Singing on the Wind

by Anne Lister

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Last night I dreamed I came home again Last night I dreamed I walked by the sea And you were walking by my side For you were always home for me. And in my dream I heard a song Which seemed to come from inside my heart And all the things I'd never said Were echoed in the bass line part. If I'd had a knife I'd have learnt to cut If I'd had an axe I'd have learnt to kill If I'd had poison I'd have made an end Of all those things that could hurt me still. But I'd no knife, and I'd no axe I hadn't any sort of blade And all pain and all the dreams Are withered now and start to fade. And if a song could go through the air I would give it feathered wings I'd send it high up in the air And teach your cold heart how to sing And I wish you what you've never had I wish you all you stole from me And now I've found more than I'd lost This song is soaring high and free. Last night I dreamed I came home again Last night I dreamed you were by my side And oh the aching in my heart When I think how I wept and cried. And waking now I'll sing the song That seemed to come from inside my heart And all the things I'd never said Will echo through from every part.
Love comes on the cold wind and in the darkest night Creeps unexpectedly, avoids thought and sight Love comes with a rescue boat, with no sails or oars Coming to find you through locked windows and doors. Love brings you to danger, takes you from a safer place Leads you wandering homeless into blame or disgrace Love puts bonds upon you, made of silken chain Leaves you in a golden cage, you're not free again. Love gives your soul its music, and teaches you to sing Gives the world its colour, but gives the bee its sting Sweet as shadows, dark as honey, true as moonlight, blue as steel Vanishes like fairy gold, feels twice as real. Love comes on the cold wind, acting as your friend Using smoke and mirrors to hide the story's end Love stands before you smiling, invites you to play There's no one in this wide world who can turn away.
Oisìn 04:02
Manannan's white horses ride wild and ride high The day was like this when we said goodbye He left with a fine song of joy in his heart And it's been so long now since we've been apart. She came like a princess with long golden hair With stories of plenty and love over there He'd eyes for no one but her once they met He left us without a word of regret. And is his life good now, and is his life sweet Soft grass or fine tapestries under his feet Coins in his pocket, and peace in his soul In a land where nothing decays or grows old? Here we've sunshine and showers and roses with thorns And darkness before the first light of dawn Time alters and changes, it can't stay the same Nothing eases the hurt when I think of his name. Could there be a world where the sun always shines No one suffers or worries or thinks of the time Does he think about us or remember the day When Manannan's white horses rode high in the bay? And if he came back now, what would he see? An old pile of stones where his home used to be His old childhood friends now old women and men Nothing the same for him as it was then. The storm clouds are lifting, the sunshine breaks through I'm wondering what I would say or would do If he came back to us now and asked us to come East of the moon, and west of the sun?
I could write this down in fancy words, but I prefer them plain As I watch the sunlight disappear into the clouds and rain As I watch the mountains dance with me, and the pathway spirals down And I leave the high clean places for the dirty streets of town. I could write this song on paper, but I prefer the wind Write the words on leaves or stones or sticks, it's all the same to sing But the land that loves to listen to an old tale told out loud Are the rocks and trees and standing stones beneath winds and passing clouds. The land knows the finest stories once you teach yourself to hear The tale comes singing on the wind if you unblock your ears You can't hear it in the city, you can't hear it through the din Though the town too has its history and its own sad song to sing. You know they're cutting down the forest, they're digging up the land The ones who've blocked their hearing and who've failed to understand If you cut away the tap root the strongest tree will die You'll lose the songs and stories, you won't need to wonder why. So come walking down the old roads, come stepping on the grass Come and listen to the heather, come and listen to your past You won't need your machinery, it comes singing on the wind And you'll find in every hedgerow there's another tale to sing.
Looking out across the ocean, says the Hag of Beara All I see is constant motion, says the Hag of Beara People come and people go - what they're seeking I don't know All I know is the winds still blow across the folds of Beara. The ships that came here from the west, sings the Hag of Beara From the islands of the blesse, sings the Hag of Beara Brought the heroes, brought their tales, brought their music in their wind-filled sails Brought their battles in the winter gales, to the folds of Beara. They built their circles of standing stones, sighs the Hag of Beara They built their careful turf-roofed homes, sighs the Hag of Beara All you see now are empty shells, which once were places they loved well The wind blows where they used to dwell, among the folds of Beara. And you stand there looking out to see, cries the Hag of Beara You see the land but can you see me, cries the Hag of Beara You place a coin upon my stone, then leave me here to watch alone The sea birds and the white tipped foam that laps the shores of Beara. And do you think you know it all? says the Hag of Beara Do you imagine your world won't fall? says the Hag of Beara I am the one who shapes the land, who holds all time within her hand Your life is just a grain of sand upon the strand of Beara.
Across the fields she lost her way The earth below her, the sky above Who knows what took her on that day They say they talked to her, but not enough. It was a simple life, a simple place The earth below her ... None of the trouble of the city race They say they talked ... And it is easy, coming from outside, to say she had such a perfect life No one hears the sound of changing tides. Maybe she walked across a fairy mound The earth .. And there was music, a magic sound They say .... Or maybe silence is all she heard The earth ... No more singing winds or flying birds They say ... And me I sit here and drink it in The earth ... Fields showing the first green of spring They say ... Did she want what I would leave behind The earth ... Did she want city lights and frantic times They say ... The land of happiness is always over there The earth ... There's never worries and never care They say ... Sometimes storm winds will hide it all The earth below us, the sky above And we hear other siren calls They say they talked to her, but not enough.
I will set my fox to run, said the Hunter Through the byways and alleys of your tow I will set my fox to run and with my quiver and my gun I will ride to the hunting with my hounds. I will set my hawk to fly, said the Hunter Through the airways and skyways that you breathe I will set my hawk to fly above your busy city skies To remind you not to forget me. Through the concrete and the glass you never hear me as I pass Through the tarmac and the clay you never see me on my way In the cities and the towns you think you've knocked my homeland down But when the wind is blowing high you'll hear my hounds across the sky. For you'll never fence me in, said the Hunter You'll never fence me out or cut me down You may think that you have won but with my quiver and my gun I will ride to the hunting with my hounds. In the city runs my fox, says the Hunter My cormorant is fishing in your Thames And my sparrowhawk will roam above your fancy city homes And the grass will push back the concrete cage.
What drink will you bring me, she said to her love From the well beneath the sea? Will it be healing my own broken heart Or will it take you far from me? Nine hazel trees grow there, she said to her love And drop their fruit in the stream It's the water of wisdom, the water of life The water of music and dreams. We could have been happy, she said to her love If you could have let the past rest If you could have loved me for all that I am And not torn the soul from my breast. So I had to leave you, she said to her love And take the long pathway back home And each time I thought of you on the way back My heart bled for you alone. I've brought you the water, he said to his love I worked hard to bring it to you It took all of my courage, it took all my strength My love for you stayed deep and true. But now when you drink it, he said to his love It brings back more than you've lost It'll heal all your heartbreak and heal all your grief Are you sure that it's worth the cost? She picked up the water in her trembling hand And drank it down, steady and slow He turned from her bedside and then walked away And the tears fell as she watched him go.
I met the devil in the garden, every time I went outside Met the devil in the garden, think I'll stay indoors (x 2) And he said "Aren't you lucky? Look at all I've given you!" He said "Why aren't you happy with all that you have there? Look at your husband, look at your child, look at the sunshine, the sky is blue! All of the lonely, all of the poor, they would be grateful if they were you." And he said "To be a wife and mother is to justify your destiny." He said "Wives and mothers are the future of the world. Look at your husband and his career - he needs a steady base on which to build And as your child grows with love behind him you'll feel content then, you'll feel fulfilled." And he said "Look at your knitting - look at your sewing! Look at those jams you've made, the bread you've baked! You're a creator, you are a poet, you are an artist, you are a wife. Why should you worry about your silly dreams, why should you feel it's been a wasted life?" And now each morning my husband wonders why I stay Beneath the covers, not wanting to see the light Hiding from shadows, afraid of the open space, keeping my hands full, closing down Keeping the Devil out, running from choices, talking through silences, not turning round.
There is a point that's out to sea, where breakers form Where the water swells and builds to crash upon the shore It may be just a tiny rock or bank of sand But all the calmness of the sea now crashes into land. And when you gaze more closely in a candle flame You'll find inside the greater brightness something dark remains. As if to remind us that when there's no hint of dark Even when the world is full of light we risk a broken heart. And if you're wondering now what's this to do with me You are the point where breakers form there in my inland sea. And well I know on a millpond sea, when there's no swell Something deep within me calls out for a warning bell. Some kind of wish for danger, but with a safety net Some kind of wish to push beyond all of the limits set. You have no way of knowing what you do to me Just as the rock or sandbank lie there in the sea But I will build a lighthouse to remind me to take care And in the wildest storms there'll be some kind of warning there.
Do you ever see yourself as the dragon in the story of St George? Spending the day in the usual sort of way Suddenly find you've been challenged to a duel And one of you must die? Have you ever wondered why some of us are losers? You walk right into the middle of some human fairy tale You've no choice in the plot, the fighting grows too hot And all you want to do is go back where you came from But by mistake you step forward and get transfixed on a sword And it's too late then. It should be about good and evil, but I'm not convinced that's true What's so good about a hero, what's so bad about a dragon What's special about princesses and magic about virgins? Who's to say they got it right? Somewhere there just might Be a different scale of values. So I'm thinking of writing a story where the opposite turns out true The dragon gets the sword and beats up St George The people dance and sing and make the dragon king And that way all of us who generally fall down Might some day some way wear the crown.
I thought I saw a rainbow when there was no sun I thought I saw blue sky above the cloud I thought it was over when it hadn't begun I thought that you'd heard my thoughts out loud. The land of sunshine lies across the waves The road to happiness is hard to find The heroes are sleeping in their underground caves And the wind moves more slowly than a woman's mind. I thought I heard bird song when storm winds blew I thought I saw a silver tree among the rain I thought I'd found answers no one else knew I thought I'd found sweetness to avoid the pain. I thought I saw a road made of tumbled stones I thought I saw clear water mixed up with mud I thought I could follow as the rooks fly home I thought I'd won forgiveness with my heart's blood. What's out there isn't what I think I see The answers aren't what I think they are Forgiveness isn't what you gave to me And love disappears with the morning star.
Forty Miles 03:41
Forty miles of sadness, a line of desolation All the world's madness, standing in a row My father and mother, my sister and my brother All the world's children now should weep with you. There's no power or glory in a people's suffering No front page story, no exclusive scoop Fathers are crying, their children are dying All the world's journalists now should scream for you. No pitched battle in a war against starvation A dying child's rattle, the ragged heap of grief Your father's bank account and your sister's business lunch All the world's economists now should work for you. So fill your car with petrol and think about a holiday Don't worry about the oil wells - we've rescued them each time Your brother's future and your mother's pension book All the world's planners are looking far ahead. Forty miles of people - how many million heartbreaks Don't change the channel - don't dare look away One country's genocide, the whole world's suicide Don't you think it's time we tried to find a better way?


This album, released in 1999, was largely inspired by my visits to the beautiful writer's retreat of Anam Cara, near Eyeries, on the Beara Peninsula in Ireland. Some of the songs come from Irish tales, and some from the landscape itself.


released August 5, 2021

All songs written, arranged and produced by Anne Lister. Recorded, engineered and mastered at Overtones Studio, Red Lion Square, London, by the wonderful Liv Elliot (sadly missed). Julia Lane's harp recorded by Fred Gosbee in Scotland and Round Pond, Maine. The album was made possible through the generosity of my good friends Al and Angela. Artwork, based on Anne's photo, by Cilla Conway. Musician credits appear on each song, but in each case Anne is singing and (except where noted) playing guitar.


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Anne Lister Wales, UK

Anne is best known for her song "Icarus", recorded and performed by a number of different singers, including Martin Simpson and Nic Jones. "Astrolabe" is her ninth solo album.

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