On This Shore (EP)

by Brian Campbell

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about

Welcome to my "beach EP". All but one of these songs refer to the beach or ocean in some way, and that one song, about a botched romantic night, can be seen as, well, associated. I put them together because to my mind they constitute a journey of sorts. The first song, "In Round", uses as its point of departure a scrap of poetry written by someone I traveled with in Mexico a half a lifetime ago. Two of the songs, "Let Us Not Love" and the title song, "On This Shore" are poems by the Hungarian-Canadian poet Imre Nemeth (1923-2002), a personal friend, that I adapted and put to music. Two more songs, "Surprise" and "Shadows on Our Joy", are written entirely by me, in a kind of poetic mode that suits the others. Voice and guitar are mine. Four of the songs feature up-and-coming jazz vocalist/singer-songwriter Ema Jean on back vocals. Recording, arrangements and sampled instruments are by Martin Bennett of Studio Loco, Montreal.

credits

released January 7, 2020

Brian Campbell. Lyrics (some adapted from poems by others), music, guitar, voice.
Ema Jean: back vocals.
Martin Bennett: sampled instruments, arrangements, recording.
Recorded at Studio Loco, Montreal.
© SOCAN

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about

Brian Campbell Montreal, Québec

Brian Campbell is a song-poet, dexterous finger-stylist, and impassioned, heart-felt singer. He performs regularly, mostly in the Montreal area. To learn more about him, see briancampbell.ca

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Track Name: In Round
IN ROUND
(after a poem by a certain Eric)
words & music Brian Campbell ©SOCAN

In the stillness of this place
you show me how
the rocks quiet and deep
sleep in round . . .
How they hold the sea
And guard the sky . . .
And open a curtain of dreams
And open wide before us a curtain of dreams
And open wide before us a curtain of dreams

(Spoken)
slumber here side by side hand in hand
I kiss your lips, hold you close
(sung) and enter new lands
downward through lips of surf
the simple fruit
jewel of a brilliant seed

in our salty tango
roseate moonsmash sonorous perfumes
undulent symphony
in our salty tango
roseate moonsmash sonorous perfumes
undulent symphony

The idea for this song came from a trip I took down The Gringo Trail through Mexico and Guatemala back in the mid-’80s. (That dates me; but why turn down a good date?)

On a beach near Puerto Angel in Mexico, I met and traveled for a while with a couple of disheveled but sweet-tempered fellows from New Jersey named Eric and Richard. Richard, a former teacher in his late 40's who had suffered a serious breakdown and psychosis, wrote stream-of-consciousness poetry, much of it incoherent (at least to me) that he kept in shabby notebooks. One lens of his glasses was cracked, and later on in the journey he lost them. He claimed that he preferred “to see the spectacle without specs”: in his visual blur he saw bicycle wheels in the trees and angels in the sand. A large man, he would impulsively stage improvised street theatre in Mexican villages in bad Spanish. In one village, the inhabitants were so spooked by his antics, both he and Eric were chased out of town by men wielding machetes.

Richard’s friend Eric, who was about my age, watched out for Richard like an older brother; at times it seemed he was as much Richard’s caretaker as his friend. He was sensitive, melancholy, read a lot and wrote poetry, some of it quite good, although he didn’t like almost anything he wrote. One time I found a poem of his on a scrap of paper in the sand in the hut they shared. I read it and was immediately impressed. He told me – rather, urged me against my protestations – to keep it. This I did, finding it in a notebook decades later. I’m indebted to Eric for most of this song’s opening lines, but I couldn’t adhere to his subsequent meanderings (believe me, I tried, because I like them). So I resolved it into something more explicit, easier to resolve into song. Here’s the original poem.


IN ROUND

The rocks quiet and deep
sleep in round
the sea
and guard the sky
open
a curtain of dreams
and enters
a clown man
of Byzantine
to sell you a book –
you look –
all is pale
in this moment of time –
the statues
are in gloom
avoided, outcasted
exhausted of automobile fumes –
we build
our bridges backwards
not to reach the other side –
the rivers, the rocks, the town asleep
the dogs bark war cries –
the night, the hammock, the stars
my blindness
my sight
all is one
in giving and taking
down by this seaside.
Track Name: Let Us Not Love
LET US NOT LOVE
poem by Imre de C. Nemeth, adapted and put to music by Brian Campbell
©SOCAN

Let us not love
I’m afraid of the flame
the passion and burning
the reckless game

Last night through clouds
I saw a star
looking as though longingly
from afar

Not now, not ever
I am not yours
time only stopped
and only for hours

When my hands reach through
the midnight air
they feel the golden kiss
of your hair

Let us not love
let’s be free of the blame
the cycle of pain
that’ll surely come in that game

Go… but please don’t…
but you should…oh you must…
before we burn and turn
into ashes and dust

Let us not love
Let us not love

Dawn, the sun will come
soon we must part
let me touch your lips once more

But I won’t leave my heart
won’t leave my heart
leave my heart
Track Name: Surprise
SURPRISE words and music by Brian Campbell ©SOCAN

Walking along
Sunlight on our skin
Blue sky in our eye
Hand enlaced in hand

Other couples walking by
you can tell by the light in their eyes
Bird in the blue, tilting on a tree
So—say hello to the breeze

Spring is come and winter's gloom is gone

There's a shadow
running through the grass
disappears into the sunlight
as we will disappear
by the light of the moon

orange & butter yellow
swirling pastels in a starlit cafe
pass on through the light...
pass on through the light...

Instrumental

The constant surprise that we're alive
the bird the breeze the leaves the waving sea
afternoons of light
afternoons of light
light light light light ...
hand enlaced in hand
hand enlaced in hand
Track Name: Shadows On Our Joy
SHADOWS ON OUR JOY
words and music by Brian Campbell ©SOCAN

Here through the palm trees
Ocean blows a salty breeze
Playeritos* hopping on the sand
Let’s raise our glasses here
We’ll not think now on prospects drear
Or the sufferings all around us in this world

I have you and you have me
Life our laughter and our tears
It’s been a long hard road to this shore
So let’s rest, enjoy this breeze, whispering through the palm trees,
And forget for now these shadows on our joy

Shadows on our joy
Shadows on our joy
Shadows
On our joy

Solo

This world’s in so much pain
Don’t know when it’ll ever be sane
Babies torn from their mother’s arms
The forests they’re dying the oceans they’re crying
This whole planet’s a fire alarm

But I have you and you have me
In our tenderness and our tears
It’s been a long hard road to this shore
Let’s rest, enjoy this breeze, whispering through the palm trees,
And forget for now these shadows on our joy

Shadows on our joy
Shadows on our joy
Shadows
On our joy

Shadows on our joy
Shadows on our joy
I’m afraid we’ll never be happy till we
wipe these shadows from our world

Shadows on our joy
Shadows on our joy
I have you and you have me
But we’ll never be truly happy
till we wipe these shadows
from our world

*Playeritos, Spanish for sandpipers.
Track Name: On This Shore
ON THIS SHORE
Music by Brian Campbell
Lyrics adapted by Brian Campbell from “Gulf of Mexico”, poem by Imre de C. Nemeth
©SOCAN 2019

The sand is velvet
beneath my feet ,
night breeze a gentle hand
that brushes my cheek.
The sea is calm now
between the tides.
It seems to invite me to walk
to the other side…

Cross the busy daylight path

and just wade out
into the cool water,
just wade out
into the cool water.

The sea does not ask questions,
the sea does not tell lies.
Soon I will arrive
On another shore

or on this shore
or on this shore
or on this shore
or on this shore

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