Monday, June 12, 2017

"I Always Felt There was a Prophecy of Death in That Song."




Led Zeppelin. John Lennon. Prince. George Michael. The Monkees. Lord Byron. Sinead O'Connor. Chris Cornell. What do all these people have in common? 




They're all connected in one way or another to an unfolding drama orbiting a seminal song written by a doomed folk singer and debuted to the world wrapped in a salad of black magic, alien technology and mind control. 

And from then on, things got really weird.

I really didn't mean to get sucked back into all of this. I meant to do an overview post to observe the 20th anniversary and be done with it all. But then Chris Cornell died and the same archetypes rose again. Which means this story is still telling itself. That kicked in the OCD and got me looking again for prophecies.

And boy howdy, I found some real brain-blowers. 

"NOW WE ARE ANGELS"


Now I know a lot of you out there don't care about the Cocteau Twins or Jeff Buckley's music. And for a lot of you this might all be old news. I get that, it's totally fine by me. But the music isn't really the point of all this. 

The point is the story, this ancient archetypal myth playing out in real time, for whatever possible reason it may have other than the spirit world seems to have a dark sense of irony. And it may have well taken more trophies.

So, esoterically speaking, this is the equivalent of a Darwinist being able to watch a dog evolving into a turtle. 

You see, what we have here is a drama that seems to weave in elements of the occult, witchcraft, precognition, prophecy, synchronicity, and maybe even some spirit possession. 

We have the story of a strange young woman from a dysfunctional working class family who grew up in a place saturated with the power of the old stories. A woman who seems to have dabbled in witchcraft before undergoing a startling transformation in which she suddenly came into possession of an electrifying musical gift that led one British newspaper to declare she had "the Voice of God."


In an entirely matter of fact, self-effacing manner she would claim that in fact she was possessed by or channeling some kind of entity, something I don't find very hard to believe at all. 

I mean, think about it; what sounds more like genuine entity possession to you, this or this


This or this?




TESTING THE SIRENS

Of course, the first test of the spirits comes through prophecy.

And from the very first moment Elizabeth Fraser came into the public eye she seemed to prophesy a terrible event that revolved around an old 60s folk song that seems to have taken on a life of its own in the years since it first debuted. 

And if you take all the apparent prophecies-- prophecies that fly around this story like wasps at your birthday barbecue--together, you come up with the name, place, time and manner that this story would reach its inevitable climax. 


And it all seemed to unfold over a span of four decades.


Mind you, all of this is something we can objectively document. Interpret the facts any way you like but the beauty of it is that you don't need to rely on hearsay or anecdote here. We're looking at accepted and recorded events of history not testimony or speculation.

But there's also that song, which itself seems to be some kind of supernatural totem.


ENTER THE SIREN


In true Secret Sun style, the 'Song to the Siren' made its worldwide debut in a very strange and unlikely venue. It was first heard on the final episode of The Monkees TV show in 1968. 

And as readers would probably expect by now, the episode dealt with aliens, mind control and black magic. Plus, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:
The episode begins with a sunrise scene as the boys awaken to the sounds of the Beatles’ “Good Morning Good Morning,” which was the first time the Beatles had allowed their music to be used in a non-Beatles arena. 
The episode is, in short, about the evil Wizard Glick (played by Rip Taylor) who is on a mission to control people’s minds via their television sets. The airwaves beam out a hypnotic eye that is, well, hypnotizing its viewers, a not-so-subtle comment on the brain deadening effects of television. 
Evil wizards using alien technology to take over the world? Why does that sound so familiar?
Eventually, the boys discover that a creature called the Frodis plant had been captured when its spaceship landed on Earth, and was being used for evil by Wizard Glick. They realize they must rescue the Frodis and return it to its spaceship. Upon rescue, the plant emits this cloud of smoke, and in the process, seems to mellow out Glick and his cohorts, “I’ll let you work out that reference, folks,” adds Dolenz. The anti-war song “Zor and Zam” is featured during the “typical Monkees romp.”
As the story part of the episode ends, on walks the late singer-songwriter Tim Buckley to perform a solo acoustic version of his classic “Song to the Siren.” Buckley was a friend of Dolenz, who thought he should be introduced to the world. 
The beautiful song had, at the time, not been released.  
Note John Lennon wrote 'Good Morning Good Morning'. 

The episode is also known as "Mijacogeo," a (sub)title which wouldn't sound out of place on a Cocteau Twins record. In fact, there's even a scene where the Monkees begin chanting  in a style not unfamiliar to Cocteaux fans.

I mentioned this episode several years ago but hadn't seen it until recently. And my god, is it terrible. But as it happens, it also had an alternate title; 'The Frodis Caper.' I hadn't known that until just this past week. What's the significance of that title?

Here, let me write it like this: FRodiScapER
No luck? Try this: FRodiScapER

How's that?

There's even an A in there, if you want to get anagrammatic. And an 'Odic' too. If you really want to get obsessive you can make the p silent (as in Pfeiffer).

Tim Buckley, who never actually knew his son, died of an OD in 1975 at the age of 27. But already the prophecy machine seemed to have hummed to life.

 It'll End in Tears including
'Song to the Siren'

A PROPHECY

And just so we're clear on all this, I'm by no means the only person who gets how eerie this whole situation is, even if I was probably one of the first outside of the inner circle of people involved to do so. Even The Guardian has caught on:
(Tim) Buckley's eerie original is backed by stark waves of guitar and occasional high-pitched "siren" wails (is it his voice? An extremely flanged guitar?), and his five-octave-spanning tenor – "the closest thing to flying without taking acid or getting on a plane," Watts-Russell reckons. 
But Fraser's version suggested she was the siren of Homer's Odyssey personified, luring lovers to a premature grave
Sinead O'Connor, who was heavily influenced by Elizabeth Fraser, frames the story quite well here:
"I didn't know Buckley hadn't written the words," O'Connor says, "but I always felt there was a prophecy of death in that song." It's apparently the reason Fraser won't discuss the song (an interview request was ignored). Tim Buckley's son Jeff wrote to her when he heard the This Mortal Coil cover and, a couple of years before he drowned, aged 30, in 1997, they had a relationship.
The Financial Times also suggestively dropped that tragedy onto the last paragraph of their piece on 'Song to the Siren', but also noted the TMC/Cocteau Twins' version was so influential, that subsequent versions have mostly been covers of them:
Their reading set the template for those that were to follow — drifty, druggy, drenched in reverb, a perfect setting for lyrics such as “Did I dream you dreamed about me?"
And it so transpires that there are lot of well-known fans of Fraser's interpretation (including superstar directors Peter Jackson and David Lynch):
In 2002, Robert Plant covered it on his Dreamland album, garnished with his characteristic “oh-ohs”. In 2007, George Michael opened his gig at the new Wembley stadium by singing “Siren” from offstage (he later released it as a single)…Sinéad O’Connor’s 2010 version is heavily indebted to This Mortal Coil’s mystic-Celticism.


Indeed, George Michael - Greek by origin- did his level best to reproduce- note for note- Elizabeth Fraser's version of the song. At what was one of the biggest gigs of his career.

Of course, Michael himself recently died under circumstances that don't seem entirely transparent. There was a lot of mystery surrounding his passing, even if it was subsequently declared to be from natural causes. But Michael wasn't the only pop superstar to worship the Twins:
Madonna loved them, Prince wanted to sign them and Scritti Politti's Green Gartside said the vocally gymnastic Fraser was his third favourite melodicist of all time (behind Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson).
You can throw in Peter Gabriel and Boy George as well (George once said Fraser was his favorite singer). And yes, Prince was indeed a major Cocteau Twins fan.
Tictactoe is the tenth track on Prince's 36th album Plectrumelectrum (the first by Prince and 3rdEyeGirl). It is likely the track was recorded in February 2014.  
The magazine quotes Prince describing the recording of the track: “We recorded it in Bryan Ferry’s studio Studio One in London, after a night of partying for which the Cocteau Twins was the soundtrack. You can’t understand the words of Cocteau Twins songs but their harmonies put you in a dreamlike state.” 
Prince also died recently, at too young an age. Under circumstances that have inspired terrabytes of Internet speculation.



When the Levee Breaks, originally recorded 
by "Hoodoo Lady" Memphis Minnie

ENTER THELEMA

And just to add more fuel to the occult fire we have the Led Zeppelin connection to all of this. 

As you know, both Jeff Buckley and his best friend Chris Cornell sang Led Zeppelin tunes (or more accurately, blues standards commonly associated with Led Zep) shortly before they died. And Zeppelin's personal connections to Buckley are well-recorded:

One man who loved Grace was Jimmy Page. There was arguably no-one whose opinion Buckley valued more. He’d sung Zeppelin songs at Sin-é…One might even say there was a transference of Zeppelin energy taking place, a blessing or endorsement from afar, from the older men to the young. When Page and Buckley met, it was clear they understood each other on a profound level. 
“Jeff told me they cried,” says Chris Dowd. “They actually cried when they met each other. Jimmy heard himself in Jeff, and Jeff was meeting his idol. Jimmy Page was the godfather of Jeff’s music. A lot of people thought Tim was the influence on Jeff, but it was really Zeppelin. 
Less known is Led Zeppelin's connection to the Cocteau Twins- Robert Plant was/is a major devotee, saying in one interview "I wanted to be the Cocteau Twins". Then there's this, from a Twins interview:
Robert Plant went through a phase of raving about them in every interview he did. Liz doesn't tell me about the time she introduced herself to him, but Robin does. They had gone to see Echo & the Bunnymen. Liz, who was a little tipsy, spotted Robert Plant at the bar and tapped him on the shoulder. 
"Excuse me," she said. "I read that you really like the Cocteau Twins.""Yeah," the mousy-maned ex-sex god grunted. "I like them. Do you like them?"Mortified, she muttered her assent and slunk away.
According to another telling what she actually said is, "they're OK, I guess." Which is absolutely adorable.


EXHIBIT ONE: GARLANDS LYRICS SLEEVE

The lyrical swatches printed on the inner sleeve of the Cocteaux' 1982 debut album Garlands are tantalizing, and the band's official bio lists them in an interesting order. See this post for more information on Garlands.


And again, Jeff Buckley died on Garland Day.


First we have a quarrel with a lover, peppered with threats of violence.
"My mouthing at you; My tongue the stake; I should welt should I hold you; I should gash should I kiss you..." (Blind Dumb Deaf)

Things get a bit darker next- a song about blood sacrifice.

"Things from the forest die here, but I don't; Dead forest things are offered here, but I'm not...." (But I'm Not)

Then death on a river. Bear in mind the person who wrote these remarkable lyrics was only 18 years old:


"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; The then hallow she a sky for the sacred; Stars in my eyes; stars at my feet; womb in the belly; capital place..." (Shallow Then Halo)


As mentioned before, Memphis was the capital of Egypt's lower kingdom. And Jeff Buckley was swimming in shallow waters when he drowned (the deepest point of the Wolf River Harbor is only nine feet deep).


Next we have drugs, religion and death. 

"Garlands evergreen; forget-me-not wreaths; chaplets see me drugged; I could die in the rosary...." (Garlands)

Then this:

"Grail overfloweth, there is rain; and there's saliva and there's you...." (Grail Overfloweth)

As detailed before, we have two Buckley connections here, both to the rain during the search the night he disappeared and to the Grail-inspired "Corpus Christi Song" on Grace.


Now, returning to 'Shallow then Halo' we see wings and feathers connected to the river. We also see the mention of fertile soil.
Winged water
Feathered river
Dirty rich soil
Strong and fertile

What's the significance of wings and feathers to a river? Well, considering this is the Mississippi, perhaps we need to look at the Mississippi state seal for a clue.


Ahh. Dream-logic at work.

Then the soil:
At Cairo, Illinois, the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi, doubling its volume and creating the point that divides the Upper Mississippi from the Lower Mississippi. The Lower Mississippi Valley is a wide and fertile region… As it flows in this southern region, the Mississippi deposits rich silt along its banks.
Now this odd use of she:


"The then shallow she Earth as we know it; 
The then hallow she a sky for the sacred"

Wouldn't you just know it, the word sidhe is pronounced "she." In the context of the lyrics here it just happens that sidhe makes a lot more sense than she. 

Try this: "the then-shallow sidhe" (a spirit in shallow waters) and the "the then-hallow sidhe" (a spirit honored as sacred, re:"a sky for the sacred").


 If you didn't catch the update on the Chris Cornell post, here's the lowdown on one of the Siren's Celtic cousins:
In Celtic folklore, the leannán sí "Fairy-Lover" ...is a beautiful woman of the Aos Sí …who takes a human lover. 
Lovers of the leannán sídhe are said to live brief, though highly inspired, lives.   
The leannán sídhe is generally depicted as a beautiful muse who offers inspiration to an artist in exchange for their love and devotion; however, this frequently results in madness for the artist, as well as premature death.
She also granted the power of prophecy.

The leannán sídhe is related to the more well-known Banshee. 
But only certain families of historic lineage, or persons gifted with music and song, are attended by this spirit; for music and poetry are fairy gifts, and the possessors of them show kinship to the spirit race—therefore they are watched over by the spirit of life, which is prophecy and inspiration; and by the spirit of doom, which is the revealer of the secrets of death.
Sometimes the Banshee assumes the form of some sweet singing virgin of the family who died young, and has been given the mission by the invisible powers to become the harbinger of coming doom to her mortal kindred. Or she may be seen at night as a shrouded woman, crouched beneath the trees, lamenting with veiled face; or flying past in the moonlight, crying bitterly...
And Jesus, here's a five-star money-quote if ever I heard one. It basically synopsizes this entire story:
The Banshee even follows the old race across the ocean and to distant lands; for space and time offer no hindrance to the mystic power which is selected and appointed to bear the prophecy of death to a family.  
Which would probably be a good time to drop this old bit of snarkery on you:
All you need to know about the Cocteau Twins is that they make Siouxsie and the Banshees records, OK? -- Melody Maker 10/16/82
Of course, the wild howling of early Cocteaux is more akin to the Banshee myth than Siouxsie's rather modest vocal range. But the influence is plainly there (the Scots seemed to be particularly found of the Banshees). Especially in early songs like "Speak No Evil", which offer more hints of that unexpected connection to witchcraft and the occult (bonus factoid: Fraser used to go around in outfits decorated with chicken bones):

My soul I sold
I can't forget to ask
There's nothing movin' it again
Wolf thirst said me

This song is included on the Garlands CD, alongside 'Shallow than Halo'. Note that- again- we have references to both a river in a song about drowning in shallow water and to a wolf in a song about a daemonic pact. 

In that latter line, we also have a suggestion of death and a connection to water ("wolf thirst"). And just to remind anyone new to this conversation here:

Making a stop at the Wolf River channel of the Mississippi River, a fully clothed Buckley waded into the water and began swimming. 

“Probably,” Jeff chuckled as he fell into a back stroke, his shirt billowing around him as it filled with the shallow, temperate water near the shore.

Then Jeff began to sing “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, joking about how the echo in the harbor made his voice sound like Robert Plant’s. He kept swimming further out. 




Noise Rock-era Twins opening for Killing Joke in 1982 

EXHIBIT TWO: Alas Dies Laughing

On their next release after Garlands (the ironically titled Lullabies EP), we see two more songs whose titles also make semiotic connections between birds and water travel, namely the songs 'Feathers Oar Blades' and 'It's All But an Ark Lark'.  Sandwiched between them is one of the Cocteau Twins' most unsettling songs, 'Alas Dies Laughing', a song the early PiL would have been proud to call their own.


After two attempts at conventional choruses, the song breaks down into a bridge that has (a pre-transformation) Fraser moaning like the Pythia as the fumes rise. After the breakdown, she dispenses with the niceties and lapses into a repetitive chant about exactly how Alas died laughing:

Wake takes a lonely one
Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a lonely one

Wake takes a
Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a

Wake takes a 

Jesus. And just to remind everyone again:

The wake of a passing boat sucked Buckley under, and he drowned. His body was recovered six days later, after it was seen by a riverboat passenger.
So sandwiched between two songs that refer to boats (and symbolically connect to the Mississippi via the bird imagery) we have a song about drowning. In a wake. 

Fifteen years before the singer's lost love died that very same way. .


Now is it just me or is this like something out of one of Philip K Dick's most unhinged fever dreams?  This is really just the tip of the iceberg though.




EXHIBIT THREE: It's All But an Ark Lark

Those aren't all the clues to be found on Lullabies. 'Ark Lark' also has some as well.


It's all for my, all for my, all for my

Charisma
Charisma
Charisma 

Charisma- divine gift- originally referred to extraordinary characteristics of the gods. In Christianity, charisma manifests itself in glossolalia and prophetic gifts.


Barking and Biting, on my starsails

Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails
Barking and Biting, on my starsails

We have references to a wolf (yes, wolves do bark) and water travel again.




And oh yeah- 'Song to the Siren' was first recorded for the Tim Buckley album Starsailor.


Wolf. Water. Buckley. Siren. 


Then this:


He's mocking both my lullabies 

Is Mockingbird my lullabies?
Is mocking both my lullabies 
Is Mockingbird my lullabies?



Mockingbirds are the state bird of Tennessee.


These lyrics from 'Feathers Oar Blades' are tantalizing as well.



Here comes the oppressors
Oppress, fallen, weaken
Feathers-oar blades
Spitting their feathers
Spitting out oar blades 
Spitting out oar blades 
Crestfallen
Weaken

There are the feathers and water connected again. That notion of spitting feathers (Mississippi) and oar blades (Wolf River Harbor) is gnawing at my skull as well.




EXHIBIT FOUR: THAT, UH, BAND NAME

The band's next album would be released on Halloween 1983. With original bassist Will Heggie having quit, the duo needed to find a replacement. 
Although Robin and Liz hadn't specifically set out to find a new bass player, they certainly needed one, and happened upon Simon Raymonde in late 1983. Simon had been a member of the band Drowning Craze prior to his joining Cocteau Twins. 
"The Drowning Craze." Seriously.

Is there anything about this band that isn't a death omen?



EXHIBIT FIVE: THE MERMAID IN THE LAGOON

And here's where it gets crazy again.  After Blue Bell Knoll (see update below) The Cocteaux' next release was the Iceblink Luck EP, which included the gorgeous, aching 'Mizake the Mizan'. The lyrics listed online are pretty sketchy and Fraser's vocals are always pretty approximate when it comes to anunciation , but some research helped me nail down what is actually being said. 


And sure enough it's yet another song about Sirens and drowning.  

Saw a mermaid in the
Lagoon Klisova
Become

Grey water 
Hoist and throw me down in the water
They follow
Hoist and throw me down the waterfall

And in light of all the other death omens in this story, this verse strikes me as being more than a little portentous, if not actually sinister, given this song is about someone being forcibly drowned:

So until the hour
My coeur cheri paiyaa
Honey

Fraser liked to mix languages so "coeur cheri paiyaa" is a mix of French and Tamil meaning "my dear heart boy" (Fraser was older than Buckley). Now, this was written four years before our doomed lovers even met and yet we still see this intimation of prophecy. 


"So you said, swim to me, swim to me"
The Wolf River leads into Frayser, TN

Who exactly is speaking here? Is this another song that wrote itself as Fraser claimed? Who then is writing this for her?  As it would happen, Fraser would herself never be the same after the climax of this drama, which correlates to the use of first person.

After repeating the first verse about the mermaid in the lagoon, the song then closes out with this chorus:


Grey water
Hoist and throw me down in the water
Drowning
Hoist and throw me down the waterfall

It's here that I should drop in the little factoid that Buckley actually drowned in the Wolf River Harbor, also called Wolf River Lagoon (which it technically is). Did I mention that Fraser and Buckley first came together over a song about a mermaid? Several times? OK.  

Given what I know about Fraser I'm willing to bet the well-read singer got the "Lagoon Klisova" reference from a book on another celebrated poet who died in his prime as well:
Born in 1788, Lord Byron was one of the leading figures of the Romantic Movement in early 19th century England. The notoriety of his sexual escapades is surpassed only by the beauty and brilliance of his writings. After leading an unconventional lifestyle and producing a massive amount of emotion-stirring literary works, Byron died at a young age in Greece pursuing romantic adventures of heroism.
Byron died while camped out near the Lagoon Klisova in Greece, while helping aid the Greeks' battle for independence from Turkey. A Greek poet later wrote this of the English bard:
Where the black coot and the wild duck find a wintering place upon the sunny land, White Swan of the north, what did you seek to pluck by the lagoon’s decaying wateredge and sand? The world-seducing Swan, by a lagoon Mermaid had been seduced 

Plus, there's that thing with those eyes

Back in the cassette days, fans used to add 'Miyake the Mizan' (and the sultry 'Watchlar')  to their Heaven or Las Vegas tapes, since the album is less than 40 minutes long.  

So just so there's absolutely no confusion, that would give us Wolf (in the Breast), Road, River and Rail, a song whose title comes from the same chapter of The Golden Bough that The Wicker Man was inspired by and then a song about a drowning in a lagoon. 

Which also references a mermaid and an apparently doomed lover. All released in 1990.


Now I don't know about you but that's way too specific to be random chance. And this entire story seems to be operating on a timescale that is not recognizably human. As I said before:
The players involved were merely acting out roles written for them long before their grandparents were born.  


EXHIBIT SIX: Narcissus and Echo

The next Cocteau Twins album, Four Calendar Cafe, would follow a period of turmoil for the band as leader Robin Guthrie struggled with drug addiction and Fraser struggled with the lingering effects of childhood sexual abuse. 

It's not one of their stronger efforts but the b-side to the album's first single 'Evangeline' (a reference to an epic poem of doomed lovers) included Fraser's dissertation on the myth of Narcissus and Echo, the great fable of unrequited love and regrettable consequences:


Echo fell in love with the handsome narcissus
Narcissus struggles who heard walking
It was the nearest to perfection

"Is anyone here?" "Here here" "Come, come, I will beg you."
Before I give you power over me
I give you power over me

And that remains her fate, always her voice echoes
Still repeating only what others have said 

 The details of the ancient Narcissus and Echo myth are eerily (there's that word again) consonant with the details of the modern Fraser/Buckley myth:
One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. 
Echo was once celebrated as a great singer as well, eventually arousing the jealousy of the great god Pan.
The tale of Daphnis and Chloe is a 2nd-century romance by Greek author Longus...According to Daphnis, Echo was raised among the Nymphæ because her mother was a nymph. Her father, however, was merely a man and hence Echo was not herself a nymph but mortal. Echo spent her days dancing with the Nymphæ and singing with the Muses who taught her all manner of musical instruments.  
But the strangest thing about this song is its title.  It's called, apropos of absolutely nothing at all, "Mud and Dark." 

Which, yet again, also ties directly into an event that had yet to happen involving a man Fraser had yet to meet.
About 100 feet offshore is one of two massive cement pylons that support a monorail bridge to Mud Island. Buckley had just crossed past it in the growing darkness when Foti yelled that a small boat was approaching down the center of the channel, which the corps keeps dredging to a depth of some 9 feet.
Mud and Dark. At what point exactly do we drop the rationalist pose and accept the obvious?



EXHIBIT SEVEN: That Demo Reel of Death Omens. Again.

Just on the cusp of meeting Jeff Buckley, Fraser appeared as a mermaid coming out of a giant shell for the Four Calendar Cafe's second video, 'Bluebeard'. You know, because there wasn't enough Siren symbolism attached to her already.

But as fate would have it, the lovers would soon meet and nothing would ever be the same again. Fraser later said:

"My love addiction was worse than ever. I was maniacal. [Twinlights] is about that man. My last goodbye, as it were. I was too needy and he was too much of an avoidance person. Naturally."
Consequently, she gave some of her most disjointed, most unsettling performances for the 1994 tour and wound up hospitalized with a nervous breakdown. She was struggling with a force that was clearly winning.

Twinlights would lend two of its tracks to the video love-letter Rilkean Dreams, which as I never get tired of pointing out is practically a demo reel of death omens, starting with the opening montage of rolling rivers and underwater shots, all ending with a sunset. The group reportedly shot all the footage themselves.

The sun was setting when Jeff Buckley waded into the Wolf River on his way to his appointment with the Siren.
Gene Bowen considers it all: "The objective originally was just to go down there and —– you know, the sun was setting; it's beautiful here, with the breeze —– and play some music and sing. And then he just wanted to go in."
Now, there's been some speculation that Buckley was a suicide. But that interpretation doesn't fit the facts and those closest to him have all denied the possibility. He clearly seemed to be bipolar, but saying a highly gifted musician is bipolar is like saying a highly gifted athlete is physically fit. It comes with the territory. 

Buckley was waiting to greet his band members who had just flown into Memphis to work on the new demos he just completed. He went to the river with a friend, which suicides don't tend to do. He was swimming in shallow water and was only pulled under because of an unforeseen event. 


By all accounts he was in full manic mode, and as a reckless personality given to exhibitionism his sunset swim makes perfect sense. It was probably meant to be an interesting story to tell while promoting the new album, that before he started rehearsals on the new songs he "baptized himself in the Blues." It was a reckless move gone terribly wrong, all too common for that type of personality.



And then Hell came to Earth. If you've never watched this before watch it now.




UPDATE: My god, it never ends. It literally never ends. 

The Cocteaux released Moon and the Melodies in late 1986, which featured 'Sea, Swallow Me' and 'She Will Destroy You', among others. Then they released Blue Bell Knoll, which again is a reference to an old folk belief about a death omen. The bluebell is also known as Endymion non-scriptus. 


Endymion is yet another doomed mortal whom a goddess fell in love with:

 Wandering farther afield from the British Isles, the bluebell is associated with the shepherd boy Endymion.  The moon goddess, variously called Seline or Diana, fell in love with him and cast an eternal sleep on him so that she could enjoy his beauty alone, forever.
One of the key cuts on Blue Bell Knoll is 'For Phoebe Still a Baby'. Phoebe is another name for Selene. 


Plus this, from Moon and the Melodies:
The phrases "bloody and blunt" and "ooze out and away, onehow" came from Fraser's lyrics on the songs "The Tinderbox (Of a Heart)" and "My Love Paramour", both from the 1983 Cocteau Twins album Head Over Heels.
Love and violence again. 

62 comments:


  1. 'Let me ask you a question, a very 2017 kind of question: do you believe in any of this paranormal stuff? Or the esotericism and the psi and the occultism we talk about here? I mean, do you really believe in it?'

    If, by 'believing', one means 'knowing' due to 'realizing', then, speaking from experience to others here who also know from experience, of course I believe. Sometimes She comes unescorted. Other times the vehicle fetches me to Her. I hope She doesn't mind me speaking of this to others of Her initiated, but you know what I know, so there can be no secrets between us. Sometimes She's lovely and other times She's terrifying. Not speaking metaphorically, here. For people who are willing, I think, to set their lives into a creative groove She's there. There's Work to be done, after all. I'm getting to It.

    Speaking of odd things, I've noticed of late rather an abundance of news stories about alien stellar mega structures and pre human civilisations on this planet and in the neighborhood. Of course Google likes to tailor the feed to my phone based on my browsing history, but I do think it's still a little bit odd that those stories have popped up, including Mr Bigelow's assertions about the presence of aliens, here, now.

    Some Scottish on my Dad's side, and I have come to suspect, lately, that Mum, bless her, was a closet occultist.

    Sometimes, Chris, I have an admittedly hard time with your posts, but with ones like this, you resonate! Pure gold!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I would be curious to know how you came to suspect your Mum was a closeted occultist.

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    2. To answer your question D there's always this low hum of static on those issues. Then it comes and goes in waves. It's hard exactly to say what's behind it. If nothing else I'm sure it gets hits. Or there actually could be an ongoing conditioning process at work.

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    3. Hi David. After Mum passed on, I began to hear stories from my sisters and a cousin regarding Mum's references to Kabbalah, the Cards, etc. Nothing in a ceremonial magical Lodge kind of way; we're talking Non-elite approaches to spirituality, the kind some commoners know about yet never mention in church or in front of our social betters. She was, of course, fascinated by the same things that anyone following this blog is: UFOs, reincarnation, parallel realities impinging on our own, Apocalypse, etc. The interesting stuff.

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  2. two words for the professor : ON FIRE. great work CLk ...keep it coming

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  3. You have loads of information. And that's good. I am thankful for it. But I think something important to keep in mind? If "we" are gonna bridge the gap(s) via "belief"...erm...God and gods love without qualification. To me anyway, that means that we all get an A+ for effort somewhere on the report card. Whether that be for diving headfirst into the mystical realms, or pulling with all of our might to avoid it altogether, or walking right down the middle with one foot in and one foot out, or whatever. We all walk our own path. I figure, if nothing else, the gods not speaking much leaves lots of room for us to talk about why they never talk. :-D
    /shrug

    Great read. Thanks for the article. :-)

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    1. Thank you, CF. And I think many wise folk have said for a while now that the ways of the gods are mysterious and hard to fathom, no pun intended. It seems to be an ongoing conversation.

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  4. After reading your previous post, I was inspired after a few beers in a bar to play Chris Cornell " Moonchild, Cocteau Twins "Heaven or Las Vegas" and Jeff Buckley "Everybody Here Wants You" in succession on the internet jukebox. Wow, it was an awesome soundscape to say the least. I was really transfixed. As I am writing this, Strangely enough, I recall being told Elliot Smith used to go to the bar alone where I played these songs and sip Bushmills Whiskey. The muses do find archetypes for sure. Elizabeth Frasier's voice takes me to another state, almost a high sometimes. I am happy to know she's still on the planet appearing from time to time. God bless the sensitive hearts of the world. Great writing Chris, thanks brother for sharing your thoughts about myth/connection to the 3rd dimension in real time. Beyond the static, something beautiful about life is at work, even in the tragic.

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    1. Cheers, Buck. And we still don't know the meaning of all this, or if there even is one. But to my humble way of thinking it almost feels like someone or something was putting down a marker, letting us all know they were here.

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  5. We are all gonna die. At least they shone brightly in a dark time. Their struggles reflected their times. They were mirrors, pure souls, post modern shamans. I'm reminded of David Foster Wallace as well. They felt great pain.

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  6. "You're gonna die, Arnie. Someday you will face that moment. And at that moment you will face either complete nonexistence, or you will face something even stranger. On an actual day in the future, Arnie, you will be in the unimaginable. It is physically impossible to avoid it."
    - "John Dies at the End"

    'Nuff said.

    Put yer cards on the table, folks...

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    1. And most of us die in total obscurity. Jeff Buckley remains forever young and maybe one day, the star of his own fairy tale.

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  7. Hey Chris,

    More magnificent work. You know, I've always loved your Cocteau/Fraser posts but my comments are always somewhat lacking. I guess because I never really know what to say. I guess that sometimes happens when you're too close to something. I've long felt the presence of similar energies and archetypes at the edges of my life. Obviously not with the terrifying immediacy of Buckley or Cornell, but there nonetheless. All the motifs are present: Grace, Sirens, channelling, wolves and demons. It's only in the last few years I really began to get any real perspective on this stuff and am able to offer vaguely coherent artistic responses to these questions. I'm a painfully private person, in truth, and often keep my cards far too close to my chest, if you catch my meaning. It's a survival mechanism really. Prophecy is painful, right? And seeing things others can't is isolating as fuck. There seems to be weird confluences in the air these days. Even those normally deaf to the numinous can feel it now. Strange times. You have a very keen third eye, Christopher. But such sight comes with a heavy price. It did for me at least. But thank you as always for your vital perception. I find myself just as grateful for this blog as I did when I first discovered it. Sometimes, if fortune favours you brave, you are blessed with a touch of light amidst the dark. The Secret Sun is exactly this for me. And I am forever thankful.

    Peace

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    1. Yes, more magnificent work!
      I agree 100% and couldn't say better...
      Strange times indeed, maybe it is a sign of the changing "tides".

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    2. Prophecy is painful indeed. None of the prophets in the Bible led very happy lives, did they? And then of course there's the example of Cassandra. All we can do is try to make meaning of it all. But I think the actual meaning of this has yet to reveal itself.

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    3. And thanks to both of you. Sincerely.

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  8. I think to ignore the connections would be a huge mistake, but there are those who would find great discomfort with your research. Even I do though I accept there are extremely sensitive individuals who continue to walk today. The price is so very high.

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    1. It is. And a lot of this is discomforting. The more I find the more it literally makes my hair stand on end. But I think it's meant to be that way.

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  9. We are all medium/psychic/sensitive to a varying degree and
    the artistic creative process is very interlocked with all this...
    I read somewhere a channeled material mention that many of
    the most beautiful music is indeed channeled stuff and that
    the original creators were not the "Buddha" type...
    The entity was saying that darker beings are also pretty capable
    of beautiful artistic works, we can not count on genius and
    creativity as an exactly attribute of spiritual evolution...
    This is not limited to artistic/creative works, but also for science!



    In talking about sound and water…

    The healing power of Beethoven’s music
    goo.gl/DoAA5X
    I wounder what Cocteau Twins musics effect would do :)

    Water Memory (Documentary of 2014 about Nobel Prize laureate Luc Montagnier)
    https://youtu.be/R8VyUsVOic0

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    1. You're right- more often than not the greatest geniuses are the biggest bastards! There seems to be no telling. And I think some guy once said that the Muses choose broken vessels.

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  10. If you are trying to say that magic *works*, and that it works whether you believe in it or not, and that if you think you're a good magician that won't protect you against dark influences, but mostly make you more sensitive to them, I get it.

    A while ago I was doing a fair bit of activism or community organising, whatever you want to call it. Getting people together to volunteer for something. And at one point, I felt I needed some extra *oomph* to accomplish what I wanted to do. At a couple of meetings I showed up wearing white from head to toe. The thing is, at the time I couldn't have given you a good explanation for why I did it. The actual reason was that I was acting out a dream I had as a child. And when I stood up and talked, I really did feel like I was channeling something. It's only in much more recent times that I've learned about the symbolism of a woman wearing white. I'm glad I listened to my instincts and didn't try to over-do it. I could *feel* I was calling on forces I had no idea about how to control.

    So, yes, I don't doubt for a minute that magic works.

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    1. Magic does work and that's the problem with it. I don't think most of us are really prepared for its consequences. Judging from the evidence, Elizabeth Fraser appears like some who practiced (or practices) witchcraft and may well have got more than she bargained for, for better and worse. These are the kinds of things you can only judge in hindsight.

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  11. This was haunting, to say the least. You mentioned PKD in passing; recently re-watched "Blade Runner" & a line stuck with me, "The candle that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast". Though referring of course to the lives of the Replicants; it could just as easily refer to those possessed by the muse. & you really got to the heart of it; as in the original meaning of "inspiration". "In Spiritus". Something about intensely creative types inviting something in, perhaps unconsciously, perhaps not. & they never live long, regardless. So many candles sputtering out at age 27. & 2 + 7 = 9 of course.

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    1. Like I said, we're not built to contain that kind of energy. When I listen to the Cocteau Twins bring fire from the heavens during their peak period you wonder how they were able to deal with that kind of energy. Most artists just rinse and repeat ad nauseum but they kept chasing that dragon. But it eventually wore them down. It's just a fact of life.

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  12. Really, really great post man. I had a few thoughts:

    *the Led Zep connection is interesting, especially Robert Plant's interest in the Twins. 1977 was a rather bad year for Plant, featuring a disastrous American tour for Led Zep that was abruptly canceled after Plant's five year old son died of a stomach virus. It wasn't quite 20 years between the time of Buckley's death --JB died in May, Plant's son in July --but it is interesting to me in the context of all the death surrounding this saga. Of course Plant wouldn't hear the Twins for the first time for several more years, but time doesn't seem to conform to human expectations in this drama.

    *I was reminded of Echo and the Bunnymen during the section on Echo and Narcissus. I don't know how close Echo were to the Twins or how much overlap there was among the fan bases, but I usually end of listening to the Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen and Siouxsie and the Banshee in close succession of each other. Maybe its just me, but there's something about the atmosphere these groups evoked at their best.

    * I was reminded of the Prophets of DS9, especially Cisco's mother, throughout this post. Whereas the events you described unfolded over the course of many human years, I also get the sense the "other players" in this drama experienced these events in a very nonhuman time flow.


    -Recluse

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    1. You make a very good point in bringing up the Prophets- I actually wrote the Nine initially- since they exist outside of the temporal flow we are all stuck in. Either Fraser was psychic- as Eric Wargo believes- or she was channeling something, which I believe fits the evidence. Either way, it's actually becoming numbing how much evidence there was. People can interpret anyway they like but they can't say it doesn't exist.

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  13. Not since King-Kill 33 have I gotten such chills up my spine!
    Now, I'm not at all connected to this particular Siren story, but just last night, I was watching a Monkees marathon and reading a news story about a recent drowning. Some skeptics may discount my experience, but I know coincidence can take on a life of its own.

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    1. Oh don't I know it. I went to my daughter's dance recital yesterday and one of the other studios did a routine on the Sirens. I mean, what do you say to that?

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  14. The Cocteau Twins' band name syncs to artist Jean Cocteau, who authored the play 'La Voix humane' (The Human Voice). The play features one woman onstage, speaking into a telephone with her lover, who is leaving her to marry another woman. Another Cocteau sync to death and singing is the legend that Cocteau died of heart failure upon hearing the news of the death of his friend, singer Edith Piaf.

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    1. Yes, and if I'm not mistaken a critic rose from his seat at La Voix's premiere and yelled "That's Marais on the other line!" Cocteau was a brilliant stylist. Certain an influence spiritually on his namesakes.

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  15. Chris, Exhibit 3 is missing from your post. Either that or you miscounted them.

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    1. Yes- this was actually a much, much huger post originally and I messed up. It's been replaced.

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  16. Your pop culture work isn't usually my cup of tea, but I must admit that today's installment was pretty gripping. The thing that I keep asking is "why?" Why would spirits reenact this little passion play at all? Why with this small handful of singers and songwriters? It seems like a lot of effort, a lot of autistic attention to trivial details few would even notice - so where's the actual payoff for the Good Folk's effort? The only thing I can think up is that all the world's a play to them, but the dramatis personnae onstage never see more than a few glimpses of their lines before it's time for them to be spoken.

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    1. Well, hold on a second- the video for Teardrop- which Fraser wrote about Jeff Buckley and was recorded the day he drowned- has gotten over 47 million views on YouTube so far. So obviously it's all just waiting for someone to connect the dots. Especially when you think of the "black flowers blossom" line in that song.

      But either way, magic happens in the margins. The Cocteau Twins lost their magic when they signed to a major label. It's just the way it works. It takes time for legends to build. I think this will end up as a modern myth. All the elements are in place.

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    2. Agreed, Chris. As spirit Muses come, so do they leave. Some go gentle some take lives. Here is what Elizabeth Fraser said on her website about singing these days:

      'Fraser also referred to the physical exertion involved in her singing against the wall of sound in many of the Cocteau Twins songs, of which she said it was "like an endurance test. I don't intend to do that again. I've been using my voice more gently." '

      Where does it all go when it goes? Who knows these things? It always finds a place. Those with the eyes to see give us cause to tremble at the telling of it.

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    3. Like I said you can only channel that kind of energy for so long. It's actually amazing how good they were for so long- all of their 4AD material is essential. It's funny how people tend to focus on the whimsy and fluffy aspect of the music and overlook how deceptively intense so much of it is. Robin Guthrie said it wasn't unusual for Fraser to burn a hundred takes on a single vocal track. I think that Fraser damaged her vocal chords which is why she's been so inactive and most of the stuff she's done is that wispy soprano stuff.

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  18. I know that painting of echo and narcissus really well, its in the walker art gallery about 20 mins walk from where i type

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  19. I see Gordon White is down in Tasmania at the moment by his Twitter feed at his 'Rune Soup' blog.
    I wonder if he'll be checking out the 'Siren Song', which is on from Thursday 8 June–Sunday 18 June, sunrise and sunset for free -
    https://darkmofo.net.au/program/siren-song/
    Hobart skyline.
    Maybe he'll even go into the naked mid-winter swim
    https://darkmofo.net.au/program/nude-solstice-swim/
    that's held during 'Dark Mofo'?-)

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  20. Hi Chris:
    I am creeped out by Elizibeth Frasier's eyes from some of Cocteau twins' Heaven or Las Vegas
    they glow in a way that reminds me of exorcist.
    Also I have read the youtube comments on 5 Cocteau Twins videos. 90% of the comments are positive and very unlike most comment threads on my favorite non Cocteau Twins youtube videos. I was a teenager in 1990's but I dismissed the Twins as a talent less "British Moan Rock Band" and listening instead to country, rap, techno, dance musics. Now at 40 I regretted not giving them a fair chance until their lead singer died and you gave the Cocteau Twins a rocking endorsement.
    But I am blown away by the lead singer's magical voice, How 27 years later the Twins are still attracting fans of all ages and ethnicity's in a way that would give music marketers a heart attack. I am outraged at the injustice that these spirits would give the singers a voice that could heal their fans but not the singers themselves. I guess free will does not exist.

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  21. Prepare to have your mind blown.
    I am involved in positive ways with this legend of 'Song To The Siren'. We released this last October with our lyricist, and Tim Buckley's friend Larry Beckett who wrote the words to 'Song To The Siren' in 1967. Great synchronicities abounded.
    I don't buy into the darkness that can seem to swirl round it. Love of poetry and music is enough.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ymnKhyj8M0

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    1. Yeah, you catch these glimpses of her eyes at times and it's like staring at an alien. Those 100 watt flashes she gives in HOLV remind me of how they demonstrate that someone is possessed by an angel on Supernatural.

      But as to your second point all great artists suffer; It's just a fact of life.

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    2. Thanks for the link, Stuart. Interesting.

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  22. Fantastic piece. And really weird for me. So, I met a woman a few months ago. And over those months she has pretty much embodied the narrative here. She...is...I guess I would describe her as having severe schizophrenia plus some psychic manifestation. Ive been trying to help her sort out her head a little, though not really succeeding. So, she hears and speaks with voices, and says she sees the dead, though "they are black and white". And she often calls herself "the angel" when she isnt going on about being the spider-witch. And she definitely isnt getting this from some new age garbage. Quite the opposite, she is clueless about a lot of societal stuff and grew up poor in Poland. English isnt even her primary language. Lately she has also been bringing up "needing to find the water" and is obsessed with being a famous musician though shes never learned to be one. I, on the other hand, have been a musician for a long time, though not successfully. Ha. Says she has to be one to bring a kind of retribution -- "they will pay. They will pay. Believe me they will pay." And she calls me "the wizard". Though I think she considers me a helper wizard and not an antagonist. And she is religiously obsessive. And she wants me to help her write songs.

    Tell me that doesnt sound a lot like the narratice above. Really please do. Soo weird. I dont even know what to make of it.

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    1. The mysteries of this life. We haven't begun to learn what's going on inside our heads.

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  24. Just noticed this on a re-read, after seeing the repeated emphasis on the Wolf River & wolves barking in what you posted--& then looking at Elisabeth Fraser's bio on wikipedia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Fraser

    She's currently with a musician named Damon Reece of a band called "Lupine Howl". Never heard of either but the name struck me as you might imagine!

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    1. Yeah. Plus 'Underwater' and 'Moses'. Who knows what's going on in that woman's head. Odd.

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  25. Another interesting sync between Jean Cocteau and Buckley is that both artists lost their fathers at age nine, Cocteau's father committed suicide, Buckley's father by overdose. In this small way, Buckley is a "Cocteau Twin" . All of this makes me think of Peter Levenda's writing on Giordano Bruno's "De Vinculus" ( Of Links). There seems to be a magickal force that strives to link certain realities together, through the mechanisms of names, locations, and creative outputs.

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    1. Losing a parent seems to have a decisive effect on a lot of artists- look at Lennon and McCartney. But it makes you wonder if it's all part of some script.

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  26. There is a lot more synch weirdness surrounding this song than you can imagine.
    Tim Buckley was born on February 14th (Valentine's Day) and When I was Googling the name Elizabeth Fraser and went to Wikipedia I was asked did I want the singer, swimmer or actress (although the actress spelled her name with an s, not a z), so I had a look at the actress and found out she was born on January 8th like David Bowie, but she also starred in The Monkees TV show titled 'The Picture Frame' in an episode where she played a judge.
    I actually wrote my own post about all the weirdness surrounding that song and some of the singers that sung/wrote that song -
    https://brizdazz.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/a-tragic-love-storysong-that-had.html

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    1. The judge- amazing. The role of a goddess, right? Excellent work, Darren.

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  27. These are all AMAZING comments and I want to respond to them. Right now I am working on a new installments of this series that will BLOW YOUR MIND. Please stay tuned.

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  28. She's currently with a musician named Damon Reece of a band called "Lupine Howl". Never heard of either but the name struck me as you might imagine!
    บาคาร่า online
    gclub online

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  29. The only theory that makes sense of the disparate threads that you and other researchers follow is the Materializing Universe theory that I refer to as a universe of crystalizing information into the present. Which is the densist point in the history of the universe, it the peak of the Exhalation of Brahma as vedantists would put it. The events of the past seem like they are prophetic synchronicity, but in reality they were the less solid foreshadowing of present events. Once accepts that the world we percieve is simply information precipitating from a pool of consciousness or "quantum potential" or what have you then everything about our lives as individually and collectively makes sense, as does the paranormal. History, or recorded time is simply the observation of the ongoing precipitation and crystalization of information into the present moment

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  30. Song to the Siren debuted on the Monkees courtesy of Mickey Dolenz...whose real name is George Michael......
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDIvTCweoCw

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  31. Watch out John Grant.....
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVNqPmScxIo&list=RDVVNqPmScxIo

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  32. The only (known) song Buckley recorded together with Fraser, while they were an item starts with Frasers first line "My eyes are a baptism".
    The song is called "All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun" and it´s heartbreakingly beautiful. It has never been released officially (she hates the fact that it has leaked).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnPvnIKCJYA

    Not only did Prince out himself as a Cocteau-fan, he actually sampled (or recreated) the opening bars of Fifty-Fifty Clown for his production of Martika´s "Love Thy Will Be Done".

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