Filtering by Tag: greek mythology

The Voices Of The Sirens

Sunday is here again, and that means that it’s time for a new post.

It’s been a while since I wrote about the album I’m recording, Songs Of Fear & Agony. The last time I mentioned it, I was working on 11 songs...

Well, I recently decided to record only 10. Here’s the updated tracklist:

 

1. Pandora

2. The Books Of Hell

3. The Voice Of The Goddess

4.  Fear & Agony

5. Prometheus

6. The Concept Of Tragedy

7. It Feels Like The Apocalypse

8. Sisyphus

9. The Voices Of The Sirens

10. The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel

 

The Dream Of Veronique, the missing song, will be added to another series of track, but I’ll talk about that later in the future. 

Now, there are only 3 songs I haven’t told you about: It Feels Like The Apocalypse, The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel and the one I’m about to discuss: The Voices Of The Sirens.

 

First of all, the lyrics: 

 

A dull pain in your chest exhales

A thousand sighs you left unsung.

Remorse runs smoothly in your blood,

But it won’t soothe your torpid heart.


The sirens laugh and call you again.

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


Now perfume violates your brain

With secrets you have always known.

Delight reveals his garden waits

Beyond the lies you haven’t told.


The sirens laugh and call you again:

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


And you crave the imprudence of their skin.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t know?


And you crave the acceptance of their breath.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t need?


You close your eyes, you close your ears

And mouth five-hundred-year old words.

“Appease your troubled heart”, you sing,

While wondering when your heart will blow.


The sirens laugh and call you again:

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


And you crave the imprudence of their skin.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t know?


And you crave the acceptance of their breath.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t need?


And you crave the virtue of their eyes.

But what’s the point in craving

What you can’t see?


And you crave the inflection of their hearts.

But what’s the point in craving

What you can’t hear?

 

If you have read my previous posts, you certainly know that I’m about to talk about one thing in particular: themes.

I’ve always thought of The Voices Of The Sirens as a very straightforward song, but maybe that’s because... Well, I wrote it! If the most superficial concept behind it is not clear enough, I’ll reveal it for you: sexual attraction. At least, that’s what I had in mind when I was writing it.

I probably chose to write about this particular topic because of a song I really love. It’s called ‘Le Passanti’, and it was written by one of the most important Italian Singer-Songwriters ever, Fabrizio De André. To be more precise, ‘Le Passanti’ is basically the Italian version of ‘Les Passants’ by George Brassens, which in turn was based on a poem by Antoine François Pol. Anyway, the song in question is about a man who remembers a series of women he happened to see in his life but never really approached (I’m oversimplifying, so check it out if you’re interested!). It’s a beautifully written song about memories and possibilities, and I thought it would be a good starting point for my own lyrics.

Although the concept is similar, The Voices Of The Sirens is something else. The attraction generated by the sirens doesn’t turn into a melancholically pleasent memory. On the contrary, it soon fades out leaving behind just a cold logical series of questions.

But how can that be? How can a sexual impulse be stopped so abruptly?

The answer and the real theme of the song is: depression.

I think it’s clear now that this is not only one of the most important themes of this song: It’s also one the most important themes of the entire album!

Here we go again...

 

Thanks for reading! 

  

The Siren Vase, Attributed to The Siren Painter, About 480 - 470 BC

The Siren Vase, Attributed to The Siren Painter, About 480 - 470 BC

Sisyphus

‘The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labour.’

The Myth Of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

In my previous posts, I wrote about the themes of two of the songs I’m recording: ‘Pandora’ and ‘Prometheus’. What I didn’t say is that they’re part of a trilogy of songs inspired by Greek mythology, the third one being ‘Sisyphus’.

As I already explained, ‘Pandora’ is about depression, and in the lyrics, I focused my attention on the ‘misdeed’ (the cause).

‘Prometheus’, on the other hand, is about pain (the effect).

Now, ‘Sisyphus’ is a bit different because it’s not directly connected to the other two. It is about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and it’s much more ironic (but not lighthearted).

It begins like this:

I always tried to fail.

I always failed to try.

I tried to find some symmetry.

I failed to mention why.

My mind's a perfect sphere,

A tidy globe of theories,

Smooth and abstract,

Real and compact,

Overpacked with queries.

Instead of writing about the ‘misdeed’ or the ‘punishment’, the cause and the effect, I decided to write about ‘the absurd’, a concept that in my opinion can be easily connected to OCD. 

Thanks for reading! 

Sisyphus, Titian, 1548 - 1549

Sisyphus, Titian, 1548 - 1549

Prometheus

‘Prometheus’ is the name of one of the 11 songs I’m recording.

It begins like this:

As life begins to slow,

I sense your impotent gaze on me.

Sure, everything's fine!

I’m just chained up to my first act.

I think the connection with ‘Pandora’, the song I wrote about last week, is clear enough. These two myths have always been associated for various reasons, the most important being their narrative structure. We could call it ‘Misdeed & Punishment’.

Here’s an extract from one of my favourite Greek tragedies:

‘PROMETHEUS

'Tis for this, in truth, that I am bent by sufferings such as these, agonizing to endure, and piteous to look upon. I that had compassion for mortals, have myself been deemed unworthy to obtain this, but mercilessly am thus coerced to order, a spectacle inglorious to Jupiter.’

Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus (Attributed to)

In my song there are no gods: the ‘titanic’ act becomes automatically the punishment. And, of course, the punishment is the pain (mental and/or physical).

Thanks for reading! 

Gnathian Bell Krater, Attributed to Konnakis Painter, about 360 - 350 B.C.

Gnathian Bell Krater, Attributed to Konnakis Painter, about 360 - 350 B.C.

Pandora

The statue below, which can be found in the Victoria And Albert Museum, London, was made by John Gibson, a Welsh Neoclassical sculptor who worked in Rome during the first half of the 19th century.

It represents Pandora, the first woman created by the gods in Greek mythology, and the ‘box’ (which should be a jar, but that’s another topic) containing all the evils of the world.

Now, the first song I wrote for ‘Songs Of Fear And Agony’ is called ‘Pandora’. It’s not just the first one I wrote, though: it’s also the opening track.

It begins with these lines:

Our words dissolve in fear.

As a stray groan

Betrays the offence:

Someone has unsealed

And hollowed out

The universe.

The ‘someone’ I’m talking about here is meant to be Pandora, while ‘the universe’ is meant to be her box (if you think about it, I’m afraid you’ll discover the foundation of this song to be pretty pessimistic).

When I wrote these first lines, it was clear in my head that that ‘someone’, that ‘Pandora’, was none other than me (me as the person who’s uttering the words), and the box my head.

I soon discovered that this song (for me) was about depression.

Thanks for reading!

Pandora, John Gibson, c. 1860

Pandora, John Gibson, c. 1860

© Black Art 2019