Starstuff

Another Monday, another old song blurb from the Alleged Artist…

When I was quite small, my parents bought me a Fisher Price record player. It came with a handful of two-sided plastic “records” that included a bunch of classic songs, which it would basically play like a music box. It wasn’t long, of course, before I tried to speed it up and slow it down, and eventually I’m pretty sure I broke it. Before that happened, my favorite song might have been “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, which I *think* was on a purple record. Simple as it is, that song has an interesting past all its own. It’s actually an English poem set to a French melody. See, the English and the French can work together after all. The music dates all the way back to the 18th century. The line that always stuck with me was “like a diamond in the sky”.

Fast forward probably seven or so years, and Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, which I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this blog, was aired for the first time. I was captivated by all 13 episodes, but especially the one about “The Lives of the Stars”, which was pretty well titled, as it talked about how stars were born, how they live, and how they die. The most massive stars die in unimaginably colossal explosions called supernovae, and those explosions are so violent that they create and disperse all manner of different elements, some of which eventually find their way into forming a new nebula, where gravity causes the formation of a new star system, and on at least one planet, those elements came together to initiate life. As Sagan elegantly put it, we are all made of “starstuff”. Whoa.

Fast forward another 12 years, and I was sitting down with pen and paper, once again looking for ten-ish ideas upon which to base the next album, “Echoes of the Mist”. I was also experimenting in parallel with my new toys from Kawai. I decided to write a song about the stars and our unique relationship with them, and I had the perfectly matching music, and boom, “Diamonds” was born. But the version you are about to hear was not the version from the original album.

Here’s another dovetailing story. In late 1986, for whatever reason, I ended up giving a Velvet Cockroach song called “Class of 87” to my AP English teacher, Mrs. Babb. I was still heavily singing like Bob Dylan back then, which she noted, but she also said it would make a great official class song for our graduation the next spring. So I went along the next several months thinking there wasn’t anything else I needed to do there – pretty naive, as of course the lead music teacher at the school wanted to have some input, and basically set up a competition. I had no idea how to play that game, and lost. The person who won was a freshman named Mike. Keep in mind, my dad had just passed away when this all went down, so I was a little raw, and of course my immature 18-year-old self blamed Mike among others. But of course it wasn’t his fault or anybody else’s, he just wrote a good song and knew how to make it stand out. As I noted in another post here, Mrs. Babb still arranged for me and my friend Tony to be able to play “Class of 87” at the rehearsal. And I actually also got to work with Mike on another song that ended up being played at graduation itself, by the time of which I considered him a friend.

Ok here is where this all comes together: several years later, I found out through Tony that Mike had built his own studio in his basement, with all the latest high-end gear. So I actually recorded a few songs at that studio, and “Diamonds” was one of them. That became the “official” version of “Diamonds”:

As good as my own setup was getting, it was nowhere close to this yet. So it was pretty cool to be able to do that. The only thing I’ve really changed here, other than a little noise reduction and rebalancing of the EQ, is that I isolated the vocals and took them down a notch. But thanks once again, Mike – my first listen after we recorded it left me feeling up above the world so high.

LYRICS

Ever – ever since the dawn of humankind
Our weary eyes have gazed up in wide wonder to see you shine
Sparkling like diamonds, glowing with a distant fire

Your lifetime, it almost cannot be measured in years
We can hear your sweet music, but it’s not in our ears
It’s in our hearts – we were made from you

And we’re a lot like you, you know, little points of light in the dark
Setting the stage for future generations, watching it all begin with a little spark

Shepherds – shepherds, kings and wisemen followed you
And sailors steered their mighty ships across the ocean blue
In a world of chaos, you seem to transcend time

Though your number exceeds that of all the grains of sand on every beach
Eternity is beyond even your reach
Whatever space and time are, you’ve made them a little brighter

You’ve come to life in us, you know, like it’s all part of some master plan
And we’re learning a little more every day – I hope before I die we’ll understand
Human life’s so short, you know – next to you we’re never here at all, or so it seems
But sooner or later we’ll come back to you – it’s one of our crazy little dreams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial