As I start gearing up for the launch of my new CD Dancing Through the Fire, at St. Edward’s Church on Wednesday 23rd November 7:30pm. I thought I’d take a moment to give you an overview of the themes and feel of the whole Album. In subsequent posts I’ll be putting up the lyrics, and links to the recordings of individual tracks. The physical CD will be available from the day of the launch and I am hoping that downloads, from CD Baby, iTunes, etc will be available by that time or fairly shortly after. I will keep everyone posted from this blog and on Facebook. I have already posted some of the lyrics in earlier posts on this blog and I will put hyperlinks to those posts in what follows.
The CD is a collection of 13 new songs, my first ‘release’ since 2007’s The Green Man, and is out on the same label, Cambridge Riffs. The CD’s eponymous opening track sets the theme for the rest of the album; ‘dancing through the fire’ alludes to some lines in TS Eliot’s Little Gidding;
From wrong to wrong the exasperated sprit proceeds
unless restored by that refining fire,
where you must move in measure, like a dancer’
Those lines in turn refer to the great moment in Dante’s Divine Comedy, when having been through Hell, and climbed mount Purgatory, Dante comes to the last circle of fire which will purify his love and allow him to return to the garden of Eden and be reunited with his beloved Beatrice, so that they can make a further journey together into Heaven. Dante’s whole poem is about the intimate interlinking of earthly and heavenly Love, and its own smaller way, that is also the subject of this album. After the opening song, which sets the story of Dante’s pilgrimage and ours, to a driving, danceable rocking blues rythm, all the tracks are in one way or another songs of earthly and heavenly love. they cover a pretty wide range of musical styles too, everything from rocking blues through folk to rootsy country, basically all the music I love! An amazing bunch of musicians showed up to help me make this album adding upright bass, cello, mandolin, banjo, trumpet, sax, even hurdy gurdy! i’ll rell you more about them and post some pics in subsequent posts. meantime heres a rundown of the tracks that follow on from the opener Dancing Through The Fire.
Love in the Red tells the story of a couple’s love for each other surviving the present financial crisis, a crisis which is itself the wreckage of failed love in the earthly city.
A Song For Ruth tells the story of the welcoming love for the stranger, and the solidarity in grief that brought Ruth and Naomi together, in an economic crisis in biblical times.
They Dont Make Movies (Out Of Love Like This) is a song of Married Love and a personal tribute to my wife Maggie
Numbers, comes to grips, as Dante did in the inferno, with the sheer wastefulness of casual violence and the wreckage it makes, so easily and so quickly, of all that Love builds over the years.
Lente Lente, is about the need for peace, rest and playfulness, the slow, beautiful times and places an friendships where Love can be healed and renewed.
Fade Away is a little blast of vintage stonesy rock on the perrenial theme of lost love
Bridegroom Blues; in this song the Bridegroom sings to the Bride he wooed and won and gave his life for. He loves her in all her colours, He knows she’s in trouble, but He is going to pull her through and bring her to her to the Marriage Feast.
The Messenger. I’ve taken another leaf out of Dante’s book for this one.
Moonlight. This is a poem I wrote when I was 17, and set to music when I was 53. The seventeen year old who wrote this romantic, moonlit lament is still in me somewhere, and still needs to voice that mingled sense of love and loss. It seemed only fair for the fifty three year old to give him a chance.
Recipe for Love. a little lightening of the tone here. I sat down to write ‘a song of great social and political import’ but instead this cheeky little song popped out. Love and good cooking always go together.
Rolling in the Hedgerows/Old Tom of Oxford. Now here’s a love song to language and landscape. A poet’s song to his muse who is always a mixture of language and landscape, though in her mystery she is so much more besides. In some ways this is a companion song to The Green Man, with its love of the fields and hedgerows of the English countryside, the place of my earthly pilgrimage. It leads into the birdsong from the hedgerows and Ferdia Stone-Davis’s beautiful rendition of the English Folk Tune Old Tom of Oxford, on her Hurdy Gurdy
Tiger Love; I close with another poem-turned-song. I wrote the poem late in 1978, when the most powerful love I knew, the tiger in my poem, was intimate human passion, the overmastering passion Dante knew and wrote about in the Vita Nuova. But, like Dante, I didn’t know what was coming next, or who would meet me in the woods, in the middle of my way, the following spring. As Old Tom said :’In the Juvescence of the year came Christ the tiger’!