Allow

Breathe. Listen. Feel. Watch.

Allow.

After the events of the last few months, tonight, just sitting and being open to music, feels like a luxury.

Working, talking, rushing. These things are sometimes a balm, sometimes a burden. So I’m setting aside unfinished work—unfinished thoughts even—to simply listen. To allow the soothing guitar lines of Merlin and the Fox to wash over me. To let the voice of Francesca Baines draw me away from this desk, away, away . . .

Woods rise up in my mind along with a memory of Joni Mitchell, and further back now, Annie Haslam. The walking pace of the guitar takes me back to a pre ironic time, where I discover  a lovely voice I’ve never heard. The voice of a Siren from Kinsale, Ireland.

Suddenly, as I listen and write, as I stop worrying about who’s reading, and allow the song to open me up, tears form in my eyes, and I realize just how generous the artists who contribute their music to this blog really are. Offering us their work, song after song, because they want us to hear it. Because they want to give us what they love. Because they must make music, and unless shared, music is not complete.

Francesca

He dwells in the forest with the sleeping owl 
The infants of his oak crack on the ground 
The distant cry of a horn turns to a nearing howl 
Approaching are the huntsmen and their hounds

The fox I feel him falter, wild-eyed and panting fast 
Together we’ll be surefooted let us be calm 
And turn our gaze to the grandfather trees that open out their boughs 
To the outlaws, to the travelers seeking alms

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

My path it strays in the maze to the line of men holding their guns 
I fight my flighting urge to turn and run 
And offer them my heart ‘though their foe is more my friend 
We greet each other in a foreign tongue

Cloak him in the scent of heather and the stirring leaves 
Soothe his shaking body still as stone 
Shroud his beating heart in the lichen and the moss 
‘Till fur and the forest become one

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

And Merlin you were near as the shots ran out so clear 
As I held a glowing acorn in my hand 
Like a bullet how it shone, like the eyes of your feathered one 
That left a tawny token where I did stand

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child

Restez toujour un âme sauvage 
Ne les laissez pas vous apprivoiser

From Vela, released 21 October 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, guitar, whispering forest
Bruno Hollemaert: accordion

Francesca Baines says:

Merlin & the Fox was written whilst walking in the enchanted forests of Broceliande in Brittany, home of the Arthurian stories. I was looking for the tomb of Merlin when I could hear a fox hunt happening. I started singing a song of protection for the fox and was reminded of one of Merlin’s stories; how he grew up wild and nurtured by the forest itself, and how Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, entrapped him by encircling him in a silken bind, in which he was invisibly tied to her for life. She trained him in spellcraft and gave him many powers, and yet he was a wild man enslaved. Sadly on this day, as I regarded a bright acorn, I could hear the gun shots of the distant hunters. And as I felt the shock of a dead fox, an owl feather fell to the ground – the bird associated with this fine wizard. So this song is for the wild and the untamed.
Working on the song in Foix at the foot of the Pyrenees, I stayed with a man, Paulin, who told me his experience of walking with a Mongolian shaman woman, who sang in clicks, buzzes and hums. By accentuating the consonants within the lyrics and merging the voice with recordings of woodland walks I have endeavored to evoke the elemental nature of a witch’s intonements to echo the aliveness of these whispering forests. French accordionist Bruno Hollemaert brought so much depth of feeling to this song written on guitar and voice.”

 

4 responses to “Allow

    • I agree, Catherine. Merlin and the Fox is a very special song.

      Thank you so much for introducing Francesca Baines to Sirenstories, and for making me aware of her. She is a marvelous addition to the group!

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