Nighttime from my song cycle Fisherman Songs
I stopped getting embarrassed a while ago, probably when my 12-year old daughter was born. So to sing my song wasn’t difficult but I just can’t sing. But I want to get this work out there. Nighttime is the central song of my 40-minute song cycle Fisherman Songs. Though it is the fourth song of seven in the cycle it was the first composed. It uses a text by Ken Abrames from his book “The Perfect Fish.” The text is about fly fishing for striped bass at night, Mr. Abrames favorite time for fishing as well as mine. I composed this song before I knew I was composing a song cycle about fishing. After I completed this song some time passed before I began thinking about composing more songs about fishing. One evening I drove to the beach to go fly fishing in the surf and on my way there I was listening to a couple of unfamiliar songs on the radio. I parked the car in the sandy parking lot by the ocean and continued listening. The music ended and the announcer said, “You have been listening to “Hermit Songs” by Samuel Barber.” Huh. Immediately I thought “Fisherman Songs.” Soon after I began to compose the next six songs using texts by John Dunne (The Baite), W.B. Yeats (The Fisherman), Henry David Thoreau (text from Walden), Shen Yuëh (The Fishing Rod), Opian of Corycus (Halieutica), and an anonymous author (Fisherman’s Prayer).
I spent many years fly fishing for striped bass and that’s a story in itself. But once I heard “Hermit Songs” I realized I could express in songs the experiences I have had fishing. Basically, composing slowed down after moving from New York City to Suffolk county. There are numerous reasons for the slow down but one of them was a need to feed my soul. I had been composing and performing while living in big cities for two decades straight while sacrificing relationships and life outside the urban world for my music and it was affecting my well being. I continued to perform and compose a bit but unconsciously I was searching to reconnect threads that went back to childhood. Back then I loved the daily witnessing of nature in the boondocks of Illinois. As a composer I was exploring my interior world but I could feel a need to explore nature, the source. When the song cycle was completed I felt I had come full circle. I changed. During this period of time I let go of certain long held views about music in exchange for new ones. I also gained a daughter but lost my father. I matured and so has my music.
I’ve written about some of the songs in earlier posts.