DARK SONG – FIRST VERSE

These are lyrics from an unfinished song I began last week. It’s my First Verse entry for today.

DARK SONG

There’s a dark song in my soul right now
And I can’t shake it anyway,
Might as well just sing along,
See where it goes

Well, there’s a dark song
I hear it on the wind

There’s a dark song
Where are we going?

Can we ever make amends?

Well, I don’t know this road no more
But I know it’s me

Where are we going anyhow?
What do you want me to see?

There’s a dark song in my soul right now
I can hear it far away
I’ve known, I’ve known it all along
We’re on the same road

But to where?

Just tell me that…

To where?

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THE ENEMY WHO LEADS YOU

And now for something completely different for First Verse. A political poem.

THE ENEMY WHO LEADS YOU

The enemy who leads you
Stained black with your blood
From poniard to vanguard
His plotting is thrust,
In counsel he’s clever
In Truth he’s foresworn
In trust he is shrewder
In craft than forborne,
His word is his measure
Though never a gauge
His promises guilt-bound
A thrice-gilded cage,
His skill brightly scheming
Adversarial bonds
True allies shall languish
Abandoned anon;

The one who commands you
Is not as you are
His mettle was tempered
A curved scimitar,
The suffering of others
The tyrant’s cold hand
Is given in fealty
To foreign demands,
If seals are thus issued
If agreements are made
The foe who now spends you
Will proffer no aid;

Command is elected
When Free Men take count
But no Virtue is granted
When deception does mount,
A man’s what a man is
Come first in his heart
If contrivance is motive
Then guile is his art –
Be wary of such men
Be warned of their aims
Wrapped in your losses
He’ll yet court his gains,
If you submit to his orders
If complicit in course
Then the Enemy who leads you
Will rule you by force.

AFRICAN ANGEL – FIRST VERSE

I wrote this song two weekends ago. I was driving home one evening when the first few lines occurred to me. I worked on it for three days before finishing the lyrics.

This is the first song I’m publishing on my publishing schedule First Verse. Hope you like it.

I dedicate it to my wife, who although she is not African, she’s American, her ancestors were African. If you wish let me know what you think of it.

AFRICAN ANGEL *

Skin so soft, smell so sweet
Hair so dark, eyes so deep
Wish I knew just what you were
I think that once I might have heard

Of African angels

Yes, African angels

I wonder now if you might be…
An African angel

Your lips invite, rich and full
Whisper me a miracle
I want to know just who you are
Are you the same or similar…

To an African angel?

Some African angel?
Where will I go
Having been with you
When will I know
If this is true?
When will you prove
What I think I know
That you heard above
When I prayed below

For an African angel

Yes, an African angel
Oh, where can I go
Once I’ve seen you
When will I know
If this is true?
When will we
Take up your wings
See if we don’t both agree
You’re doing everything

Like an African angel

Well, I dreamt of gold and Zanzibar
Of silver seas and endless stars
The nights were black the moon was bright
You smiled at me, I saw the light

Of an African angel

My African Angel

My African Angel…

 

* Note: the artwork is not mine but by a very talented artist by the name of Kerry Rockwood White

see here: http://fineartamerica.com/art/digital+art/african+american+angels/all

 

IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S WHAT YOU IMPLY BY OMISSION

This statement is entirely true: “It’s what is left out of the song that keeps us coming back for answers.”

This image, and the accompanying lyrics, are superb examples of this.

Lyric Of The Week: Traditional, “Barbara Allen”

Written by March 9th, 2015 at 8:40 am

Forget_Me_Not_Songster_-_Barbara_Allen_p.1It’s been beguiling audiences for a half-millennium or so, perhaps longer than that. It’s been covered by artists ranging from the sublime (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Everly Brothers) to the slightly ridiculous (John Travolta and, in the 1951 Warner Brothers short “Robin Hood Daffy”, Porky Pig.) So what is it about “Barbara Allen” that makes it so enduring and affecting?

The first known reference to this mysteriously captivating folk ballad dates back to 1666, in an entry by the famed English diarist Samuel Pepys. Pepys called it a “Scotch song”, and it flourished throughout the United Kingdom in that era until it was brought to the U.S. by immigrants. As the population of the America slowly spread westward, the song went with it, as noted by famed musicologist Alan Lomax in his book The Folk Songs Of North America. “This ballad, if no other, travelled west with every wagon,” Lomax wrote. “As someone remarked, they sang ‘Barbara Allen’ in Texas ‘before the pale faces were thick enough to make the Indians consider a massacre worthwhile.”

What transpires in “Barbara Allen” is simple enough on the surface. Yet since the lyrics provide little exposition or back story, the reasons for the behavior of the main participants are enigmatic. The song tells the story of young William who, as he lies on his deathbed, calls out for Barbara. She takes her time getting to his side, only to treat him coldly due to a social foul he committed against her at a tavern. On her journey home, she hears the “death bell knellin” and, knowing it tolls for William’s death, suddenly regrets her hardness and knows she will soon die of grief for him.

Harsh stuff, right? Maybe too harsh, even for audiences who were used to Shakespeare’s plays and their numerous deaths. As such, a variant on the song quickly arose that included a leavening epilogue whereby the lovers are buried side-by-side. From William’s grave grows a rose, from Barbara’s a briar, and the two flowers eventually intertwine, providing the deceased pair eternal unison.

It’s whats left out of the song that keeps us coming back for answers. If all William did was drink a toast to the wrong ladies, surely he didn’t deserve treatment so nasty from a girl he truly loved. Or was this single incident indicative of his wayward behavior as a whole? And what changed in Barbara’s mind and heart from the time she left him to when she heard that bell? In that short journey, she transformed from hard-hearted to sympathetic without any middle ground spent in consideration of all that had transpired.

This sort of unexplainable behavior from characters was also emblematic of Shakespeare (think King Lear or Hamlet), so maybe the original writer had that kind of strangeness in mind. It makes the song more psychologically realistic, since we all tend to do things when guided by passion or spite that defy logic and reason.

The murkiness of the motives and the beauty of the melody is an irresistible combination. As such, many legendary contemporary artists have found the song irresistible. Dylan, for one, not only covered “Barbara Allen” at various times in his career, but he also used Barbara’s home base of “Scarlet Town” as a jumping-off point for an equally mysterious song on 2012’s Tempest.

While there have been many powerful and moving renditions of “Barbara Allen”, Art Garfunkel may have given the definitive modern reading on his 1973 solo album Angel Clare.  Whatever lesson you take from the song, whether it’s that even a moment of taking the one you love for granted can come back to haunt you, or that life is too short for petty grievances, you’ll likely be mesmerized by the mercy Garfunkel’s ethereal vocal grants these two lovers. It’s just too bad they didn’t show each other that same kind of mercy until it was far too late.

THE SORCERER’S TONGUE

THE SORCERER’S TONGUE

The Sorcerer’s tongue an adder crawls
To slither through the hearts of men
A viper coiled in roils of lies
Seduces all with poisoned ends,
The Necromancer of the Age
Raising up deceit and death
From tombs and tomes by ruin lost
Has given form and stirred cold breath,
Enchantments webbed and eldritch spun
Like spiders creep across the mind
So even men who seem themselves
Are slaves to him, enthralled like kine,
Hades vast and oceans deep
Are hidden in his crafty art
The conjured word is as he speaks
A servant dim and set apart,
The warlock’s gloom – bespoken like a spell
Has snared the fool and baited traps
To line the road of Truth along which
Even brave men cannot make their maps,
The Waystaff of the Witch’s word
Has charmed the Wise with venoms dark
Bound in blood men sound in every other way
By sound of him fall all unnerved
Their manhood washed away in flood,
The alchemic base of rank and rot
Has made a potent portion of regret
Yet who still speaks of deeds begot
When dread by sorcery yet abets?
The Witch’s teat, the serpent’s tongue
Eidolons frozen in the soul
Glams and dictums (dicins) doom us all
Who should by wit the Witch atone,
We have fallen all and one
Under shrouds envoked by terms of fraud
Cultic does the lie allure
Guile the noose of little gods,
If we will not soon this wrong dispel
Cut out the tongue that binds us so
Then sorcery shall be our gaol
The price of prison be our soul.