Here’s the latest film diary!
Here’s the first little trailer for the forthcoming movie, enjoy!
Last Sunday, after the Anderida Gorsedd open ritual at the Long Man of Wilmington, many of the people stayed behind to be extras in the Spirit of Albion movie. It was an amazing day, and here is a short interview conducted by my friend Greg while I had a little time out of filming, and had the opportunity to watch a scene from the film develop.
Here’s the latest production diary for the Spirit of Albion movie. Things are progressing beautifully!
As with many of my songs I had the tune for this song for a number of weeks before the lyrics finally arrived. Looking back I think I wrote two sets of lyrics for this and both ended up in the bin. But finally I was noodling with the tune on my mandolin in the living room and it was the chorus that came first.
Come follow me, come dance with me,
Come with me to the Greenwood Grove such magic there to see,
The Lord of the Wild with his Faerie Kin,
Deep within the Greenwood Grove,
We’ll dance the Magic Ring.
I remember looking at these words and thinking, ‘the only way I’m going to find out what this song is about is to do as the chorus asks, and follow the Lord of the Wild into the Grove itself.’ So I carried on playing the song, and closed my eyes.
Music takes me away. I can lose hours simply playing an instrument, closing my eyes, and riding the notes to wherever they take me. On this occasion I was taken into a woodland (no surprise there then!) and pretty soon I heard the sound of music being played, coming towards me through the woods. I hid behind an oak and waited as the music drew closer and closer. A huge horned figure led a procession of dancing spectral figures past me. Then came others walking behind, laughing and smiling, and others on horseback. Now I’m quite familiar with the stories of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer, but I had to follow, I had to, the music was irresistible.
I kept a small distance so as not to be seen, and soon the host began to gather in a clearing up ahead – an almost perfectly circular Grove. There was a hill in its centre that reminded me of a large round barrow, and the large horned figure slowly climbed the hill, and silence began to fall around the glade. He had a large club in one hand which he raised above his head, then brought it down onto the hill which resounded with a deep, hollow, sound. He raised it again, and once more it fell upon the Hollow Hill below, and then again, and again, until I realised he was creating a consistent bass rhythm, as other drums began to join him. The figures began to circle and dance in a magical ring dance around the edge of the Grove, then from the hill emerged a Man of Birch, followed by a Lady of Rowan. Other leafy-faced figures began to step from the Otherworld, through the Hollow Hill into the grove, and join the dance. I realised I was watching the Spirits of the Ogam trees join the dance, and in that moment the words of the song began to form.
I am the Birch of the new beginning,
The Rowan star with magic guarding…
The images around me began to fade, and I became aware that I was still playing the tune on my mandolin, and had been throughout all of this, and that it was this tune that the Faerie Host had been dancing to. I became more and more aware of the room around me, until I opened my eyes, and began to write. It was finished in no time at all after that. A gift from the Spirits of Nature!
My Dad was, and still is, a big country music fan. My very early introduction to music consisted of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Don Williams, Emilou Harris, Dolly Parton but above all of these was John Denver. His songs were the soundtrack of my childhood, and of all of the country music I heard in those early days it’s really only John’s that has stayed with me. You only have to listen to the opening bars and the groove of Song of Awen to realise what an influence on my music he has been.
John Denver was a true country boy. Living in the mountains his inspiration came from the sights and sounds that surrounded him. Nature really is the best artist, and his lyrics and melodies manage to capture that essence of wildness that so many modern Pagans seek as part of their spiritual path. Add to that his voice, one of the purest voices in music with a natural vibrato and quality that I don’t think any other singer has matched since, and you have a near perfect singer/songwriter for a budding Bard. John Denver’s songs convey a connection with the Natural World that speaks directly to the heart. I regularly, even now, find tears of joy streaming down my face when I’m listening to his songs. I find myself nodding my head saying, “Yes! Yes! That’s it! You’ve got it, you understand!” Here are some examples of what I mean –
The Eagle and the Hawk
I am the eagle, I live in high country
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers
But time is still turning they soon will be dry
And all of those who see me, all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly
Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are
Rocky Mountain High
Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high
Sunshine on my Shoulders
sunshine, on my shoulders – makes me happy
sunshine, in my eyes – can make me cry
sunshine, on the water – looks so lovely
sunshine, almost always – makes me high
if i had a day that i could give you
i’d give to you a day just like today
if i had a song that i could sing for you
i’d sing a song to make you feel this way
if i had a tale that i could tell you
i’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
if i had a wish that i could wish for you
i’d make a wish for sunshine all the while
He started the Winstar Foundation, a charity that promoted sustainable living, back in 1976, and was a keen environmental activist. His song Annie’s Song is still one of the most romantic, beautiful love songs ever written. Who knows what other great songs lay in wait from the Awen of John Denver, but sadly we will never know as on 12th October 1997 he got into his experimental light aircraft which crashed, taking his life and with it, his genius. Forever missed, his music will always live on in the hearts of those who believe that ‘they would have been a poorer man if they never saw an eagle fly.’
Blessed be John Denver.