Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bess: Hidden Tracks and Hauntings

Before I dive into today's song, I would like to announce that I will be performing at Meowmeowz Rock Shop in Pasadena this Friday, around 6 PM. Come out if you're in the area!

We are in the last week of songs for this round of recordings, and for all intents and purposes, these last two songs are the "hidden tracks."

I loved hidden tracks. They were the songs I imagined the artists would play if, for some miraculous reason, they decided to visit my house and put on a personal concert. Or they were the songs I imagined only I would know the lyrics to when they asked for volunteers to come up onstage to perform with them. They were the songs that proved what a devoted fan I was. I guess they served their purpose...

Anyway, at around the same time I was "finding" all the hidden tracks, my eighth grade literature teacher was begrudgingly exposing my class to poetry. She didn't really have anything against poems, but she made it very clear that she was against the "sad" poems that talked about lovers who were "stupid" enough to kill themselves in despair.

The title has gone through some transformation 
One such poem was Alfred Noyes'  "The Highwayman," a ballad about a thief who loves the inn-keeper's daughter, Bess. It was dark, romantic, violent and ended with death. It was all the things that my teacher didn't care for. I guess I was significantly more romantically-inclined than she was.

To me, it was the most beautiful poem I had ever read, and once I had read it (and re-read it) there was no way I would ever forget it. Indeed, after many years, it resurfaced as inspiration for a song.

As has the chorus
I was trying to write a song that absolutely wreaked of melancholy and heartbreak. I wanted a song to sing as I held my knees to my chest and pined for the boys who didn't love me. I wanted a song that would spear a hole into your gut and make you feel like your soul was draining out. I wanted a song about true love, pain and sacrifice, and as I tried to figure out how to write that song, I remembered "The Highwayman" and how it made me feel the first time I read it.

A change in the point of view, a journey into the emotions of a lover, a few tweaks to the story and lots of playing around with chords, and I had it.





Bess
By Rachel Oto

They’re on to your scent
To your cape and your clatter
They don’t sleep as soundly these days
They’ve all seen your face and the bounty beneath
But they don’t know I know it better
Better

Don’t leave without the brush of
My hair on your flesh and my kiss on your breath and
Tell me you’ll take me with you
One day soon, someday soon

They’re waiting in shadow
Til you leave my window
And ride down the trail to their men lurking
They’ve bound my wrists tight
A bullet my heart its site
And I will warn you with my own life

Don’t leave without the brush of
My hair on your flesh and my kiss on your breath and
Tell me you’ll take me with you
One day soon, someday soon

You heard my call
You fight them all
You hold me in your arms
You close my eyes
And whisper, “I love you”
And follow me far away
Far away

Don’t leave without the brush of
My hair on your flesh and my kiss on your breath and
Tell me you’ll take me with you
One day soon, someday

Don’t leave without the brush of
My hair on your flesh and my kiss on your neck
Tell me you’ll take me with you
One day soon
Someday soon

They’re on to your scent
To your cape and collateral

Be bold.

R

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