Sally's blog

Sally's blog

Mirrors - The stories behind the songs

Hi Everyone!

 

Welcome to my first Blog post – feel free to make any comments you like. 

 

I woke up this morning with the mother of all headaches. Dragging myself out of bed I walked to the window, wondering how on earth I could crank myself up for the day.

  

As I drew back the blinds, I had a strange premonition that despite my malaise it was in fact going to be a good day.

 

The sun was just peeping over the horizon, casting a carpet of sparkling diamonds across the turquoise sea, like Paradise bubbling up from the deep. How could my headache survive such a blessing!

 

Normally my energy slumps towards zero in the mornings, from lingering symptoms of the chronic fatigue syndrome  that plagued me in the nineties and noughties, but today something was afoot in my soul.

 

I walked out on the patio for my morning cuddle with Galaxy and Mittens, my feline muses, the most vocal and tactile little beings you could ever imagine. Mittens is now a “stroke-aholic’ having survived PTSD from a traumatic kittenhood.

”Hey kitties whats up? Can you help me with my Blog?             ”Loud chorus of Miaows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mittens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galaxy


The time is always now

I had been thinking about starting a Blog on my website for some time but have continually put it off until “the right time”.  Yet as I gazed out upon the expanding carpet of jewelled sunlight acrosss the water I thought:  “Who or what is going to determine the right time?” When is anything the “right time” except when we choose it to be?”

 

We have no idea if we have even one more moment to savour the miraculous gift of life beyond this one. I thought of all the people waking up today on our planet who have no idea that this day will be their last.

Today could be mine.

  

A line from my song “ Night Theme” from “Water Bearer” says- “ And you have just one moment more before the night takes you!  Don’t be afraid, there is nowhere you can fall but the power of the Earth will hold you. 

 

So I thought I would use my songs as a springboard for taking a journey through the years of my life and share with you some of the background stories that gave birth to the music and certainly my debut single “Mirrors” from 1978 has an unusual story to tell.

The song was in fact an “afterthought” to my debut album “Water-Bearer” released in the autumn of 1978 and was not included on the first vinyl pressing. My record company wanted a single to promote the album and suggested I go home for the weekend and try and come up with one.

  

It was September 1978 and I was staying at “The Beacon”, my brother Mike’s hilltop home in Kington Hereforshire and the first golden colours of autumn were beginning to glow on the distant Brecon hills  of Hergest Ridge.

I used to love long solitary drives (still do) and it turned out that the song was destined to be composed as a result of a random mood change just as I arrived at Membury service station on the M4 motorway on my way home from London.

 

The first draft was scribbled on a napkin and stuffed into my handbag.

 

This was the song that would change my life forever,although not in the way I could ever have foreseen;  I often marvel at the fact that so many major events in life are triggered by small random occurances.

 

The tiniest movement of a pebble can set a major landslide in motion, the slightest turn of the tiny ‘trim-tab” on the hull of an great ocean liner can change its course by hundreds of miles.

 

 

I had been feeling miserable that Autumn day, having just been let down by an expected phone call that never came and in fact started to cry with pent-up frustration.

 

I often use emotions to make sounds that express and release pent up feelings, (although not in anyone’s earshot!) and a sound-proof car is a great place for such creative therapy.

 

As I did so, tears of misery began to roll down my face until, out of the blue, as if by some magical alchemy, a strange Hawaiian- sounding chant began to emerge from my voice – “Kiele- Aloha!”.- which means both Hello and Goodbye in Hawaiian.

 

Slowly the emotion in my voice began to metamorphose into a feeling of optimism. I thought
“Hey! Maybe he will call later!”
 

I have never been to Hawaii and have no conscious connection to that beautiful island, but just the sound of the words created the joyful melody to go with it.

 

The chorus melody is based around one of the brass instrumental themes of “Water Bearer” and as soon as I got home I created a demo, playing glockenspiel, guitars and keyboards and it just made me want to dance in the firelight of that Autumn night.

 

The record company liked it and within a couple of weeks I was recording the master with only two other musicians – Herbie Flowers on double bass and Frank Ricotti
on percussion.

 

I produced it myself at the Roundhouse Studios in north London and within a few short weeks I was standing on the terrace of The Beacon gazing out over the morning mist on the hills when the phone rang: ‘Hey Sally! “ Mirrors” is Radio One’s Record of the Week!” 

By the way...  he DID call later that day when I arrived home after  that magical motorway drive!

Write a comment

Comments: 14
  • #1

    Gus Gleiter (Friday, 31 May 2019 16:18)

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story! Looking forward to more <3

  • #2

    Enrique pais (Friday, 31 May 2019 18:29)

    Me encanta tu musica

  • #3

    Patricia Chilla (Friday, 31 May 2019 19:08)

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing these memories with us!

  • #4

    Dagmar Strunz (Friday, 31 May 2019 19:27)

    Oh, that’s amazing to let us know about this precious moment and your feelings! Hearing and enjoying your pretty music for so many years and now to hear those valuable moments of your life is so wonderful!

  • #5

    Onofre (Saturday, 01 June 2019 20:06)

    A nice story.
    I was at Steve Hackett's cocert in Paris last monday. Beyond words. And I've always wanted to ask you if you could tell us something about your contribution in his song Shadow of the Hierophant, from Voyage of the Acolyte. It's one of my all time favourite (the vocal part) and I'd love to know some details of the session and your impression of Steve. And by the way... Did he mention liking Mike's music in those days? Thanks very much. Best wishes.

  • #6

    Oliver (Saturday, 01 June 2019 20:22)

    Dear Sally,

    I don't know if you remember this - but ten years ago we did an interview for the WDR in Cologne. At the end of our telephone conversation you wanted to know from me what your fans might be interested in. I answered: "Tell the stories behind the song." You were a bit reluctant then - but I am happy you finally do tell those stories. And as you can see: we all love it!

  • #7

    Sally (Sunday, 02 June 2019 01:31)

    Hi Onofre - yes I remember singing on Shadow of the Hierophant and to the best of my recollection it was recorded at Mike's studio in Gloucestor- Througham Slad. Steve and Mike knew each other at that time and that was how I came to sing on that lovely track - so they certainly liked each other's music.
    I had some time to practise the vocal part and Steve was great to work with - very patient and loved experimenting until he felt the music was right.
    I always thought it was a really nice track but never dreamed it would turn out as popular as it has! Best wishes to you, Sally x

  • #8

    Sally (Monday, 03 June 2019 02:39)

    Hi Oliver- thanks for the memory! Yes I remember the interview with you very well and you must have planted the seed of the idea that has finally taken root. I'm glad you like my first post and I look forward to wandering down memory lane to gather and share more stories.
    Wishing you all the best and give my love to Cologne! Sally xx

  • #9

    Onofre (Monday, 03 June 2019 21:03)

    Thank you very much for your answer. Lovely memories! A big hug-

  • #10

    Alison Arrowsmith (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 19:49)

    Dear Sally

    I've always admired your what I always thought were Haiwaiian words in 'Mirrors'. Am I right in thinking that you used Haiwaiian words in 'The Blessing', 'Flaming Star' and 'Ohureo' as well?

    I've always loved the sound of those words but I have never been able to learn those lovely Hawaiian words you sing in 'Autumn Prelude' and 'Maya'. I did try once, to write them down phonetically, but they looked absolutely terrible.

    I've always wanted to know what they are and It would be lovely if you could reproduce them in your blog. Would that be feasible by any chance, Sally?

    With lots of Best Wishes xx

  • #11

    Alison Arrowsmith (Thursday, 06 June 2019 19:20)

    Hi Sally

    I have a memory about ‘Water Bearer’. I looked out for any releases by you after seeing a mention of you in the credits of my ‘Incantations’ album, something like, courtesy of Bronze Records. I eventually found the single and bought the album on the strength of it in 1978. The album was a later copy with the single included. I was 20 at the time and my late father, who was born in 1917, admired your album very much. Needless to say, I have been a fan of yours ever since and over the years I have gathered a lovely collection of your music.

    A few months following that I was tuned into Personal Call on Radio 1 featuring your brother Mike and was delighted to discover that you were invited too. What a treat!

    Best wishes

  • #12

    Sally (Sunday, 09 June 2019 23:37)

    Hi Alison, Thanks for your message and your question about the lyrics of some of my songs. The answer is not so simple as the Hawaiian theme was only for Mirrors. I usually create the melody for my songs first,with snippets and fragments of lyrics that gradually come together like a magical jigsaw.
    Occasionally the intense mood of the melody refuses to meld with any English words at all and thats when I seem to hear an unknown language coming through which seems to express the perfect feeling for the song. Often the lyrics have a Celtic or Eastern flavour and my Irish mother was a gifted, spontaneous creator of highly entertaining limericks which she used to regale us with on long car journeys - often spiced up with strange and exotic words.
    As you may know I am a great fan of Tolkien who created the most beautiful Elven language of his own, although containing echoes of his erudite knowledge of ancient languages of the world. Maybe its to do with past lives or something! xx

  • #13

    Maximilian Hohmann (Tuesday, 11 June 2019 21:13)

    Dear Sally,

    thank you for sharing the story behind this song with us. And thank you even more for writing and composing that song - and the other ones - in the first place :-)

    I consider myself incredibly privileged because I could attend many wonderful concerts of talented artists (classical, pop and rock music) over the past fourty years. But one concert will allways stand out and that was your performance at the "Liederhalle" in Stuttgart in 1982. As far as I know your album "In Concert" was recorded during that performance - at least part of it. Many years later I was lucky enough to hear Anna Netrebko, one of the most talented singers of my generation, performing at the same place. She sang as good as a human being possibly can sing, but your performance was much more than that: Magical. Out of this world. I can not imagine that anyone present this evening will ever forget it. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this evening as much as we did!

    So I am looking forward to read more from you in this place. About your songs. About your performances. What they were like for you. Do you remember any? And why?

    Be assured, I am absolutely no crazy "fan boy" type of person. I live my own life, job, family, friends, horses, stars - but also music. I still have a framed photo that I took during your concert in Stuttgart 37 years ago (back then it was still allowed to walk to the stage and take photos). It was just so good.

    Thank you for everything!

    Maximilian

  • #14

    Sally (Tuesday, 18 June 2019)

    Hi Maximilian- thanks for your message and recollections of my music and concerts over the years.I am glad to hear you are inspired and will be posting a new blog "story' very soon.
    Wishing you all the best for your life - Sally xx