A musician's journey across four seas.
Holed up in France drinking, waiting for the wind to come around, drinking and waiting for the sea to calm on down, drunk and waiting for the quietest of sounds, Emotional Pete announced 'I am from Amsterdam and name my boat Adam!" I burst out laughing, 'And we name ours Eve!' Dan piped in, 'Adam and Eve sail east to the garden of Eden!'
In the French language the verb se balader means to go for a walk, or stroll, or ride, or drive. To go for a wander, if you will. Early springtime 2012 and two boats wandered with intent from France to Turkey. A delivery, not a luxury cruise. No holiday. No stopping, only to hide from bad weather and stock up on provisions.
Three Irishman on a sailing vessel we named Eve crossed the western Mediterranean in tandem with two Dutchmen and an Irishman onboard Eve's twin, Adam. In reality the boats were nameless, simply assigned the numbers 811 and 812. Through the Straits of Bonafacio and Magellena into the Tyrrhenian Sea, continuing to the Aeolian Island of Lipari, onward under an erupting Mount Etna through the Messina Straits into the Ionian Sea, eventually crossing the Aegean to the south west coast of Turkey.
In the Turkish port of Fethye two identical boats awaited the worn out crews. Eve became Farceur, the jester, Adam the Bienvenu. The joke was on us as we were unwelcome, these boats had to leave Turkish waters for the company headquarters on Greece's west facing Ionian coast. Four thousand sea-miles, eighteen days at sea, thirty five days on board. This was some wander.
In naming The Ballad Of Adam & Eve as such, I'm purposefully misspelling. In my mind's eye it is The Balade Of Adam & Eve, meaning the journey. But as a collections of songs written mostly at sea on sailing vessel 812 (Eve) during spring 2012, using the English 'ballad' seems appropriate. I could French it up with an 'e' on the end to become The Ballade Of Adam & Eve but surely it would only lead to search engine confusions, misspellings, misunderstandings, possible injuries, certain death. Or should I translate it all into French as Le Balade d'Adam & Eve? Perhaps I should. At least for release in France.
The songs came at various points of the trip, although some were tunes I'd had for some time. The Quietest Of Sounds was mulling around while we were waiting in France but I didn't finish it until I was back in Dublin months later. I remember whistling the guitar melody on an underground train in Milan as the Captain and I clambered towards my cousin's apartment as we tried to re-enter life on land.
I Feel Love was written years before but I had written the lyrics on the back of a card and lost them. I couldn't remember all of the lines, the missing pieces were easily filled in describing some locations along the journey, almost as if the song had been waiting to be finished this way. I have since found the card with the original words and the lyrics that I could not recall were quite terrible to the point of being instantly forgettable.
And She Rolls is a mixture of an old song from about 2006, Houston, played by my band at the time Yukina, in it's pre Swamp Disco days, with a repeating refrain that looped through my skull on the first nights where Eve rolled on the following waves, side to side, again and again, softly but eternally tossing us around.
Still Black Lake was written by an ex-girlfriend, Liz Walsh, but she had a different tune in mind. It did not impress her at the time when I took her words and wrote my own chords to them. Written in Sydney, Australia in 1996, she can still remember the original idea she had for it. She has given her blessing to this version with my few alterations only if I promise to record her version sometime.
What Dream You I wrote in patches along the way. The chords in the verse were something I had been messing around with for a while, playing it over and over during our minibus mountain pass drive in Turkey from Fethiye to Turgutreis (see my boat journal below). My cousin, the Irishman onboard Adam, commented warmly on those chords, so I put a chorus to them with an idea that had come to me while trying to sleep after night watch a few mornings before.
All The Girls is from about 2004, a song seemingly nothing really to do with anything but it just seemed to fit into the wanderings of the mind at sea for a prolonged time.
The lyrics to Lipari Blues were written on our first night in the Ionian Sea. It was also our first stormy night. I wrote it instead of the usual journal entry in the gangway bracing myself with feet, knees, hips and elbows so my hands could be somewhat free enough to scribble words down. A thousand or so miles later alone on night watch on a glassy calm Aegean sea I found an old video on my phone where I had recorded chord ideas for a verse against a chorus. I flicked back through my journal and found the words to fit perfectly. The chorus took longer, only in Lipari on a separate delivery later that year would I finish it by singing, 'and I haven't written the last line yet' to an approving audience of one.
I wrote Queen Of Santorini in its entirety after witnessing the sunrise over the island. The symbolism reflects the full circle nature of my selfish attempts at resolution with the lack of a complete circle (see satellite imagery) due to unimaginable tragedy perhaps the crux of the scenario. It's remarkable that I wrote it four days before I would buy a guitar in Turkey. I figured out the chords and melodies during that aforementioned minibus mountain pass drive while the English mostly slept and Emotional Pete told tall tales (see journal).
Say Goodbye is an old tune from 1995. I had written various lyrics over the years but none had satisfied. It always was a sea-faring song, I just had to go to sea to finish it.
Battlelines is a Yukina song from the post Swamp Disco era borrowed for this project partially because my brother really rates it, partially because the band wanted a rock song, and partially because of 'the seagulls and their cries' line.
I think I wrote Le Balade d'Adam & Eve as I traveled overland in Europe for a while before going home. I remember waking up in a room I did not recognise. Momentarily, I had no idea where I was. Then it dawned on me. 'I'm home!'
Home with an album in my mind, I recorded guitars and vocals in August 2012 in Dublin's Bow Lane Studios. Eight years have passed during which progress has been constant if slow, arguably as if mimicking the ocean. Life and other projects get in the way; lineup changes, a home invasion, four years of college, more years of PTSD, now COVID-19, but this project nears conclusion. As I had an orchestra in my mind imagining the songs in that fiberglass hull I had to go to music school to learn how to orchestrate. Now to find a (remote) orchestra to play it.