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Louis Rosen 

TIME WAS

TM

Produced by Louis Rosen and Scott Lehrer

Music and Lyric Adaptations by Louis Rosen

 

from poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Butler Yeats, Madison Cawein, Sara Teasdale, Langston Hughes, Alice Cary, John Erskine, William Stanley Braithwaite, Lord Byron

 

"Elegant tunesmith Louis Rosen's latest album, “Time Was”... is gorgeous. And magnificently produced. The sense of urgency is palpable. The title song is now my current favorite song of all time...a hypnotic adaptation of E.A. Robinson’s prescient poem about “fond, imponderable dreams of wealth.” Jeremy Gerard, Bloomsberg News

"Louis Rosen's 'Time Was' paints a canvas with emotion and feeling." Joe Ross, CD INSIGHT

TIME WAS is thirteen-song cycle that offers a broad journey across the landscape of American roots music, a musical language that has always played a strong role in Louis'  personal style. The lyrics are drawn or adapted from poems by various 19th and early 20th century poets, themselves a diverse lot—men, women, white, black—ranging from such renowned writers as Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Butler Yeats, Sara Teasdale, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, to others now largely forgotten like Alice Cary, Madison Cawein and John Erskine.

These are songs that explore the essential stuff of our lives—love and lust, dreams and pipedreams, fortunes made and squandered, the joy of creation, faith, loss, death, murder and salvation—modern folk songs, that do what folk song has always done, offer intensely human portraits and stories in ways that feel fresh, yet timeless.  

TIME WAS marks Louis' debut as a solo recording artist after making three albums with vocalist Capathia Jenkins.   

 

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  Click to listen to songs from "TIME WAS"

 

Personnel on the Recording

LOUIS (vocals; acoustic guitar, piano, additional percussion, arrangements; co-producer)

ROB MOOSE (violin, viola, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, co-arranger on selected tracks): Other credits include recording and performing with, as well as arranging for artists such as Bon Iver, Norah Jones, Anthony and the Johnsons, The National and The Punch Brothers. Rob is also a founding member of yMusic, a new crossover ensemble. This is Louis and Rob's third album together.

DAVE PHILLIPS (acoustic bass). David is a bassist, composer and founding member of the jazz ensemble Freedance. The group has toured in France, Switzerland, Mexico and the U.S. Their fourth album will be released in 2012. He is also a member of accordionist Will Holshouser's Trio. Other associations include world music artists Kiran Ahluwalia (India) and Kinan Azmeh (Syria). In 2007, Dave received received a French American Cultural Exchange grant to perform duo concerts with his father Barre Phillips in the US and France. Dave has played bass on each of Louis' four albums.

GARY SELIGSON (drums and percussion): Gary is an in-demand freelance percussionist/drummer in NYC. He has recorded and/or performed with a wide range of artists including Elton John, Phil Collins, Phoebe Snow, Heather Headley, LeeAnn Rimes, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many others. This is Gary and Louis' third album together.

CLARICE JENSEN (cello): As a soloist and chamber musician, Clarice has performed in all manner of venues in New York, from Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Zankel Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Alice Tully Hall, to Joe’s Pub, the Brooklyn Lyceum, the Tenri Cultural Center, and the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums. This is her first time recording with Louis. 

CHARLOTTE MAIER (harmony vocal): Charlotte, a successful actress with a long list of Broadway shows, films and television programs to her credit, makes her recording debut with “Time Was,” which made Louis, her husband, very happy.

SCOTT LEHRER (co-producer, engineer): Scott won a Grammy Award for his work on Loudon Wainwright’s “High, Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project,” which was named 2010's "Best Traditional Folk Album," and a Tony Award winner for his sound design for the recent Lincoln Center Theater production of “South Pacific.” Scott and Louis are long-time collaborators. This is their fourth album together.

ALEX VENGUER (co-engineer): Alex is a two-time Grammy Award winner. His first Grammy came for recording and mixing Loudon Wainwright's record "High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project" which won the "Best Traditional Folk" album of the year. His second Grammy was for his work on the album "Wake Up" by John Legend & The Roots, which won the award for "Best R&B Album of the Year." This is Alex and Louis’ second project together, and it definitely won’t be their last. 

 

   

 LYRICS

1. JOHN EVERELDOWN (words by Edwin Arlington Robinson) 

“Where are you going tonight, tonight, — / Where are you going, John Evereldown? / There’s never the sign of a star in sight, / Or a lamp that’s nearer than Tilbury Town. / Why do you stare as a dead man might? / Where are you pointing away from the light? / And where are you going tonight, tonight, — / Where are you going to, John Evereldown?”

“Right through the forest, where none can see, / That’s where I’m going, to Tilbury Town. / The men are asleep, — or awake, may be, — / But the women are calling to John Evereldown.  

Ever and ever they call for me, / And while they call can a man be free? / So right through the forest, where none can see, / There’s where I’m going, to Tilbury Town.

“But why are you going so late, so late, — / Why are you going, John Evereldown? / Though the road be smooth and the way be straight, / There are two long leagues to Tilbury Town. / Come in by the fire, old man, and wait! / Why do you chatter out by the gate? / And why are you going so late, so late, — / Why are you going there, John Evereldown?”

“I follow the women wherever they call, — / That’s why I’m going to Tilbury Town. / God knows that I pray to be done with it all, / But God is no friend to John Evereldown.

(Ever and ever they call for me, / And while they call can a man be free? / So right through the forest, where none can see, / There’s where I’m going, to Tilbury Town.)

So the clouds may come and the rain may fall, / The shadows may creep and the dead men crawl, — / But I follow the women wherever they call, / That’s why I’m going to Tilbury Town.”

 

2. TIME WAS (words by Edwin Arlington Robinson, adapted by Louis Rosen) 

Time was when his cool million earned the rate of six percent; — / But soon the worm of what-was-not bred his discontent / And something crumbled in his brain when his cool million went.

Time passed / The broken voice, the withered neck, — / The coat worn out with care, — / The cleanliness of indigence, — / The brilliance of despair, — / His fond imponderable dreams / Of wealth—all were there.

Time was, time was / Hmm… / Time was, time was / Hmm… 

He comes, asks us for a loan / We give and then forget; — / He comes, and probably for years will he be coming yet— / Familiar as an old mistake, — / And futile as regret.

Time was, time was / Hmm… / Time was, time was / Hmm… 

 

3. THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS (music by Thom Bishop, words by William Butler Yeats)

I went out to the hazel wood, / Because a fire was in my head, / And cut and peeled a hazel wand, / And hooked a berry to a thread; / And when white moths were on the wing, / And moth-like stars were flickering out, / I dropped the berry in a stream / And caught a little silver trout.

(Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing a song of joy / Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing, you silly boy)

When I had laid it on the floor / I went to blow the fire a-flame, / But something rustled on the floor, / And someone called me by my name: / It had become a glimmering girl / With apple blossom in her hair / Who called me by my name and ran / And faded through the brightening air.

(Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing a song of joy / Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing, you silly boy)

Though I am old with wandering / Through hollow land and hilly land, / I will find where she has gone, / And kiss her lips and take her hand; / And walk among long dappled grass, / And pluck till time and times are done / The silver apples of the moon, / The golden apples of the sun.

(Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing a song of joy / Sing, wandering Aengus / Sing, you silly boy)

 

4. THE MAN HUNT (words by Madison Cawein, adapted by Louis Rosen)

The woods stretch deep to the mountain-side, / And the brush is wild where a man may hide. / They have brought the hounds out in the rain / To the roadside rock where the man was slain / They have brought the bloodhounds up, and they / Have taken the trail to the mountain way. / And the woods stretch deep to the mountain-side, / And the brush is wild where a man may hide.

Three times they circled the trail and crossed, / Three times found and three times lost. / Now straight through the trees and the underbrush / They follow the scent through the summer hush. / And their silent prey is filled with fear / As the sound of the hounds and the men grow near. / Still the woods stretch deep to the mountain-side,— / And the brush is wild where a man may hide.

A huddle of rocks that the ooze has mossed— / And the trail of the hunted again is lost. / An upturned pebble, a bit of ground that a heel has trampled— / The trail is found. And the woods re-echo the bloodhounds’ bay / As again they take to the mountain way. / Still the woods stretch deep to the mountain side,— / And the brush is wild where a man may hide.

A rock, a ribbon of road, a ledge, / With a pine-tree clutching its crumbling edge. / A shout, a curse, men and hounds run past / And the human quarry is found at last. / The human quarry with clay-clogged hair / Who’s luckless fate had brought him there. / He glares and crouches and rises then / Hurls clay and curses at dogs and men.

Then the blow of a gun-butt comes apace; / Leaves him stunned and bleeding where it strikes his face. / A rope; a prayer; and an oak-tree near, / And a score of hands to swing him clear. / A grim, black thing for the setting sun,— / For the sun and the moon and the stars to look upon.

 

5THE HOST OF THE AIR (words by William Butler Yeats)

O’Driscoll drove with a song, / The wild duck and the drake, / From the tall and the tufted reeds / Of the drear Hart Lake. / And he saw how the reeds grew dark / At the coming of night tide, / And dreamed of the long dim hair / Of Bridget his bride.

He heard while he sang and dreamed / A piper piping away, / And never was piping so sad, / And never was piping so gay.

He saw young men and young girls / Who danced on a level place / And Bridget his bride among them / With a sad and gay face. / The dancers crowded about him, / And many a sweet thing said, / And a young man brought him red wine / And a young girl white bread.

But Bridget drew him by the sleeve, / Away from the merry bands, / To old men playing at cards / With a twinkling of ancient hands. / The bread and the wine had a doom, / For these were the hosts of the air; / He sat and played in a dream of her long dim hair.

He played with the merry old men / And thought not of evil chance, / Until one bore Bridget his bride / Away from the merry dance. / He bore her away in his arms, / The handsomest young man there, / And his neck and his breast and his arms / Were drowned in her long dim hair.

O’Driscoll scattered the cards / And out of his dream he awoke; / Old men and young men and young girls / Were gone like drifting smoke; But he heard up high in the air / A piper piping away, / And never was piping so sad, / And never was piping so gay.

 

6SILENCE  (words by Sara Teasdale)

I asked the heaven of stars / What I should I give my love-- / It answered me with silence, / Silence above. 

I asked the darkened sea / Down where the fishermen go-- / It answered me with silence, / Silence below.

Oh, I could give her weeping, / Or I could give her song-- / But how can I give silence / My whole life long?

 

7. CABIN IN THE WOOD (words by Langston Hughes, used by permission) 

There’s hanging moss / And holly / And tall straight pine / About this little cabin / In the wood.

Inside a crackling fire, / Warm red wine, / And youth and life and laughter / that is good.

Outside / The world is gloomy / The winds of winter cold, / As down the road / A wandering poet / Must roam. / But here there’s peace / and laughter / And love’s old story told— / Where two people / Make a home.   

(Outside / The world is gloomy / Winds of winter cold / But here there’s peace / And love’s old story told.)

  

8. RICHARD CORY (words by Edwin Arlington Robinson, adapted by Louis Rosen)

Whenever Richard Cory went to town, / The people on the pavement looked at him; / He was a gentleman from sole to crown, / Quite handsome, and imperially trim. / Richard Cory…

And he was always modestly arrayed, / And he was always human when he talked; Still he fluttered pulses when he’d say, “Good morning,” / And glittered when he walked. / Richard Cory …

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king— / Admirably schooled in every grace: / Of course, we thought he was everything / To make us wish that we were in his place. / Richard Cory …

So on we worked, and waited for the light,/ And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; / And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, / Went home and put a bullet through his head. / Richard Cory…

 

 9. THE SEA-SIDE CAVE (words by Alice Cary, adapted by Louis Rosen)

“A bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”

At the dead of night by the side of the Sea / I met my gray-haired enemy,— / The glittering light of his serpent eye / Was all I had to see him by.

At the dead of night, and stormy weather / We went into a cave together,— / Into a cave by the side of the Sea, / But no one left that cave with me!

The flower that comes up through the April mould / Comes like a miser dragging all his gold, / But that flower never made a spot of earth so bright / As the earth in the cave that night.

Next day as my boy sat on my knee / He picked the gray hairs off from me, / And told with eyes all full of fear / How a bird in the meadow near

Over her clay-built nest had spread / Sticks and leaves all bloody red, / Brought from a cave by the side of the Sea / Where some murdered man must be.

(From a cave by the side— / From a cave by the side of the Sea)

 

10. THE SONG (words by John Erskine, adapted by Louis Rosen) 

A song lay silent in my pen / Where yesterday I found it, / Right cozy in its gloomy den, / With a melody wrapped around it. / Through all the years I waited so / To find the song that minute; / I thought I loved the pen; but no! / I loved the song within it!

The song, that song— / A song lay silent in my pen. / I found that song / Right cozy in its gloomy den. / Yesterday, I thought I loved the pen; but no, — / I’d waited oh, so long, / So long, / So long / To hear that silent song!

Today my lady sang to me / My song in sweetest fashion: / Unwrapped it from its melody / In the glory of its passion. / As one might see a blossom grow, / But not the sun above it, / I thought I loved the song; but no! / I loved her singing of it!

The song, that song,— / Today my lady sang to me / My silent song, / Unwrapped it from its melody. / Yesterday I thought I loved the song, but no! / I’d waited oh, so long, / So long, / So long / To hear her sing my song.

The song, that song— / I found my song. / I’d waited oh, so long, / So long, / So long / To hear her sing, / To hear my song, / To hear her sing my song.

  

11. THE WATCHERS (words by William Stanley Braithwaite, adapted by Louis Rosen)

Two women on the lone wet strand, / (The wind's out with a will to roam)

The waves wage war on rocks and sand, / (And a ship is long due home.)

 

The sea sprays in the women's eyes— / (Hearts pound like the sea's wild foam)

The rain pours from the raging skies— / (For the wind's out with a will to roam)

"O, Daughter,your eyes be better than mine," / (The waves ascend high as yonder dome)

"North or south is there never a sign?" / (And a ship is long due home.)

 

They watched there all the long night through— / (The wind's out with a will to roam)

Wind and rain and sorrow for two— / (And heaven on the long reach home.)

  

12. IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW (words by Edwin Arlington Robinson, adapted by Louis Rosen)

There were faces to remember in the Valley of the Shadow, / There were faces unregarded, there were faces to forget; / There were fires of grief and fear and a few forgotten ashes, / There were sparks of recognition that are not forgotten yet / In the Valley of the Shadow.

Now at first they felt amazed, a self-righteous indignation / At the measureless mistake that somehow brought them to this state. / They were lost and unacquainted—till they found themselves in others, / Ones who groped as they were groping with unfathomable fate / In the Valley of the Shadow.

There were sons and there were daughters who had stumbled to adulthood, / Who saw too late the road they should have taken long ago: / Some were rebels, some were servants to their family's ambition, / The accumulated wreckage of what others did not know / In the Valley of the Shadow.

There were creepers in the darkness where all regrets were torches, / Giving light enough to show them what was there upon the shelves— / There was more for them to see than they ever could remember / Of something that had been alive and once had been themselves / In the Valley of the Shadow.

There were some who knew the grandeur of success and all its glory, / The spoiled sons with shoulders that had never felt the wheel; / And all their empty trophies were a gilded cup of nothing / That no self-respecting thief would ever even care to steal / In the Valley of the Shadow.

Long and often they had bullied for some larger share of profit / And their need to strike a blow was compensation for their doubt / They were selfish men of privilege with silent eyes of envy— /  Not a trace of introspection, disenchanted and played out. / In the Valley of the Shadow.

So they were, and so they are; as they came are coming others, / And among them are the fearless and the meek and the unborn; / And a question that has held us until now without an answer / May still remain unanswered until all have ceased to mourn.

For the children of the dark are more to name than are the wretched, / Or the broken, or the weary, or the baffled, or the shamed. / There are builders of new mansions in this pyre of human embers / And among them are the dying and the blinded and the maimed: / In the Valley of—In the Valley of the Shadow.

 

13. SO WE’LL GO NO MORE A-ROVING (words by Lord Byron)

So, we’ll go no more a-roving / So late into the night, / Though the heart be still as loving, / And the moon be still as bright. 

For the sword outwears its sheath / And the soul wears out the breast, / And the heart must pause to breathe, / And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving, / And the day returns too soon, / Yet we’ll go no more a-roving / By the light of the moon.

(We’ll go no more a-roving)

 

All songs (music and lyric adaptations) © 2012 Louis Rosen; Publisher: Lullwater Music, ASCAP, except "The Song of Wandering Aengus"  © 1974 Thom Bishop; Published 2012: Wireless Music, BMI.