Beacon Backstories: Daughters of Mercy

Premise: Well If you can hear it it’s probably in there… feminist anthem? anti-trumpist rallying cry? Love, understanding, empathy, kindness, are what’s needed to save the world and we should be bold and unreserved in their use.  

I wish I had some great story about how this song got written, or that I could even remember when it was or what I was doing at the time. I know it must have been at around the same time as Saving The Day because I was experimenting with circle-of-fifths ideas in both of them (loosely!) This was definitely an occasion where I felt smaller than the song, and didn’t feel like I always knew where it was going, but sometimes the songs come to us and through us and although we try to channel them we don’t always have a choice about what they say – just a choice to write them down or ignore them completely.

I’m not generally a politically-motivated writer, which until recently I believed was because there was little, if anything, in our politics that was worth drawing attention to, and that even by writing about something you hate you become a mouthpiece for it or towards it or at it – net result that there is more of it in the world, not less. Braver, funnier and clever people than I do amazing jobs wielding songwriting to this end, and I am so grateful they do. I have my opinions, same as anyone, but my default stance is that I’m not really engaged enough or informed enough to comment publicly and anyway, I tend to retreat into a multi-dimensional internal and often imaginary world to counter what I find disappointing or uncontrollable on the outside. I believe that people can always keep trying to treat each other better, and it feels like we live in times where there is a stark choice and a determined effort to be made, to keep trying to be better, and to focus on what we have in common, when there are so many forces trying to pit us against each other.

Anyway, I invented an imaginary army and called it Daughters of Mercy.

Recording Process: Fairly straightforward, guitar + vocal, bowed and plucked double bass, and some strategically placed cymbal rolls.

The set of these three mixes one after the other (Behind the Lines, Fire on the Mountain, Daughters of Mercy) was the strongest statement I could imagine making to start the album, musically and conceptually.

Feature Lyrics:

The only occurrence of the word Beacon (well, Beacons) comes around in the final verse – the light theme continues, and here, too, light is a symbol for hope.

Listen out for:

De-tuned bottom note in the bass at 2:12.

Coda section from 3:30 – putting those layers of vocals together was one of the most fun parts of the whole album for me.

Live: Only ever tried it twice! But those who made it to the launch at the Oval will remember this one as the pivotal moment where Daniel played drums and bass at the same time ;)