Happy new year friend!
This New Year brings us not only a new day, but a new decade. The places we have come from, the places we see out in front of us. We all try to be the one they think we should be. But we all just run, trying to find that ancient corridor… There are days that we get to look up, we get to smile and remember why we like winter.
I have always written about a single song in my posts. A song that I have found magic in, but this time I am writing about a broader work. “Bear’s Den” released this EP on December 6, 2019, titled, “Only Son of the Fallen Snow.” The title track was released a short time before the EP and I knew when I heard it, I would write about it, and then when I heard the other two, “The Star of Bethnal Green” and “Longhope”… I knew I would write about them too.
All three songs are treasures of magical wonder. I couldn’t just write about one or two, I had to explore, ponder and extrapolate the magic from all three. A feat, ladies and gentlemen, yet to be accomplished on this lullaby of prose and magic. But this is right and perfect, because this release from Bear’s Den is right and perfect… aw the magic. Kev and Davie, I thank you…
Welcome to the new decade, one hundred years beyond the roaring twenties. That was when my grandmother became a teenager and saw the flower that bloomed become a thorn. Later she became a mother and later her daughter brought me into this world. Edith was a woman who owned her own veil. She did what she wanted even if she had to try and hide it, very badly most of the time. But she was true to something deep within her own spirit that only she knew and loved. I remember the last time I saw her… it was not that long after Chet had passed, and she seemed a little lost. I don’t remember a single thing she said that day, except that she loved me… But I remember her calm readiness to get on with it. I remember so many things she said when I was a kid visiting their home at the foot of Mount Adams. Her laughter at how free I tried to be and her encouragement to run after that. She roared like one who grew up in the roaring twenties. She was so imperfect, but she was one of the best examples I will ever know of being the authentic you.
Oh, the man that I was
And the boy that I have become
When we grow up, we get to be responsible. In my experience we just get numb. The more mature we get the more we just don’t feel.
I’ve had a chance to chat with the man that I was and the boy that I have become.
Sometimes a song hits our ears just in that moment, like they knew we’d be here. I understand that music hits me in a different way than it does most. It is in this that I have found great joy. I am beginning to understand the who of me. I am beginning to let that kid, the one who laughed with Edith, at the most ridiculous things, see where we can go wandering.
I am different, I am unique. I hear the magic in a song, and I understand that it will only strike in that moment when my souls’ ears are ready to hear. I have embraced my gift in finding the magic in music. It makes me unique and gives me joy, over and over. If you can be moved and washed away by a song, let it take you where you need it to, and then drink.
This EP from Bear’s Den is just that, three songs that found me, listening, it found me ready to learn and then I grew from taking their magic in.
Only Son of the Fallen Snow
This song interrupted my daydreams. I was exploring who I was as a kid and trying to find what I buried back there. Through their magical lyrics they awoke in me a clear view of the boy that was and how it could take the place of the man I had been. I cannot profess expertise in how this song was written. But I can profess a deep gratitude in how it impacted me.
The magic of music should disrupt your norm, it should make you think, bring you joy, make you grow. and it might make you weep. Those are just a few of the traits that are part of the magic in music. Andrew Davie (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar) and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums, bass, guitar) have given us a treasure in this EP, they exposed a piece of their soul as they wrote these songs and they allowed the magic of music to take flight and bring those of us who were in that place, a chance to drink deep and be quenched…
This song couldn’t be simpler, musically. It’s truly a beautiful, sweet, wandering of sound. The horns, oh those beautiful, fallen snow of horns. They build something very subtle and beautiful when they work into the line about going wandering. The foundation of the drum, the constant of the acoustic guitar, the piano, just outside of your conscience ear, but carries the vocals, like a bridge walking from chorus to verse… The music of this song has made me weep.
I listened to a podcast about this EP and I heard a few things about what they poured into each of these songs. They talked about the place where their dog used to reside and the one whose eyes were deep water. They talked about the wine glass that fell. They talked about how long they have had this song, just waiting for that moment it fit.
You can wake up tomorrow and go to the gym, get ready for work, head out the door and then you are struck by a song. The one that marks a period in that day of your life and becomes a profound moment in time. A moment that you will be able to go back to each time you hear that song. This one will be one of those for me…and because I am who I am, it will take me back to thousands of places, because I let it.
It is kind of like a wave, when you stand out in the ocean, feeling the sand at your feet…then it washes over you and you can choose to dig your toes in or you can let it carry you away. The latter is scary but that is where you can find the magic, it only happens when you let it. This song took me wandering to so many places, and it brings me great joy, right now as I write this.
Edith was one of the places this wave took me, she ran down that same corridor as I did. She ran for joy and taught me how to do the same. Today, the boy that I have become can roll around in that joy and smile…
The Star of Bethnal Green
I know that there are many of you out there that have been caught by a song, you were caught and taken along a spiritual journey. It can happen in a wide variety of ways, driving in your car, sitting on a bus with music in your ears or just sitting and quietly listening. There are times when music can simply transport you and take you through a thought or emotion, it can ease a pain or bring it to bear for you to be challenged and learn from. If that isn’t spiritual, I don’t know what is.
The word spiritual means: “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” That very succinctly describes the magic in music that I seek out and consume. When you listen to this song you are given a beautiful example of the magic of music. I have listened to a musician pour their heart out on a stage and make me feel as though the heavens have opened and I am there all by myself, basking in the beauty of that song. I have seen an entire audience sing as one voice in response to a musician’s magical music and then be completely silent, their spirits soaking up the moment.
I have chased the idea of gods and religions for a large part of my life and it has taken great work for me to separate the constructs of manmade belief systems from the pure joy of letting your spirit soar. I experienced the joy of music through the first stages of my life in church and some of that music still holds magic for me today. In some simple way I heard that thought and that emotion written about in this song. Listening to the The Star of Bethnal Green gave me a space and a moment to let go of my struggle of detangling religion from spirituality and just fly.
“I hear the orchestra as I stand in awe
I felt so close to the Lord
I’ve tried my whole life to ignore”
I listened to this again today as I drove to work on a wintery northwest day. It is perfect that Bears Den launched this in winter and referred to it as a winter themed EP. So much of finding the magic in music relies on timing, are you open to it, do you have room for it, are you afraid of it? I can’t say exactly what Kev and Davie were thinking of when they wrote this, I heard their conversation about how this song started from a ditty on a piano, and when saved on their iPhone it was mistakenly geotagged for a pub a ways away and became this beautiful gift. They developed their own ideas and vision for this song. It is remarkable how something like this song can mean so much to so many different people. When Bear’s Den decided to produce a video they worked with Jake Graf, who found magic in it and made an immensely profound video that gave life to his experience of that magic. This song has the potential to move so many people and speak to them in the way that might need to be heard just at that moment. To write this, Kev and Davie, is an accomplishment of the highest art and your treatment of it after being entrusted with this is a brilliant example of a musicians love for their craft. Even the name of the song is magical, the mistaken geotag, I would say, is a beautiful happy accident.
This song also talks about someone who leads you…
Your hands guide mine over the braille
I felt each word without fail
It talks about someone who loves you. I let this song carry me through the writing of a letter, an idea that was sparked by the third song on this EP, but we’ll get to that later.
Over the last eighteen years I have been with my best friend, she is my Star of Bethnal Green, my wife. In her quiet, beguiling way. she sings to me, her own song of the who of her. And there have been so many times she has been the guide for my hand over the braille. This song forever, will bring her beautiful face to my eyes as I listen. That is the beauty of the magic in music.
This was the first song on the EP I wanted to figure out how to play. The opening of the acoustic guitar with that synth, pseudo organ echoing in the background and then that first verse… wow! I heard a bass line in this song the very first time I heard it. The song doesn’t have any emphasis on bass in its arrangement at all. Which doesn’t take anything away from this arrangement, it is musically one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in years. All I can say is that the first time I heard it; I heard a bass line. It made this song especially unique to me. It pulled its way into my soul and fed me. I’ll keep working on playing what I heard, I’m not there yet. But its such great magic….
Then the lyrics hit me, that happens a lot with me…a song will pull me in with its music and then days, weeks or even sometimes years later I hear what they are saying. Fortunately, this time it only took a few days.
Don’t leave her hanging around, she won’t wait there forever
Has a cat got your tongue?
Are words locked in your lungs?
Just breathe in and breathe out
This punched me, hard enough to write that letter I mentioned. In opening yourself to someone even after so many years, you might still need a gentle nudge. But if you have the chance, tell the one you love that you love them, however you do that, just tell them… I am so fortunate to have such a powerful strength in the one I share this life with, sometimes when I can’t see anything clear, she sees in the places that are so dark to me.
I chose not to leave her hanging around, so what I couldn’t say I wrote. Writing provides me a way of coming home. Which for me, means to be at ease, to express and bask… “Just breathe in and breathe out.” When I write I can be free and express what I would normally stumble through. Words get locked in my lungs, so I write. There is something truly liberating about laying your thoughts and feelings out in a way that you hope some will understand and writing that letter was just that, and so is writing this blog.
That night as we drove through the sleet and the snow
I think of all you’ve endured, please don’t let us fold
My wife and I have driven through the sleet and the snow and we did not fold, no matter what we endured. In fact, we are stronger. I know every one of us has a different story, we have all walked a path completely unique to us. But music is a constant, it is a magic that can transport us to whatever destination it has for us.
Do you let music transport you, can you lay back in its current and just drift, in the magic of the song? I get washed away; I always have…magical music does that to me.
I will ponder the weight of these lyrics for years to come. Each time I listen, I get a little something more from it. If I was to think of a word for what this song means to me, it would be balm. It just eases over me, then it flows into me. Sometimes…you can even fly. _____________________________________________________
I have listened to these guys since I heard “Above the Clouds of Pompeii”. I have explored them; I recommend you do the same. Their catalogue takes you wandering through some seriously magical corridors. Hopefully they continue to pursue that magic, so we can hear from them over and over.
These three songs are an abundant gift of magic, it is remarkable to think about how young Davie and Kev are. They have an incredible gift that shines through their music. My hope is that they keep listening to whatever their source is and keep being incredibly honest with the artist within themselves. We will all be richer for it.
I am going wander off now, I’m going wandering, down those ancient corridors and maybe I will see Edith and she’ll laugh at the little boy she used to see and shoosh me on my way. Oh, the man that I was and the boy I have become…
I will keep working out that bass line, its close…
Listening, learning and growing