Story of the Song – Song of Awen
I was watching a new documentary on Apple TV+ last night called Becoming You – all about what changes during the first 2000 days of human life. It’s a fabulous show and thoroughly recommended. As they looked at the psychology of growing children one of the things they looked at was childhood obsessions and how, for some time, it looks like the child has found their life-long interest, but then suddenly it’s gone, and they onto the Next Big Thing.
When I found my life-long obsession it never left me. It was music. I fell in love at a very young age and then badgered my parents for a guitar until I got one when I was 8. They were right to hold off. My hands weren’t really big enough to play the guitar, and I found playing the G chord so frustrating that I almost gave up a number of times. But I persevered.
Why am I telling you this?
Sometimes, when we have dreams, we can be paralysed with a fear that they won’t come true. Sometimes it can feel better that the dream remains a dream, rather than trying and failing. I had a dream to make music my job. I’d had that dream all my life, but like many people, I’d fallen into that trap of being happy to just have the dream. When I look back there are two distinct moments when my dream of becoming a professional musician overtook my fear and writing the Song of Awen was the first of the two (I’ll tell the second another time).
It was the first song I wrote specifically for the album that would become Herne’s Apprentice. I had always been a huge fan of John Denver. His lyrics about his love of the natural world made my own heart sing, and I guess with Song of Awen I was trying to somehow emulate that but through the eyes of a Pagan.
What I wanted the lyrics to say was that Deity/Spirit show their form through the wonders of Nature. From the sun on the mountaintop to the song of the wind through trees, the leaping salmon, and the first breath of a new-born child. And with that comes the knowledge, the deep, deep knowledge, that we aren’t separate from Nature, but a part of it. That the same Spirit flows through all life, from the obvious mammals, fish and birds, to the very rocks, stones, and weather, and out into the further Universe.
There is no separation, you are part of me…
The song opened the door to what would be my first album, and was also the very first chords many would hear from this bloke called Damh the Bard. I recorded the album in a tiny room at the front of our house and when it came out there was no real internet, just Pagan magazines. So I sent it for review, holding my breath, and the reviews were very positive, and thus that dreamt-of musical career began to take root. The Song of Awen still has a very dear place in my heart, and hearing an audience join me for ‘your Spirit will fllllyyyyyyy’ is a joy.
I’m very much looking forward to the time I can hear you all sing again!