The Conduit of My Record Player

If there is one thing many of us have in common this past year of staying home, it’s the new hobbies. It goes without saying that this has been a tough year for so many, but one thing that has helped me personally is to take an interest in what others are doing, in terms of new hobbies they have picked up, or perhaps made new commitments to. I’ve been doing this mostly in a more passive sense, as opposed to joining in or leaving comments and so on. It reminds me a bit of how I’ve always liked looking at décor, even if I’m not in the market for it in my own home. I love to see the different things people can come up with, stylish and cozy ways in which to create a retreat away from the world, to decorate a space of their own that reflects their personalities, interests or passions.

As for myself, I have a few projects going, but the one I love best doesn’t provide tangible results. This is because it involves the sharing of conversation with my teenage son, who has for years been a very devoted film aficionado, and recently had begun to invest in television. I’ve always said he is an old soul, and he continues to prove it with his love for shows such as Friends, Cobra Kai and Stranger Things—and that this last one’s Blu Ray case is designed to look like a VHS tape. Our shared watching experiences have provided absolutely endless conversation on too many topics for a small blog entry such as this, so suffice to say, to aim us in one direction: storytelling.

One of the stories I’m in the midst of seeing is within the visual pages of a show called Mad Men, which I never heard of until about a month ago. I agreed to give it a shot—Turtle didn’t think I’d get into it and, to be quite frank, neither did I—but there was something about it that intrigued me. Perhaps because it is set in the 1960s, an alien world of people who drink way too much and dress in a manner I wish we still did today. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the time, but I was also a little curious about getting a glimpse into the ordinary: not just the famous music festivals, protests or political shenanigans. Ordinary. What people wore; how they interacted with one another in everyday lives, not only specific occasions; products they owned or wanted to; what was perceived as good or not so good; how much things cost and so on.

Continue reading “The Conduit of My Record Player”

A Few of My Favorite Things

Lately for some reason I’ve encountered a lot of “What is your favorite ____?” questions. Possibly it is related to lockdown restlessness and trying to find our happy places. Or people could be trying to get to know each other more as individuals in this troubling time.

Whatever the case, it has raised some favorites questions for me, some absurdly easy to answer, others not so much. Some perhaps surprised me a bit because I don’t often think about them, or maybe never would have thought I might choose those answers.

Something nice about moving beyond the typical “favorite color” type questions (though these are still fun) is that we can learn more about ourselves and each other and transition into some really wonderful conversations.

Can you answer any of these questions? Which other questions would you ask?

Favorite lunchbox snack – Something crunchy – maybe crackers or celery with peanut butter.

The Miller’s Daughter by Anne Anderson, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Fairy tale – As a child I tended to return repeatedly to “Rapunzel,” “Rumplestiltskin” and “Hansl and Gretl.”

Game to play outside – Anything involving snow.

Childhood memory – How to choose!? A funny one is that I once told a friend, “I have another sister, you know.” She didn’t believe me, and challenged my claim. “Oh yeah? What’s her name?” She said it with that tone that usually accompanies what today we call the “neck action.” I answered, without hesitation, “Snow White.”

On the poignant side: I once had a dangerously high fever; probably I was two or three years old. My parents were instructed to  put me into a tub filled with ice water. I can still see the look on my father’s face as he carried me toward the tub: it was pained. I didn’t recognize it then, but now I see in it the fear, for me, how this would feel (not pleasant) and how he really didn’t want to do it. I have absolutely no memory of the experience, so I either blocked it out or he never went through with it.

Nursery rhyme – This one is recited while running circles with your fingertip in a child’s open palm: “Roond aboot, roond aboot, goes a wee moose, up a baht, up a baht, tae its wee hoose! (Round about, round about goes a wee mouse, up a bit up a bit to its wee house!) Toward the end you run your fingers, tickly, up the child’s arm and then tickle under their underarm. My mother used to do this.

Bird – Not a big fan of birds, but I do love ravens.

Continue reading “A Few of My Favorite Things”

Overlooked Gems: Picks from My Playlist

Recent months have held a lot of talk about music in our house. Not that it’s a rare topic, but all the extra indoor time my teenage son had to spend spurred a bit of a shift for him. His passion is film, and this has not changed, and he has always loved music (who doesn’t?). However, he began to examine it a bit more lately, and we spent many hours discussing lyrics as literature, how they match the music, what the various rhythms spark in the soul and very much more.

It re-awakened a bit of something in myself as well. When I was a little younger than my boy is now, I was still discovering a lot of different styles and artists, then current or not, and had an older brother who played an instrumental part in this. By this time I’d long been introduced to the Beatles, who held my absolute and unquestioned loyalty. I’m serious about that loyalty thing: because I listened to almost nothing else except the Fab Four and sometimes the radio, I didn’t really know much about a great portion of the music world.

An afternoon nosing through my brother’s music library changed that because one book I settled in with contained photography of the sort that makes you contemplate life and the worlds of others. I wanted to know who these people were and what was important to them that they wanted to sing about to the world. I came to regard their creations as not unlike the poetry I read and wrote, and my period of examination began.

Fast forward now. My son loves the Beatles (something about the apple not falling far?), but can’t understand why my devotion seems to have shifted to Pink Floyd. I was rather tickled when he announced his love for Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song,” even though I suspected that might wane as the Thor Ragnorak movie he’d recently watched stepped aside for other films he considered higher caliber. “Now ‘Kashimir,’” I mentioned one day, “that is more than a song.” As time went on my recall drove me to play songs I loved but thought he would not likely hear on the radio, at least not as often as most artists’ and bands’ megahits.

And so I find myself here, making a list of songs that tend to be somewhat overlooked, even if they are nevertheless well known. They were at times the B-sides or what some regarded as fillers, though many took on a life of their own. In other instances they were quite famous, but just don’t seem to be recognized or played as much as their fellows, resulting in next generations making a lesser, or sometimes no, connection. Still others may be absolutely unknown by those who don’t dabble in music outside their own personal mainstream. There are probably loads of reasons why some truly great songs go overlooked, and I’d like to do my small part in changing that.

The following five choices, which will likely be joined by others, are in no particular order except what you choose.

 

“Letter to Hermione”  (David Bowie, David Bowie, later renamed Space Oddity) – Long before Hermione Granger and her friends inspired Muggle schoolchildren to cut classes and read books about the magical universe, David Bowie’s romantic breakup from a girl with the same name resulted in one of the loveliest set of lines he ever wrote. Revealed to the world in a song of loss, Hermione Farthingale unwittingly persuaded David Bowie to show the raw, awkward side, the one to which I related – and always remembered, despite the personas he’d developed that I later discovered (thanks to that music book). I didn’t know at the time I first heard the song, you see, that its confessional style was not at all Bowie’s preferred, which may be why it clung to me long after I found the rest of his catalogue. He has many musical acts of magic that combine so well with lyrics (especially within “Golden Years”), but this gorgeous, haunting act of wizardry has never left my mind.

 

“Fearless” (Pink Floyd, Meddle) – This may come as a surprise to some, given the disparate differences, but this one almost lost to “See Emily Play.” As a teen I had a curious fondness for Syd Barrett, and the circus-like music and sweeping melody that carried the lyrics of “borrow[ing] somebody’s dreams till tomorrow” intrigued me to no end. So what broke the stalemate? Well, when I hear “Emily,” I still feel why Past Me was so attached to it, but these days I go for Meddle a lot. Simultaneously introspective and ambitious, it energizes me yet still disperses calm. Within it, “Fearless” speaks to the understandable anxiety of standing by one’s conscience, and every single note plays this out in a perfect emotional match. It fit Past Me (within those teenage years of dissent), but is particularly relevant today. Honestly? Listen to the entire album.

 

“Isis” (Bob Dylan, Desire) – A lot of people don’t seem to know it because I simply never hear this song discussed or on the radio, but “Isis”—the story of a man married to Isis and what happens when he meets up with a mysterious tomb-raiding stranger — is one of those tunes that makes Dylan the absolute lyrical mage he is. Consider the following exchange were it to be in a novel:

She said, “Where ya been?” I said, “No place special.”
She said, “You look different.” I said, “Well, I guess.”
She said, “You been gone.” I said, “That’s only natural.”
She said, “You gonna stay?” I said, “If you want me to, yes.”

Sung in Dylan’s iconic, grainy voice (at times characterized as “like a dog with his leg caught in barbed wire”) with his distinctive pitch changes (also referred to as “affectation”), the song swings listeners around so much that mundane words become something special. None of the lyrics have the standard rhymes of some of Dylan’s other tunes, such as “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Tangled Up in Blue,” partly because it’s a folkie ballad backed up by an acoustic piano. But as the singer’s storytelling abilities are revealed, his voice also utterly brings to life the emotions the narrator feels, and we sense them too. We don’t need no rhymes.

“I Will” (The Beatles, The Beatles, commonly known as The White Album) – Even by the time my teenage years rolled around and the Fab Four were long in the past, people were still picking their favorite Beatle. (My teen son even made his choice.) Paul was definitely not mine; that honor went to George, who wrote, in my opinion one of the best Beatle songs ever. Still, this one confounded me as to why no one ever seemed to have heard of it, or it never came on the radio. Beautiful in its simplicity, it needs absolutely nothing else, not a single note or echo more than it contains to be the perfect song, love or otherwise, and the phrase “your song will fill the air” followed by “sing it loud so I can hear you” is bold but not ostentatious (unlike the nuance that generally comes with that second phrase when uttered today). John’s maracas along with Paul’s melodic “da da da da da” brings the song and its wonderful experience to a perfectly satisfying conclusion.

 

“Battle of Evermore” (Led Zeppelin, untitled album, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV or Zoso, after a symbol on the album cover) – People are generally attracted quite a bit to alliteration, and “Battle of Evermore” showcases it stunningly, reaching into our past (e.g. with “angels of Avalon”; “dragons of darkness”), awakening us to what magic arises from that place. Inspired in part by reading of a series of Anglo-Scottish wars and Celtic mythology, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page’s ballad does utilize verbiage that might today seem a bit fantasy cliché but for the multitude of angles from which it comes at us. Their imagery, boosted by the pairing of words and duet singing (Plant and non-bandmember Sandy Denny), recreates a narrator and town crier, and we are the townspeople urgently listening for the outcome of events involving the Prince of Peace and Queen of Light.

The dark Lord rides in force tonight
And time will tell us all.
Oh, throw down your plow and hoe,
Rest not to lock your homes.
Side by side we wait the might
Of the darkest of them all.

 Adding connection to our experience is Page’s mandolin, filling in and around the voices, at times in turn, others together, as we tune in to a tale of spiritual warfare, the battle of good and evil fought on a plane we cannot see, but will be affected by nonetheless—forever.

“Battle of Evermore” might not, strictly speaking, fit into this list as it may not be quite as overlooked as it seems to me. Nevertheless, I have rarely (if ever) heard it on the radio and its visibility tends to be obscured by “Stairway to Heaven” and that song’s May Queen. However, it is a tale that touches the deepest parts of ourselves and where we come from.

Stay tuned for more to come from overlooked gems. 

And the Daffodils Look Lovely Today

I am so very, very sad to read that Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer for the Cranberries, has passed away. She had such a beautiful voice, whether speaking or singing, and I could listen to her for hours.

Her lyrics weren’t always about happy things, but that voice made you want to listen and be part of the joy of being alive, of experiencing something special in life. And for those who, like her, suffered from bi-polar disorder or depression, it lifted one up to want to be part of creating a beauty for others to experience.

Dolores O’Riordan with the Cranberries, live in Barcelona 2010-3-13, by Alterna2, via Wikimedia Commons

Some years ago I received a letter from a penpal in Russia. I was always so excited to hear from Natasha, who sprinkled her missives with “my darling” and “sweetheart” from day one. At one point she sent me a gorgeous samovar that I treasured deeply. I was absolutely smitten with its pretty lines and aura of loving that accompanied its gifting.

I was always so greedy about letters I received, and never could be one to put an unopened one in my purse to read later, at home. No, I tore them open and read at stop lights, my laughter or gigantic smile happily devouring contents. On this day I was so uplifted as I slowed to the red light at 4th Avenue, coming up from behind the post office, a Cranberries CD helping me pump out my emotion and anticipation as my voice used all its strength to release what I held inside.

Like a light switched off, my smile disappeared. Natasha wrote that she had discovered a lump in her breast while she was pregnant with her first child, one she had wanted so much that she refused medical advice to abort in order to receive treatment. She went on to briefly explain the situation but the words I recall most are, “ … and I believe I have a future.” They are imprinted in my mind, which is grand because later someone stole the box of letters that was my treasure chest from abroad, and even now I have to remember her words from the recesses of my mind, where she is still alive for me.

Also sealed into my mind are those songs I listened to as I drove, particularly “Dreaming My Dreams” on through the rest of the No Need to Argue CD. Somehow those vocal intonations reflected my heart’s song: the dread I felt, along with the future Natasha was so sure of. I knew someone in my own life who had recently beaten breast cancer, and so as my goosebumps radiated a chill through me, I poured my tension out, willing it to leave with the flow of song as it escaped my lips.

Continuing to drive, I thought of the narrator’s story in “Daffodil Lament” as she transitions from a period of stagnation, seeming hopelessness—“Holding on, that’s what I do, since I met you”—to a mindset of something brighter ahead. The music is symphonic and shifts with a movement replicating that period of time, and O’Riordan’s voice reflects this as she moves forward:

I have decided to leave you forever
I have decided to start things from here
Thunder and lightning won’t change what I’m feeling
And the daffodils looked lovely today
And the daffodils look lovely today
Look lovely today

 Has anyone seen lightning
Has anyone looked lovely

I thought this could very well be my friend’s song, addressed to a disease she stood up to, telling its combined forces that she would not be put down. The last two lines in the excerpt above reflect the storyteller’s determined strength against even thunder and lightning, as she admires the sustained loveliness of a genus representative of both death and good fortune. She chooses the latter and a new life, renewal, she determines to achieve.

Natasha did survive long enough to give birth and be with her daughter, Anna, for a bit, but eventually succumbed to her illness. The day I learned of her passing I also listened to O’Riordan’s amazing voice as she belted out her passions and I absorbed what I could to once more uplift myself, grateful and glad to be alive, even though my voice cracked a few times and, like the poetic music it is, O’Riordan’s voice lured me back to the song as I silently moved in candlelight.

Perhaps for the rest of my life I will always have that connection between my friend Natasha and the voice of Dolores O’Riordan, both of which are everlasting gifts whose memories and legacies enable me to pass a special part of who I am to my own child. A Russian friend told me, the day I sang my heart’s mournful melody in a way not quite like any I have ever before or since, that people in his country believe no one ever really dies as long as there is someone to remember them. I’ve gone back to that so many times in subsequent years, not only because it is such a comforting sentiment, but because I’m naturally inclined to believe the dead deserve our attention, not just for everlasting life, but because they once were. They shared this world with us, and in so many instances what they had with us.

My voice is nowhere near as beautiful as Dolores O’Riordan’s—not by a long shot. In fact, there are very few people I will sing in front of because, well, my singing leaves a lot to be desired. Simultaneously I have been either blessed or cursed with a physical recognition that flows within my veins, of the power it holds over me, of the lifeblood that is song for humans, and that most often simply bursts from my heart when it is caged. 

Today I will be lighting candles for Dolores O’Riordan, not because I knew her—I didn’t—but for the memories she contributes to and the gifts she shared with us, her own heart’s songs that memorialize so much of the struggles of life. We often wish to forget them, but she gave them attention because of their link to the humans we care about.

Thank you, Dolores O’Riordan, and rest in peace.

The fragrant Poet’s Daffodil (click)

Golden Years: Remembering David Bowie

January 11, 2016

It’s still only around 03:00 or thereabouts when I take a break from the solitaire game I’d engaged in before my second sleep, and flip over to an online screen–“just to check messages.” And there I take in something that I have to re-read to get it right, for my brain has seen it as something else, something that ordinarily would come before this terrible news.

David Bowie succumbs to cancer at 69.

Somehow I manage to fall asleep again and even rise when it’s time. I still can’t believe it. As I drive to my morning destination even the sky seems silent, mournful. It hasn’t yet begun its pinkish transition, and there is a weightiness to the clouds that hang over me. Perhaps they, too, need to cry. It occurs to me that the reason my own tears took so long to fall is because with this passing, so too passes a portion of me, of all of us and a moment in our time, and that’s really a little bit incomprehensible.

My mind travels back to my teen years, when I was on the solitary side, mainly because I had specific interests that generally entailed only my own company. I didn’t hate people and had a few fun friends, but when I was with them, I couldn’t do the stuff I wanted to do. I adored music: it has a capacity to find something deep within that hides from the world and allies itself to that thing, almost as if to say, “Here I am, partner.” It shares your sorrow as well as your joy; it can be whatever you want it to be–whatever you need it to be, gesticulating, swaying in ways that match the music flowing, careening, leaping, caressing through the air.

Lyrics are a bonus, especially if a singer or songwriter has somehow managed to capture just those right words for what we’re feeling. Like many teens (at least that I hear of today; my own son does it), I spent long hours listening to favorite songs and writing down the lyrics. I adored the soulfulness of “Golden Years,” for example.

Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Look at that sky, life’s begun
Nights are warm and the days are young
Come get up my baby

I also wrote poetry and somehow, to me, David Bowie was poetry. His major chameleon-like personas–all of whom had come and long been replaced by the time I came to know him–and lyrics of life, as I called them, because they covered absolutely everything, strengthened the intensity of my own explorations and studies. I practically lived at the library and the pattern tended to be that whatever I read at any given time led me to another must-explore topic. In turn, I wrote about almost everything I read. If Bowie sang about it, I looked it up. That was a little weird to most people, but it gave me great satisfaction.

I was especially entranced by the instrumentals in this song,

“Lady Grinning Soul.”

So I knew all Bowie’s songs by heart and, thanks to an older brother’s rock magazines and manuals, squeezed every single detail I could out of the universe pertaining to utterly everything about this amazing singer. In turn he fed my creativity and expansion even came when I started to draw–a pursuit I had absolutely no talent in. Faces were most difficult and I can recall tracing some of them, though I no longer remember which of the ones I still have were freehand and which not. My father and brother, who were artists, were only too happy to participate in this endeavor, so what might have been a bee in the bonnet that I let go after a week or so, stretched into a yearlong excursion in which I translated many of my thoughts into images.

Drawing from my teen years
Drawing from my teen years, copied from Low album cover

Sometimes this can, even now, amaze me, especially when I look at the drawings I still have. They aren’t really fantastic works waiting to be discovered, not even that great, truth be told. But that’s okay, because what I remember from the time I created them is that I reached deep inside of myself to find what was there, and found…a lot, actually. This remained rather large to me because in later years I was once more to do that sort of reaching, this time to find a massive amount of strength I needed in a big way–and somehow found it.

I didn’t read a lot of poetry then, at that later time. Poetry is meant to be read aloud, and I couldn’t do it then without my voice shaking, at least the poems that meant the most to me, such as Tagore’s “Shah Jahan.” Music, however, was sort of therapeutic because when I belted out enough songs–in total privacy, mind you, because I also can’t carry a tune–I was able to draw some negative energy out and away, or engaged in a sensory kind of satisfaction that relieved a lot of pressure. Who was one of my top picks at the time? You guessed it: David Bowie. Somehow, in different ways, we always manage to come home.

“David Bowie dies of cancer at 69: His death was a work of art.”

Driving away not long after I’d arrived at my appointment, I see the pinkishness breaking through; it’s the latter part of that phase of emerging daylight. I drive a little extra, just for the comforting feel of the motor, singing a very soft version of “Golden Years,” eyes welling up as my heart seems already full of tears and, still, disbelief. I end up in the empty library parking lot. Peering out over the early morning wakefulness of the ducks in their pond, I look up to see magnificent blue pouring all around the clouds. They look dark in some areas, and maybe even heavy with rain threatening to fall. But the startling blue asserts its presence and I shift gears and head toward home once more.

Look at that sky, life’s begun

200419_candle_for_our_dead_heroes_gif38dbefd0a5e7c107c329634219cabb7f

Mr. David Bowie, thank you for the music, and rest in peace.

*********

Music Review: Richard III

Please note the time sensitive Christmas ordering special below, as well as info about band appearance and narrative notes.

Richard III by Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds

 Track Titles

  1. Sheriff Hutton
  2. Richard Liveth Yet
  3. Written At Rising
  4. Act III, Scene IV
  5. The Year of Three Kings
  6. Hollow Crown
  7. Remember My Name
  8. Lord Lovell’s Lullaby
  9. Requiem
  10. Royal Title
  11. Ambion Hill

Additional narrative notes are also provided (see below).

r3-3rd-album-front_med_hrHaving read the Legendary Ten Seconds characterized as a folk band, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received their third CD to review, though I was intrigued with the concept album format whereby all the songs map out historical events. More precisely, they detail a specific series of events pertaining to a key figure: Richard III. This release, aptly titled Richard III, highlights instrumental periods in the monarch’s life, through melodic tunes reminiscent of medieval music itself. Listeners will recognize certain moments in which the band pays homage to their medieval forebears, with particular use of mandola notes, bells, organs and other instruments. However, there is balance with a modern sensibility, so while the music is identifiable as medieval-inspired folk, this is neither the monophonically-textured sound we tend to associate with the Middle Ages, nor stereotypical folk often heard mainly at summer forest fairs. What it does present is much of the heritage—our own—that we are taught about as children and will recognize in themes of truth and loyalty, pastoral poetry and the timeless desire to be remembered. It is all presented here so engagingly that even those who might tend toward reluctance will find themselves drawn in, for the music as well as the history it recounts.

“Sheriff Hutton,” the album’s first song, opens with an immediate sense of storytelling, as if the music itself is performing the gesticulations of one about to move forward into a verbal narrative. It is the perfect song to open the collection owing to this musical smoothing out of one’s apparel as well as the lyrics themselves, which tell of discovery as the speaker describes what he experiences upon visiting three sites: Sheriff Hutton, where as Duke of Gloucester Richard stayed, given its proximity to the north; Middleham Castle, the setting of his formative years and where his beloved son, Edward, was born and tragically dies too young; and Bosworth Field, site of the battle where Richard loses his life and the Plantagenet dynasty comes to an end. The song itself encapsulates the story of Richard’s later life as the singer takes us forward in time to “one fateful day,” having already experienced the sense of loneliness and brokenness that permeate the sites, and mindful of Richard’s own experiences when he himself stayed there.

fotheringhaycastle
Fotheringhay Castle (click image)

There is a newness to this start of the CD, yet also a wistfulness, perhaps undetectable to some unfamiliar with the life and times of Richard III. However, the musical arrangement is such that it acts also like a sort of foreshadowing, for once familiarized, these listeners will be able to detect the melancholy, recognizing it the way readers realize they do clues in a story, leading them to the often typical train of thought that commences with, “What if…?” This is paired with opening to the aftereffects of a tragedy as the album then takes listeners back in time to “see” the events that lead to this moment.

With the singer, or storyteller, we embark on a journey from a time when the infant Richard is noted in the “Clare Roll,” a poem documenting the armorial history of the prominent Clare family, the earls of whom Richard, Duke of York is descended; the second song’s title is drawn from his son’s mention within.

The youngest son of the Duke of York

Born in the castle of Fotheringhay

October 1452

Was the sun shining on that autumn day

Richard liveth yet

Richard liveth yet

Richard liveth yet

Born at the castle on the rise of the River Nene

Noting Shakespearean word order within one line, the song also foreshadows the playwright’s role in Richard’s posthumous reputation, and another depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s Richard III, with several vocalists taking up the roles of different characters as they discuss Edward V’s coronation date. While it may seem a curious choice to base a Ricardian song upon, it sets the stage for Richard’s coming rule while also highlighting a central Shakespearean reconstruction re: the alleged withered arm. While we now know that Richard III suffered from scoliosis, the useless arm is a fabrication.

Male and female vocalists appear on the various tracks and they are used to great effect—to play different roles, for example, as mentioned above; in duets, sometimes partner, others as counterpoint; and perhaps to change up the sound “appearance,” though this is carefully considered as their voices and particular and varying uses of them match the individual pieces of narrative so well one might be forgiven for believing each track was written specifically for those particular voices.

Richard III (click image)
Richard III (click image)

In linear fashion the CD progresses through eras in Richard’s life, including leadership roles in which he must manage shortage and adversity, through to the “year of three kings”—1483—which sees the death of Edward IV, Richard’s brother and monarch, to be succeeded by his son, Edward V. As Edward IV’s heir is too young to assume full duties, Richard is named protector and becomes king, followed by the disappearance and presumed deaths of Edward and his younger brother, also called Richard. Marking a turning point in the album as well as Richard’s life, events in “The Hollow Crown” are depicted from Richard’s point of view, and he discloses that in addition to the grief he feels at his own son’s passing, he knows full well what people are saying about his reign, and the darkness that threatens to overtake him:

This hollow crown upon my head

They say Queen Anne will soon be dead

The sky is dark though it is day

With my book of hours I do pray

Following is a transitional tune, one that could be told from Richard’s perspective, that of a soldier, or even both, in parts. Sung with alternating solos and Dylanesque duets (think “Mozambique” or the even smoother “One More Cup of Coffee”), it is a brilliant approach to take given there, of course, would be many expressing the sentiments within, but also to magnify the reality that Richard himself may have struggled with his decision to go to war. There are plenty of pros and cons, and the loneliness of the tune is mindful of what the monarch may feel in these moments, lost as Edward and, now, Queen Anne are to him. Still, he retains his book of hours and it could be he finds solace in prayer, remaining in low spirits but not remotely near to, as some have suggested, a death wish. The tune ends with a rather rapid fadeout, akin to a musical ellipses, mirroring acknowledgment of the terrible realities of war and remembrance.

From this point on the lyrics reflect thoughts and emotions of others, for the king is dead and can no longer speak. The singer channels these figures, such as Margaret, mourning her brother, killed so viciously, and references antiquarian Sir George Buck’s The History of King Richard III. In the end a ghostly apparition beckons to our storyteller, who acknowledges that some may or may not believe all he has laid out. Important to note, however, is that despite many circumstantial attempts to destroy Richard’s reputation and legacy, evidence exists to prove previous claims false or perverted—evidence available in the Titulus Regius, for example, discovered by Sir George, evidence that, like Richard himself, long lay buried and perhaps some still does—that despite all this, “the truth, it has survived.”

This is a wonderfully evocative account of the life of Richard III, one that will draw listeners again and again.

*********

The Legendary Ten Seconds was originally a solo music project of Ian Churchward who has played guitar in various bands after starting to play the guitar in 1979. Ian’s first band was called Chapter 29 and after this band split up in 1986 he started a new indie pop band called The Morrisons later that year. This band released a flexi disc which was played on the John Peel show on BBC radio one in 1987. From the late 1990’s until about 2007 Ian also played in a ceilidh band called Storm Force Ten which then became a new band called Phoenix.

Richard III is the third album from the Legendary Ten Seconds. For more information on previous music, click here or images below.

Tant le désirée
Tant le désirée
Loyaulte Me Lie
Loyaulte Me Lie

 

 

 

 

 

You can learn more about Ian Churchward and The Legendary Ten Seconds and their music at FacebookCD Baby, a blog dedicated to The Richard 3rd Projects and Twitter. For Richard III-related links, see Lord Z (and tab above).

Special Notes:  An additional album, The Legendary Ten Songs Of Sir Ian Of Churchward may be purchased as a download from CD Baby OR it can be gotten for FREE before Christmas when purchasing any other album from Lord Z (this link ONLY). Be sure to get it from Lord Z! Additionally, for as long as supplies last, album purchase includes a FREE Ricardian Legendary Ten Seconds beer mat (see and click image below).

Free beer mat with any album purchase from Lord Z (click image)
Free beer mat with any album purchase from Lord Z (click image)

Concert Information:

The Legendary Ten Seconds will be appearing at Stony Stratford in February!!

poster for stratford gig

Narrative Notes:

On Tant le desiree the narratives are written and read by author Sandra Heath Wilson. They are fictional and read from the point of view of Richard III’s mother, Cecily Neville.

On  Richard III  the narratives are historical and factual. These Richard III narratives are written, read and recorded by Matthew Lewis and provide information about Richard III.

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The reviewer was provided with a copy of Richard III in order to provide an honest review.