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Captain Robert
Abney Park
Song Origins - Issue Number 2 - Lullabys 
17th-Aug-2011 10:58 am
A while back I posted a blog about the origins of a few Abney Park songs, and people said they really enjoyed it, so I'm doing it again.

Today's theme is Lullaby. I once had the idea of making a whole compilation CD of lullbys, since Traci and Krystof (Of Abney Park and Sinforsa) had just written the beautiful Gypsy Girl (which would make anyone cry to hear right now)...and because I always loved Voltaires Goodnight Deamond Slayer.

Here are two Abney Park Lullaby's:

Sleep Isabella
Sleep Isabella is a lullaby, although not a very effective one the way its recorded, since it tends to make everybody dance. But in its original ah capella version it is very effective, and I sing it to Isabella every night. In fact I've been known to phone Bella from the greenroom of whatever club we are playing that night to sing her to sleep. (for those worried parents please note we hardly play more then one show every two weeks, so 99 percent of the time I'm sing to her while holding her hand).

The lyrics aren't deep, no. In fact they are derivative of something even sillier. One of her favorite books is a book call "Little Fur Child" about a little family of furry creatures that lived in a tree, and the adventures of the littlest of the family (pictured above). At the end of the book the parents sing a song to their fur child:

Sleep Sleep my little fur child
Out of the Windyness Out of the Wild
Sleep Warm In Your Fur all night long
In your little Fur Family...this is a song.

Now, I had to read this book to her every night, and after a while I started making up a melody to it. Eventually she asked me to sing it to her at bed time, and I started putting "Isabella" in place of "My little fur child" since Bella is not overly furry (except for the curly stuff on her head, which smells like a hug). So the song evolved into:

Sleep Sleep My Isabella
Safly in Your Carosella
Sleep though the spinning just like your begining
Sleep my Child, oh sleep my child.

In our heads Isabella had a little crib shaped like a carosel that we called her "Carosella", and it revolved as she slept. I didn't make up the word, but the only other place I've heard it spoken was in the song "Carosella" by In The Nursery (Awesome song). When I pictured a "Carosella" from their song, I came up with the whole "spinning crib" thing.

The line "Sleep Through the spinning, Just like your beginning" is in reference to how much she spun and squirmed in the womb.

Admittedly, after a while Bella got tired of Sleep Isabella, and had me singing what she called "My Pirate Song", which is an old sea shanty about the guy who invented Beer. An odd song to sing to a three year old girl, but a father does what is asked of him, provided it doesn't wreck the house or ruin the child. Here are lyrics to Bellas "pirate song": http://hoss88.xanga.com/331713999/item

This Dark and Twisty Road

This song is sort of a Little Red Ridding Hood + The Woodsmen metaphor for my relationship with my Daughter Chloe (now 6).

Little girl, in your dress of snowy white. Get behind me, and safe from creatures of the night
Long ago and far away I hunted my deamonds down to make you a safer way, down this dark and twisted road.

Little girl, keep your feet upon the trail. If you stray, you'll become a cautionary tale.
With these arms and with these fists I'll keep you safe and sound.
Through the forests and the mists , and down, This dark and twisted road

Don't run little girl, I've got your back, I'll cover you. Don't you run and hide yourself , your safe

Little girl, one day i'll give you away. Though i'll miss you, i can't ask you to stay.
Your whole life until this day, i have protected you, and If you'll need me on your way, i'l be around this dark and twisted road.

This song is from a father to a daughter, pledging to protect and look after her her whole life. I'm tearing up as a type, honestly, as its a very emotional theme to me. And yes, she did have a "Dress Of Snow White". It was lacy, and white, and she wore it, and danced in it, and played in it, until it was sepia, and torn, and all the more beautiful for the happiness that it soaked in from a tiny little girl with long rose colored hair.


The line "Long ago and far away I hunted my deamonds down" is to mean that I have strengthened my self as a person, corrected my issues as much as a could, so that I could be a strong father to Chloe (as opposed to a selfish father who spends his time dealing with himself more then his family). In typing this I wonder if I'm drifting away from that focus...perhaps I should re-evaluate our touring schedule a bit, and perhaps how much attention I pay to on-line Abney-Drama. My Family should be my first priority, and my Art second, and all else should hardly enter in to the equation.

The final verse is a realization that eventually all daughters leave their fathers and go off into the world. I end the song by saying "Although I can't ask you to stay, know that I will always be here waiting to take care of you should you ever need me.

And on that note I'll end this and go off and have a sentimental cry. Daughters grow up, and they change as they grow, and although you love every incarnation of them you get, you only get each incarnation for a brief flicker of time.

You should go call your dad, or better yet, find him and give him a hug.
17th-Aug-2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
damn, dude, i am now all teary eyed!

thank you for this post. i love knowing the background story to your lyrics. you are awesome for sharing.
17th-Aug-2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
yeah, I mean to do it more often. I really will try, I think the CONTENT of the music needs to be as prominent as all the other more glitzy stuff.
(Deleted comment)
17th-Aug-2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
at least you had that.

I'm sorry about your father.
17th-Aug-2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
That is very touching. I have hardly had time to read or post online in recent weeks, but I'm very glad I caught this post of yours. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope your daughters won't mind if we selfishly enjoy what time you give to us. ;)
17th-Aug-2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
They know daddy and mommy work, and doing live shows is a big part of that...But I might need to work on keeping my mine off of music when I'm being with them.
17th-Aug-2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this...I am always very interested to know the stories behind the songs, and many of the Abney Park songs have provided hours of mystery over which to ponder (and about which I will ask a question in a moment)...

But I wanted to further comment that I have a god-daughter (my only one, in fact...I have two god-sons that are her older brothers) who is almost 3 whose name is also Isabella, and she's lovely and wonderful, and I think of her every time I hear "Sleep, Isabella." :)

The song I'm most mystified over in the Abney Park repertoire at the moment is "Virus"...it reads like a riddle to me, and I'm not certain what the "answer" happens to be, but I have some theories, so if you do this again in the near future, I'd be curious to hear your tales in relation to it, as well as other songs that are thematically linked to it!
17th-Aug-2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
The song I'm most mystified over in the Abney Park repertoire at the moment is "Virus"

I'm assuming this is the result of three or more drunken musicians playing Left4Dead after midnight.
17th-Aug-2009 08:02 pm (UTC)

It's tough being a Dad, but it's the best job I've ever held. My girls are a bit older than yours....both were at the Columbia Theatre concert and took it all in.

I am glad that this thread runs so strongly through the music they love and enjoy so much. You asked not long ago on Twitter what one songwriter could do for the world? The answer is, much, my friend.

Follow your heart. It's what I tell my girls all the time. And it's good for them to see their elders following THEIR hearts, rather than chaining themselves to jobs they hate to buy stuff they don't need.

- Mac

17th-Aug-2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
"...what one songwriter could do for the world? The answer is, much, my friend."

That's possibly the nicest thing anyone has said to me all month. Thank you.
17th-Aug-2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
I am speechless and thrilled to read this post, Robert! It reveals such a depthand passion behind your writing- that thrills me when I find it! It is so rare and exciting to find writers who care as much as you do!
And you made me think of my Chloe (now 8) and her wild spirit!

ALL THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!
17th-Aug-2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Robyn.
(Deleted comment)
17th-Aug-2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
My oldest sister is not speaking to my father, and this has been going on for years.

The reason is the lamest of all possible reasons: They disagree politically, and neither will shut up about it!

They both seriously need a smack upside the Limbic System.

You should call your dad. If its his fault you guys don't talk, forgive. If its your fault, smack yourself one good, then get over it. I don't mean to make light of whats likely to be very serious matters, but time rarely goes backwards.

If I ever mess up my relationship with my daughter, I pray she have the strength to help me fix it.
17th-Aug-2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd had these songs to sing to my kids when they were still babies. Alas, mine got "Silent Lucidity" and "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" and random Queen songs.

You're an awesome dad, Cap'n. If I didn't already think you were a hell of a guy before, this would have sealed it for me.
17th-Aug-2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
aw *snif* thanks.
17th-Aug-2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for this.
When I was little, about 4 or so, my dad used to teach me to dance, by letting me stand on his feet. I learned to waltz to Strauss and foxtrot and even jitterbug, because my dad loved to dance. He and my mum made sure we listened to all sorts of music.
Before my dad got really sick a few years ago, the last public appearance he made was at my wedding where he danced with me to "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. He passed away 6 months later. I'm sad that he'll never get to dance with my own daughters, should I be blessed to have them.

Thank you Robert, for reminding me how special dads can be to their daughters. I miss him. But I have all these wonderful memories of him.
17th-Aug-2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
well, if you got any kind of religion in you, likly there is some thing about an after life in their. If so your father and daughters can dance together their. And my grandmother can take my daughters horse back riding, as she did for me and my sisters.

Crap this is a sentimental thread. I'd better drink something before I dehydrate.
17th-Aug-2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
This post was amazing, Robert.
Growing up, my dad wasn't always the best father (anger problems and whatnot), but every night before I went to sleep he would read me a story from my favorite book. That simple act let me know he always loved me, and is probably one of the few reasons I am able to talk to him today. I still own the book and read it sometimes when I'm having a horrible day, because it reminds me of his love for me.

Your daughters are very lucky to have your love and protection, and I'm sure will appreciate the songs you've given them more than one can ever know.
17th-Aug-2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Also, this post reminded me of a poem by Dick Laurie
"How do we forgive our Fathers?
Maybe in a dream.
Do we forgive our Fathers for leaving us too often or forever
when we were little?

Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous
because there never seemed to be any rage there at all.

Do we forgive our Fathers for marrying or not marrying our Mothers?
For Divorcing or not divorcing our Mothers?

And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning
for shutting doors
for speaking through walls
or never speaking
or never being silent?

Do we forgive our Fathers in our age or in theirs
or their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it?

If we forgive our Fathers what is left?"
17th-Aug-2009 09:22 pm (UTC) - lullabys
Thanks - Sleep Isabella is one of my favs and I've danced it many times - as for hugging my father - I would if I could Robert! He's been gone for a while, but he would have definitely appreciated the symbolism of Dark and Twisty Road, as he was an old-fashioned gentleman who would have gladly done anything for his family! Thanks!!
17th-Aug-2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
My sister and I loved Little Fur Family as children too, and we still sing little songs like that to our pets and to our friends' children. I had a tune for "This is a song" too! My father used to sing sea shanties to me -- I still love them, even though he passed away years ago, when I was 20 and our relationship was just starting to move away from "rocky."

It sounds like you'll always be there for your girls -- that, and always letting you know you love them, is the most important thing a father can do for daughters. Take it from a daughter who doesn't have her father any more. :)
17th-Aug-2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
that's a hell of a closing sentence to be followed with a smiley! But I know what you mean.

I'd love to hear other mellodys for that...we should start a website, Kristina has her own tune for it as well!
17th-Aug-2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
"The line "Long ago and far away I hunted my deamonds down" is to mean that I have strengthened my self as a person, corrected my issues as much as a could, so that I could be a strong father to Chloe (as opposed to a selfish father who spends his time dealing with himself more then his family)."

That is one of the most honest and inspiring things I've heard in a long time. If only every child could have a father that is half the man you are, they would be very lucky indeed.

Thanks for continuing to amaze us all with Abney Park, and for showing us that there's nothing more important than family.
17th-Aug-2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
we all do our best.

And sorry for not being more with it at the show. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I can tell you my excuse: when we met at the show Finn had just unexpectedly quit...so my mind was on nothing else as I tried to figure out how to handle the situation.

So I'm sorry I didn't embrace you as the old friend that I consider you. :(
17th-Aug-2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. I'm all teared up, myself! My daughter is my whole universe, so I understand completely.

You are an awesome dad, and a real mentch.
17th-Aug-2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
thank you! It sounds like perhaps we both are.
17th-Aug-2009 09:57 pm (UTC) - Song Origins
Ok, so my dark little heart does beat. Big old weepy mess over here. The origins of these songs are amazing. I always thought they were beautiful, but they are more so now.

I just wrote a post to one of my guilds today about fathers. Although the thought there was that the title is earned not given. Meaning you do not become a father by virtue of having a child. It is something you work at and are given due to your efforts and your love. (My step father is the only father I will ever acknowledge for instance)

The fact that you care so much and hope that you will always be connected to your little girl means you are a father in the truest sense of the word. Congratulations! I hope she always knows how lucky she is.

I think I'll keep all this in mind the next time I sing to my little one. No matter how much it makes him roll his eyes or groan at the sentiment. (nine year old boys do not appreciate it so much)

Thank you for posting.

*Off to dry my eyes*

17th-Aug-2009 10:30 pm (UTC) - Re: Song Origins
sorry for the sappy tear inducing post.

But seriously, I try to be forgiving of other fathers as well. As I say in our early song "The Root Of All Evil", we are the children of Children. Fathers who abuse or neglect their kids were likely Abused or neglected themselves. It takes a strong strong person to break that cycle.
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