On the 30th January 1981, I sat down to the dining room table to commence my school homework. At that time I was in Sixth form, and to drown the TV from my ears, I placed my headphones to my radio-cassette, given as a recent Christmas present, upon my ears. I was about to listen to some new music that had been taped by a new friend that day. The group was called Renaissance and the album called Azure d’or (meaning blue of gold). I recall that day as if it was yesterday. What I did not realise then was that this was the start of a love affair with this group and their music that has lasted to this day. The friend has long since lost touch but the music lives on in my heart.
This YouTube video was a thrilling find. I never would have believed that Renaissance- a progressive folk, classical rock group of the 1970’s to early 80’s would ever be found there. I punched in the group’s name in the off chance something might come up and to my surprise 32 videos appeared. I did not get to bed very early that night as I watched many of them. This was the first time I had actually seen the group perform, even on a video. I was so excited to have found this.
This YouTube posting is one of the best because of the sound quality and depicts the essence of this band well. Also, it was chosen because it was the second song I heard that night from Azure d’or, not too long to listen to on here and one of my favourites. Annie Haslam, who is the lead singer was trained in Milan in classical music and opera. She is a highly accomplished singer, and Renaissance songs, with lyrics of poetry and classical melody mainly crafted by group guitarist Mike Dunford and Betty Thatcher( poetess) are just perfect for her voice.The song here is called “The Winter Tree”. Listen to the words to discover the meaning of the song for you. It is very clever in many ways and easy to listen too; very easy on the ear.
You may think this sounds rather nuts but my friend and I baptised January 30th as our Renaissance day and would commemorate it each year. They became quite a cult following for us. In the course of time, I have collected all their albums. In the loft I have a plaque, immitation record disc with the day and title designed and made by my friend, who is now an author and illustrator. It is beautiful and an object I treasure: It has blue and gold colours within it.
When I travel to and from work, I sing to the CD’s I have collected and know many if not most of the words to the vast collection of songs that were recorded by them. For over 20 yrs, my voice has now become ( I am told by my family and some church friends who hear my singing), very good as I have practiced and practiced all the high notes and different compositions. I love in particular Mother Russia, Ocean Gypsy, Kalynda, The mini opera Song of Scheherazade. Yet Azure D’or remains one of my favourite albums.
With this music comes many happy memories. I look back, as if it is yesterday, and feel a tremendous amount of happiness and joy. Apart from this one friend, I have never really shared Renaissance with anyone else. My husband never really took to them and I have never met anyone who has shared the same passion for this particular type of music. It feels to me that these melodies belong to me and my friend.
One day, we stood on a windy beach cliff top and tossed a bottle into the sea. My friend had written the words to Ocean Gypsy on a scroll tied up with ribbon. Inside the bottle was an old fake gold ring of mine, silver of some kind, and some pretty stones. This song is about a mermaid who finds and loves a human but as a result of this love dies. The objects placed in the bottle were some of the words in the opening lines. These lyrics are just breathe-taking and beautiful, such poetic words. We hoped some one would find the bottle and keep it. That felt romantic to me.
I would like to pay tribute to my friend who I loved, admired and respected and who introduced me to this music. It would lead me on a journey to discover so many other passions and musical tastes. From Russian classical music, to the tales of the Arabian Nights and Persian art, my musical journey continues to this day. There were many happy hours discussing why we loved this group so much. Most of my school friends thought I only liked Renaissance because I was out to impress the man. The man was impressive and still is but the love of the music was very genuine and lived on well after our friendship ended in very sad circumstances.
Thanks for the Music. My musical tales will continue on another blog.