CLOUD OF SOUND
1. WINTER BLOWS
This was written in early 1985 for This Is The Sea, a longing love-song, kind of companion to The Girl In The Swing, about a woman I hadn't yet met, and I demo'd it for that album. But it got superceded by other songs like The Pan Within, which has a similar groove. I revisited it many years later and made this version in 2002, playing everything myself. Some overdubs were added in 2012.
2. THE GIRL IN THE SWING
Live on the acoustic 3-man tour of 2004, and one of Steve Wickham's finest fuzz fiddle solos. So great he had to do it twice!
3. SIOCHAIN IONA
This Irish-language version of Peace Of Iona was done for an Irish compilation album. The lyrics were translated by Gaelic singer Iarla O'Lionaird and I was coached in my pronunciation by the master, Seamus Begley from County Kerry.
4. KILLING MY HEART
Richard Naiff's finest Waterboys moment. He rips up the keyboards on this live performance from 2006.
5. BARBARA ALLEN
I learned this ancient folk song from a recording of Bob Dylan then added a few twists of my own. This was recorded at home while living in Findhorn in 2006.
One of a burst of songs written shortly after the 2007 Waterboys tour. When I get home from a long tour there is always a kind of "overhang" of musical creativity resulting in songs which are carried forward for the next album. Vigilante got recorded and mastered early so won't appear on a future album and this will be its only release on CD. Wickham contributes the fabulous solo at end, another fuzz fiddle meisterwork.
7. THE SERPENT'S HEAD
I asked Steve to compose a tune to accompany the end of a creation myth story I'd written about the making of Ireland. The story ends with an image of the isle of Inishmaan, one of the Aran Islands, which sits low in the Atlantic like a serpent's head. Steve and I had often gazed at Inishmaan, pondering its mysteries, and its sense of foreboding and mystery is in the tune.
8. THE SEVEN WOODS
This is a WB Yeats poem, little-known as it was only published as the introduction to the play The Shadowy Waters. Waterboys keyboard player James Hallawell sent me the music, unadorned, in 2010 and it perfectly matched the pastoral evocation of the poem.
9. SILENT FELLOWSHIP
This track's brief, repeated lyric describes early morning meditations I participated for a period of time at the Findhorn Community. We would gather in the community sanctuary, a simple wooden building with seats arranged in a circle around a single candle, each morning at 6.30 and meditate in silence for an hour. When we finished the birds would be singing, the morning gold of the sun pouring through the windows. I prefer this earlier mix to the final one on the Universal Hall album. I also souped it up a little with some extra effects and treatments before including it on Cloud Of Sound.
10. STRAIGHT WITH THE MEDICINE
A home demo recorded, for some reason, direct to an old cassette player.
11. THE PASSING OF THE SHEE
I recorded this to mark the centenary of Irish playwright and poet JM Synge's death in 2009. It's his lyric, set to music in the same spirit as the poems of his contemporary on An Appointment With Mr Yeats. The Shee were the warlike old gods of Ireland. I sing and play everything. The "hag" voice that enters at the second verse is me tuned up an octave.
12. MR WICKHAM COMPOSES
We played a one-off acoustic show in Ennis, in the west of Ireland, in 2009, and I brought with me a sheet of paper containing a dozen imaginary tune titles. During the show I pitched three of them at Steve, challenging him to come up with the tunes on the spot. He did, and this recording the evidence.
13. SEEK THE LIGHT
The version of this on Universal Hall is edited down. Here is the full length version, with added effects and mellotron sounds recorded in 2010.
14. VAMPIRE'S HEAD
The little song The Height Of His Head that begins and ends this piece was recorded for A Rock In The Weary Land but unused. It bookends an instrumental jam on the unreleased Vampire Man recorded during rehearsals ten years ago. Wickham plays fiddle, I'm on the bendy keyboard.
15. SAVAGE EARTH HEART
This song, traditionally the Waterboys set closer, is always improvised. Once we get beyond the "vulture of the soul" section anything can happen. This version is from the Waterboys' UK comeback show at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival.