Playlist Notes: Novas 4.4: Stars

(previously)

The Intermission concludes.

More songs from outside the Simulation, from the ’80s and beyond.

Novas 4.4: Stars

Seen rose-gold haze at the end of the day. Seen ragged-wing hawk swooping down on prey.

01 Bruce Cockburn – States I’m In (2017, Canada)

Seen rose-gold haze at the end of the day
Seen ragged-wing hawk swooping down on prey
Curtain going up on the night-time shadow play
Seen sun going down set the sea on fire
Black smoke boiling from burning tyres
Bones in the mud was the blood sacrifice required?

Oo-ee all the sights I've seen
In the depth of the world and the heart of a dream
Oo-ee all the places I've been
Each one reflected in the states I'm in
Uh-uh
States I'm in

One day fit and one day fat
One day flush and one day flat
Reality distorted like a sat-on hat
One day I feel like I'm in control
Next time suspended in a bottomless hole
A drunk trying to shimmy up a greased pole

Oo-ee all the sights I've seen

I'm slick as a dealer in a green eyeshade
Aces up his sleeve and he's not afraid
The mayor and his uniformed monkeys have been well paid
Climbing up the ivy to the balcony above
Where pines the heart of my one true love
Obsession delusion all that waits is a fateful shove

Oo-ee all the sights I've seen

Crows in the treetops motors in the road
Structures of darkness that the dawn corrodes
Into the title montage of a new episode
Whisper wells up from the depths untrod
Overflows its channel and spreads abroad
Gathers in power like a lightning rod

Oo-ee all the sights I've seen

While I wouldn’t quite say this track jumpstarted this list (I think it was Light of the Ages which did that) it was exactly what I wanted to kick off with. Since ‘Movies’ was about dreams of a better world I wanted a parallel which was about contact with harsh reality. And yet for some reason, the esoteric light kept reappearing.

To get that ‘grittiness’ I wanted particularly contemporary appearances by 1970s/80s musicians. As it happens I don’t have any Bruce Cockburn in my 80s file except for ‘If I Had A Rocket Launcher’ and that didn’t make it to a mix. But here he is and this song is wonderful.

A tension-release cord motif appears here which has perhaps been there all along but becomes more prominent through the rest of the series. I think that’s maybe why this song fits.

02 Sheryl Crow – Redemption Day (1996, USA)

I've worked for those who've suffered long
But how I weep for those who've gone
Into rooms of grief and questioned wrong
But keep on killing
It's in the soul to feel such things
But weak to watch without speaking
But oh what mercy sadness brings
If God be willing

There is a train that's headed straight
To heaven's gate, to heaven's gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For Redemption Day

Fire rages in our streets
And swallows everything it meets
It's just an image often seen
On television
Come leaders, come you men of great
Let us hear you pontificate
Your many virtues laid to waste
And we aren't listening

What do you have for us today
Throw us a bone but save the plate
Oh why we waited til so late
Was there no oil to excavate
No riches in trade for the fate
Of every person who died in hate
Throw us a bone, you men of great

There is a train that's headed straight
To heaven's gate, to heaven's gate
And on the way, child and man
And woman wait, watch and wait
For Redemption Day

It's buried in the countryside
It's exploding in the shells of night
It's everywhere a baby cries
Freedom

After Heather Nova I think it was Sheryl Crow who was my 90s muse. I like her best when she’s in full folk mode.

There’s a more than a touch of the James Bond theme here.

03 FM – Cosmic Blue (2015, Canada)

As I look back can't believe all the things that we've seen
The ocean floor deepest space was I living in a dream
As I look back can't believe all the things that we've done
Stopped the war walked the moon and we'd only just begun

And as I think of all the places we've been
The lives we lived friends we made
The adventures in between
But now I feel the time is right
To move beyond and out of sight

Out of the dark I step into the light
Cosmic blue
Taking a chance I step over the line
Cosmic blue

Was a time in my mind I believed in the truth
Wasn't hard to decide to commit and not need proof
Now I find in my life something's missing and I
Believe it's time once again to throw caution to the wind

And as I think of all the places and the spaces we've been
The lives we lived friends we made
The adventures in between
But now I feel the time is right
To move beyond and out of sight

Out of the dark I step into the light
Cosmic blue
Taking a chance I step over the line
Cosmic blue

FM’s 1979 ‘Black Noise’, particularly ‘One O’Clock Tomorrow’ is very close to my heart and so I was delighted to find that there was a 2015 FM reunion and that it had gone full, well, esoteric. (Literally: it’s the name of the record label).

04 The Technos – Foreign Land (1983, England)

You make me strong
While we've been living through the night
We must be strong
Cause we've been fighting in a foreign fight

You've gotta listen to the teacher
You've gotta listen to the preacher
And keep me strong
Cause we've been living
Living in a foreign land

Now we're strangers
Living face to face
So blind to danger
While we've been living in the state of grace

You've gotta listen to the teacher
You've gotta listen to the preacher
Say your vows
Cause we've been living
Living in a foreign land

We've come a long way through the storm
Babe it's your love that keeps me warm
Through the crowds and pouring rain
Babe it's your love that soothes the pain

We're strangers living lives of danger

Bev Sage and Steve Fairnie again! And again the Bond echoes.

05 Bone Symphony – Dome Of The Spheres (1983, USA/Denmark)

In the daylight we will feel this glow
In summer, in fall
When the rain comes, when it turns to snow
The weather won't matter at all

We shall not fear it come what may
While we are here we will be safe

In the dome of the spheres
In love's domain
In the dome of the spheres
It's all arranged
In the dome of the spheres
In love's domain
In the dome of the spheres

In the twilight of the century
While shadows prolong
We can still feel what we choose to feel
And no-one can tell us we're wrong

Outside the world turns like a blade
Still love survives here in this place

This one came so close to making the cut for the space segment of ‘Now They Are Dreams’ but one of the reasons it didn’t is that there were already too many male voices. It found its home here.

06 Jewel – Mercy (2015, USA)

Simplicity does not come easy
When you're dreaming of being someone else
The grace you seek is fleeting
When you're bleeding your inner self

Have mercy on me please
Have mercy, I'm on my knees
I'm being broken again and again
I'll being broken until I remain open

When you're locked away fighting shadows
A constant battle trying to feel safe
When your own armour starts killing you
Cause it's causing you to sink beneath its weight

Call for mercy won't you please
Call for mercy get on you knees
You're being broken again and again
You'll keep being broken until you remain open

So feel the pain, give into it
Cry till you crack that's how the light gets in
Set your weapons on the ground
Until you're naked and trembling now
And when you think you can't stand any more

Give mercy to someone in need
Give mercy, don't you see
Life will break our hearts again and again
We'll keep being broken until we remain open

Can't you see
I have broken wide open
Let yourself be broken wide open
I have broken open

Jewel here is what Alanis is on ‘Movies’. A fulcrum, the turning point.

07 Axxess – Traditional Moon Dance (1983, France)

Instrumental

True story: Axxess was the synth project of Patrick Mimran, who was literally director of Lamborghini (the car company) and went on to do arty art things.

I think I encountered this one as a flexi-disc on a music (or perhaps computer) magazine in the 1980s. Those used to be a thing! “Novels for the Moons” was such a wonderful title, I remember hoping it would be an actual novel.

08 Yes – Light Of The Ages (2014, England)

A beacon is shining across the cosmos it's guiding
Igniting the pathway for us
Through the winter of our lives a faithful polestar arises
Within every heart the courage to advance
Past our fight at this stage is
The Light of the Ages

When troubles lay me low as fierce winds blow
Turn my gaze beyond to ride the inbound stream
There grace and mercy shine and fear is a dream
Sorrow's a dream

When darkness holds me down and trials abound
Lift my gaze within I'll hear the primal sound
Exposing the grand scheme, I can see it's a dream
Sorrow's a dream

And the beacon is shining across the cosmos it's guiding
Igniting the pathway for us
Through the winter of our lives a faithful polestar arises
Within every heart the courage to advance
Past our fight at this stage is
The Light of the Ages

I will follow the all-knowing, ever-glowing light
Through my soul's long dark night

When darkness holds me down and trials abound
Lift my gaze within I'll hear the primal sound
Exposing the grand scheme, I can see it's a dream

And the beacon is shining across the cosmos it's guiding
Igniting the pathway for us
Through the winter of our lives a faithful polestar arises
Within every mind the power to transcend
To proceed past all cages
The Light of the Ages
The Light of the Ages

I will follow the Light of the Ages
through my soul's long dark night

Jon Anderson goes all cosmic, certainly not for the first time, but it’s very cool to see these old rockers lighting up the galactic flares one last time.

09 Karen Carpenter – Now (1983, USA)

Now
Now when it rains I don't feel cold
Now that I have your hand to hold
The winds might blow through me but I don't care
There's no harm in thunder if you are there

And now
Now when we touch my feelings fly
Now when I'm smiling I know why
You light up my world like the morning sun
You're so deep within me we're almost one

And now
All the fears that I have start to fade
I was always afraid love might forget me
That love might let me down
Then look who I've found

The winds might blow through me but I don't care
There's no harm in thunder if you are there

And now, now
Now when I wake there's someone home
I'll never face the nights alone
You gave me the courage I need to win
To open my heart and to let you in
And I never really knew how until now
Until now

Karen has a central role in ‘Go Forth’ and it just seemed… right somehow that this, her last song, would be the response to Calling Occupants.

This is the point, you see. The now-ness of things.

10 Peter Gabriel – Down To Earth (2008, England)

Did you think that your feet had been bound
By what gravity brings to the ground?
Did you feel you were tricked
by the future you picked?
Well come on down
All these rules don't apply
when you're high in the sky
So come on down, come on down

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We got snow up on the mountains
We got rivers down below
We're coming down to the ground
We hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We'll send the seeds out in the breeze

Did you think you'd escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it
you were always afraid of the change
You've got a lot on your chest
Well you can come as my guest
So come on down, come on down

We're coming down to the ground

Like the fish in the ocean
We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live
We learned to climb
Then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
When we messed up our homeland
We set sail for the sky

We're coming down to the ground

We're coming down (down)
Coming down to Earth (down)
Like babies at birth (down)
Coming down to Earth (down to earth)
Redefine your priorities (down)
These are extraordinary qualities (down)
Down down, down to Earth

We're coming down to the ground

Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities
That you find on Earth

Coming down, coming down

Another end credits song from a movie featuring artificial intelligence.

End of the Intermission