Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Fountain of Salmacis

Since I’ve been too busy of late to post …

So cool to discover something that gives me the chills. Something I would’ve listened to thirty-five years ago, when first foraging through the varying echelons of progressive rock. Back in those days, impoverished, I’d tape record off my boom box whatever grabbed my fancy as soon as I’d hear the first notes of the tune. Emerson Lake and Palmer. Yes. The Who. Moody Blues. The Doors. Jethro Tull. And listen to it over and over until the magnetic tape worn out.

Later, after a painful trip to the dentist, my mom gave me some money to buy some cassettes. I bought Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin IV. That steered me in an entirely new direction, for, a year or so later, I met some friends and began listening to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and other, harder offerings of 70s rock than the keyboards, sustained chords, and non-4/4 time signatures of prog rock.

This past August on vacation for whatever reason I listened quite intently to Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Stuck with me. Stuff I could’ve listened to way back then, but, as chance would have it, was never played on a radio station I was listening to at the time. This is old Genesis, 70s Genesis, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett Genesis, before the remaining Genesis crew (Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks) morphed mid-80s into the soulless corporate hit tune generating machine. In other words, intensely interesting and cool Genesis.

I particularly dig this song, “The Fountain of Salmacis,” off their 1971 album Nursery Crime. (Yes, Phil Collins has been around that long – as well as Peter Gabriel.) I like it because it has as its theme characters from Greek mythology. I like it because of those incredible apocalyptic chords at the end. I like it because of the dual dueling lines of lyrics in the chorus. I like it because it has an epicness about it packed into its eight minutes that you don’t hear in songs of the last two or three decades.

I like it because it gives me chills.


From a dense forest of tall dark pinewood,
Mount Ida rises like an island.
Within a hidden cave, nymphs had kept a child;
Hermaphroditus, son of gods, so afraid of their love.

As the dawn creeps up the sky
The hunter caught sight of a doe.
In desire for conquest,
He found himself within a glade he’d not beheld before.

Where are you, my father? / Then he could go no farther
Give wisdom to your son now lost / The boy was guided by the sun

And as his strength began to fail
He saw a shimmering lake.
A shadow in the dark green depths
Disturbed the strange tranquility.

The waters are disturbed the waters are disturbed / Some creature has been stirred
Naiad queen / Some creature has been stirred

As he rushed to quench his thirst,
A fountain spring appeared before him
And as his heated breath brushed through the cool mist,
A liquid voice called, son of gods, drink from my spring.

The water tasted strangely sweet.
Behind him the voice called again.
He turned and saw her, in a cloak of mist alone
And as he gazed, her eyes were filled with the darkness of the lake.

We shall be one / She wanted them as one
We shall be joined as one / Yet he had no desire to be one

Away from me cold-blooded woman
Your thirst is not mine
Nothing will cause us to part
Hear me, O gods

Unearthly calm descended from the sky
And then their flesh and bones were strangely merged
Forever to be joined as one.

The creature crawled into the lake.
A fading voice was heard:
And I beg, yes I beg, that all who touch this spring
May share my fate

We are the one / The two are now made one,
We are the one / Demi-god and nymph are now made one

Both had given everything they had.
A lover’s dream had been fulfilled at last,
Forever still beneath the lake.

[cue apocalyptic chords ...]

No comments: