The spoken words on this recording are lyrics to a song I wrote a while back. They are quite dark; the darkest words I have written. The song itself is a beautiful one. It has a passionate melody that fights its way through the anger and is calling for an orchestral arrangement. I’d always thought though, to try the lyrics standing alone as a work of the spoken word.
There’s a story behind these words. I would take my dog out every day for a walk (more so she would take me). We would go to her favourite place, the Camperdown cemetery, to run in the long grass. This cemetery was founded in 1848 and is one of Sydney’s earliest formal European cemeteries that still exists. I got to know the cemetery very well. Some of the headstones read as tributes to a person’s life but many read as expressions of grief for the loss of a mother, a father, a husband or wife, a child, a friend or a lover. It became a place for me to share my own grief with the be-grieved, all the while buoyed along by a dog wanting to have fun. It was a good place to go to. It brought to mind the universality not only of death but of grief. And grief, with all its mix of emotions, is ultimately an expression of love.
Woven and reshaped through my words are some extracts from the well worn epitaphs carved on some of the headstones at the cemetery – some that you can only read at a certain time of the day when the light is right or when they are wet from the rain. They are included as a tribute to the shared experience of grief and to pay my respect to their impassioned expressions that inspired me to write my own.
And there’s a story to this recording. I recorded a read of the lyrics and posted the raw file (no edits, no effects), to the now defunct ABC website POOL inviting any collaborator to produce it further. Sean Scott ‘agedmusic’ quickly took up the task and produced a very clever remix that still amazes me.
About his remix Sean says, “Here is a remix of Timothy Bishop’s dark and thoughtful words. I’ve tried to match his deep lush vocal tones with a piano piece that I composed four years ago. It was just waiting for the right words to come along. The pitch of his last spoken word matches closely the pitch of the last note of music…. which I thought to be a very strange coincidence.” Live on Sean.
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placeholder image, Jutta Pryor