The Birthing Plan

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!

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On Midwinter’s Day

We had the most beautiful Winter Solstice ritual up at the Long Man of Wilmington yesterday with the Anderida Gorsedd. The whole area was shrouded in mist until the ritual began, then it settled into the valley and left us, on the Gorsedd hill, standing on an island in the mist. It was so gentle, with the chldren giving out the mistletoe to the 87 people who turned up to welcome the Mabon. It inspired a song.

On Midwinter’s Day by Damh the Bard

Verse 1:

Now that Samhain is over,

And the Sidhe have returned to their home,

The dead have followed the Raven’s song,

And no longer among us they roam.

The wisdom of our ancient past,

Show us how to ride the storm,

For their tombs they swallow the rising sun,

And the Mabon is always reborn.

Chorus:

So come all you people, come and sing with me,

Join our voices, and sing the long nights away,

All over the land, a chorus of voices will sing,

For the rising Sun on Midwinter’s Day.

Verse 2:

The land may be barren and lifeless,

The ground may be frozen and hard,

And the rain that fell has now turned to ice,

The Winter is showing her card,

But now the Sun king has rested,

And his eyes have turned to the Earth,

For three days the Sun has been still in the sky,

But the time has now come for his birth.

Verse 3:

Some say Jesus was born today,

Some say he is the Mabon,

Some say that he is the Son of God,

And others the Son of the Sun,

Others they listen in the woodland,

For the call of Herne,

Others they hear the clash of swords,

For the Oak King will return!

Looking forward to recording it next week!

A Candle for Alban Arthan

The Winter Solstice and approaching New Year are a great time to look back over the last 12 months, and what an candle.jpegamazing year it’s been. Last year I decided that I would close my bushcraft school and concentrate entirely on my music. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be a professional musician, in fact when the teachers used to look at me very concerned about my school work, I used to say, “Don’t worry, I’m going to be a musician, it’ll be fine.” Well, it might have taken me a little longer than I thought but finally it looks like that child’s dream has come true.

So to look back at 2007, I’ve made lots of new friends, had my website redesigned, started my regular e-newsletter and the subscriber list is growing daily, I’ve got onto iTunes, started a podcast, got a new recording studio set up, started this blog, set up a YouTube channel, bought a banjo (oh yes, I did!), played some of the most enjoyable concerts of my life. The camps were beautiful, and the conferences equally so. Cerri, my partner, started to produce her artwork on t shirts, it really has been quite a creative year!

So what of 2008. Well, it looks like this is the year of the concert. I already have almost twice as many gigs booked as 2007, and they keep on coming. Also, I’ll be organising my first home concert tour too – how exciting! But there’s more… After this new CD is released, my plan is to immediately begin recording a folk album made up of my favourite traditional folk songs that have a spiritual/esoteric edge. I’ve also got nearly enough live material recorded to release a live CD – it’s going to be busy, but marvelous!

So here’s to 2007, thank you for all of your gifts and challenges. And to 2008, may you bring your own magic, yet to come!