Tag Archives: Songs

Old and Worn; A Birthday Song

Old and Worn

Also Old and Worn

Now as I watch my life unroll, I read the poems on the scroll

And I do my best to savour every line

And every year that takes its toll, is laid down deep within my soul

But I can draw it up again like vintage wine,

These are lyrics from a song I wrote about 15 years ago as one of my birthdays rolled round. And as its my birthday today, the last year in which I can be ‘fifty something’, I thought for fun I would post it again. If the button doesnt appear below you can try clicking on the song title where I give the lyrics below. This is a take with just me playing both guitar parts and no other accompaniment. I have never recorded this properly but maybe one day I will.

Old and Worn

I was round rockin with the boys, they showed me all the latest toys,

They got gizmos now that could almost play the gig.

They like to tell me money talks, they sure can make those boxes squalk,

They say by spending out they’re bound to make it big

 

Chorus: But my Guitar is old and worn, made the year that I was born,

You could put it down as only wood and string

But when I open up that case and blow the dust from off its face

And lift it up, sometimes I swear I can hear it sing

 

Well I know the likes of you, you must have everything brand new

And you will trash it on the day its lost its sheen

And you know the likes of me you can leave me standing like a tree

But I’ve got roots and rising sap to keep me green

 

Chorus : And this Guitar that’s old and worn, made the year that I was born,

But its grown a tone that’s more than wood and string

And when I open up that case and blow the dust from off its face

And lift it up, sometimes I swear I can hear it sing

 

Now as I watch my life unroll, I read the poems on the scroll

And I do my best to savour every line

And every year that takes its toll, is laid down deep within my soul

But I can draw it up again like vintage wine,

 

Like this guitar etc.

 

Now this box of mellowed wood, sounds every bit as good

As the day its maker blessed it with a string

I can see it lying in the shade, remembering every note its played

And waiting for the day that’ll let that music ring

 

Cho: So I don’t mind my touch of grey, I’m not fearing for the day

When every buried seed is bound to have its spring

When Someone opens up my case, I’m gonna see Him face to face

And when I’m in my Makers hands He’ll hear me sing!

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Songs and Sonnets: A New Venture!

Recording at Whitewater Studio

Recording at Whitewater Studio

In the midst of the stream of poetry that usually fills these posts I thought I’d pause to tell you all about a new venture in which I’m involved. My good Friends Steve Bell, Roy Salmond, and David Jennings have cooked up a plan for me to record an album combining my songs and poetry together in a single new work. the record will be called Songs and Sonnets. It will contain a new suite of songs together with new recordings of some favourites like The Green Man and Angels Unawares, but these will be interleaved with professional quality recordings of me reading a number of my poems, including many from my forthcoming book Parable and Paradox.

Uniquely these recordings will also include some versions of the poems with musical accompaniment and also with instrumentals by Steve Bell linking together some of the poetry sequences. I have already done my part of the recording in a series of wonderful sessions at Roy Salmond’s Whitewater Studio in British Columbia. Now Roy and Steve are bringing together a great group of professional musicians, design artists, and others to produce the final album and master it in the studio. In order to do this they need to raise some funds so that the musicians and others get properly paid and the whole record is produced to the highest possible standard. They have set up a crowdfunding Page here, and we have put together an entertaining video on that page to explain the whole project.

I am very honoured and moved that they have wanted to do this and taken the risks involved. In all the years I’ve run this blog I have always wanted everything on it to be free and will continue to keep everything here free, so I have never appealed for funds myself. But if you have enjoy these pages and make use of the poetry here, perhaps you could click the link and take a look at Steve And Roy’s Gofundme page and perhaps watch the video, If you feel able to share the link, or better still support the project in anyway I would be very grateful and so would they.

Songs and Sonnets as we hope it will eventually appear!

Songs and Sonnets as we hope it will eventually appear!

As a little sample of what’s to come, here are the lyrics of one of the new songs ‘Eyrie’ and a recording of an early ‘rough cut’ of the song to give you a glimpse of a little of what it might sound like on the finished record. I wrote this song in Durham North Carolina when I was artist in residence at duke University. I was staying high up in a little ‘eyrie’ in the attic of an old house and I composed the song very late one night on a guitar borrowed from a friend whilst I watched  a patch of moonlight, which poured in from the skylight above, making its way in bright reflections across the floor. I hope you enjoy it.

Malcolm

Eyrie

 

I

High in my eyrie in North Carolina

I take up your tender guitar

I’m thinking of home and all that I’ve left there

And maybe I’ve travelled too far

 

The skylight is open, the moonlight is brimming

And waltzing its way cross the floor

My body is aching and wants to be sleeping 

but my spirit is asking for more

 

High in my eyrie in North Carolina

I’m singing a song to the moon

And maybe it’s too late to learn from her waning

Or maybe it’s really too soon

 

II

I’ve travelled the low road and watched it unravel

I’m giving the high road a try

I’ll follow that highway and see where it leads me

And keep the bright moon in my eye

 

The heart is wide open, the true life is brimming

And yearning to come flowing through 

I lay down my burden and walk to the well head

And drink and then bring some to you

 

I traveled the low road and watched it unravel

But now on the high road  I roam

The long road, the straight road the old road the true road

The road that’ll lead me back home

 

III

I’m high in my eyrie in North Carolina

And soon I’ll return your guitar

It gave me this song and it brought me your blessing

I’ll hear it one day from afar

 

The skylight is open, the skyway is waiting

It’s time for this man to take flight

When you touch your guitar and it sings through your fingers

Give thanks for a song in the night

 

I’m down from my eyrie in North Carolina

And out through the ways of the world

And I’m leaving my love with the moon at the window

Hung high in the night like a pearl.

With Roy Salmond at the mixing desk

With Roy Salmond at the mixing desk

 

 

 

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A Song for Valentine’s Day

Playing Maggie’s song in the BBC studios

This time last year I was a guest on Sue Marchant’s Big Night In radio show  and took the opportunity to play this song live and dedicate it to my wife Maggie in time for Valentine’s day! I wrote it for her a few years ago and its on my new CD Dancing Through the Fire. Ironically its the only song of mine in which the movie industry has ever taken an interest, And for a while it looked as if it might be part of the sound track of a romantic movie. but the movie never got funding and the plans were dropped so I guess the title of the song turned out to be true after all!

I hope you enjoy it.  You can hear an early take with Oli Smith’s wonderful sax solo by pressing the play button or clicking on the title and the lyrics are posted below. The full CD version also includes wonderful harmony vocals by Rob Groves:

Movies s3 t3 m2

They Don’t Make Movies (Out of Love Like This)

All those people in the movies look so healthy young and tanned

And I know there’s nothing that they wouldn’t sell.

I can see their words of promise run like water into sand

So I draw my water from a deeper well.

When we wake up in the morning you can hardly face the day

And I see the courage other people miss,

As you spend yourself for others, as you keep the dark at bay,

But they don’t make movies out of love like this.

 

Bridge:

                 

There’s no glamour like the magazines, no glitter like the stars,

No putting on the make-up to impress,

But we still stand together love, for all our battle-scars,

We hold each other’s hearts and still say yes.

 

 

You can’t photograph fidelity, or merchandise restraint,

Your inner beauty wont be selling soap.

And sometimes from the outside it might seem that love grows faint

On the inside its renewed each day in hope.

So there’s nothing on the surface to attract a stranger’s gaze

There’s not photo-genic posed romantic bliss,

Just two people staying faithful through the darkest winter days,

But they don’t make movies out of love like this.

 

Bridge:

And its been a long day’s journey just to get us up to bed,

But we’re not too tired to share a loving  kiss,

And the truest and the deepest things are more than can  be said,

And they don’t make movies out of love like this.

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Dante, Steve Bell And Me

Casella singing his version of a Dante poem

Let me take you to one of the most magical moments in The Divine Comedy, Dante’s poetic account of our pilgrim journey into the heart of God. Dante’s story starts in ‘the middle of the way of this life’, it starts with the poet knowing he’s lost the right path and wanting to find it again. The journey takes him down through the narrowing circles of Hell, to the cold centre of the frozen ego, and then up again, out from Hell, up into the light and air, to re-orient, having seen what he needs to leave behind. Now he must begin again, this time on the positive path, climbing the holy mountain with other pilgrim souls, trying to get back to the garden of our true humanity on the mountain top.

It is just at this moment of new beginning of starting the positive journey, in the second canto of the middle book, the Purgatorio, that the magic moment happens. Dante and his guide Virgil are on the mountain island, looking around before they start the long climb when a boat load of other pilgrim souls arrive and they disembark on the island, also wondering where and how to start this stage of their pilgrimage and who else might be here to accompany them on their journey. Suddenly amongst that troop of confused souls Dante recognises, and is in turn recognised, by an old friend! It is Cassella, a singer and musician from Florence. They rstore one another’s sense of belonging and Dante knows that what he needs now before he starts the journey, is the solace of a song. So he asks Casella to sing for him ‘to solace my soul somewhat…for it is weary.’ So Casella sings. But not just any song. He does a beautiful thing here, he sings one of Dante’s own poems back to him as a song! As Dante says ‘he sang so sweetly that I still hear that sweetness sound in me’. And its not just Dante whose transfixed by the music; ‘My master, I and all that company around the singer seemed so satisfied as if no other thing might touch our minds we were all motionless and fixed upon the notes…’

In the allegory of course Dante is saying many important truths; that music and the arts help us on our journey, that friends are there to echo back to us our own words and works but in a new way, and just when we need them. Yet when I read this I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to have someone turn one of my poems into a song and sing it back t me .. how cool would that be?

Steve Bell singing a ‘Guite’ poem

Well in this last year I have had just that experience, and I can tell you, its fantastic. I can also tell you that Dante was right about music and friendship as absolute essentials for our pilgrim journey -but you knew that already. As you know I have spent the last two years gradually posting to this blog the sonnets I am writing for our journey through the year, which are being published all together next month in my book Sounding the Seasons. Now back when I posted my sonnet on the baptism of Christ, together with a sermon on the subject I thought that was it, job done. Not so. Only a few days later I got an email from my friend the  Canadian singer songwriter Steve Bell to say that the sonet had (literally) struck a chord with him and he had turned it into a song! Attached to the email was an mp3 file. and that’s when I had my ‘Casella moment’! My old poem had become completey new for me! It was given back to me by Steve at just the right moment with a lilt and lift in it, an invitation to adventure and wayfaring which was just what I needed at that stage in my own spiritual journey. Now both my book of poems and Steve’s  new album  are coming out, almost together, in two halves of the world, and both have been created to help us begin again our soul’s journey.

Just so you can get a taste of my ‘Casella moment’ I’ve got Steve’s permission to  to put his song here, right next to my poem. So you can read the poem and then hear the song.

Then do head over to Steve’s site and check out the rest of the Album, which is out now. Its astonishing. If your’e in Cambridge come along to the launch of Sounding the Seasons on December 5th at 7:30 in St. Edward’s Church where there will be copies of Steve’s album also available.

So here’s the poem:

Beginning here we glimpse the Three-in-one;

The river runs, the clouds are torn apart,

The Father speaks, the Sprit and the Son

Reveal to us the single loving heart

That beats behind the being of all things

And calls and keeps and kindles us to light.

The dove descends, the spirit soars and sings

‘You are belovèd, you are my delight!’

In that quick light and life, as water spills

And streams around the Man like quickening rain,

The voice that made the universe reveals

The God in Man who makes it new again.

He calls us too, to step into that river

To die and rise and live and love forever.

And here’s Steve ‘Casella’ Bell’s magical re-working, you can click on the ‘play’ button or the word epiphany:


epiphany

Now you’ve heard this you’ll want to check out the whole album on. Here’s the page you need from Steve’s Website: Keening for the Dawn You should also be able to get it soon on iTunes!

A Great Album that takes you from Advent, through Christmas to Epiphany

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A Song for Valentine’s Day

Playing Maggie's song in the BBC studios

I was a guest on Sue Marchant’s Big Night In radio show the other day and took the opportunity to play this song live and dedicate it to my wife Maggie in time for Valentine’s day! I wrote it for her a few years ago and its on my new CD Dancing Through the Fire. Ironically its the only song of mine in which the movie industry has ever aken an interest, And for a while it looked as if it might be part of the sound track of a romantic movie. but the movie never got funding and the plans were dropped so I guess the title of the song turned out to be true after all!

I hope you enjoy it.  You can hear the full CD version with Oli Smith’s wonderful sax solo by pressing the play button or clicking on the title and the lyrics are posted below:

Movies s3 t3 m2

They Don’t Make Movies (Out of Love Like This)

All those people in the movies look so healthy young and tanned

And I know there’s nothing that they wouldn’t sell.

I can see their words of promise run like water into sand

So I draw my water from a deeper well.

When we wake up in the morning you can hardly face the day

And I see the courage other people miss,

As you spend yourself for others, as you keep the dark at bay,

But they don’t make movies out of love like this.

 

Bridge:

                 

There’s no glamour like the magazines, no glitter like the stars,

No putting on the make-up to impress,

But we still stand together love, for all our battle-scars,

We hold each other’s hearts and still say yes.

 

 

You cant photograph fidelity, or merchandise restraint,

Your inner beauty wont be selling soap.

And sometimes from the outside it might seem that love grows faint

On the inside its renewed each day in hope.

So there’s nothing on the surface to attract a stranger’s gaze

There’s not photo-genic posed romantic bliss,

Just two people staying faithful through the darkest winter days,

But they don’t make movies out of love like this.

 

Bridge:

And its been a long day’s journey just to get us up to bed,

But we’re not too tired to share a loving  kiss,

And the truest and the deepest things are more than can  be said,

And they don’t make movies out of love like this.

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Dancing Through the Fire -My New CD

An invittion to my CD Launch

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’!

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Old Guitar, New CD

Old and Worn

Also Old and Worn

We’re at the mixing stage with my new CD Dancing Through the Fire and I thought I’d experiment with sharing some early mixes here Here is a link (or player I hope) for a track I may include called Old and Worn. If the button doesnt appear below you can try clicking on the song title where I give the lyrics below. This is an early take with just me playing both guitar parts and no other accompaniment.

Old and Worn

I was round rockin with the boys, they showed me all the latest toys,

They got gizmos now that could almost play the gig.

They like to tell me money talks, they sure can make those boxes squalk,

They say by spending out they’re bound to make it big

 

Chorus: But my Guitar is old and worn, made the year that I was born,

You could put it down as only wood and string

But when I open up that case and blow the dust from off its face

And lift it up, sometimes I swear I can hear it sing

 

Well I know the likes of you, you must have everything brand new

And you will trash it on the day its lost its sheen

And you know the likes of me you can leave me standing like a tree

But I’ve got roots and rising sap to keep me green

 

Chorus : And this Guitar that’s old and worn, made the year that I was born,

But its grown a tone that’s more than wood and string

And when I open up that case and blow the dust from off its face

And lift it up, sometimes I swear I can hear it sing

 

Now as I watch my life unroll, I read the poems on the scroll

And I do my best to savour every line

And every year that takes its toll, is laid down deep within my soul

But I can draw it up again like vintage wine,

 

Like this guitar etc.

 

Now this box of mellowed wood, sounds every bit as good

As the day its maker blessed it with a string

I can see it lying in the shade, remembering every note its played

And waiting for the day that’ll let that music ring

 

Cho: So I don’t mind my touch of grey, I’m not fearing for the day

When every buried seed is bound to have its spring

When Someone opens up my case, I’m gonna see Him face to face

And when I’m in my Makers hands He’ll hear me sing!

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