Liner Notes for
[Note: Nicholas's notes in gold text]
Legends was the first of Changes' long ballads. It was composed in the winter of 1969-70. We had originally titled it "Legends That We Know", taken from one of the recurring lines of the chorus. Later, in retrospect, we contracted the title to Legends for brevity's sake.
The lyrics were an outgrowth of my early study of European epic poems, legends and myths.
In December of 1969 I wrote three parts of the poem, beginning with the Arthurian, Eddic and Homeric sections. Nicholas quickly composed the music for the three. I was so pleased with the melodies he created that I was inspired to add the remaining three parts.
During this period, I had re-read all the epics and myths that comprise the six parts of the ballad. In fact, for several years previous, almost all of the reading I did was poetry of one type or another. I recall reading a Signet Anthology of Modern Poetry in which the poem "Argonautica" by the Modern Greek poet George Seferis appeared. The line of the chorus "and for the soul to know the soul, to the soul you first must go" was a paraphrase from "Argonautica".
Nicholas then composed the remaining melodies, and so this epic ballad in miniature was born.
It was the most ambitious of our early ballads in length and scope with 210 lines of lyrics to memorize, along with the many harmonies and shifts in melody and tempo. It was a difficult song to perform live without error. Not long before Legends was created, Nicholas had obtained his "signature" sunburst 12-string Gibson B45-12 guitar. This guitar worked very well in the development of his medieval and baroque playing styles.
The composition of Legends also had a number of spin-off effects in the creative realm. Nicholas assumed the daunting task of rendering the lyrics in calligraphic text. This hand-drawn text appears in a very reduced size in the liner notes booklet of the Legends CD. Up until this time, it was probably the most ambitious of his calligraphic art. We also created LP covers, front and back, in anticipation of finding a producer and outlet. I worked for at least a hundred sit down hours or more on the back cover which appears as the under disc art on the CD. This was entirely done in dots with colored inks. [Both the front and back cover artwork will be displayed on the liner of the upcoming LP version.]
Though the lineup of band personnel has changed from one incarnation of Changes to the next, outside of the presence of Nicholas and myself, the 12-string Gibson became one of the constants of the band.
Legends’ premiere performance before a live audience occurred at the Whole Earth bookstore in Evanston, Illinois. After setting up our mics and such, there was a break of a half-hour or so before the doors opened for our performance. The whole earth bookstore contained a very large and interesting array of books. I stepped over to the poetry section and saw a copy of selected poems of George Seferis. I opened the book at random and it opened to the poem Argonautica and the very lines I had paraphrased for the song had been neatly bracketed in pen on the left margin of the page by some unknown browser. I was startled by the synchronicity inherent in this discovery. The concert and Legends were well received by the audience that night. Subsequently, we have performed the song in its entirety at many of the first Renaissance Fair gatherings in the U.S. where we usually played as strolling minstrels for about six hours a day!
In those times, recording technology was pretty primitive by contemporary digital recording standards. We were relegated to just two channels for four people and instruments. The separation of the parts was not very distinct. Most of our early compositions were recorded in a kitchen or living room on a Sony reel-to-reel recorder. The initial recording of Legends was done in that manner. The track that appears on the Fire Of Life CD (produced and released by Storm/Cthulhu Productions and Michael Moynihan) was extracted from that early recording.
From the standpoint of the lyrics, I think they owed something to my having previously written hundreds of seventeen syllable haiku poems (the practice of which helped facilitate the tight images of the verses). They have a hint of the brevity employed in haiku or tercet poetry. My goal when I wrote Legends was to create something of a Pan-European chanson. I wrote each of the six parts to represent a major European ethnic sector. Subject matter for them was a heroic epic of each group.
In the autumn of 1995, in an intensive three days of recording at Studio Absenta outside of Denver Colorado, we recorded the current rendition along with a sizable portion of the material that appears on Orphan in the Storm. This was engineered by Robert Ferbrache. Michael Moynihan once again was the guiding light of those sessions and provided us with support and input throughout.
At the time, we did not have a label interested in releasing Legends, so I fulfilled the task of getting it produced and released. It was on my own Taproot Productions label. The Arthurian part of the song appeared on Athanor's Lucifer Rising. It was taken from the Studio Absenta version, engineered by Ferbrache.
Despite its release, I did very little to promote and market it. Its release was quickly followed by marital problems, and my personal life had gone into a tailspin of sorts after the dissolution of my second marriage. For the next three or four years following relocation, I had little interest, enthusiasm or focus, and the CDs sat in boxes collecting dust. I would receive occasional orders from fans, but I had no interest in business as such and I would send it out gratis to them, along with their un-canceled check. It was to be many years before it would be available through Tesco and a few other distributors to the general public.
Since those days, Legends has been re-mixed with additional instrumentation added to it and is to be released in its new version as a 33 rpm LP album on the Hauruck label in Austria by Albin Julius who has been extremely supportive of our efforts for many years now.
Both Nicholas and I are very pleased with the current version which really sparkles throughout. The LP will include new features in the packaging. We look forward to its release.
--R. N. Taylor
--December 10th, 2006
I have very vivid memories of Robert and I spending hours reciting the lyrics of each part back and forth to each other to get them memorized. It was Robert's suggestion that while singing a song of this length, the melody will guide the performer from one line to the next but reciting the lyrics without the music would help set the lyrical content into our memories better. I have used this technique ever since to memorize even shorter songs.
When we recorded both Orphan in the Storm and Legends at Studio Absenta in 1995, all of the material was recorded on analog tape (later converted to digital). It had also been our first time in a recording studio in many years.
Following a several year hiatus from music I had reintroduced myself to the Legends song some months earlier and had played through it several times to get acquainted with it again, but I actually didn't know we would be recording this song during these sessions. Well, being a little "rusty" on the song was made even more frustrating since I would have to complete each five minute part in one take. If a mistake was made, I would have to start the part again. It wasn't quite as bad as I had thought it would be but I perspired a lot through the Legends takes.