Liner Notes for
Orphan in the Storm
[Note: Nicholas's notes in gold text]
"Orphan in the Storm":
I penned this ballad during the period between Changes' second and third incarnation as a band. Both Nicholas and I have always been fans of the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. There is perhaps nothing remarkable in this regard since the works of Poe (at least his poems and tales of imagination) have been something of a rite of passage for many young people in America and elsewhere for many generations. In the writings of Poe, young readers of each generation are introduced to the world of imaginative literature.
There is a darkly tragic and romantic aura that surrounds his life and art. Poe, more so than most American men of letters, personified the tragedy of the artist in America. He is one of the few American writers in the same league as Coleridge, Byron and other poets of the dark imagination, but despite the high quality of his work, he was little appreciated in his lifetime. America was hardly a balmy place for its artists in that era. Industry, technology and materialism have seemed its primary passions--not art or literature. Poe, more then most American writers, found his greatest advocates in Europe, where Europeans such as Charles Baudelaire became his chief admirers.
When one reads the chronicle of his impoverished and ill-fated life, it is difficult to conceive how he was ever able to pursue his art to the degree that he did, and today he is often referred to as "The Prince of American Letters". I wrote this ballad as a tribute to his life and genius.
The lyrics to this song were consciously written with the goal in mind of creating a theme for our band. The theme covers one of the mainstays of our work: Change.
The music I wrote for this was a bit different than anything I had written previously. Robert's lyrics lent greatly to the flowing main verse which has a pretty good but subtle beat. Then when the syncopated "All but Changes mystic movement" kicks in followed by slightly different beat of the wordless ooo..s, they gave the song a pretty good "hook".
"What's The Wind If It's Not Free":
Though this is a song that expresses the transience of life, it also is a testament of love to my second wife, Karen, and the "foreverness" that was never to be.
This song was composed during the period when Nicholas and I were pursuing our own respective goals and were not collaborating on mutual creations. It was a time in which I began to create my own simple melodies as the vehicle for my lyrics, and Nicholas began writing his own lyrics and collaborating with Mark Andrews and their band, Phase II.
"Never So True":
I wrote this song in the early eighties when I was newly married and in love with my then wife, Barbara. We spent a weekend in April at a cozy little cabin by the river in Estes Park, Colorado (we had been living about thirty miles east of there at the time). After a beautifully blissful evening, once she had gone to sleep, I stepped outside in the cool night air and wrote the lyrics. When we returned home I sat down with the lyrics and to my delight, the music came easily.
Though Mark and I would perform it as a song with our aforementioned group, Phase II, the complicated bridges that we had created around the song at that time didn't lend themselves as well as the simple structure of the song as we've recorded it here.
This protest ballad grew out of an experience I had one long night while doing heating/air conditioning maintenance work in an animal vivisection lab north of Chicago, which explains the first couplet of the song.
I also took a swipe at scientific aspirations of artificially creating human life in a laboratory. Even if this could be done and science had the wherewithal to do it, man inherently lacks the wisdom to play God, to create such life while anticipating the possible pit falls that might issue from such technology. Mary Shelley conceived all of this in her famous horror story, Frankenstein: The New Prometheus.
These lyrics were also written before the home computer had become a widespread reality. Though the computer as such is amoral in the main, it is a tool that can be employed for good or bad. The bad side of computers is its potential use to codify, scrutinize and itemize the individual by Dictocrats for controlling and tyrannizing their subjects--something which I feel has become a reality.
For an insight into the origins and inspiration of this song, I refer the reader to an article that I wrote: "A Night in the House of Dr. Moreau" which appeared in Issue 3, 1999, of the magazine Morbid Curiosity.
"Icarus" first appeared in its acoustic rendition on one side of Changes' first release along with "Fire of Life", produced by Storm Productions as a 7 inch vinyl promotional record. It also appeared as a fully orchestrated version engineered by Robert Ferbrache on a compilation that accompanied Issue 2 of Tyr: Myth--Culture--Tradition, published by Ultra. This same orchestrated rendition also was on Twilight, a 7 inch record released by HauRuck! in Austria.
I have often commented that Changes has three main genre of songs. The love/love lost song, the mythical/heroic/legendary song, and the apocalyptic song. Robert's fine composition, "Icarus" deftly combines two of these genre, the mythical and the apocalyptic in an eerie vision of the decaying present and the dark possibilities of a "new world" of the future.
"Embarkation" and "Sailor’s Song":
Both of these ballads were composed in the final year of Changes' second incarnation as a part of an intended composition titled The Conquistador Cantata. Both "Embarkation" and "Sailor's Song" plus a third song of equal length entitled "Islands in The Sun" (utilizing the same basic melody as "Embarkation") were intended as one integral medley.
In the final lines of "Embarkation": "In the evening we lay listening to the song the sailor sings as he sits his lonely vigil with his ringing mandolin" alludes to "Sailor's Song" which is "the song the sailor sings", so it is a song within a song. Once finished, the melody goes back to the first part with the lyrics to "Islands In the Sun" which tells of their landing in the Indies, in what today is Cuba.
We did not include the third part of the song in Orphan in the Storm because it was less general and more particular to the story being told in the cantata. We felt it might be confusing if left in a void outside the context of the cantata. "Embarkation" and "Sailor’s Song" could stand on their own as sea ballads.
"Universal Soldiers Song" (which was premiered on the Cordreanu compilation released in Romania by Dan Ghetu) was written as the opening canto for the cantata. We thought also of perhaps using that as the final song of the story, sort of coming full circle back to where it began. Robert Ferbrache contributed the aggressive electric guitar to it. A barbedness version appeared on Time, a ten inch vinyl recording which Changes did in conjunction with Cadaverous Condition of Austria.
I have always felt that some of the songs completed for the cantata were among the best
lyrics I had written. I really felt in fine form and full stride as to the songs written for this concept. My goal had been to break the subject matter of the songs down so that half of the songs were conceived with the Spanish Conquistadors in mind and the other half from the perspective of the Aztecs (what it all meant them from their perspective). Overall, the cantata was to be a chronicle of Spain's conquest of Mexico and an exploration (in a Spenglerian mode) of what happens when two high cultures come into conflict. I had intended to explore both sides in the conflict in a fair and objective manner.
In The Conquistador Cantata we set out to tell an epic story in as many songs as might be necessary. That's a much bigger order, since rather then one long ballad we are talking of composing many smaller individual ballads.
Overall, Nicholas and I completed 6 ballads and he did an instrumental for the collection. Only three of the songs have been recorded and released. Nicholas had suggested I return to this project and complete the collection of pieces and the story. Unfortunately this project has been set aside for a few decades and I am not sure I could revive the inspiration and vision to complete it so many years afterwards. It may be that it was an ill-conceived and overly ambitious project to begin with. To take so epic a story and endeavor to chronicle it in a series of ballads may have been unrealistic. Hopefully, we will one day at least record the remaining music intended for the collection.
To sit down and consciously write music to a verse that is intended for a sea-chantey could be a rather formidable task, only because the melodies of all of the fine ones that have gone before are difficult to purge from one's memory to allow for something new to be composed.
I have always loved Robert's poetic lyrics to "Embarkation" even though we have quipped that they are tongue-twisters. But I found a chord progression of Em-D-C-D-Em, that seemed to flow like the ocean's tide that Robert had created with the first line, "Across the ragged waste of wind-wracked rocky shores". And though it had the "chantey" sound, the melody fortunately didn't sound like one of the traditional sea chanties.
This song along with "Sailor's Song" are to me very enjoyable to perform for the rousing feel of the medley. One gets used to the twisting of the tongue.
"Song of Pan":
This is one of my personal favorites of the music of Changes. The lyrics here strike me as seamless and work so well together. Musically, the melody and tempo shifts underline the words and lend impetus to them.
Pan of course was the Arcadian God of wine, inebriation and all things pertaining to losing one's mind and functioning on primal instincts. Other words etymologically extending from the name include panic and pandemonium. The name means "everywhere" and "all-pervading".
Robert's lyrics paint a brilliant portrait of the satyr God, Pan. The same feeling that one gets when seeing a performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
Probably subconsciously considering the tempo when I started to compose the music, the 6/8 time seemed to lend itself well to the flow of the lyrics. Then the climactic highlight of the song (casting aside all humility) is the "dance" phrase, "Follow in the dance he's leading" which steps up the tempo of the 6/8 to virtually a 12/8 (or four sets of 3/8) that I think captured what the lyrics were trying to convey.
This song was a warning to those who would suppress or eradicate our freedom and rights as individuals or otherwise trample upon one’s natural yearnings for liberty and selfhood.
This was our most current song at the time, written only weeks before embarking to Robert Ferbrache's Studio Absenta in Westminster, Colorado to record the tracks for this album.
Just a joyous lyric rhapsodizing the time of the year when all is in full bloom and alive and active, and the nights have a balmy magic of their own. This was one of our earliest collaborations.
Like the chorus of "Changes (Theme)" this song is just good spirited and happy. Reminiscent of summers of our youth when school is out and we romp at the beach, play baseball or go bike riding with our friends. Good, clean fun unencumbered by any pressures to conform. Just kids having a great time.
"The Times They Ain't A-Changing":
This ballad was sort of an answer to Bob Dylan's protest song: "The Times They Are A Changing". This fact seems to have been missed by most who heard the song with the exception of Nathalie F. of the Heimdallr web site who immediately perceived the connection in a review she wrote for her site.
This is a paean to the goddess of love and the human predilection towards love. It was an outgrowth of my early studies of myth, legends and pagan religions. I have always thought that Nicholas expressed my thoughts in his music in a very adept manner. The melody itself is reminiscent of ancient Greek melodies that have survived and come down to us from Classical times. I feel it is one of the most dynamic of Changes ballads in that sense.
I might add that this song was an enjoyable one to record and always to perform due to the dynamics of the lyrics and music.
I composed the bridge for electric lead guitar and was grateful that even due to time constraints at the recording studio, Robert Ferbrache and I were able to complete the part literally in the "eleventh hour". I've found that the bridge has been the most popular part of the song with my son and other young people who have heard it.
In recent performances, I have begun playing the lead of the bridge in a "scratch" method (lead melody line mixed with the chords) acoustically. Previously I would only play the chords of the bridge which didn't really give it the same feeling as the recording.
"Waiting For The Fall":
This ballad was a direct outgrowth of a telephone conversation between Michael Moynihan and me one winter's eve. We were discussing the relative state of affairs in the world and both of us came to the conclusion that this "house of cards" could not long stand. Later that evening ruminating over these thoughts I sat down and wrote the lyrics. Within several days I set the lyrics to a guitar melody.
Robert Ferbrache performed the guitar instrumentation with a vintage acoustic guitar. His simple but effective strumming pattern and tempo added the final touch. The guitar he used has a particularly sweet sound highlighted in the opening notes.
The song was first performed publicly at the Death Equinox Convention in Denver, Colorado where Ferbrache and I did a mini-concert. I had been requested to give a talk on the millennium, which I did, and after my talk I began a dramatic poetry recital. When I had completed the final lines of "...And Finally" (see liner notes for the Changes/Andrew King split released by Terra Fria), he struck the first chords of "Waiting For The Fall" and we went directly into our mini-concert which was received well by the audience. It went well, despite the fact that Ferbrache and I had never performed previously together. He had only but recently learned and practiced the material. I had not gotten up before a live audience and performed in over thirty years.
"Waiting For The Fall" (acoustic version) first appeared on Pact of the Gods -2 (produced by Ian Read of Fire and Ice and Michael Moynihan of Blood Axis). It was preceded by a short spoken blip by William Burroughs, which I thought worked quite appropriately. An orchestrated version appears on Twilight (HauRuck), featuring Robert Ferbrache on the electric guitar.
I personally like both versions of the song. The simple acoustic version has its own charm and the electrified version has a more dynamic sense to it.
"Twilight of the West":
(See liner notes for Fire of Life)
[Right now the Fire of Life notes are only available in the Fire of Life
CD and LP, but will soon appear on this site.]