Liner Notes for
Changes/Andrew King Split MCD
1: Mahabharata of the Soul
3: Anthem to Freedom
5: ...And Finally
6: Two Brothers
7: Dives And Lazarus
8: What Is The Life Of A Man
9: Kommer I Snart, I Husmaend
10: The Farmer's Toast
[Note: Nicholas's notes in gold text]
It was a great visit to Sintra, Portugal to perform for the fine people there and an honor to perform with and in cooperation with Andrew and his great band which was the impetus for this split CD. For more details of the performance and photographs see the Sintra page of the Memoirs of the "Men Among the Ruins" Tour.
Mahabharata of the Soul:
This was a recently composed song by Nicholas and myself. Those who have read my many interviews will be aware of my view concerning the decomposition of Western Civilization. I don't think I need expand on that thesis. I have often stated that we are in the grips of a spiritual crisis that effects most all of us in some manner.
Two books I was reading at nearly the same time contributed to the concept for this song: Ride The Tiger, A Survival Manual For The Aristocrats Of the Soul by Julius Evola. (Inner Traditions, 2003) www.InnerTraditions.com. This is the third book that forms a trilogy preceded by Revolt Against The Modern World (Inner Traditions) and Men Among The Ruins (Inner Traditions). This was translated by the noted translator and musicologist, Joscelyn Godwin and Constance Fontana. In this third volume Evola discusses in a general sense how to keep your head above the maelstrom of conditions and events that epitomize this age of the Kali-Yuga.
Also, "man is a rope stretched across an abyss" is from Frederich Nietzche and is paraphrased in the second line of the lyrics.
The term Kshatriya is Sanskrit for the Warrior caste of archaic India. The other book I was reading is a magnificent translation of the Hindu epic poem The Mahabharata which signifies "the great war". It is the saga of the war fought between the two leading groups in India of the time when a question of succession arises between the two families immediately descended from the last legitimate king. This Translation by Sanskrit scholar J. A. B. van Buitenen is the first attempt at translating the entire corpus of the poem in it's original iambic hexameter. In that sense it is faithful to the original work. Three volumes have been published. Finished, it will encompass the full 18 books.
Other Sanskrit words are invoked in the lyrics. "Into the heart of darkness" is an allusion to Joseph Conrad's novel Heart Of Darkness which is the tale of a civilized European who atavistically throws off his civilizing conditioning and goes native. Francis Ford Coppola's movie Apocalypse Now was a modern retelling of the story by script writer John Milius. Perhaps more then any short ballad I have written this one is the most chock full of literary allusions.
When I had finished the lyrics I asked Nicholas to give this song an eastern sound and he did, to my complete satisfaction.
It was always our intention to have an "eastern" sound to this song. However, when I sat down with the lyrics for the first time I wasn't sure what type of melody would capture the feeling we were trying to convey. Subconsciously or magically, I hit upon a few dissonant notes based around the C-minor chord that I had started playing (actually A-minor with a capo on the third fret), that fit the concept perfectly. Then by using straight chords in the two chorus sections, the discords are essentially resolved. Of course, the discordant verse is repeated at the end of the song but it does end on the regular C-minor chord for final resolution.
This was a love song written to a red haired lady by the name of Cathy Clark I once had a brief love affair with. I wrote this one while staying overnight at her apartment and it alludes to her golden eyes.
Anthem To Freedom:
Though there have been several songs written about heroes and heroism, I wanted to compose one that honored heroes throughout history and into the future. Though it seems like all of the heroes are gone, there are still people making their mark in the world today on battlefields or tragedies such as the World Trade Center that are as herioc as those of the past even if sometimes "unsung" with the vast communication powers of our present technology. This, possibly since the world has so much "news" and we are going at such a fast pace, that the great heroes get lost in the shuffle.
As history has shown, in the thousands of years that man has inhabited this planet there have comparatively only been a few years in which the world has been at "complete peace". The unfortunate fact is that, with all the talk about the desire for "world peace", (and it is easy to talk or dream about the ethereal "world" working out its differences), we have to face the fact that many people can't even be at peace with each other on the local level which is a barometric indication of the genetic structure that makes homo sapiens the warring tribes they have always been and will always be.
For this song, being an anthem, I wanted it to be somewhat "anthemic" in structure. Having the song set up with a "solo" rhythm base, followed by the entrance of the guitar chord progressions before the vocals begin. Then a very short bridge between verses. An extended bridge or several more verses would have made the song, I believe, lose its poignancy as an antherm. And finally the drum rhythms play on after the final note is sung.
This pastoral ballad is about the river of the same name in West Virginia. This was a river with which I became quite well acquainted. I might even say intimate with in a real sense. I and friend, Dan Wood, once canoed the last 15 or so miles in a Coleman canoe. When we first put into the water it was quite tranquil and calm. Then we came around a bend in the river and it was raging white water. On both sides high stone cliffs rose. So there was no getting out of it. By some dint of good luck we made it through to the end of the river at Harper's Ferry, where the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers convene. Later we mentioned our trip down the river at the Blue Ridge canoe center and the people there told us nobody ever canoes that stretch of water. It was strictly rubber rafts with a guide, and never in early April when the melt of winter snow adds a whole dimension to the river. I often would sit in a park along the river at Harper's ferry and that was when I wrote the lyrics. Bob Ferbrache added a nice guitar instrumentation while I was visiting him at Studio Absenta near Denver.
This beautiful song written by Robert, is one that, in my opinion, conveys perfectly the feeling of reflections on a picturesque flowing body of water amidst the lush green foliage of West Virginia. Additionally, it is a melody that every time I listen to it (and the same goes with everybody in my family), it stays in my mind for many hours.
[This liner note is reprinted from the introduction on the page containing the poem "...And Finally" on the The Red Salon website (www.theredsalon.com)]
Westminster Abbey is one of the great time capsules of Western civilization. Through its high-arched doorways have passed some of the greatest and most notable personalities of all times; kings, queens, prime ministers, theologians, poets, reformers, explorers, conquerors and generations of plain common folk. It has been the scene of countless baptisms, funerals, coronations and civil and religious rituals. Its interior is crammed with stone crypts bearing the remains of the kings and queens of the British realm.
It was during one autumn afternoon, that my (then) wife Karen and I (like millions of other tourists) paid a visit to this great Gothick cathedral. For both of us it was probably the first time in nearly three hundred years that anyone in our respective direct lines of ancestors had returned to visit England.
Both of us are descendants of the first colonists to America, Karen's being at Jamestown, Virginia and mine at Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was with great enthusiasm, and a sense of awe and expectation, that we made this pilgrimage of sorts to "the Motherland" of our ancestors, and the cultural centre of the English-speaking world.
Westminster was, at the time, undergoing a major tuck-pointing and cleaning. As a result, the exterior was surrounded with steel scaffolds and other equipment. The interior was less than spotless; litter lay carelessly strewn on the floors. The coronation chair looked sad in its disrepair. Crudely carved graffiti added an additional element of blight to its once solemn dignity. Though it was a clear, sunny day out-of-doors, a gloom pervaded the narrow aisles of the crypts. I passed through a wrought-iron gateway into a corner in which memorial stones had been set into the floor. I received something of a start when I caught sight of my name incised upon one of the stones: "Robert Taylor", the stone read, followed by the word "architect" and numerals designating the dates of his birth and death. Glancing around further, I noticed another inscribed stone bearing the name of Thomas Sterns Eliot. I paused, thinking of Eliot. He had been an American from an old St. Louis family of some status and wealth. He had been one of the leading and most influential poets of the first half of this century. He had given up his American citizenship in order to become a British subject. In addition, he had been a member of the Anglican Church of England (the official State church, presided over by a Monarchy). And here was his posthumous reward: His name inscribed on a pavement stone in the poets' corner of Westminster Abbey.
Late that evening, exhausted from a rigorous day of sightseeing in and about London, we returned to our room, situated on a crescent about a mile from the British Museum. Karen went to bed shortly after our return. I stayed up thinking about the day's sights and activities, noting them down in my journal. Somehow, I couldn't shake off my thoughts concerning T.S. Eliot.
I had read his poems many times in the past. I first read "The Waste Land and Other Poems" whilst in my early twenties. The fragmented nature of the poem and its ambiguous symbolism had seemed like doggerel or nonsense at the time. I recall my initial reaction after first reading it, when I had thrown the book down on my back-porch floor in disdain, briskly going inside the house and muttering words of contempt under my breath!
Some years later I 'grew' to appreciate Eliot's work. It had something to do with my own growing sophistication, maturity and personal vision. I studied the notes at the end of "The Waste Land", tracked down the sources of his poetry and other Symbolist poets: Weston's "From Ritual To Romance"; the facsimile manuscript of "The Waste Land" as annotated by Ezra Pound; Eliot's other poetry, essays and plays as well as the works of his contemporaries. But, however much I had studied and had thought about him and his work, "Eliot The Man" had somehow eluded me--he remained a cipher, an enigma.
These were among my thoughts that late evening in London. To be sure, Eliot was a great poet, a visionary prophet and poetic innovator. Even, perhaps, the last truly significant poet of the English language. He had in effect written the Epic poem of the century, "The Wasteland". Though not a true Epic in the sense of its length, it certainly had the scope and vastness of insight to qualify as an Epic in its subject matter: The vision of a civilization in transition, whose culture has become distorted and fragmented and locked into the process of an ever hardening rigor mortis of the soul. Eliot's poem had certainly fulfilled the simple definition of the Epic, as given by his colleague and confidant Ezra Pound: "An Epic is a poem including history".
He was not, however, the first or the last to anticipate the impending crisis of our civilization and its subsequent effects. William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites had felt the first portents of this dehumanizing process called the "Modern Age" in the Victorian period and had, through the Arts & Crafts Movement, as well as through their individual art and writing, attempted to do something to stave off their worst fears. W.B. Yeats had anticipated the same fateful concerns when he had written "The Second Coming". Oswald Spengler had penned his ponderous "The Decline of the West", whose gloom and doom prophecies continue to be fulfilled with eerie inevitably each passing decade. The novelist Joseph Conrad had hinted at this malaise of the Western psyche in his novella, Heart of Darkness. James Thompson, a minor alcoholic, London poet, had anticipated Eliot's wasteland in his poem "The City of Dreadful Night". Some have even suggested that it was Thompson's brooding ode from which Eliot had conceived and styled his own work.
Artists, poets, novelists and historians all had felt the tremors of some impending end-time for our civilization. Some expressed it from the standpoint of the individual, others from the perspective of history, and still others like the Rumanian philosopher, Emil Cioran, did so from the perspective of metaphysics. But none proffered anything even remotely offering a solution to the problem--least of all, T.S. Eliot.
Eliot was about as far removed from Carlisle's concept of "the Poet as hero" as one could be. He had seen the writing on the wall, or, more accurately, had felt it etched within his own being, and yet his only answer, his only response, was to flee in trepidation into the comforting arms of the Anglican Church, steeped in the musty mists of Medievalism, and to take a job with Lloyds of London and to follow the clockwork modus operandi of a banker, committing what Colin Wilson has so aptly coined as "mind-suicide".
And adding to all this was Eliot's latter-day Toryism in assuming British citizenship (no doubt a result of his long-standing feud with his parents and family back in the USA). This, then, was his final legacy--his petite treason toward his place of origin and birth! In a sense, Eliot became a caricature of the English upper-class of which he so obviously wished to be a part.
But as I have said previously, Eliot was a great poet. He was great for many reasons. One of them is the fact that he had brought English poetry nearly full circle, back to its artful artlessness. That is to say, back to a smooth interplay between four- and five-stress lines suited to modern English. Most often the reader is not even aware of the variation. The metrical norm of much of Eliot's poetry is the four-stress line, with strong medial pause. There is a variety within the line. Eliot has freed the metre by exercising a far greater liberty within the line in the number of syllables and by using the four-stress line as a norm to depart and return to. Much of his poetry and verse is reminiscent of archaic Anglo-Saxon prosody.
I have often thought that if the task were to fall to me to edit a comprehensive anthology of English poetry, the choices as to what would be included would be an arduous and difficult series of decisions. The first and last poems to appear would be from the Anglo-Saxon "The Ruin", composed during the days of the Germanic invasions of Britain by an anonymous Saxon or Frisian scop (poet). Here, the poet surveys the Roman ruins at Bath, England, with the impetuous and precocious voice and imagination of a young and vibrant race, surveying the ruins and wreckage of past glories, of another older civilization, now turned to loam dust. The final poem in my anthology would of course have to be Eliot's "The Waste Land", for here we would have come quite near to full circle, back to where we had begun--only this time, the vision is that of the wasteland (or ruin) of our own world, as perceived through the sensibilities of a world-weary, atomized human being: "The Hollow Man".
These and similar musings were the impetus underlying my anger (and inspiration) that night in London, when I stayed up most of the night composing and revising the poem you will hear on this track. For better or worse, I did not have Eliot's poems to refer to--only those phrases and lines which had impressed themselves upon my memory. It was the first poem I specifically intended for a verbal delivery, rather than just for the printed page. For, in truth, where does one go after the circle of time is nearly completed in a culture? Back once again to the verbal rhythms of the tribal hymn? To the poem that speaks aloud in shamanic incantations? To the Oracle charting the course of the unformed future? The fates alone will decide.
--December 22, 2006
Andrew King: Vocals, samples, & Harmonium on 6
Hunter Barr: Keyboards & samples
Laurel Swift: Double bass on 7 & Violin on 10
Jonh Murphy: Drums on 6 & 9
Richard Peirson: Piano on 9
Lisa Knapp: Vocals on 6
Chorus of Farmers and Fatalists:
Mason Ball, Cornelius Cullivan, W. Mark England, Andrew King, Lisa Knapp, Isabel Hubner, Jonh Murphy, Phil Roast, Gavin Scott
Vocals for 6, 8 & 10 recorded by Andrew King at The Forbidden Zone, Philadelphia, September 8th-9th 2005, courtesy of David E. Williams.
Vocals for 7 recorded live at Germ Books + Gallery, Philadelphia, September 4th 2005, courtesy of Jennifer Bates, recorded by David E. Williams.
Piano recorded by Andrew King at the Coliseum, London, October 4th 2005.
All other recordings and mastering made by Hunter Barr at Retina II and Zed One Studios, London, October 2005.
This split album was issued to commemorate the Terra Fria organised Changes and Andrew King concert that took place at the Associacao Os Aliados, Sintra (S. Pedro de Sintra), Portugal, on the 12th November 2005.
My involvement in this concert was finalised in mid August, which technically gave me three months to devise the set and record the tracks. Unfortunately I was already booked to appear at Germ Books + Gallery, Philadelphia, for an unaccompanied performance and exhibition of my paintings on September 2nd -- my first solo exhibition in ten years -- & I realised that preparations for the trip to America would keep me busy for the remainder of August. Furthermore, as I wasn't to be back in England until mid September, this meant that I actually had only six weeks to record my part of the album, fine for most people, but as anyone can testify who knows me, I am a VERY slow worker in the studio, often taking a month on one song, so from the beginning I knew that it was going to be tricky to get everything done on time; this was going to be a test, not just for me, but for the long suffering Mr. Hunter Barr who's studio I use. Fortunately, I was staying in Philadelphia at the home of Germ's owners, Jennifer Bates & David E. Williams, and David very generously permitted me the run of his studio The Forbidden Zone for the duration of my visit. Consequently I finalised my track listing for the album (which grew from 3, to 4, and finally to 5 tracks apiece) before flying to the US and then spent a couple of days at David's studio recording multiple versions of the vocal tracks "blind" i.e. without any of the instrumentation laid down. From these sessions I recorded vocal takes that I was happy with of Two Brothers, What Is The Life Of A Man, & The Farmer's Toast, whilst the vocal track to Dives and Lazarus was recorded live by David at the exhibition's opening, leaving me the task of putting together the remaining parts at Retina II when I got back to London. Unfortunately, the subsequent London sessions were to be fraught with technical problems that made the final mix and mastering highly problematic, consequently there were a few aspects of this release (over-recording, occasional bum-notes) that I would have liked to have addressed before publication, but as it was, there just wasn't time and it had to be released "warts and all", nonetheless, it is still a powerful and intriguing set of pieces, and a worthy addition to my canon of work, more importantly, it was a very great honour to be offered the opportunity of sharing not only the stage, but also this release with Changes, my thanks to them and to Terra Fria
6: Two Brothers: trad. Child 49; Roud 38: from Sheila Stewart of Blairgowrie, Perthshire, a very great Scots Traveller singer, who it has been my great privilege to hear on many occasions
7: Dives And Lazarus: trad. Child 56; Roud 477: from Lucy Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland's English Country Songs of 1893, this version is credited as being from Middlesex, the tune noted by A. J. Hipkins in Westminster (to the title "Lazarus"), the text being reprinted from Notes and Queries, Ser. 4, vol. iii., 76. I have taken some additional verses from Child. The only source singer that I've heard sing this ancient ballad is Bob Lewis of Heyshott, West Sussex, Bob's version is textually and melodically different from my version, but I have learnt a lot about the correct pace and phrasing of this song by hearing him sing his version
8: What Is The Life Of A Man: trad. Roud 848: From Harry Holman of Copthorne, Sussex. A fine singer recorded by Brian Matthews in 1959
9: Kommer I Snart, I Husmaend (Come on now, you Smallholders): Text Jeppe Aakjaer , Setting by Carl Nielsen, published as Sange af Jeppe Aakjaer's Skuespil Ulvens Son, Wilhelm Hansen, 1909. Arranged by King, interpretation based on the recording made by Johannes Fonss in 1941 as found on the Danacord Records set Carl Nielsen Collection Vol. 6, DACOCD 365-367, 1996. My thanks to Danacord Records, Copenhagen, for permission to quote the late Arne Helman's translation of this song on the album booklet.
My reason for doing a song by Nielsen: Although I have the greatest respect for the "first revival" collectors (Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Grainger, Broadwood, etc.) & love their arrangements of the songs, it is quite obvious that what they created in doing these arrangements was something different from their sources. For despite his great sympathy for the performers (and the fact that unlike the other collectors he really did recognise the importance of the singers role in the songs interpretation) none of Grainger's songs bear any resemblance to a traditional song -- they are always "Grainger'd" [as he might have put it] into something different, good, but other. Ralph Vaughan Williams of course had less interest in the singers' interpretive role in a song, and NONE in the words, his concern was to find -- as it were -- the Ur-tune, the root tune & preserve it for posterity. If any of them did succeed in composing a simple, unadorned version of the songs that they collected then that credit must go to George Butterworth, but alas, his death on the Somme meant that he only left us 11 of these setting, a tragedy. Where Nielsen comes in is that, unlike his British contemporaries, his art-songs, though not "traditional" songs, SEEM like folk song, in fact, within art-song they are much closer to traditional song than either Schubert's or Loewe's volks-lieder (the former being too obviously part of Biedermeier culture, and the latter being overly concerned with extended art-form structure), and one would have to go back to the Swedish poet-composer Bellman (late 18th century) to find another art figure with an equivalent appreciation of folk song style. Why was this? Well, despite the fact that Nielsen gave us some of the most challenging art-music of the first half of the 20th century, he was from peasant stock, playing violin as a boy in his father's village band, and it is quite obvious that this fundamental factor of background is why his songs have none of that distance from folk culture that one finds in his contemporaries. Interestingly, when one looks at surveys of art-song by the "intelligentsia" the received opinion of Nielsen is that his early songs (when he went to college and was learning composition) which are influenced by Brahms, Schumann etc, are interesting, but that his later ones less so (for the very reason that I believe makes them so important) namely that they are too close to folk song! His song manifesto is found in his two volumes of "20 Danish Songs" [1913-15 & 1914-17] written in collaboration with Thomas Laub, but many of his earlier songs were moving in this direction (including of course "Kommer I snart"). Incidentally, apart from Latin, I never perform songs in other than English -- I'm rubbish at other languages -- but for this one I decided to risk the Danish! This was probably an act of foolish bravado, but I felt I owed it to the song, so apologies to Danish speakers for my mispronunciations, I did my best
10: The Farmer's Toast: trad. Roud 1603: Another song from Bob Lewis of Heyshott, West Sussex. This lovely song is fairly uncommon amongst source singers, it was collected once by George B. Gardiner from Frank Gamblin in Portsmouth, Hampshire in August 1907, but the lyrics are often to be found on late 19th Century tankards!
A. R. 124 xix/xii/mmvi