The Glassy Mountain

by Sophie Ramsay

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Anita Botman
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Anita Botman This album is like a fairytale, haunting and enchanting. The music goes from very quiet and spare to full bloom and I love every second of it.
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1.
We never saved much for posterity We had no cause We had the rest of our long lives. I never took any photographs of you I was too busy looking at your sweet warm eyes. I never wrote you a love song Though I wanted to– I comfort myself with the thought that you knew: I would have loved you forever if your life had carried on And I will love you forever Although you are irrevocably gone. This is the song I never wrote, although I always meant to. But I was busy holding your hand and kissing your nice lips And I guess we both knew it was a love song that we lived. I loved the names you called me, I loved your clever eyes I loved your body even though it sometimes made you shy. I would have loved you forever if your life had carried on And I will love you forever Although you are irrevocably gone. This is the song I never wrote for you. This is the song I never wrote for you. This is the song I never wrote, although I always meant to. The future was ours, and so we staked so many claims The places we would travel to The children, the names Of the friends who we were still to meet, All the evenings, the jokes But now, as it turns out, we have been robbed of all our hopes. This is the song I never wrote for you. This is the song I never wrote for you. This is the song I never wrote, although I always meant to. I would have loved you forever if your life had carried on And I will love you forever Although you are irrevocably gone.
2.
Lux Perpetua 03:19
Lux Perpetua Luceat Ei And the sun is yours That warms my face and feet. Lux perpetua—although the nights come in Like grandmother's footsteps behind. Lux Perpetua And the rain will come down drab And I will bandy blues Forgotten things in pockets and Puddles in my shoes Winter will step on our heels And bare knuckled knock at the door And I will cry hotly and hopeless again Tears of your nevermore. Lux Perpetua Luceat Ei And the sun is yours That warms my face and feet. Lux perpetua—although the nights come in Like blackout blinds. Lux Perpetua. But blackbirds and their brown wives Have rustled in the leaves The white-nosed coots on rivers And the swallows in the eaves I have been deaf-blind so long While hedgerows brimmed and then Not ever will I touch you more But I'd say I have eyes again. Lux Perpetua Luceat Ei Ah ah ah And because you were you can't be Taken away. Lux perpetua luceat ei.
3.
I am Juliet Who did not die But awoke to a world, Weightier and worse Who wandered the nightscape alone To follow the hearse; Who walked to the alter Red with sorrow Soaking from rain Outside the blowing gale, And I am Orpheus And long have I sung In the underworld To no avail. But I have been privy to something true, Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue. Julia and I were out in the evening With lipstick on and She wrote me a letter And this is her song With Saskia, we supped on dumplings, Gleaned the star shined streets Of pennies for our thoughts And feasts of Chinese sweets And we belonged to bright time A-stepped out from the cold And shy against the sky-line All feather-wrought, yolk gold And nothing can get better But I am stumbling through Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue. You, my love, were up with the gulls While I lay, somnolence and curls While I lay breathing dreaming breaths You took the outside's icy kiss And now you sleep forever And I in bright unrest Will try to be your eyes, my love And only see the best And all the splendid times that will probably ensue, Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue. Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue. And I am not alone now For this is the whole world's tune And many things are touched and told Beneath the visiting moon And the ever endless erstwhile And beyond, the copious slew, Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue. Something borrowed, something blue. Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue.
4.
Timelessness 04:15
I came from timelessness and you went to it. I was born between annals and mists In the house of the she-ghosts and the Wind blown warm from the aged-stone chimney. I was a savage tamed, ballet footed and blundering, Out of the root system I came, like a beanstalk, Into the ballroom, where we began to spin Into a new world dance with steps as old as night. I was rudimentary, subsisting off sunsets You were suited and soft palmed and bellied with meats. Or so it seemed. I was mistaken. We taught each other grace. We breathed fire and forests Milk and soft somethings. We didn't quite agree about God. Now is the murk time, Now is the dust time. Now is the forgotten sister of despair. Now is the freewheel of skin-sores And pale eyes and red heartedness. Now there are green grown bulbs and foraging air farers Lip-synchers of sunken syllables. Now there are window-down cruising cars And men who loiter and leer, Blind to your having been. I came from timelessness, and you left for it, High up in the no-man's place in the white snow, I came from timelessness, and you left for it, In the meet of the ice and fire When the mountain fell down.
5.
The world is impertinent pigeons And the time-share of sunlight and lamps And the city is spruced and the city is spinning To shake off the days of the damp. The world is bicycle streets And the clang-bang and clattered repair As the city is shined and the city is oiled To turn in the nonchalant air. Da-a da... And I have been so inconsolable So muted, bewildered in black And though I have chalked the streets with your was-ness There never is any way back The world is without you my love And although I have tacked and jibed I have seen always your absence in front And always your absence behind. The world is impertinent pigeons And the time-share of sunlight and lamps And the city is spruced and the city is spinning To shake off the days of the damp. The world is sky-skittish sparrows And everywhere light is sown And the toothy mouthed houses are grinning and gleaming And I am all alone. The world is impertinent pigeons And the time-share of sunlight and lamps And the city is spruced and the city is spinning To shake off the days of the damp. The world is without you my love And although I have tacked and jibed I have seen always your absence in front And always your absence behind.
6.
Those days we had as winter came Each day was more enclosed in night: Than that before, like Russian dolls, When we would walk, out in the streets, The tock, tock, tock of our feet And we replete, and we alight. And we would drink wine, kitchen dance, Your deft hands turning fish in pans Your kind hands, our soft caresses, A myriad exultant kisses. The sky was moon-ripe, luminary Sempiternal, promisary. These days winter walks its paces Damply in the leaf-left spaces Nuts and seeds, our bird oblations My grandmother's incantations, And I make soup and bake bread And feel the night slip overhead. And love of mine, I see you still I wish you saw the ocean swell Of crows flown out to herald night, I wish you heard the feather beat, Euphoric squawk: a skein of geese Come quick and sleek over the house. And love of mine, you never meant To leave me like this, so despondent And love of mine, I must go out Go out by clear-called owl invite Out of the tomb-black dark of my room Into the moon-slack night. Those days we had as winter came Each day was more enclosed in night: Than that before, like Russian dolls, When we would walk, out in the streets, The tock, tock, tock of our feet The tock, tock, tock of our feet The tock, tock, tock of our feet And we replete, and we alight.
7.
You can ask the prophet He'll tell you all he knows And you can ask the skipper The way the trade wind blows And you can ask the soothsayer, The bookie's tipping sides But sometimes, A glassy mountain decides You can follow the magi To the east, a burning star Where a gypsy reads your tea leaves And tells you the way things are Oh you can drink the shaman's cup And see what dreams will say But sometimes a glassy mountain Will tear it all away. What you ask of the mountain Was never yours to say A mountain can cast you forever in stone A mountain can turn you to clay And you were mine my love As I was yours, and still A mountain will do as it does my love A mountain will do as it will. In the icy dark of winter night You knock at the blackmith's shop And the blacksmith takes you in For he knows there is no other way up And there you learn in solder and fire To forge your iron shoes And up the unspeakable face you climb No other way to chose. The gambler has gone cold turkey here The skipper is far from the seas The magi are cursing the star here And winds do as they please The shaman's cup is empty now The prophet has lost his faith And I came here to prove my love Though you are sleeping beneath. What you take from the mountain Was never yours to know A mountain can cast you forever in stone A mountain can fold you in snow And you were mine my love As I was yours, and yet A mountain will do as it does my love Without regret. You can ask the prophet He'll tell you all he knows And you can ask the skipper The way the trade wind blows And you can ask the soothsayer, The bookie's tipping sides But sometimes, A glassy mountain decides.
8.
I might have come here with you in May time instead We might have kissed beneath those reeds that are taller than our heads We might perhaps have gaped at green and blossom snow white We would have walked the woods in daytime and kept each other warm at night Da-a da... But there is no space now for speculation and dreaming The winter snows have taken you, you never saw the spring Now I come here in January to see this place you loved To midwinter snow-bloom and branches bare above. Da-a da... Now I come with crowds to bring a poem for your deaf ears While snow muffles footsteps and freezes all our tears Now we come to watch your coffin lowered to the ground While the snow and sun obliviously both go down. Da-a da... The river is frozen now but time continues on And takes us further from the moment you suddenly were gone And out of possibility of other worlds of chance Turns chance to truth to sorrow in silent, blind advance. I could shout to the woods now, calling your name But I know that the answer is always the same. I have asked of the woods and the woods have replied “You know well that the answer you seek is inside” A still wind is blowing the words ‘he is dead’ And I am a widow before I was wed.
9.
Crocuses 03:36
I was beckoned out one night By the wind-chill rising dark And the leaf-tide flotsam passing by As I passed the shuffling park. I went out to find you And the flock of leaves in the air And my breath-tide rolling in and out But crocuses grew in the, crocuses grew in the square. I went out to meet you And you under lamplight leak And you standing hatted and gentle there And I forgot how to, I forgot how to speak. You said ‘take your time’ so kindly I stumbled to confess And you grasped my hand in yours and then Our sudden code-breaker, sudden code-breaker kiss. Then we went out in the cool together And all of the world was ours And high on the night’s dark shoulder there A billion startled, billion startled stars. Now I walk out in the blankest dark Out on the night’s black brow And I can see you clearer there But you are nowhere, you are nowhere now.
10.
Home Again 04:27
I am home again and the outside With tongue-wet leafy limes It arches its eyebrow And gestures “About time” About time it is, you know for The reflective world of rain And the roundly-uddered welcoming Of night-blot's soft refrain. I am home again and the inside All flush-walled and beam Clears its floor-creak throat And it sighs in kettle-steam. About time it is no doubt for Hedges, beaded in rosehip Time for the greenly grassflush And the snaking of raindrip. I am home again and the garden With cross path arms, it tuts. And checks again the sundial. “About time”, “no buts”. About time for earthworms and Shuffling crowsfeet Upon the moss upon the conker tree And lichen on the beech. About time for crowsteps And slates beneath the soak On top of the singingly Lingering house, old as oak. Now I sit where you once sat In anytime-old air Soon I will go to London And I will sing for you there.

about

The glassy mountain is a motif from European folklore. In many stories, a hero or heroine comes to a path and the path leads to a glass mountain. They can't turn back, and they can't go round the mountain, they can only climb it. But it is a sheer face of glass. In The Black Bull of Noroway, the story I remember hearing as a child, the heroine apprentices herself to the blacksmith for seven years, until she can make herself a pair of iron shoes (sort of like Mediaeval crampons) to climb the glassy mountain. This is how she proves her love to the hero of the story. I saw the glassy mountain as a metaphor for grief. You can't turn back, or go round it, and yet, it feels impossible to navigate. This album was my apprenticeship to the blacksmith and my climbing of the glassy mountain. It was my proving my love to the man who had died falling down the mountain.

credits

released November 2, 2013

All the songs were written and performed by Sophie Ramsay (voice, guitar, piano). They were produced by Jim Sutherland and recorded, mixed and mastered at Castlesound Studio with Stuart Hamilton

1. The Song I Never Wrote for You
double bass (Euan Burton), acoustic guitar & viola (Matheu Watson),

2. Lux Perpetua
soprano saxophone (Fraser Fifield), piano, hammered dulcimer (David Hart), French Horn (Jim Rattigan), percussion (Jim Sutherland),

3. Something Old, Something New
double bass (Euan Burton), Rhodes piano (Steven Christie), glockenspiel (David Hart), drums (Chris Peacock), French horn (Jim Rattigan), percussion (Jim Sutherland)

4. Timelessness
hammond organ (Steven Christie), viola (Pete Clark), French horn (Jim Rattigan),

5. Impertinent Pigeons
double bass (Euan Burton), fiddle (Pete Clark), accordion (David Hart), mandolin (Matheu Watson)

6. Russian Dolls
double bass (Euan Burton), Rhodes piano (Steven Christie), fiddle (Pete Clark), glockenspiel & accordion (David Hart), drums (Chris Peacock), French horn (Jim Rattigan),

7. The Glassy Mountain
just Sophie

8. Kent, Connecticut
double bass (Euan Burton), hammond organ (Steven Christie), kaval (Fraser Fifield), accordion (David Hart), percussion (Jim Sutherland),

9. Crocuses
double bass (Euan Burton), fiddle (Pete Clark), accordion (David Hart), French horn (Jim Rattigan), mandolin (Matheu Watson)

Home Again
double bass (Euan Burton), low whistle (Fraser Fifield)

Artwork:
Drawing by Kate Aspinall: www.kateaspinall.com
Background photograph by Maria Lee Warren: www.graphiclee.co.uk
Portrait photo by Sàri Ember: www.embersari.com

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Sophie Ramsay UK

Sophie Ramsay sings old and new folk: songs from her native Scotland alongside originals with poetic lyrics. ‘The Glassy Mountain' (2013): ‘undeniably beautiful’ (fRoots), 'Joanna Newsom meets Belle and Sebastian' (R2). ‘The Seas Between Us’ (2016): 'Atmospheric, elegant and beguiling.' (Songlines). ‘Deeply moving’ (fRoots). Sophie tours regularly with cellist singer Sarah Smout. ... more

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