The Birthing Plan

In 2006 I finished recording my album Spirit of Albion. It seems that it was only a day after I received them that the first song from what was to become The Cauldron Born was written. That song was Green and Grey. The tune for The Cauldron Born had been written while I was recording Albion, but no words would come at that time.

The next songs were Immrama and Only Human, both written on the same day, and using a very different writing technique – I usually write the tune first, then the lyrics, but with these songs I decided to try writing the lyrics first, and then finding the tune. I guess whatever comes second is the hardest part. With these two songs I found the lyric writing much easier, but the tunes were difficult to find, but they both finally came.

And still no words for The Cauldron Born tune…

It was about this time that the tune for Land, Sky and Sea arrived, and I just couldn’t find the words to go with it. So that made two tunes, with no lyrics.

It was in September 2007 that the first chords were struck and recorded for the new album. I had 6 songs written and I gave myself the deadline of 8th March 2008 to write the rest of the songs, and finish the recording. But I came up against a problem straight away.

Cue the boring techie bit! – I had recorded my previous three CDs on a Dell computer on Logic 4 (if you know sequencer programs you’ll currently be going Logic 4!!) Apple computers bought Logic and there hadn’t been a new version for PCs since Logic 5 – the lovely Apple people had just launched Logic 8! My beloved Dell had had enough of my music and flew off to the computer Summerlands. I didn’t want to have to learn how to use a new sequencer, so tried to record my album on my Apple iBook G4 with Logic 7, but it just wasn’t up to it, so in the end I had to get a new iMac, with Logic 8. It arrived at the end of October, and this was when the recording began in earnest.

I had by this time found some words for both The Cauldron Born, and Land, Sky and Sea, but wasn’t completely happy with them. There was something missing from the first, and a line I just couldn’t get in the second. I had written Pagan Ways after my enconter at the Long Man of Wilmington with the Trinny and Suzanna Show (see this post for details of that!), and things were taking shape nicely.

The last song I wrote was On Midwinter’s Day, a song that came out of nowhere after a particularly wonderful Winter Solstice ceremony at the Long Man with the Anderida Gorsedd, but still these other two songs wouldn’t complete. I cannot tell you how many times I had sat with my guitar searching for the missing words!

But then, in a sudden flash, just as I was beginning to think they just might not want to be written, the words came. The missing verse from The Cauldron Born was the very first one, as it invited the listener to come with me as I showed them other spiritual people just like themselves. And the missing line from Land, Sky and Sea came and is one of the favourite lines I have ever written – Oh, this town is so cold, Neon Magicians they offer the Fools their Gold.

These were the last words I sang, and the album’s recording was complete.

It had taken over two years to find the lyrics for The Cauldron Born song, and just over a year for Land, Sky and Sea. They are always there, some songs just need longer incubation!

4 Comments

  1. Erik February 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    My CD arrived yesterday – I’m listening to it (again) as I write this. I fell in love instantly with “Land, Sky and Sea”… definitely the “anthem” for this disc (the same feeling I had with “Spirit of Albion” last time out)… I also love “Immrama”, although I think it will take several listenings to get my mind around it fully.

    There were also a couple of intriguing musical echoes that I doubt were intentional, but that nevertheless enriched the listening experience for me in odd ways… most particularly in “On Midwinter’s Day”, where the mandolin/tinwhistle bit immediately after the chorus reminds me irresistibly, just for a moment, of early Pogues 🙂 …and yes, I’m a fan so that *is* a positive – really.

    All in all, I’m quite looking forward to spending the weekend with this album – thank you!

  2. damhbard February 29, 2008 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Fantastic! And I do take that as a compliment as I love the early Pogues too. I reckon it must be because I used my new 5 string banjo on that piece – combine that with a tin whistle during an instrumental part, and it can’t help but sound Poguesque 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. executivepagan February 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Oh, and a question re: “Green and Grey”… did you ever read Lord Dunsany’s novel “The Blessing of Pan”? It’s been kind of obscured by his better-known works over the years, but it’s well worth a read (and, after decades of being almost impossible to find – at least this side of the pond – has recently been reissued in an affordable paperback edition).

  4. damhbard June 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    I hadn’t read it. But I have now, and I can see why so man people thought I had read it – the tale is very much like Green and Grey. A wonderful story. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of it before! Thanks for pointing it out to me!

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