Finally, this morning, I did what I’ve been meaning to do LO THESE MANY MOONS.
I re-wrote “Jenny’s Song for John.” Somehow that’s its title now, though once upon a time, I just called it “Song for Jenny and John,” but I think it’s really Jenny’s song, so that’s probably what happened.
It has three distinct melodic verses, and in the rough first draft–which somehow never advanced past that stage, even though I’ve performed it in public multiple times–those verses occur haphazardly, and there’s no predicting when I’m going to place the next one.
So I rewrote the lyric in order that the verses go ABCB, structurally. And each cluster of ABCB stanzas is one verse. 4 stanzas per “verse,” and the song is 4 verses long.
That doesn’t sound very long, except when you realize it’s really 16 stanzas, so . . . BALLAD TIME!
I like that it’s longer, because it’s the opening song to the new concept album (forthcoming), and it tells a fuller story about what happens to the body-snatched miners who find themselves on a silver ship sailing the stars.
I’ll be debuting the new version of this song at my a cappella concert at Irish WorldCon, this Friday in Dublin at 13:00 (or 1 PM). It’s a short concert, but I hope to give everyone a taste of the forthcoming Ballads from a Distant Star.
I’m planning on singing “Daft Jamie,” “Sisters Lionheart,” and “Strange Babes” (this last by Caitlyn Paxson, the others by me) as well. But we’ll see what we have time for!
In the meantime, for those of you who are interested, have some lyrics! And keep an eye out here for the CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN, coming soon to a social media platform near you. Amal El-Mohtar, Caitlyn Paxson, and I have been developing songs for Ballads from a Distant Star for many years now, and I am excited to be bringing it to your ears at last–in a more lasting form!
Jenny’s Song for John
My love, his name is John Fitzgibbon
Strong as oak and tall as yew
Soft as pine and so sweet-smelling
Ne’er was any man so true
Down he went with lamp and hammer
Down into the blackest seam
Where the rock burns bright as diamond
Daylight’s but a dead man’s dream
Oh, they came in flame and thunder
Oh, they came in ice and steel
Came and snatched my John Fitzgibbon
Bound him to a silver wheel
Where’d you go, my John Fitzgibbon?
Johnny, would you leave me so?
John, I’m cryin’, John, I’m dyin’
John, you’re gone and I’m brought low
My love he shouted loud as lightning
Broke his chain and smote his foe
Ran those halls of pearl and sapphire
Where no mortal man may go
“Turn this ship, O turn it back now!”
Shouted John, so bold and brash
“Bring me to my love, my Jenny
Lest I burn this ship to ash!”
Oh, they laughed like flame and thunder
Oh, they laughed like steel and ice
“John,” said they, “she must be dandy
“You’ll not need to ask us twice.”
Down they drove their iron casket
Down through darkness wide and deep
Found me stretched across my bower
Sore with grief and fast asleep
My love, he spake to me so softly
“Jenny, rise, we must away
If we do not go this instant
We’ll not live to see the day.”
“John,” said I, “I love you dearly
Johnny, whither thou wouldst trod
There will I put down my footprints
This I swear by Holy God.”
Oh, I wept like flood and river
Oh, I wept like sea and rain
Wept and left my bower forsaken
Ne’er to there return again
Down we flew, in night and starlight
Down into abyssal gleam
Down into that vast forever
Where no mortal maid has been
For the love I bore for John Fitzgibbon
I gave up the world I’d known
Sought those distant stars forbidden
That I could not call my own
Far we flew, and rough we landed
Split the sky and chipped the hull
Cracked our ship of ice and silver
Spilled out from our prison walls
Oh, they wept like flame and thunder
Oh, they wept like molten ore
Even Johnny couldn’t save them
And their proud race is no more
Down we delve with lamp and hammer
Bearing children on the way
As we dig, we sing forever:
“We’ll return to Earth one day.”