felt called to help with The Great Commission with a music ministry. I found Eric Copeland, the president of Creative Soul Records--he has really walked me through this record and the music industry. He introduced me to a number of very goodhearted Christian musicians and other industry contacts for the record. Eric's help has been invaluable.
Now, music is as important as ever. It is a necessity. As common as physician burnout is, music is not only a creative outlet for me. But, it is a way of dealing with stress--very important. I hope that music is an active habit/hobby for the rest of my life.
Q: You have a new album out. Tell us more about the album and why you are proud of it.
Yes! This is a self-titled 10-track album in the genre of Christian rock, although there are other genres on the record as well. The main purpose of the music is to help believers in their walk and to help bring lost people to know God. Each track is inspired by at least one Bible passage.
I really try not to be too proud, as pride is one of those things that can be dangerous from a spiritual perspective for Christians. But, since you asked, I am proud of this for a few reasons. First, I am happy that I went through the process. I really prayed and felt called to use my musicianship to help in The Great Commission. This ministry is the result. I am brand new to the music industry in many respects. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I learned a lot about the industry in the process. The journey was worthwhile! Second, I think that it sounds amazing! The transformation from the demos I recorded to this final product is astounding. A lot of the artists are Grammy and Dove Award-winners. But I truly love the sound on the record.
Q: Scripture is what is at the center of all the songs here. Why is the Bible important for you in songwriting?
For a music ministry, and for all ministry, I think that the word of God--The Bible--needs to be in the center. The Bible is particularly important for drawing inspiration for songs. Each song has at least one verse behind it; this is important for the mission of the Falcone Rising ministry. I also make a very dedicated effort to try to use The Bible for the lyrical construction of the songs as well. When I was growing up, I really liked how most hymnals were full of songs and psalms that also were related or inspired from Bible verses.
Q: What is the song "The 6th Hour Ballad of St. Dismas" about?
Great question! St. Dismas is one of the names given to the Penitent Thief, one of the criminals crucified with Jesus. Doing some research on this man, it was thought that he was not only a thief, but was suspected of fratricide--killing one's brother. So, the lyrics define some of the mystery and sin behind St. Dismas. Being crucified, he suffered the same as Jesus did, and was hung on a cross. There are a number of paintings that commonly put St. Dismas on Jesus' right, putting him at the right hand (side) of The Father in life and in his heavenly life. A lot of classic artwork of the crucifixion also commonly has Jesus facing the right side.
The main point of the song is that it is never too late to be saved. St. Dismas was literally saved at "the sixth hour" as it is described in the Gospel of Luke. Back to the question, this song is about St. Dismas...but it is really about me. I have a lifetime of sins for which I should be the one hanging on a cross. I am the one that deserves death. I really thought it was too late for me. But, truly, one can be saved at any age as an adult. "Just know, it's never too late to have a compass change of your fate."
Q: How do you balance your calling as a surgeon, singer and dad?
This is definitely a balancing act. I do have responsibilities at home as a husband and a father. I have responsibilities to my patients. As an adult, and with a lot of competing responsibilities through medical school and surgical training, I really have worked on time management skills. As much as I can, I try to leave work at work. I do love working as a surgeon and I get a lot out of my relationships with my patients and their families. As I mentioned, music is necessary for me as a way of relieving stress. I do overlap some of the music and family time at home; I try to spend as much time with my family as I can, and I try to play the guitar and work on music a little bit every day.