New blog! Episode one includes immersive songwriting, Voices of Iraq and the Prophet Jonah

At home researching


Salutations from Devon! Welcome to my new blog I hope this will be the beginning of a shared journey into aspects of the creative process, a look at sources of inspiration and an adventure in music, history, literature and the great outdoors..I hope for whoever is curious it will be an interesting, heartfelt and free addition to my creative endeavours.

Late summer is beautiful here and a few days ago I had the luxury of an afternoon off by the River Teign swimming and writing..the cold water certainly sharpens the wits.

River Teign at Fingle Bridge, Devon


This week I’ve been working on a new song; working title ‘Reconciled.’ It is a song dedicated to the persecuted minorities of Iraq, especially around the theme of the fall of Mosul and the flight from the Nineveh Plains of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities fleeing from Isis. This project came about after Mike Simpson CEO of The Foundation For Relief and Reconciliation In The Middle East caught Lukas and I on tour earlier this year. Mike invited us to perform at their Physics & Faith fund-raising event in London (24/09) alongside guest speakers Professor Jim Al-Khalili (BBC Radio 4) and Fr Faez Jirjees of St.Georges, Baghdad. Mike and I discussed the idea of me composing a song and the timing of this was fortuitous as I have felt myself being to drawn to write more on humanitarian and contemporary socio-political themes for future releases.

Performing at St.Ethelburga’s, London

I adopted a more *immersive, journalistic approach to writing this song and after watching the charity’s ‘Voices Of Iraq’ documentary I consumed dozens of articles, news items and you tube videos on the subject; I was moved to tears witnessing what these people have lived through and what they have lost. Rather than my personal perspective the song attempts a more authentic perspective from within the story and constantly raised the question for me ‘does it ring true?’ Alongside the usual mid-song existential doubt of ‘Is this just crap?’ I have used religious, historical and geographical elements that I was unaware of before looking into the subject and a lot of the story comes from words I have heard expressed in one form or another in first hand accounts. * A point to add here is I am also really interested in history and as well as visiting historical sites when on tour I have adopted before an approach of choosing an era/historical figure and trying to get a deeper sense for the whole milieu and cultural context surrounding them, seeing how much can I bring that figure to life in my imagination. As well as reading books and related individuals biographies also absorbing work by composers, painters etc of the time… more on this later..

‘Jonah and the Whale’ – Folio from a Jami al-Tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles), ca. 1400

The figure of the Prophet Jonah really stood out in my imagination as a symbol to place within the song that has a few layers and associations.
Jonah 1:2 God said to Jonah ‘Arise, go to Nineveh!’
The Tomb of Jonah at Naba Yunus Mosque, Nineveh was a site sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. It was destroyed by Isis on July 24th 2014. The name Jonah means ‘dove’

Below is the first draft of the song lyrics and I promise to share the recording when we have it. In the meantime I invite you to look into this subject further, check out the good work of this charity. It was moving to play this for the first time at St.Ethelburga’s Centre For Reconciliation & Peace .

Reconciled

I left with just the clothes I wear
The shadows and the scars I bear
In the vacuum left by war
We slept in blankets on the floor

The summer of ’14
Was like the devil’s dream
After Mosul fell
Life became a living hell

They burned and looted and defiled
How can it be reconciled?


I am not the enemy
My faith I followed peacefully
Now in the rubble and the dust
I don’t know who to trust


Are my people free?
To live with grace and dignity
The spark in you is the spark in me
The spark that lives inside my child
How can it be reconciled?


(Instrumental)
Arise and go to Nineveh
Arise and go to Nineveh
The bell once more it chimes
We’ve known these lands since ancient times
Lived beneath these northern skies
On the soil where Jonah lies
From Mosul to Basrah
Sinjar to Sulaymaniyah
Let us talk, let us shake hands
May peace be in these lands
I dreamed of a snow white dove
My God is a God of love
It lay with wounded wings
Who knows what tomorrow brings
A rainbow in a broken sky
A seed is buried yet it does not die

Thanks for reading my first blog, drop me a comment, let me know your thoughts as it will be lonely and insular path ahead if it is just myself reading it..

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