Typical isn’t it? I create a songbook with all of the chords and lyrics from my first three albums, and then, within days, release a new album. The chords from The Cauldron Born will be in volume two, but that’s a few years away, and I keep getting people asking for the chords to Land, Sky and Sea. So I’ve had a bit of fun creating a little instructional video for anyone who’d like to have a go playing this song. Enjoy!
Imagine a Cauldron hanging over a fire, it’s in a small room, dark, the air smelling of rich herbs carried on the steam. The contents of the cauldron, bubbling, glimmering red, blue, yellow, shimmering with light, stirred by a youth whose attention is on other far-away things. The cauldron has been bubbling for a year and a day, and finally it is ready. Whoever tastes just three drops will know the secrets of all that ever was, is, and ever will be.
Would you taste from this brew?
Once a young boy did just that and he was hunted down by the Goddess. Shape-shifter was he, and She also, as they ran through the Realms of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, only then was he consumed by the Goddess Herself and reborn as a Bard.
I could never resist, could you?
When I wrote the song Only Human I had just finished watching an Horizon program about feral children. The actions of one of the scientists on the program had left me so angry that I had to find a creative outlet for all of that negative energy, and the song was the result.
I didn’t realise at the time what an effect that song was going to have on others who heard it, but I am now understanding that a lot more. A couple of days ago I was sent a link to a video that Lee, a fan of the song, had been moved to create – I think maybe riding a very similar creative energy that caused the creation of the actual song itself. When I watched it, the video, and music together, work beautifully to increase the potency of the song’s lyrics. I do warn you in advance, it’s not easy viewing.
Only Human – (Damh the Bard)
Isn’t it crazy, isn’t it cruel,
That a man can earn millions from kicking a ball,
While for other countries, we role a dice,
For a little clean water and a bowl of rice,
Politicians and empty promises help lessen our pain,
It’s only human
Isn’t it wonderful, isn’t it right,
There’s nothing as worthless as an animal’s life,
But it helps me feel better, when I feel ill,
I can’t taste the pain in this little pill,
A thousand lives given to live just a few more years,
It’s only human.
Cut down a forest for grass that won’t grow,
To help melt the ice caps, to help melt the snow,
We’ll watch the seas rise with nowhere to go,
It’s only human.
Isn’t is holy, isn’t it good,
That people kill people in the name of their God,
A bomb for a Father, a bullet for a Son,
And a smile for the child that carried the gun,
Only one God can be right when all’s said and done,
It’s only human.
The inspiration for this song came when me and my partner, Cerri, traveled to Dumfries and Galloway to do the Wickerman trail. We had a book that showed the locations used in the original film (not the remake!) and set off to find them. We found the Green Man pub where they filmed Gently Johnny and Willow’s Song, the ruined church, I almost cried when we found the remaining stumps of the burned Wickerman, still on that cliff edge over 30 years later! But is was the cave from which Rowan Morrison is revealed that was the real inspiration for this song.
It is called St Ninian’s Cave, and it’s a long walk from the car park. Through a beautiful Glen and down to the sea. It is said that St Ninian used to walk this very path down to the shore where he simply sat in this cave and listened to the sound of the sea. He said that here he felt closer to God, that he could hear his voice in the sounds of the waves. When we got to the beach I began to understand why.
There are certain places on this Earth where one can feel the presence of the Gods, and this is one of them. I thought about St Ninian, a simple man, searching for a spiritual connection, just like many Pagans. And I sat and listened for the voice, and it was there. It is said that all paths leads to the same Great Centre, and it mattered not to me that he heard this voice as his God, whilst to me it was the voice of the Spirit of Place, it in some way touched us both, and it was beautiful.
I have a great respect for some of those early Christians. The search for God/Great Spirit/Goddess in solitude and peace is something most Pagans can also relate to. I feel I am also on that quest.
Land, Sky and Sea
(Damh the Bard)
You are the rock, and you are the stone,
Rivers your blood, mountains your bone.
You are the Source, of all I’ll ever know,
Forever my Mother, forever my home.
Oh this town is so cold,
Neon magicians they offer the fools their gold.
For there is somewhere I’d rather be,
In your wild places with the Land and the Sky and the Sea
Every step, follows those gone before,
Mystics and Saints, down to the shore,
Echoing waves, and the curlew’s cry,
I call out your name, I hear your reply.
Cynical thoughts, and lies that distort,
All that is true, all that is true,
They disappear, when I feel that you’re near,
When I’m with you, when I’m with you.
In 2006 I finished recording my album Spirit of Albion. It seems that it was only a day after I received them that the first song from what was to become The Cauldron Born was written. That song was Green and Grey. The tune for The Cauldron Born had been written while I was recording Albion, but no words would come at that time.
The next songs were Immrama and Only Human, both written on the same day, and using a very different writing technique – I usually write the tune first, then the lyrics, but with these songs I decided to try writing the lyrics first, and then finding the tune. I guess whatever comes second is the hardest part. With these two songs I found the lyric writing much easier, but the tunes were difficult to find, but they both finally came.
And still no words for The Cauldron Born tune…
It was about this time that the tune for Land, Sky and Sea arrived, and I just couldn’t find the words to go with it. So that made two tunes, with no lyrics.
It was in September 2007 that the first chords were struck and recorded for the new album. I had 6 songs written and I gave myself the deadline of 8th March 2008 to write the rest of the songs, and finish the recording. But I came up against a problem straight away.
Cue the boring techie bit! – I had recorded my previous three CDs on a Dell computer on Logic 4 (if you know sequencer programs you’ll currently be going Logic 4!!) Apple computers bought Logic and there hadn’t been a new version for PCs since Logic 5 – the lovely Apple people had just launched Logic 8! My beloved Dell had had enough of my music and flew off to the computer Summerlands. I didn’t want to have to learn how to use a new sequencer, so tried to record my album on my Apple iBook G4 with Logic 7, but it just wasn’t up to it, so in the end I had to get a new iMac, with Logic 8. It arrived at the end of October, and this was when the recording began in earnest.
I had by this time found some words for both The Cauldron Born, and Land, Sky and Sea, but wasn’t completely happy with them. There was something missing from the first, and a line I just couldn’t get in the second. I had written Pagan Ways after my enconter at the Long Man of Wilmington with the Trinny and Suzanna Show (see this post for details of that!), and things were taking shape nicely.
The last song I wrote was On Midwinter’s Day, a song that came out of nowhere after a particularly wonderful Winter Solstice ceremony at the Long Man with the Anderida Gorsedd, but still these other two songs wouldn’t complete. I cannot tell you how many times I had sat with my guitar searching for the missing words!
But then, in a sudden flash, just as I was beginning to think they just might not want to be written, the words came. The missing verse from The Cauldron Born was the very first one, as it invited the listener to come with me as I showed them other spiritual people just like themselves. And the missing line from Land, Sky and Sea came and is one of the favourite lines I have ever written – Oh, this town is so cold, Neon Magicians they offer the Fools their Gold.
These were the last words I sang, and the album’s recording was complete.
It had taken over two years to find the lyrics for The Cauldron Born song, and just over a year for Land, Sky and Sea. They are always there, some songs just need longer incubation!
Two days ago Cerri and I were having a snowball fight in the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. We went there for some sunshine and warmth amidst the British Winter, and apparently chose to holiday during the worst week for weather Cyprus had seen in 5 years! Having said that it mattered not. The country is beautiful, the people honestly open and friendly, and the Cyprus Meze a culinary delight. Oh, and the beer was lovely too! It’s 20+ degrees out there now, apparently…
We arrived back yesterday, and I took delivery of my new CDs this morning. An early birth – two weeks premature, but parents and child are doing well. Those people who ordered in advance will be getting a lovely little surprise on Saturday morning when they open a CD sized jiffy bag and find a shiny new The Cauldron Born CD to play. It was due out on the 8th March, ready for the Pagan Federation Devon and Cornwall conference, but as we were going away on holiday I had to have it ready and sent off for pressing before we left – I didn’t expect it back so early, but I’m so excited to finally see, and hear it!
The PF conference in March will still be the launch party, but it feels so good to be sending this CD out to people nice and early.