Pretty flowers bloom in night skies

And at season’s end, so they must die

Never to breathe their song again

Nor sing their charms and wishes

Never to live the love that they were

 Always eternal requiem…


I see the flowers floundering

Watching their petals drop in pain

Hear their heartbeat run with mine

Heart them dance to the war hero’s march tune

We shall celebrate their art once more

 Always eternal requiem…


And as people match and separate

In tact they leave their stamp of hate

Love is forgotten in the ashes of war

And that’s when I blacken my face once more

And walk the lonely crematory fields

 Always eternal requiem…


To congregate and meditate

In shadeless stony fields of slate

The distant sound of hazy cathedral bells

A clear reminder of your own private hell

The lowest phase of a star once known

 Always etermal requiem…

 Words & Music Copyright Ross B c.1990.1997.2006.

I've uploaded a new song onto my MySpace page, ‘Requiem’.  Well, it's not exactly a new song.  ‘Requiem’ dates back to 1990 and is the one notable example of my earlier better efforts at songwriting.  The lyrical 'Requiem' was inspired by the poems of Wilfred Owen, and the writings of J. Krishnamurti.  Musically it's influenced by both the Beatles 'Eleanor Rigby' and, more obliquely, Suzanne Vega's first album. For example, in reference to the Beatles, the C6 chord I use that plays off the incessant E-minor is a direct descendant of 'Eleanor Rigby' and that particular style of music.  I gave the song its trademark fingerpicking pattern six years down the track, in 1996, when I was learning acoustic fingerpicking guitar from a tutorial book.  At this time I’d recently discovered Nick Drake, in November 1995, and wanted to play like him although I never quite got to that level of playing.  Partly it's because I've always had this aversion to alternative tunings.  I much prefer the homeliness and sanctity of the standard EADGBE tuning where I don’t have to concern myself with unfamiliar fingerings.  This means I’ll never play like Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell, for that matter.  Oh well.

The chorus of 'Requiem' – “always eternal requiem” - is taken from the traditional Requiem mass that had been set to some of the most sublime music ever by masters such as Mozart and Gabriel Faure.  In particular, Faure's Requiem that dates back to the turn of the 20th century remains a musical masterpiece of the most sublime, stirring and transcendent nature.  I loved singing these masterworks in the University choir when I was active with that, around 1989-1990.  That lyrical phrase of "always eternal Requiem" stuck with me and this song and its influence is built around that.  ‘Requiem’ carries with it a maudlin, elegiac, “British” feel that would find itself sitting comfortably in any period of the 20th century.  I wrote the song a long time before I’d heard of Nick Drake either.

‘Requiem’ builds up from its gentle introduction throughout the course of the song.  The build-up leads into the instrumental section that features a Nick Drake “Pink Moon” style piano phrase that juxtaposes with the melody-line performed by the strings.  I like the effect of how these two melody lines work alongside each other, a bit like the drawing of the vase, or is it two faces?  As a polyphonic exercise it works well, and as a listener you can only really concentrate on one line or the other.  I mixed this section so that neither the piano-line nor the strings would stand out from each other.

The song was recorded by my duo Candlewood in 1997.  Whilst this version is way less rushed, the original Candlewood version has somewhat more verve and “soul” to it.

I should perform 'Requiem' live more often, along with my other gentler songs.  These songs usually take a back seat to the more aggressive, Paul Weller-style material.  I always get a great reception with the performance of 'Requiem' and yet I invariably shy away from playing it.  The song requires practice and is quite a difficult song to perform well.  The delicate vocal needs to be perfectly in tune and demands total sobriety and concentration, these being not the sort of things that are mainstays of local pub culture.

Enjoy!  It’s a bundle of laughs, really…


Alana said…
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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