posted on June 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

a 24 carat stunner
released in 1984 or thereabouts
credited to this mortal coil
this was really the cocteau twins in disguise
the song written by tim buckley
who of course is jeffs dad
i never really grokked tim buckley
i tried but i could never really dig him
i prefer mortal coils version so much more than his
its a bare minimalistic performance
a chiming guitar like a bell at sea
elisabeth frazers (or is it elizabeth fraser?)mournful voice
her wonderful phrasing
the string thing playing in the background
truly conveys a sense of supernatural longing aching love loss
the sirens were creatures from the odyssey
with beautiful voices whose song was irresistible
they lured sailors to the island where they died upon the rocks….
of course
our hero odysseus wanted/needed to hear these songs for himself
his sailors stuffed their ears with beeswax
while odysseus
was tied to his ships mast so he can listen
my whole life i have wondered
what these terrible songs must have sounded like
what incredible words must they have sung to him
this song turns things around
it is a song TO the siren
rather than a song BY them
the odyssey metaphor is kept up through the song
with its marine lyrics
“the shipless oceans”
“as riddled as the tide”
“now my foolish boat is leaning”
and the song works on many levels of meaning
as all good songs should
including the ultra strange question
“were you hare when i was fox?”
all filled with such sad bewildered unfulfilled desire
“oh my heart, oh my heart shies from the sorrow”
this song captured me the first time i heard it 26 years ago
and it still holds me to this very day
bleak lonely desolate just like odysseus’ long journey home
sacred majestic magical stuff
the video on youtube is so so
youre better off to just hear it
and imagine the awful love which inspired this amazing piece
odysseus says :
“this was the sweet song the Sirens sang
and my heart was filled with such longing to listen
that i ordered my men to set me free, gesturing with my eyebrows
but they swung forward over their oars and rowed ahead
and they jumped up and tightened my ropes and added more…”
circe the witch who was odysseus’ lover warns :
“there is no homecoming for the man who draws near them unawares
and hears their voices
no welcome from his wife
no little children brightening at their fathers return…”
god how i would love to hear those songs

32 Responses to “sacred songs : song to the siren (this mortal coil)”

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