Polymorphia - Down, Vain Light (San Francisco, USA)

from LOVE OR FREEDOM - songs around the world by Diana Rosalind

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about

The basis of this song comes from the 9 bar cyclical progression established by Jake's bass line and the asymmetry of which gives the song its unusual shape. Always a fan of 6/8 time, this is an early example of my songs in that meter.

The amazing dissonant guitar solo in the middle was the result of Anthony snapping a crucial string just when he launched into it. In analogue days, when tape was rolling, you really made an effort not to stop! As he was both a brilliant technical player and a true sonic artist, Anthony just continued, working with the limitation and bending what notes were left to create what I consider to be a total masterpiece. There was some talk of redoing the solo with all six guitar strings intact but I said NO WAY. I still think it is totally perfect and never get tired of listening to it, though I must have heard it a thousand times by now.

In a case of art imitating art imitating art, I was inspired to write this song after reading Philip K. Dick's book "The Divine Invasion" featuring a pop star in the distant future who reworked songs by 15th Century composer John Dowland. This made me look into Dowland's music, the melancholic nature of which really matched me as a moody 20-something. I particularly loved the suicidally depressing, yet beautiful, lyrics to "Flow my Tears", one of Dowland's best known compositions. Down Vain Light is essentially a new setting and adaptation of those words, with some changes and additions.

The reference to Dahlia, which I added, is not meant to be about the flower but rather an invocation of my Jamaican grandmother, who I never had the chance to meet, and whose name that was. I am told she had a beautiful singing voice.

lyrics

Down, Vain Light (after John Dowland)

sweeter to die, oh than have this waiting
this waiting for the night to take me from the light
and leave me sleeping
ah sweeter to be away nowhere
down, vain light!
shine you no no more no more no more
ah! sweeter than dahlias to have no name
no time, no - world to go on living in, light to keep me seeing
the shame of living in a world without love
down! shine you no more
vain light, shine you no more
no night is dark enough
for we whose souls despair of living joyless

oh if i must live
show me the place where the dark shadows
and night's blackbird hide from vain rays
hah! sweeter to die than wait wait wait wait
wait for the night far from the light
blackbird, sing your sad song - gladly i'd be blackbird
no night's dark enough for we whose souls despair of light
down, light! shine you no no more no more
vain light shine no more

credits

from LOVE OR FREEDOM - songs around the world, released November 2, 2014
Jake Rivera Bass guitar
Anthony Fisher Lead guitar
Todd Hermann Percussion
Joshua Heller Production at The Office, San Francisco
1989
Post-production editing and mastering by Kai Schlünz, Katapult Tonstudio, Karlsruhe, Germany

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about

Diana Rosalind New Orleans, Louisiana

After being discovered by Bobby McFerrin as a young vocal improviser in San Francisco, I spent some years writing and performing with ensembles that remain important in the history of Bay Area arts, then did time tangling with the music biz in LA & NYC, followed by a decade in Europe, recording all the while, before coming "home" to NOLA. This is a partial musical record of that journey. ... more

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