Song: Sea in June


I've posted a new recording of a song of mine called 'Sea in June' on MySpace; it will play first as you enter the website www.myspace.com/rossmusician . 'Sea in June' has been recently re-recorded (its third incarnation!) featuring my dear friend Brigette on lead vocal. The song was recorded and engineered by Stewart Havill at his Sound Dog Recording Studios at Lane Cove in Sydney.

I haven't written a 'proper' song in a long while - mainly because I've moved and evolved onto other things both musically and creatively; songwriting doesn't interest me anymore though that can always change. This song, 'Sea in June', is my personal favourite of the songs I've written and the one piece I'm genuinely proud of. I like the other songs too though ‘Sea in June’ holds special credence for me. It's a gentle piece that pretty much sums up everything I ever want or need to say in two verses and chorus.
Here are the lyrics to 'Sea in June' © Ross B 2006, that was written in September 1996...

Bondi in June the wind is cold
and wrapped around my lilting fingers
and the tide has come to rise
it comes to claim its source again this evening

staring out to sea
sweeps its power back to me
it's the mirror of my dreams
this is all I want to be

When dreams are lost they rise and fall
and fade along with those who dream them
as the winners catch their breath
they watch the tide that comes along to claim them

staring out to sea
old art deco balcony
it's the window of my dreams
this is all I want to be
this is all I want to be

'Sea in June' was written under pressured circumstances because I needed to come up with a song to go onto a duo project. As the pressure was on I had the hint of what I wanted....this song is musically (and lyrically) influenced by what I was listening to at the time, and that is primarily Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left and in particular the finale off that album 'Saturday Sun', and, Adiemus Songs of Sanctuary. Songs of Sanctuary is akin to a modern "world music" adaptation of a tradional European requiem mass. The singing utilises no words as such, moreso phrases that fit in with the emotion and the sound. It sounds like Pacific Island music melded into a more traditional format and is replete with wonderful melodies and harmonic movements.

This version of 'Sea in June' features the second chorus doubled over to enhance the effect. It commences with finger-picked acoustic guitar and Brigette's vocal. The second verse has the add-on of piano to provide a 'washy' bed of sound behind the acoustic guitar. And in the last verse I've added a pipe-organ (or an approximation thereof...it was the best Stewy and I could find in the time we had) featuring a descant to Brigette's vocal. After mastering I was concerned that I didn't spend enough time producing and mixing the organ, concerned that it sounds a bit clamorous there in the mix. But as it is, I'm very pleased with the effect. I wanted a "white spiritual sound" akin to the Brian Wilson's Smile-session declarations. This is very much a white-spiritual sound - a prayer to life and God.

'Sea in June' was written very quickly. There's something melancolically romantic about being in the Southern Hemisphere during winter, we suffer it alone in a way. In winter the beaches here on the eastern seaborn darken quickly and there is almost a whiff of an antarctic feel encroaching on our antipodean seaboard expanse during those few weeks encircling the solstice, 22 June. Bondi, Sydney, is where the song is set; I have vivid memories of Bondi, partly because I've lived near there on and off for much of my life (and still do) and it's where I used to go a lot as a child to play with my cousins. My wonderful sister Elida, told me that one of the things she likes about 'Sea in June' is that it reminds her of the time our family was living in Bondi Beach - I was two and she was 16; she remembers that wintertime during her final year of school in 1972, carrying me around the beach in those cool sunset afternoons. Bondi is an incredibly alluring place - hence it remains the focal point of the song though the message is universal to any sea or shore line.

Musically the song meanders through many chord changes and modulations settling into the more temperate "crowdie" (of the 'house' variety) chorus. It sounds like an eastern seaboard song in the wintertime, in mood and flavour.

Lyrically....let's break it down...

Bondi in June the wind is cold
and wrapped around my lilting fingers
and the tide has come to rise
it comes to claim its source again this evening


what is the tide, and what is the "source"?? The tide of course is the continual tide of circumstances arising to claim those who've created the tide in the first place, as one reaps one sows, all that come from the earth go back into it, hence the neverending moving of the tide atop the sea that rests eternal.

staring out to sea
sweeps its power back to me
it's the mirror of my dreams
this is all I want to be


I want to be this eternality, this rest, this vastness, this peace, the sea mirrors this 'dream' of what I wish to be.

When dreams are lost they rise and fall
and fade along with those who dream them


what a sad couplet! The dreams we hold will fade along with the generations that dreamt them, all lie awash in that vast sea of time and past.

as the winners catch their breath
they watch the tide that comes along to claim them


curiously, in a cartoon-caricature way, I had Nick Drake and John Lennon in mind's eye over these lines. Lennon and Drake didn't know each other, but I had this vision of looking over Bondi Beach from the north side and imagining Nick Drake passing away in 1974. John Lennon may have breathed a sigh of relief and glee that it wasn't him, but as soon as the clock struck his number at the time of 8 December 1980, the tide had claimed him too, as it will all people, when their eras have passed.

I add a bit of backing vocal in that "claim" line too ;)

staring out to sea
old art deco balcony
it's the window of my dreams
this is all I want to be
this is all I want to be


and there I am, observing from my balcony overlooking Bondi Beach knowing well-too that I am an organic participant in this timeless and universal flow we are all involved and share in.

Elida my sister compared the song to a zen koan, that's very nice, though that's also related to the music as it twists and turns and modulates around with the lyrics.

I read in an interview recently of Steve Kilbey's that the song 'June' from the Church's 2003 album Forget Yourself is about the wintertime in the southern hemisphere...I was a bit miffed!! I thought..hey, that was my idea!! :)

'Sea in June' was written at a time of great change in my life - in hindsight vast opportunities opened within and without and at crucial points I stamped on them, causing me years of regret and sorrow. Live and learn of course. This was September 1996 and I will post a blog related to that soon.

I believe that every human being on the planet should lift up their palm and declare - this is special to me. It may be a stone, a poem, jewellry, a song, a photo, a piece of the earth, or any such thing that is directly from the heart and a place of love. 'Sea in June' is my such opus; this is my one creation I genuinely love with pure heart and soul. I will blog other songs often as matter of rote but none shall compare to this, they will merely be songs. This is from the depths of my soul. I am privileged to share it with you.

God bless, Ross

Comments

Lian said…
"I believe that every human being on the planet should lift up their palm and declare - this is special to me. It may be a stone, a poem, jewellry, a song, a photo, a piece of the earth, or any such thing that is directly from the heart and a place of love".

I especially like this line, ross. well said.
Anonymous said…
Great stuff, as always Ross, just lovely. I love how the song is quite melancholy and sad and yet, I feel that there is an underlying optimism about it - it kind of reminds me of the great French chansons like 'Complainte de la Butte', 'Ne me quitte pas', 'Les feuilles mortes'...despite all the crap and broken dreams, it seems 'This is all I want to be'. And Brigette's vocals are just flawless. I'm so sad I didn't meet her while I was in Oz. Hopefully next time...

Take care and keep writin'
The Knitting Songbird
Ross B said…
Thanks Lian, I do believe that all of us have something special to offer, sometimes it's just a smile and givingness of being. I'm starting to realise the more I open up myself the more fulfilling my life is.

Knitting Songbird, yes you're right, I think the song has that underlying optimism despite its apparent sadness and melancholy. You know, we are all in the same boat here - and this message is directed, from Sydney Australia, to Seoul in Korea and Zabreg in Crotia!

Happy days to all, Ross

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