Keepsakes – Completed
A collection of jazz rock and atmospheric compositions
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About This CD
“We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories… And those that carry us forward are dreams.” – H. G. Wells.
At the completion of my CD “Waiting”, I decided to start on another project immediately. I’m not sure whether it was my turning 60 or the fact that 2020 was a year that had me wishing for another time, but either way I found myself drawn to stories of time travel. I did not begin this project with the idea it would be a concept CD, and it’s not but it does seem to feel like one. It Just proves how much your writing is influenced by your situation, whether you realize it or not.
“Keepsakes”, just like the CD “Waiting”, is a collection of jazz/rock, atmospheric and symphonic compositions. I have written, performed, recorded and produced all the music on this CD.
A little about the songs:
Memoirs of the Twentieth Century – The title comes from the 1733 novel by Samuel
Madden, considered the first of English literature to ever feature time travel. I wrote this to be the first song on the CD and was the last I song wrote.
At Sixes and Sevens – This song has had several revisions. Originally, the opening was in
6/4 and the remainder of the song was in 7/4 (thus the title) but in this version the entire song is pretty much all in 7/4. The phase “at sixes and sevens” is a very old English idiom used to describe disarray.
Keepsakes – I wrote this after watching the 1980 time travel fantasy film “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. As this piece was being recorded I realized this would be the title track.
A Simple Life – While binge-watching the 1990’s sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun” I was inspired by Ben Vaughn’s (also from South Jersey) rockabilly/retro-rock theme song. So I decided to step back in time to the 60’s and write a surf rock (aka The Ventures) guitar tune but wanted to add a little more texture so I added some doo wop vocals.
Remember (the Battle of Dalharrold) – Viewing a FB post of a firefighter playing the
bagpipes inspired me to use the bagpipes for a lead instrument. The Battle of Dalharrold is where the Clan Mackay finally defeated the Vikings in the late 12th century.
Emika – Japanese – blessed, beautiful child) Just a small guitar solo.
Stendec – This number is inspired by the mysterious disappearance of the airplane Star Dust in 1947 on its flight from Argentina to Chile. Fifty years later the plane was discovered to have crashed but the final words of the crew “stendec, stendec, stendec” still remain a mystery.
Aerostat Reveillon – This was the first song I wrote for this CD. It’s about the hot air balloon ‘Aerostat Reveillon’ which on September 19, 1783 was the first flight ever with passengers; a sheep, duck and a chicken. Scientist Pilatre De Rozier setup the demonstration for King Louis XVI to give him assurance that human beings could breathe at the higher elevations.
Sibyl’s Cave – I sketched out a woodwind melody 2018 and put it away not knowing what to do with it. Almost 2 years later when reading Mary Shelley’s 1826 “The Last Man” I had the idea to write a “end of the world” piece and remembered the melancholy melody from 2018. Shelley’s book describes how in the late 21st Century the whole world is ravaged by a pandemic that sweeps across the globe (imagine that). Shelley states that in 1818 she discovered, in the Cumaean Sibyl’s cave near Naples, a collection of prophetic writings painted on leaves. The Last Man is the first piece of dystopian fiction.
Ivory and Crystal – An atmospheric composition inspired by H.G. Wells’s story “The Time Machine”. This piece has organic colors (orchestral instruments, music box, piano… ) that represents the 19th. century and moog synthesizer sounds representing the travels to the future.
Keepsakes – Cecilia Combs
They glitter and sparkle and shine,
Yes, they do, the keepsakes.
Others brood and mull and whine,
Clustered and cramped in a drawer that always sticks, overflowing with keepsakes.
There’s an elaborate instrument to tell the time.
It’s round face, dotted with wrinkles and numbers, smiles at the other keepsakes.
There’s a string of gleaming pearls, fashioned for a neck divine.
It used to nestle in warm flesh, now nestled among cold keepsakes.
When the night goes long and sun hides,
Some poke their heads out of the glass cabinets and whisper, “Hello, keepsakes?”
And others wriggle out from diaries and leather-bound spines,
And reply, “It is we, the keepsakes.”
Pins and brooches and cigars and pens line,
Up to giggle with dolls and cars and pillows and keepsakes.
And together they turn and gaze at the heavenly sign,
That sliver of a waning moon as it says goodbye- it itself the Universe’s keepsake.
When twilight fades to dawn’s early shine,
Quietly away shuffle the keepsakes-
Before the old door can sigh,
And creak open to let in the master of keepsakes.
He handles them gently and polishes away their grime,
Yes, he cares for the keepsakes.
He is loving and kind, because is one of their kind.
Yes, Wells, relic of now and future times, he’s one with the keepsakes.
A Simple Life – Cecilia Combs
It’d be easier to fill the air with–
Buzzing of statics and cries of rocket jets.
To cover the ground in–
Bicycle tracks and muddy footprints.
To feel nothing but–
Ice cream sliding down your throat, or smooth bottle caps in your palm.
Surround yourself with simplicities–
Little, calm niceties.
It’ll help keep everything straight.
Instead of getting lost in
The smoggy fog of a cruel Monday morning,
Or in a maze of harshly colored wires,
Stick to the straightforward and streamlined path.
It’ll be easier than to notice quiet pleasures,
Cat’s purring, rainbow spurring, and candles stirring-
It’ll be easier to laugh at dumb jokes and listen to a symphony of crashing waves,
To watch a firework show of flashing carnival lights,
And feel perfectly satisfied.
All this is easier,
If you live a simple life.
Ivory and Crystal – Cecilia Combs
Big round table,
Brown and crude,
Seated around unnamed guests,
Stifled but never rude.
Their host had abandoned shoes for socks,
And a normal suit jacket for one with sleeves a greenish hue.
He gobbles down good meat and fine cheeses,
And slurps at a delicate champagne glass.
His eyes are haggard and tortured,
From an eight-day tramp,
His body and face though,
Seem aged beyond all the years you could wish for from a Genie’s lamp.
Then he begins his tale, tapping a pipe as rhythmically as a clock,
And his guests listen, silently asking each other with incredulous nods, “Do you believe it. No, do you?”
And as yarn spins into a prophetic tapestry of horror and heart-sore, lips become graves of would-be teases.
What sane mind would concoct such a feat? What sane man would sacrifice himself to such a task?
And that round, brown table,
Was situated in a round, brown room.
Full of nothing remarkable, but a delicate little machine that no one wants to label,
And two little blips of a strange reality in full bloom.
Yes, two little flowers,
Which survive longer than the host,
Yes, two little flowers,
That whisper of ghosts.
Yes, two little flowers,
Ivory and Crystal.
Which, though only two and very little,
Imply a world in which they’re lithe petals-
Are stronger than hope.