Damh’s seventh CD and the first album of Damh the Bard original songs since The Cauldron Born. It opens with the title track, a typically rousing anthem in honour of the Pagan Horned God of Nature. From there we go into Under a Beltane Sun, a song so catchy you can’t help but sing along. A duet with Eala on the retelling of the tragic tale of Branwen in Branwen’s Lament cannot fail to touch the heart. The album finishes with an 8 minute epic retelling of the story of Ceridwen and Taliesin. This album is set to become another classic.
Antlered Crown and Standing Stone
A rousing anthem dedicated to the male principle of nature – the Pagan Horned God. Continuing the theme of previous songs such as Green and Grey, Noon of the Soltice and Pipes of Pan. This is a song to honour Cernunnos, Pan, Herne, and the Green Man.
I am the face within the leaves,
I’m the voice within the trees,
I am boy, I am man,
The face of the changing land,
And I have been your constant guide,
From your caves on the mountainside,
We have walked hand in hand.
And everywhere that I have been,
My passing turns the grey to green,
The birds sing to the dawn,
And the land has awoken,
Oh my lady lays with me,
And our love weaves a tapestry,
Eternal threads, unbroken.
I am lover, I am father,
I am Horned God and King,
I’m the life in all of nature,
That is reborn every Spring.
Call of stag and cry of eagle,
I am Child of Barleycorn,
And I am the antlered crown,
And standing stone.
I am the oats the corn and grain,
A bearded man with a crooked cane,
Cut me down, I must die,
For the land to be born again.
But don’t you cry and don’t you grieve,
For soon the Wild Hunt I will lead,
On the night of Samhain.
The air is cold, the sky is grey,
Where am I this Winter’s day,
Bones of trees, fallen leaves,
The time of the Winter Queen,
But through the wind and snow and rain,
Know that a part of me remains,
Holly stands, evergreen.
Under a Beltane Sun
This was the first song I wrote on this album. Cerri and I were on our holiday in early May exploring Exmoor and we discovered a beautiful prehistoric bridge called Tarr Steps. We sat beside the river for ages. Cerri was sketching the bridge and I had my bouzouki with me. I started to play the fingerpicking pattern and just sang what I was seeing all around me. It’s probably the happiest and most catchy song I’ve ever written, and I also love the ‘country’ vibe too.
My shackled feet they long to be free from,
This modern Rome.
The ancient moors and the granite shores they are,
Calling me home.
Sometimes this city is too much to bear,
I hear a calling in my soul,
The Mother’s waterways will take me,
Where life has begun,
Under a Beltane Sun.
Cuckoo calls and the seed falls as the,
Skylark sings to the swift on the wing in the,
Bright clear day.
Salmon swims and the diamond stream sings with,
The blackbird’s song.
Voice in the breeze well it whispers please won’t you,
I had promised Brighid I would write a song for her and this song took a very long time to arrive. She is the Goddess of Bards, healing and smithcraft (the forge) and a Goddess I love dearly. I hope she likes her song!
There’s a tree by the well in the wood,
That’s covered in garlands,
Clooties and ribbons that drift,
In the cool morning air.
That’s where I met an old woman,
Who came from a far land.
Holding a flame o’er the well,
And chanting a prayer.
Goddess of fire, Goddess of healing,
Goddess of Spring, welcome again.
The told me she’d been a prisoner,
Trapped in a mountain,
Taken by the Queen of Winter,
At Summer’s end,
But in her prison, she heard the spell,
The people were chanting,
Three days of Summer,
And snowdrops are flowering again.
She spoke of the Cell of the Oak,
Where a fire is still burning,
Nineteen priestesses tend the Eternal Flame,
Oh but of you, my Lady,
We are still learning,
The Goddess of many names.
Then I saw her reflection in the mirrored well,
And I looked deep in her face,
The old woman gone, a maiden now knelt in her place,
And from my pocket I pulled a ribbon,
And in honour of her maidenhood,
I tied it there to the tree by the well in the wood.
Branwen’s story from the Mabinogion is one of the saddest tales ever told. It is heartbreaking, but one day as I was playing around with my guitar this haunting melody came to me. I played it to Cerri and we both agreed it was Branwen’s tale waiting to be told. There seem to be no redeeming qualities to this story. It’s a classic tragedy, but ‘her story will forever be told’.
Dearest brother hold me here,
Safe in your embrace,
For I feel, death is near,
Her breath upon my face,
Cross the Irish Sea,
You came to rescue me,
Leading an army to avenge my pain,
Two islands torn apart,
Like my broken heart,
From your army just seven remain.
Sister I heard you calling to me,
O’er the Irish sea,
I brought a war to those foreign shores,
For to set you free,
Now I am dying poison in my veins,
But for you dear sister I’d do it again.
I’d do it again.
I can hear as I close my eyes,
The screams of my young son,
Cast into the burning fire,
After death I’ll find peace,
All of my pain will cease,
Brother you are my dearest friend,
Now I will welcome death,
I will draw my last breath,
And this raven will fly again.
Lay her body within the earth,
In this four-cornered tomb,
So her spirit will know rebirth,
From our Mother’s womb.
And though you lie in the earth so cold,
Know that your story will forever be told.
Bury my head facing the sea,
And while it remains this land will be free,
This land will be free.
Sons and Daughters (of Robin Hood)
I wrote this song after hearing about the UK Government’s plans to sell of England’s forests. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing! They did a U-Turn on this plan in the end and I thought the song would never be heard, but then I hear that they are thinking of scrapping the MayDay Bank Holiday, and with all of the cuts and problems, in the end, I just had to record it. An anthem for the British people for we are all the sons and daughters of Robin Hood!
We all watched you on our TV,
Right honourable gentleman, apparently.
Different voices with only one aim,
To win my vote, and to win the game.
Now some have died to pave the way,
So we can vote come polling day,
X marks the spot that gives us our voice,
But how do we vote when there isn’t a choice.
If you thought that we would do nothing,
For we are the Sons and Daughters,
of Robin Hood!
See I remember exclusion zones,
At Solstice time around the Stones,
And the poll tax riots of Trafalgar Square,
The rich they got richer, the poor were stripped bare,
Building new roads with no thought for the land,
And the blood of the Beanfield is still on your hands,
Now drilling of Shetland will do you just fine,
And you wanted to sell of our forests,
Like you closed down mines.
There’s nothing to see, there’s nothing to see, there’s nothing to see here,
There’s nothing to see, won’t you just look away, there’s nothing to see here.
England’s green and pleasant land,
Is not there to put cash in your hands,
I see you symbol is the English Oak Tree,
Is that your idea of irony?
Now millions of eyes have turned upon you,
And each one is watching what you will do,
And all are ready to spoil your game,
For the blood of an outlaw it flows in our veins!
I played my first gig in Australia in November 2009 and I immediately fell utterly in love with the country. I’ve been back almost annually since then and played even more concerts and seen more of the landscape. Australia is wild, infectious, and the people are wonderful. It gets under your skin. The landscape is definitely still King, and we walk upon the land carefully. Australia is the Singing Land with ancient Songlines that still sing from the red earth to this day. I can’t wait to hear you sing once more…
Welcome now a visitor to your shores,
Following a dream I can’t ignore,
From a distant land you may never know,
Of sun and rain and snow.
Here where the endless skies reach for the sun,
The gum trees stand like the oaks of Albion,
And the land sings in lines of ancient song,
For the soul to sing along.
And the Southern Cross shines down
on where I stand.
And I hear the voices from
the Singing Land.
Here where the land still is king,
Beneath red sand the ancestors are dreaming,
And a mother knows which song must me sung,
When a new life has begun.
A Serpent made a path across the land,
Formed the rivers and mountains where they stand,
These songs are in the Kookaburra’s call,
But she’s laughing at us all.
Oh can you feel me dreaming,
Oh can you feel me dreaming,
Oh can you feel me dreaming, oh.
Familiar stars now shine from up above,
I’ve returned to the land that I love,
But my heart must try to understand,
It’s now shared by another land,
Beneath the plough I look to the setting sun,
As I stand once more on the land of Albion.
But the Southern Cross will guide me to your shore,
To hear you sing once more.
Oh I can feel you dreaming,
Oh I can feel you dreaming,
Oh I can feel you dreaming, oh.
The January Man
I heard this song years ago played by the harper Wendy Stewart and it stayed with me. It’s another song I’ve wanted to record for years but I just couldn’t find the right arrangement. I could hear a melancholiness in the tune and lyrics that I really wanted to express. As we move through each year it is like these brothers accompany us on our journey. And then ‘the January Man comes round again, in woolen coat and boots of leather’, as another year begins. A beautiful song.
Oh the January man he walks abroad,
In woolen coat and boots of leather,
The February man still wipes the snow,
From off his hair and blows his hands,
The man of March he sees the Spring,
And wonders what the year will bring,
And hopes for better weather
Through April rain the man goes down,
To watch the birds come in to share the summer,
The man of May stands very still,
To watch the children dance away the day,
In June the man inside the man,
Is young and wants to lend a hand,
And grins at each new colour.
And in July the man in cotton shirts,
He sits and thinks on being idle,
The August man in thousands takes the road,
To watch the sea and find the sun,
September man is standing near,
To saddle up another the year,
And Autumn is his bridle.
The man of new October takes the reins,
And early frost is on his shoulder,
The poor November man sees fire,
And wind and mist and rain and winter air,
December man looks through the snow,
To let eleven brothers know,
They’re all a little older.
And the January man comes round again,
In woolen coat and boots of leather,
To take another turn and walk along,
The icy road he knows so well,
The January man is here,
For starting each and every year,
Along the way for ever.
This was the second song I wrote on the album. A song in honour of the Moon, in all of her phases.
Silver you fly, a ghost in the sky,
Like a ship on an endless deep sea,
You are a Goddess, to this holy novice,
A spiritual refugee.
So to you I dedicate my rites,
Guardian of the mystery of the night.
You are silent moon,
You are silent moon.
My right hand it catches, you power as it waxes,
A silver smile in the night,
I feel you growing, the seeds I am sowing,
Blessed by the maiden’s moonlight.
On this night when you are born anew,
Lady I will share my dreams with you.
When you are waning and times they are changing,
I offer into your care,
In a world gone insane, you heal the pain,
As the Mother you’re always there.
Lady you are Mother of the Tides,
Standing here where land and sea collide.
I cannot see you but I can feel you,
When the veil has hidden your face,
And as the Crone you lead the dead home,
To the comfort of your embrace.
Yes I know that everything must die,
But for now I ask you pass me by.
Down in the Garden
I was asked if I had ever written a song that could be played at a funeral. I knew that a few of my songs had already accompanied those passed away on their new Journeys but I had never written one specifically about that part of our lives. A part that is inevitable, yet our society seems to wish to protect us from anything to do with death. I wanted to write a song from the viewpoint of the person who had moved on. A song acknowledging their passing over, yet also a song to tell those left behind that they were ok – that they still lived on, in the sunrise, the birdsong, in the memories of their friends and loved ones. That death was not the end.
Down in the garden,
Is a willow tree,
Its hair in the breeze,
Whispers to me.
A voice is calling,
From deep inside,
It’s longing to find,
One of its kind.
For I am the rising sun,
I am the birdsong when the day is done.
I am the tear in your eye,
I am alive.
Down in the garden,
Where the mushrooms grow,
And the moss-covered stone,
Shows me home,
Wet soil on my fingers,
I draw back the veil,
And I say a prayer,
But I’m not scared.
Down in the gardens,
Leaves will fall,
Down to the ground,
Without a sound,
If ever you need me,
There’s a willow tree,
It’s hair in the breeze,
That’s where I’ll be.
Cerridwen and Taliesin
This is another song I’ve been wanting to write since Herne’s Apprentice, but I guess the stars had to come into the right alignment for the tune and words to fall into place at the same time. I’ve heard it said that Bards must be adepts at music, song, poetry and storytelling. I’ve tried to include aspects of all of these elements within this song. The changes in pace, the poetry, the chase, it’s all here. These ancient tales must still be told and kept alive.
Silver moonlight dances,
From the mist of Tegid’s shore,
A lady looks upon her son,
Like many times before,
And she touches his face,
Fingers wet with the tears falling.
Her daughter stands beside her,
The fairest in the land,
How her son became so cursed,
She cannot understand.
But this mother’s love is a strong,
As her heart is beating,
And she calls to the Earth,
And the Earth hears her calling.
High up in the mountains,
Dinas Afferaon stands tall,
All magic and all mysteries,
Are held within these walls,
So she walks to the door,
As she does the door it opens,
Teach to me the mystery,
Of the Cauldron’s Brew,
Let Utter Darkness give way to light,
And be reborn anew,
Then the Awen will shine,
From the brow of the Eagle of the Sea,
And all will know his name,
From this land to the People of the Sidhe.
The lady sets the cauldron’s fire,
Tended by the hand,
Of Gwion Bach the innocent,
And Morda the blind man,
Who reached out his hand,
Place more wood,
Keep the cauldron boiling.
Then Morda he fell asleep,
Alas he didn’t see,
Wood upon wood was added,
The inferno was the key,
To unlock the doors,
Of the Awen’s greatest mystery,
Three drops, burning skin,
And it’s Gwion how gained the power to see.
The cauldron cracks, the poison seeps, Slowly across the land, To kill the horses of Garanhir, by the lakeshore where they stand, Drinking and not knowing their fate, As a hare runs fast across the land. Ceridwen, Ceridwen, Lady of the Cauldron, Come see what they have done! Stolen your Cauldron’s power, And betrayed your only son! Eyes wide, lips curl, Anger on your face! Change your shape now lady! Be the hound, begin the chase!
I shall be a running hare,
With sorrow and with mickle care,
Then I shall be a greyhound bitch,
And tear you from your skin!
Then I shall be a flying wren,
The King of Birds, the King of Men,
Then I shall be a falcon grey,
And tear you from your skin!
Then I shall be a salmon sleek,
Darting through a shallow creek,
Then I shall be an otter bitch,
And rest you from your skin!
I shall be a grain beneath the sun,
And you will never know which one,
Then I shall be a great black hen,
And take you deep within!
Now you may be forgiven to think,
My tale is over and down,
But nine moons later,
She gave birth to a son,
That she wanted to kill,
But she placed in a coracle on the sea.
Garanhir’s salmon weir,
A catch was guaranteed,
But on this day a baby boy,
Cried out to be freed,
A radiant brow,
Shining bright for all to plainly see.
Taliesin is your name,
The greatest Bard that this land will ever see!