Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Once Upon a Winter Eve

I finally got around to making a "sampler" video for the album I released last winter, "Once Upon a Winter Eve."  While putting this together, I was reminded of how much fun I had creating this album.  While it isn't technically a Christmas album, there are elements of wintery magic, anticipation, a hint of darkness, and even a little adventure.

Far Away
This is a sweeping landscape type of song, with adventure, grand beauty, and even a little yearning for simple goodness.  As you may have guessed, I was completely inspired by Tolkien's world of rolling green hills, snow-capped mountains, and very important missions.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Frost Arrives
While creating this song I envisioned Jack Frost and possibly a team of ethereal winter fairies lacing the trees with ice, breathing frost on the window panes, and stuffing the clouds with flurries.

from Fantasia

The Night Before

Many have said that this song sounds "Burtonesque," although technically that would be "Elfmanesque."  While I certainly consider Burton and Elfman influential in some of my work, this song was more inspired by "The Nutcracker Suite" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Following a Star
Hope, magic, enchantment... peace, contentment, and beauty in knowing you have something to follow, even if it seems far away.

Candlestick Waltz
For this song I imagined a curious little girl wandering around in her nightgown in the middle of the night, in search of something magical.  She walks into another place and time, a grand ballroom full of dancers who may or may not be ghosts.  They immediately bring her into the dance and she is a part of their waltz and their world.

New Snow
This is actually a revised version of "First Snow" from "The World Beyond."  I loved creating the first version and I really wanted to add more.  When I created "First Snow," I envisioned (here is a shocker) a blanket of snow on the ground, undoubtedly the first snow of the season.  Kids are playing, a little girl in a red coat is taking on two little boys in a snowball war in the front yard of an old church.  Everything is fresh and sparkling, litter on the streets covered, barren twigs glisten with a coat of glass.  "New Snow" is slightly more contemplative than "First Snow."  Instead of being out in the wondrous winterland, the perspective is from the inside looking out the window.   There is hope and enchantment along with some darker, more complex elements.

Inspired by O. Henry's "A Gift of the Magi," one of the most memorable Christmas stories in my opinion.  

Frozen Rain
Originally I wanted to simply call this "Frozen," but I did not want to duplicate a popular (or relatively popular) title by Madonna.  It is really hard for me to describe this song, I would have to say it is different from most of the other songs on the album.  Not only is the style a bit different, but the theme and inspiration is more modern.  Most of my songs are inspired by a time in the past, "Frozen Rain" is inspired by the present and the need to preserve moments in time.

Once Upon a Winter Eve
Burton's Sleepy Hollow
Some of my fondest memories involve being at my grandparent's house out in the country.  It was an old farm house in the middle of 200 acres of trees, so a roaring fire and power outages were quite common in the winter.  They had a "fancy" wood stove in the living room, but we always preferred the fireplace in the kitchen/den where we could all gather around (and be near Grandma's food).  My dad and grandfather would take turns telling ghost stories and getting us way too scared to sleep that night.


Inspired by my own natural spooky tendencies, along with Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and of course, Edgar Allan Poe's "Haunted Palace," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Masque of..." okay, basically Poe in general.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before...
from "The Raven"

This song was directly inspired by Tolkien's "All That is Gold Does Not Glitter."  In fact, you can sing along...

All that is gold does not glitter,  
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Here is where I have to admit my total enthrallment with Arthurian legend and the sappy romance of it all.

The Lady of Shalott by John Williams Waterhouse

Stories by Firelight see Once Upon a Winter Eve

This song makes me cry, thanks (again) to Tolkien...  sing along...

JRR Tolkien
I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies

in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,

with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.  

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

"Bilbo's Last Song" or "I Sit Beside the Fire and Think"
by J.R.R. Tolkien