"Long silent waves rake the shore a distant haunting sound"
Hey everybody, as promised it’s The Common Man Project checking in to share one of our new songs. It’s called The Longing.
The song rose out of a trip last year to the edges of northwest Ireland and Scotland I made with my dear friend Steve Stenersen. We were purposefully off the grid in a lot of seaside villages and isolated countryside. One thing that struck me was the relentless changing tides that rushed in and out of these shores and lives twice a day.
The landscapes, smells, and whole sense of a place could be completely different with the change of tide. I had the vision of villagers clinging to their bits of land, of mothers whose sons had gone off to war, of people who had lost their loves or maybe their minds. That regardless of the loss, they could stand by shores’ edge and hope that the lost thing might come back on the next tide. Then, the realization that they could spend an entire lifetime hoping and waiting for that thing that never returned.
I grew near the Outer Banks of North Carolina but the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on were in Ireland, near the village of Roundstone. They were misty, aching, and as the song title suggest, Longing. They were places one could review the emotions of a lifetime without the clutter, noise, or urgencies of our daily American lives. On that beach I communed with all the things that had truly matter in and moved my life. With some peacefulness I was able to float between the past and future of my days.
The cliffs of the Irish coastline seemed to abruptly heave up from the green, sodded land of wet pastures. The muted colors on the stone changing with each moment of sunset. But at these tranquil places the story from locals that several times a year an abandoned care is found in the nearby parking lots. The owner; someone in who knows what disparity, had thrown themselves off the edge.
Scotland was more rugged, more edged than weathered stone. The Old Man of Storr is a rock formation on the Isle of Skye. At the top of the walk the tines of little uninhabited peninsulas of land seem never ending in number, distance, and shades of earthen blues.
By a fire one night in a Scottish country inn, I happened upon a book by Margret Leigh. She writes of the simple crofting life in Scotland between the great wars. It spoke to the value of process, of being a participant not just an observer of life, about sticking a spade into the ground with a purpose of seeding or gathering. She spoke to me somehow reflecting my upbringing in rural North Carolina.
The mix is early in production, I would say about 40% complete. However, it gives a sense of the song. Kelly and I alternate lines to reflect the tides moving in and out. There is a yearning that is palpable in the chorus. The bridge about the The Old Man of Storr is purposefully droning like a bagpipe. The production initially started out small but now to all of us we feel a more sweeping cinematic context.
As usual, Stephen and Nate have done wonders with instruments, harmonies, and production. There will be an interesting multi-instrumental section which is now just keyboard midway the song. My favorite part is the downscaling, slightly yodeling harmony on The Longing at the end of the last verse. (Click on the music and then come back to the lyrics).
Aching mist pull me to your breast where the stones lay round
Colored shadows paint the cliffs heave the heartache down
Long silent waves rake the shore a distant haunting sound
Chill that fills the marrow bone that’s where the longing’s found
Tide and tears a mother fears her baby’s slipped away
Worries of a once young man now at his end of days
Pining for departed ones turned over to the ground
Wistful noise young lovers’ joys that’s where the longing’s found,
Longing for a vision of what you hope to see
Longing for an answer of what else there might be
Beyond the ocean isle and sky beyond just you and me
There’s the longing
Walking with the Man of Storr how saintly are the views
So many are the distant shores so many tines of blue so many tines of blue
Crawling from the kiddy cradle marching to the grave
Stick the spade down in the rush felicity is raised
Matriarchs Langston’s cart loving of the glen
I know that’s where the longing starts but pray tell where it ends
Hope you enjoy and thanks for listening.