"It wasn't going to be some 3 1/2-minute pop tune," he said. Interestingly, he sat down in his old bedroom at his parents' house to write and the music just flowed.
"All the musical parts just came out — I wasn't laboring over it for very long," he said. "As a writer, you know that's a truth mark."
He sat down and played through the first parts of it for his dad — including some writing changes he'd made — to gauge his reaction.
The chorus remains much as Phil wrote it:
"Bring guitars and mountain strings, drum pipes and bales of hay, But always bring a mountain fiddle, to lead the joy that day."
Joe said his dad approved — mostly.
"There were some things he asked me about two or three times, but all in all he was pretty happy with it," Joe said.
His dad agreed, saying he approved of "99.5 percent" of the changes. And for a lawyer, that's a pretty winning case.
Phil, a Vietnam veteran, served in the U.S. Army's longest running 1st Division, joining right out of law school.
He said the experience affect him and it helped him to write about his experiences.
"I've written a number of things, including poems and lyrics and different books. Most of them have not been published, except for this song," he said.
"Davie's Jubilee" is not based on any one person, but a group of people Phil knew in Vietnam. He did hear of a young man from Morgantown who was a pacifist but served as a medic and was shot in action trying to save people. The poem makes reference to Davie being a medic with a peace symbol hanging from his neck.
Phil said the poem came flowing out one evening while he was in Walmart waiting on his wife during a shopping expedition.
"You know how most men feel about that," he said. "To keep my brains from blowing up, I started to write this. By the time we left, I had 60 percent of it in my head. I finished it over the next couple of weeks."
Phil is modest about audience reaction when he reads the poem, saying, "People generally appreciate it."
"Then afterwards, I destroy whatever goodwill I've earned by doing some freestyle clogging," he added, laughing.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.