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To you, perceptive reader…

20 June, 2010 Leave a comment

The first of the new batch of lyrics was inspired by, although it is not based upon, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I have not read a vampire novel which grasped my imagination like this since reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I say vampire novel, I’m not sure it falls into that genre as neatly as those two words suggest. This is no pulp fiction gothic slasher instead preferring to draw vast portraits across the reader’s imagination of the Balkan states during both their 15th century grandeur and more recent decline into communist states.

The Historian cover art.

The cover artwork for the 2006 edition of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian

I have avoided the easy option of writing a vampire song, preferring instead to think of the Order of the Dragon and that of the Janissaries created to oppose them. I saw this as an opportunity to write of the burden placed on individuals by the decisions of past generations. Kostova herself states:

Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history.

While I wrote initially from the point of the Western, Christian, Order of the Dragon I was compelled to include a verse from the Qur’an which is included in the book and, to my mind, portrays the attitude of all religions.

Those who do not believe
And die while they are unbelievers
On them falls the curse of Allah,
Of Angels and of men

This may well end up as being my first ‘voice-over’ on a song as I think it may be spoken over the middle eight, we’ll see.

The book has not only spawned this lyric (and possibly a second, slightly darker, sibling) but it has drawn me back to history as a subject, one I have delved into heavily over the years and am now enjoying again with a rediscovered vigour. Expect some historical epics on a grand scale then!

To quote Kostova one last time:

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

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Are you sitting comfortably?

19 June, 2010 Leave a comment

Then we’ll begin…

The point is, I’m not sure where to start? Should I labour the point about the original lyrics? Should I take you back to where (when) this all began? I think not. Going back the last few months should suffice, to the point where the preparations for this year’s crusade were started.

Before I take you back to the start of 2010 I would like, if I may, to reveal to you the goings on of the last few weeks and then, perhaps, the reason for this ‘blog will become a little clearer.

I am currently on a course, not a journey unfortunately, an educational course which is a prerequisite for the role I am to fulfil in Afghanistan. Now, bearing in mind the fact that on returning from Helmand Province the last time I began my studies toward an IT degree which has now been successfully completed, I would like you to put yourself in my shoes (Converse, if you must know) when confronted with the following introduction to a lesson:

The lights on the front panel of the laptop indicate the following:

  1. Solid Green – The battery is fully charged and power is being supplied
  2. Amber – The battery is charging and power is being supplied
  3. Red – 9% or less of the battery remain

Needless to say my mind has wandered for much of the intervening two and a half weeks and will, more than likely, wander for the remaining week or so.

One benefit of the level at which the course is targeted has been the amount of time I’ve had available for reading, and writing. I started the course having read a couple of chapters of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian, a book I can heartily recommend to anyone who has a predilection for horror, vampires, history or simply a well written story. Needless to say the book has not lasted long, it has however rekindled my interest in all things historical. In fact I have spent much of my time in the evenings studying 15th century Balkan history which led to Ottoman history, hence to the Byzantine period and finally, for now, Eastern and Western Roman Empirical history.

In addition to the historical interests it has sparked a bout of lyric writing the likes of which I’ve not experienced since the first five or six songs appeared in as many days. I have found myself writing complete lyrics in a little over two hours, something which in the past has resulted in (to my mind at least) some of the best, most cohesive, lyrical content I have written.

So far I have scribbled on such topics as Drakulya, the futility of history as a teacher, I’ve even managed to revisit previously incomplete songs relating to Dorian Gray and childhood fear of the dark and I am now veering off in the direction of Roman Legions and Holy Crusades.

And that is where we are for now.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey.