Gordon Bok Gordon Bok 2 3 2010-02-16T16:33:00Z 2010-02-16T16:33:00Z 15 3843 21907 Timberhead 182 43 26903 9.6926

Other Eyes

Gordon Bok

            with The Quasimodal Chorus, Carol Rohl, and Women's Chorus

 

(p)  © 2010 Timberhead Music

 

 

These years I feel that many of us are retreating from the world --- (poor old bunged-up world we’ve pounded on so long) --- retreating electronically, mechanically, physically, drowning it out with our entertainment, insulating ourselves from it with our machines and noise and the gloves on our hands and minds. 
 
But before I have to leave this lovely rolling ball, I will keep singing my self from my horizon in to the center of it, as far as I can go. And I will welcome anyone who wants to come along --- this is a job that can use a lot of company.
After 70 years of staving around this kind land, I know our homeland is never going to survive our sojourn here if we don’t learn to hear with other ears, look through other eyes.
Bless all the other song-makers who know and sing that truth, and have shared it with us.


Love on us all, now,
under the wind.
                                                            ~ Gordon

 

Recorded by Bruce Boege, Limin Music, Northport, Maine and Michael Reeves, Thomaston, Maine

Additional recording by Rick Crampton, Northport, Maine

Mastered by Bruce Boege

Mixed by Bruce Boege, Gordon Bok and Anne Dodson

Produced by Gordon Bok and Anne Dodson

Front cover painting by Kat Logan

Photographs by Janet Buck Marusow

Programming by Carol Rohl

Graphic design by Ken Gross

A special thanks to Kathy Pease

 

 

 

 

BOLD REYNOLDS

Words and music ©1991 Dave Toye

 

Gordon – 12-string guitar

 

Every life deserves a song.  I learned this from Martyn Wyndham-Read, a wonderful British singer and carrier of great songs.

 

 My name it is Bold Reynolds - I was born near Bonfire Hill

That was many years ago, but I remember still

My brothers and my sisters, as we played near the den

With ne'er a care in all the world - my life was easy, then

 

When I was scarcely nine months old I first met with the hounds

I heard their voices through the wood as I came above ground

I found it very easy to lose them in my wake

I wandered many miles that day - it was to prove my fate

 

Whilst I was on that journey, I met her in a copse

She had a handsome, thick red coat; straightway my heart was lost

We spent that year together - had seven cubs all told

I thank the hounds for sending me along that distant road

 

Many times when I was stalking rabbits on my own

I’d hear the distant hunting horn that called the stragglers home

At times the hounds would follow me but I would have my fun

Across the fields and meadows, I'd give them a good run

 

My mate and I we stayed together many seasons more

Pheasants in the wintertime we always had in store

And in the springtime I worked hard to feed the newborn young

Hunting through the short, chill nights until the rising sun

 

The years have passed, my vixen died, and I am on my own

My legs are tired, my coat is rough and all my seed is sown

I do not wish a lingering death – the hunt once more I’ll find

And lead them on through Marlpost wood for the final time

 

My name it is Bold Reynolds; I was born near Bonfire Hill

That was many years ago; but I remember still

My vixen and my young cubs, as we lay in the den

But now I bid you all farewell - my life is at an end

 

 

THE BIRD ROCK

Words and music ©2000 (written in 1982) Gordon Bok, BMI

 

Gordon – 12-string “Bell” guitar

 

My friend Molly Schauffler once sang me the Norwegian song Moken (“Gulls”), and we realized our childhoods had one great gift in common. Fortunate we were, to grow up among adults who felt the privilege of living in this good land.  I used some of the ideas from that song, but in the end I had to make up my own. I add a phrase from her song (“there where all the gulls are”) at the end.

 

Row my child, to the bird rock, where the gulls are sailing free

Dreams they do bring, and dreaming: dreams of the cold green sea

And who would be there but you love, to see what dreams there be?

            Ho-ray, ho-ro, O hoo-ro

 

Row you now, be rowing; the day goes down before

And the ship of fairies sailing, to a dark and a distant shore

And how would you say what treasures would ever await them there?

            Ho-ray, ho-ro, O hoo-ro

 

Sing my love, for the kingdom that ever we thought was gone

For the ship of ghosts is sailing, and that one will always return

Drowned are the lands and gone the sails, and the gull is their voice alone

            Ho-ray, ho-ro, O hoo-ro

 

Row my dear, the day is fair where the young birds learn to sing

The world is a wheel of wonder that only the sun can spin

And the gull on the low and lifting swell is the world a-given wing

            Ho-ray, ho-ro, O hoo-ro

            Der hvor alle moker ar

 

 

THE SEALS

Poem ©1935 L.A.G. Strong (1896-1958)

Music and choral arrangement ©1995 Gordon Bok

 

The Quasimodal Chorus

Many of us coastal folks have been entertained by (and have entertained) the local seal populations. They do respond to human voices and some human instruments. Here the Chorus has helped me pass on the feeling that L.A.G. Strong’s poem captured so well.

 

Leave her alone, she is the island’s daughter

Sleek heads, dark heads are risen from the water

Leave her the company her songs have brought her

 

The old grey music doctors of the ocean

Their holy happy eyes shining devotion

Blow and applaud in foam and soft commotion

 

It is her hour; the island’s only daughter

The dark sleek heads are risen from the water

Leave her the company her songs have brought her

 

 

CAPTIVE WATER                                                                                 

Bottlenose Dolphin - For Brother Bob                                                                

©1999 Gordon Bok

 

Women’s chorus: Beth Alma, Mary Bok, Fiona Hall, Meikle Hall, Mary Ann Hensel, Ellie Libby, Lois Lyman, Selkie O’Mira, Susan Shaw, Holly Torsey and Lynn Travis

 

I've had a 20-year conversation with Bob Zentz about taking other species out of their habitats – "stealing them to the sky." Perhaps our persistent preoccupation of alien abduction is a reflection of our own history.

Think about the dolphins in the Mediterranean lying like logs on the surface. Think about the mass strandings on so many coasts. Think about the degradation of their soundscape   from ships and US Government sonar bombings. Think about the degradation of their habitat with oil and acid water and over-fishing. These are not stupid beings; we are not listening.

 

           

Blue and green the waters warm

And so they take my child away

and light and light and shining down

and leave us silent in the sea

So close beneath the sun and free

and leave their strength and cruelty

we roll the soft and lifting sea

to stain the clear ways of the sea

And where the flicking fishes slide

 

we, leaping, singing, diving ride

Now on the Northern reaches far

the shifting warmth of light above

behind the shoaling waters where

the rippled world in play and love

the lonely grey ones come to weep

And now come whining, white and brown

for gifts of life they cannot keep

the noisy churning boats of man

another voice comes back to me

and man come rolling thrashing down

her voice is keening through the sea              

with chase and pass of flailing hand

And oh my child is singing there

and roll and tow and swing and send

in captive water and in air

that all the world is play and friend

Alive, she says; I am alive

And now the net strike from above

Oh warm and fed and still alive

to catch my child and yank and heave

And through the little channel seep

her leaping life and living love

that runs to sea her soul to keep

and hold her though she twist and dive

her voice is coming out to me

and drag her screaming to the sky

I am alive, I am alive

and all she knows is asking why

but mother I am lonely

And I beside her only know

I am alive, alive, alive

her fright and pain and now I see

but mother I am never free

her lifted from the loving sea

Mother, mother all you saw

and feel the dreadful weight of air

is true, these ones will never know

come on her and it comes on me

they have no ear to hear my cry

And now the one with hissing breath

and all I ever ask is why

and mirrored face that mirrors death

And we who have no sound for fear

is here beside me in the sea

can roam the living waters clear

and when I turn to ask him why

and we can kill and fight and run

he has no tongue to answer me

but why now do we choose to die

Has he no mind behind his eye

before we kill a human one

and never tongue to answer me

And still they steal us to the sky

And so they take my child away

and all we ask of them is why

And so they take my child away

and all we ever ask is why 

 

 

THE BEACHES OF LUKANNON

Poem © Rudyard Kipling (1865-1935)

Music © 1980 Bob Zentz

 

Gordon – 12-string guitar

 

Lukannon (Lucannon) was once one of the greatest seal rookeries in the world; it’s in the Aleutian Islands. Gooverooska is an old Russian word for kittiwake (a small seabird). Kipling wrote this early in the 20th century.

 

I met my mates in the morning (and oh, but I am old!)

Where roaring on the ledges the summer ground-swell rolled

I heard them lift the chorus that drowned the breakers’ song –

The Beaches of Lukannon, two million voices strong.

 

The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons,

The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the dunes—

The song of midnight dances that churned the swell to flame—

The Beaches of Lukannon – before the sealers came!

 

I met my mates in the morning (I’ll never meet them more!)

They came and went in legions that darkened all the shore.

And o’er the foam-flecked offing as far as voice could reach

We hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.

 

The Beaches of Lukannon — the winter-wheat so tall,

The dripping crinkled lichens, and the sea-fog drenching all!

The platforms of our playground, all shining smooth and worn!

The beaches of Lukannon – the home where we were born!

 

I met my mates in the morning, a broken, scattered band,

Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land,

Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and tame

And still we sing Lukannon – before the sealers came.

 

Wheel down, wheel down to Southward – Oh, Gooverooska go!

And tell the Deep Sea Viceroys the story of our woe.

Ere, empty as the sharks-egg the tempest flings ashore,

The Beaches of Lukannon shall know their sons no more!

 

 

SARABANDE’S STORY

Words and music ©1993 Valentine Doyle

 

Gordon – 12-string guitar

Valentine once had the opportunity to bring a small sailing vessel across the Atlantic with a friend. They ran into the usual obligatory storm, and also something I’ve never heard anyone else describe: a river of fish in the ocean. Both of these are told here as seen through the boat’s eyes.

 

The storm when it came shook me clear to my keel

I lost all direction and time

I had no horizon, ran battered and blind

And the whole of the world was the great wave behind

And the wave rushing on me to climb

            And oh, the ocean is wide:

            Come wind and come weather, there’s nowhere to hide

            And the ocean is wide

 

I carried my friends as a boat does her own

The three of us under the gale

I held on with the strength of rope and of wood

And human and little, they fought as they could

With the tiller and shortened sail

            Chorus + You pray for your own ones to weather the ride, but the ocean…

 

By crest and by hollow, by dark and by day

By buffet, by blow we were hurled

For three days we drove on under staysail alone

Till the storm left us still and alone in the dawn

And bright calm to the edge of the world 

            Chorus + Come calm or come storm, you’re alone in the tide

 

The little fish came down the bright, breathing sea

From world’s edge to world’s edge they ran

They divided behind me and joined at my bow

And I on a silver thread, rudder to prow

And all the world’s ocean its span

            Chorus +  The web of the world’s in the sea by your side

 

With the little ghost wind the blue follow-fish came

Big and lovely, they danced in the foam

Ah, we traveled companions all down the day

Then as the breeze quickened, they were off on their way

And I heeled in the good breeze for home

            Chorus + And the web of the world’s in the sea by your side

            Chorus + Rise well, swim easy, wherever you bide

            For the ocean is wide

 

 

GULLS IN THE MORNING

©1987 Gordon Bok, BMI

 

Gordon – Spanish guitar

 

“House-sitting” in the winter mornings on the old schooner Stephen Taber I would sit on the companion ladder (where the first heat from the old woodstove would reach me) and watch the gulls soaring against the mountain. They’re great fliers. I made this tune for my friend Peter Platenius, who first enchanted me with music from his native Peru and Bolivia on the guitar.

 

 

THE MAIDEN HIND

Words: traditional Danish

Music and arrangement ©2009 Gordon Bok

 

Gordon – vocal and Viol da Gamba

Carol – vocal

 

This song speaks from a time when we were much more closely connected to the other animals, who have been—and still are—our best teachers of the ways to live in this world.

 

The mother to her son did say

In the greenwood

The little hind thou shalt not slay

That bears the band of gold

 

You may slay the hart and shoot the doe

But the little hind thou must let go

 

Sir Peter rode in greenwood bound

And the little hind played before his hound

 

The little hind sported his feet before

And he thought on his mother’s words no more

 

He spanned his crossbow with hand and knee

And he shot the hind beside a tree

 

His gloves from off his hands he drew

To flay* the hind without ado               *skin

 

Her neck he flayed and shining there

Was his sister’s golden hair

 

He has found in her bosom cold

His little sister’s rings of gold

 

In her side with sore affright

He has found her hands so white

 

His hunting-knife to the ground he threw

Now has my mother’s tale come true!

 

Cold on the river falleth the rime*                   * ice crystals

There’s luck for the lad who can take it in time

 

Far the crane flieth up in the sky

Lucky the lad who from trouble can fly!

 

 

SPELL TO BRING LOST CREATURES HOME

Poem: Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) ©2009 The Literary Estate of Kathleen Raine, from "The Collected Works of Kathleen Raine", Golgonooza Press, 2000.

Music ©1990 Dick Swain

 

Gordon – 12-string guitar

Dick Swain found this haunting poem by one of England’s great poets, and made this magical setting for it.

 

Home, home, wild birds home

Lark to the grass, wren to the hedge

Rooks to the treetops, swallows to the eaves

Eagle to its crag, raven to its stone

All birds home

 

Home, home, strayed ones home

Rabbit to burrow, fox to earth

Mouse to the wainscot, rat to the barn

Cattle to the byre, dog to the hearth

All beasts home

 

Home, home, wanderers home

Cormorant to rock, gulls from the storm

Boat to the harbor

Safe sail home

 

Children home, at evening home

Boys and girls, from the roads come home

Out of the rain, sons come home

From the gathering dusk, young ones home

Young ones home

 

Home, home, all souls home

Dead to the graveyard, living to the lamplight

Old to the fireside, girls from the twilight

Babe to the breast, and heart to its haven

Lost ones home

 

 

THE NET

Words ©1946 Douglas Stewart (1913-1985)

Music © 1984 John Broomhall

 

Gordon – 12-string “Bell” guitar

I learned this song from the eerily calm singing of our friend Penny Davies from Stanthorpe, Australia, and adapted her husband Roger Ilot's arrangement to the “Bell”.   A gurnet is an odd fish with the usual complement of fins, but two pectoral fin- like legs, with which it "walks" across the bottom.

 

My wings were blue in the ocean green

The prettiest things you ever have seen

The gurnet said to the catfish

Rose were my legs and rose my sides

And who would have thought as I roved the tide

Where the red crab watched me scuttle and glide

I would come to dance in a net?

 

The fisherman stands by the water and chuckles

Clams are his ears and limpets his knuckles

The gurnet said to the catfish

The beard of a mussel droops from his chin

The scales of a mackerel cling to his skin

And his eyes roll out and his eyes roll in

As he watches us dance in the net

 

His eyes are hard as berries of kelp

But sweet is his daughter who comes to help

The gurnet said to the catfish

They take the ropes in their lean brown hands

And haul us out on the shine of the sands

And the young girl laughs as the fisherman stands

And watches us dance in the net

 

Let her hang up her clothes on a gooseberry bush

Where the waves say crush and the foam says hush

The gurnet said to the catfish

The surf is red with struggle and slaughter

But somewhere on earth or in sky or in water

The scaly man and his long-legged daughter

Will come to dance in a net

 

The fishes run to the fisherman’s tune

The waters run to the pull of the moon

The gurnet said to the catfish

And there in the sand at the edge of the tide

The fisherman’s daughter, dancing in pride

With her rosy legs and her rosy side

Is less than a fish in the net

 

For somewhere, glaring in wastes of space

There’s a terrible eye in an empty face

The gurnet said to the catfish

And round and round in the spell of that stare

Flashing and slashing and biting the snare

Go all the glittering shoals of the air

Dancing like fish in the net

 

So somebody sits in space and chuckles

With hair like a comet and stars for knuckles

The gurnet said to the catfish

And glimmer of side and swirl of fin

His arms are huge as he hauls them in

And his teeth are sharks in a mile wide grin

As he watches them dance in the net

 

There I’m going and there go you

I with my wings of butterfly blue

The gurnet said to the catfish

The moon comes by and he swallows it whole

And now it’s the girl with wings on her soul

And then it’s the fisher, and the great eyes roll

As he watches them dance in the net

 

 

HERRING CROON – The Last Verse

©2009 Gordon Bok, BMI

 

Gordon – 12-string “Bell” guitar

 

You can hear the original song (which I wrote in1965) on “Herrings in the Bay” –

 THD-CD14).

 

Some fishermen I know have said that the last time the herring fishery was sustainable was when we were weir-seining, the way we learned from the Native Americans.  Some still fish that way in the Canadian Maritimes.

“Now those big corporation-boats are midwater-fishing, even in the spawning grounds: we never did that. When we were fishing herring, they stood half a chance.” – Frank Wiley, Maine fisherman.

“If a storm breaks off a stem of kelp, it’ll be growing back in seven days. Do you know what the bottom looks like after half a ton of otter trawl has gone over it? If it’s rock, it’s polished bare. If it’s sand or mud, it looks like the moon. That’s no habitat for any species.” – Gary Cook, New Brunswick fisherman.

 

 

Where have you gone, little herring?

What have you seen, tail and fin?

Cold and black, dead and dark, bottom torn away

Draggers staving everywhere, drug this garden dry

Pair trawl, mid-water trawl :

(God, they hungered after me)

Tore my home to hell and gone

There’s no more place for me

 

 

OCEAN STATION BRAVO

Words and music ©1999 Bob Zentz

 

Gordon – Spanish guitar

This is from Bob’s days in the Coast Guard. The vessel he was on had experimental speakers in the water – I suppose because you never know whom you’re going to be talking to out there. 

 

Ocean Station Bravo - North Atlantic Ocean

Somewhere south of Greenland - somewhere far from home

Nothing on the radar - nothing on the sonar

Hove to and drifting on this ocean all alone 

She was the CGC Sebago – Ocean Station Vessel

High Endurance Cutter, Number 42

Studying the weather - aids to navigation

Plotting ships and aircraft as they come sailing through

 

Just a speck upon the ocean – center of a circle

Nothing but horizon – wind and sea and sky

This whole world in motion – blowing from the Northeast

Not a hint of sunshine, just the grey clouds running by

 

Lookout calls the bridge-watch: "Objects in the water

Moving Surface Contact – off the starboard bow"

Plot 'em on the radar, fire up the sonar

Listen for the echoes – Ah, can you hear them now?

 

There's echoes in the headphones – whale-sound from the speakers

Filling all the spaces inside C.I.C*.              (*Combat Information Center)

Songs of love and travel – songs of generations

Echoes of the ages in cetacean harmony

 

And me – I had to answer – I sang, I talked, I whistled

Even played the mouth harp through the microphone

They returned the favor with chirps and clicks and whistles

Songs of celebration not so different from our own

 

And when the watch was over – out onto the bridge wing

You can see those sounding singers as they breach and sport and play

Just a pod of humpbacks – farewell flukes a-waving

A memory worth saving as we traveled on our way

For we'd had a conversation with Leviathan that day

                       

Ocean Station Bravo - North Atlantic Ocean

Somewhere south of Greenland - somewhere far from home

Nothing on the radar - nothing on the sonar

Hove to and drifting…

 

 

THE BRANDY TREE

©1967 Gordon Bok, BMI

 

Gordon – Vocal and Spanish guitar

Women’s chorus; these are the women who came to speak Captive Water: poets, painters, farmers, teachers, therapists, mothers, folks you'll find in your community, too – fine uncommon people.

 

I got most of this song from a small otter who used to hang out in the same woods I did, around Sherman's Point, many years ago. Many folks have asked me about the name of the song: I was never sure of what that word was, (Bandy Tree, Bundy Tee?) nor do I think it matters. I've come to think of it as a place inside ourselves where, once we've been there, we know how to find it again.

 

I go down to the brandy tree and take my nose and my tail with me

All for the world and the wind to see and never come back no more

 

Down the meadowmarsh deep and wide, tumble the tangle by my side

All for the westing wind to ride and slide in the summer rain

            Sun come follow my happy way, wind come walk beside me

            Moon on the mountain go with me, a wondrous way I know

 

I go down to the windy sea and the little gray seal will play with me

Slide on the rock and dive in the bay and sleep on the ledge at night

            But the seal don't try to tell me how to fish in the windy blue

            Seal's been fishing for a thousand years and he knows that I have too

 

When the frog goes down to the mud to sleep and the lamprey hides in the boulders deep

I take my nose and my tail and go a hundred thousand hills

            Sun come follow my happy way, wind come walk beside me

            Moon on the mountain go with me, a wondrous way I know

 

Some day down by the brandy tree I'll hear the shepherd call for me

Call me to leave my happy ways and the shining world I know

            Sun on the hill come go with me, my days have all been free

            The pipes come laughing down the wind and that's the way I go

            That's the way for me

 

 

THE SHEPHERD’S CALL

Words ©1993 Valentine Doyle

Music ©1994 Gordon Bok

 

Gordon – 12-string guitar

When Valentine sent me these words, I didn’t know she had also written a tune, so I worked this one out for it. Valentine says, “This is a song for all the creatures of the world, at the moment of their leaving it. My version is for a guardian spirit in New England, where all the creatures in it live or have lived, except the bighorn sheep, which I couldn’t resist.  If your region has a bird or beast I’ve left out, or you need a verse for a prairie or desert, feel free to add one.”

 

Come my beloved ones, come and follow me home

Come when it’s time your days here are done

I am the Shepherd, I gather my own

Leave fear and hunger and follow.

 

            Follow me down the wide world

            Follow me home, my children.

 

Come, oh my forest ones, come and follow me home

Chipmunk and owl, raccoon and jay,                                   

Come from the cool shadows hid from the day,

Leave your deep forest and follow.

 

Come, oh my meadow ones, come and follow me home

Woodchuck and mole, kestrel and quail,

Come from your burrows and grass-winding trails

Leave your bright meadow and follow.

 

Come, oh my river ones, come and follow me home

Muskrat and loon, otter and crane                           

Come from the high banks, the reeds in the rain

Leave your brown river and follow.

 

Come, oh my mountain ones, come and follow me home

Bighorn and bear, cougar and hawk,

Come from the timberline, windy grey rock,

Leave your wild mountain and follow.

 

Come, oh my ocean ones, come and follow me home

Petrel and seal, curlew and whale,

Come from the combers in calm and in gale,

Leave your grey ocean and follow.

 

Come oh my friends of man, come and follow me home

Lovebird and cat, plough-horse and hound

Come from the fireside, from farmstead and town

Leave your warm household and follow

 

Come when you know the call, come and follow me home

Come from the hill, the valley, the sea

Hunters and hunted ones, gather to me

Leave all you know and come follow

 

SHERRY’S SONG

Words ©1981 Sherry MacMahon

Music ©2007 Gordon Bok

 

Kat Logan: vocal and keyboard

Gordon: vocal and Viol da Gamba

 

Sherry is an old friend from Colorado Springs who finds the loveliest ways to tell her friends how she feels about them.  She sent this poem to me many years ago, and I made the tune so I could share it with more people. I've known Kat Logan for quite a few years, but never had much of a chance to sing with her until she and her husband Jim Loney moved nearby last year.  Since then, they've become a welcomed part of the musical community here.

 

How shall I send my love to you in winter, with you so far away?

Beyond the frowning frozen lands, beyond the snarling sea

I will send it with the snowy owl, sailing silent through the midnight sky

And when you hear his hoarse and whispered cry, you will know he comes from me

 

How shall I send my love to you in springtime, with you so far away?

Beyond the long and lilting lands, beyond the sighing sea

I will send it with the mourning dove, soft and insistent in the distant trees

Hearing her you will know she brings my love to set your heart at ease

 

How shall I send my love to you in summer, with you so far away?

Beyond the dry and dusty lands, beyond the simmering sea

I will send it in the Bobwhite’s whistle, just as the first light of the morning comes

And when you hear her calling you will know that you are not alone

 

How shall I send my love to you in autumn, with you so far away?

Beyond the ripe and rambling lands, beyond the surging sea

I will send it warm in wild goose down, the way the hummingbird is said to ride

And when you hear that wild and windy laughter it will be me by your side

 

But how shall I send it in that final winter, and I so far away?

Beyond the sleeping starlit lands, beyond the silent sea

I will send it in the morning sunlight, in the swift storm that burnishes the sky

In the soft breeze that curls its arms around you at the closing of the day