There's something for all sorts of progressive rock fans on Seven Wondersthe 2017 CD by Georgia-based musical conceptualist, Arthur Offen. An astute and intuitive singer / songwriter who gained fame in 1980 for the Air Raid album, produced by noted music producer / engineer Eddie Kramer, as well as for three albums made with the band FlagArthur's strong point is his unique vocal style, that mixes a driving Gary Brooker / Procol Harum sound meets an early '70s Elton John approach. Rooted in hard rock, heavy metal and progressive rock, the Seven Wonders CD is wonderfully packaged and the lyrics come in a CD booklet complete with lyrics and some wildly colorful looking artwork. Describing his mission on Seven Wonders, Arthur tells mwe3.com, "I knew that number one, Seven Wonders was going to be a rocker from the way things started going as I started fleshing out the tunes. What was emerging to my ears was as a progressive rock set that was heavy on the rock end of the spectrum." Seven Wonders works best as a total listening experience, although track five "Twas Meant To Be" would clearly make a great radio single track. A range of early to mid 1970s influences come to mind on Seven Wonders, including heavy, electric guitar-centric rock bands such as Deep Purple, Procol Harum and even Gentle Giant. A number of musicians back up Arthur and his core team on Seven Wonders, including multi-instrumentalists and co-producers Rick Hinkle and Tom Waltz. By combining a range of rock influences with a intensely lyrical approach, singer-songwriter Arthur Offen delivers the goods on an album that is absorbing and, at times, positively astonishing. In a fitting gesture, Seven Wonders is dedicated to much-missed rock icons Chris Squire and Paul Kantner as well as to every fallen soldier. www.arthuroffen.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
mwe3: Is the first song on Seven Wonders, Into The Great Beyond the story of the building of America? Theres so many expansive themes explored in that song and you can almost feel the spirit of Americas pioneers on that song. The Power and the Passion for the love of your land, your true master Those thoughts ring true of the American pioneers. Also you speak of challenge and change are we in for a bigger storm as America reaches another turning point this year?
Arthur Offen: I really like the 'O Pioneer' outlook that you have interpreted from the words and overall scope of Into The Great Beyond Marvelous! I never saw that but it certainly measures up to the thrill ride I had in mind. My vision of it was really me sort of staring in my own daydream of really suddenly being there about 15 feet off the ground above those 'patchwork meadows' or racing up the 'tower stairs' and the speed of the scene, continually changing in a series of quick cuts that would give the whole journey a wide open blast off. I had some early good luck with the lyrics and I was really excited about where all of it was going and how clean and technicolor every short verse and scene change was getting. Finally, back at the 'dawn of time' watching the birth of a rogue star or at the 'edge of the cliff' on the mountain side I was just trying to describe being overjoyed and at one with Earth just for an instant.
Challenge and change are simply a constant for everyone and God knows it never stops. Those two inseparable elements are all that's promised in living a life on this planet yet all the while out on the horizon, all of us know a storm is on the way just as you said. I'm definitely talking in the present about the turmoil in this country. The powers that be have really let the hate genie out of the bottle and it's so hard to get him to go back in to it! Alas, we ride 'for the heart of the storm' anyway.
An interesting point about the song is that I didn't have it when all the other basic tracks were first recorded. It came to me almost completely done a bit later and I just knew it had to be on the album... so Jimmy Porter and I returned to Boston to record it during The Storm of the Century in the winter 2015, (lol) ...it was possibly going to be the album closer though in the end we kicked it off with it!
mwe3: Seven Wonders is actually your first solo album. How does Seven Wonders compare with your earlier albums with the band Flag and also Air Raid? How has your music evolved over the years? What kind of sound were you going for on Seven Wonders. I saw you dedicate the album to both Chris Squire and Paul Kantner, who were two of the most important 20th century musicians in history. Losing both the same year was devastating. Hard to believe Kantner died on the same day as the original Jefferson Airplane singer Signe is that weird?
Arthur Offen: I knew that number one, Seven Wonders was going to be a rocker from the way things started going as I started fleshing out the tunes. What was emerging to my ears was as a progressive rock set that was heavy on the rock end of the spectrum. I was still in the fog with Grail Cycle until, as I have said, it came together when I was on a visit in the South of France and it very quickly started to emerge... a magical set of late summer days indeed! I think Seven Wonders has bits and pieces of all the things you will find in Flag and Air Raid as well. But Air Raid was four extremely democratic men so there are additions in that music that are us being a very live band. I don't really see an evolution in my song writing as much as I see me going more and more to my private theater, melody choices and production colors that is hopefully my own signature sound... to be in that place that is all I can hope to possibly give in figuring out the song with all the best decisions. I still write much the lyrics first with just a bit of the musical ideas finished. If I have some words I'm excited about that will tend to really get me going!
Losing Chris Squire was devastating as I have known him and members of the crew for many years. I can't say how proud I am of Bill Sherwood taking his place. Utterly amazing. I saw Bill in that YES line up along with Downes, Howe, White, and Jon Davison recently and they were tremendous.
Paul Kantner has been an enormous creative influence in my life since he came on the scene with the Airplane. He taught me more than anybody else, except for Jack Casady and Grace Slick, about the power and drama of song writing for the story you're trying to tell and how to bring the listener into your world. I had known from the crew he wasn't well and he had always demanded that he and the band work so insanely hard on the road. The only other important persons in that regard are Gary Brooker and Keith Reid of Procol Harum both are still with us). Hmm.... people I think about every day alongside Jimi Hendrix!
mwe3: Tell us where you live now and were youre from originally. What other states and countries have you visited and what do you like best about where you live now? Have you spent most of your life in the American Southeast?
Arthur Offen: I live in Atlanta but I travel a lot.... especially to Boston and other points in New England. Every two years I spend some time in Barcelona to constantly study and revisit the work of architect Antoni Gaudi. The giant cathedral Sagrada Familia and his other wonderful buildings there are always in my thoughts and studies. I hope to be in London this fall and possibly Australia next spring. I lived in Scandinavia for a few years in the late 1980s and loved it very much. Boston though, is probably my heart's home. I lived there about twelve years and I'm always heading back especially to be around Tom Waltz and other important people there in my private life.
I came from a very old Southern family and I love the South but I'm not in any way nailed down here anymore. It's a place I truly understand with all my heart and so many friends are there around me especially Rick Hinkle, with his wonderful studio so close by!
mwe3: Track two, Temple Giant has a great ZZ Top boogie riff. You speak of 3000 year and how nothing really changes. Is it the more things changes, the less actually changes? Are these the days of madness while we run from the rising flood? Floods 2017? Sounds like global warming is catching up fast. Tell us about the mythological connections to that song?
Arthur Offen: Temple Giant! I would definitely say the music part of that piece is King's X rubbing off on me in hopefully all the right ways. Absolutely one of my favorite bands. Brilliant and totally unique. But the real kicker is finally having that poem almost complete. I was ecstatic! I have tried for years to find a way into writing something about the great Egyptian stonecutters and their connection to the world of secret temple chambers and tombs. These artists and slaves lived day to day, up on the walls under the hot sun hammer carving the great stone murals of Karnak, Thebes and many other sites for more than fifteen hundred years. If they carved or painted walls for royal tombs or holy places they were killed along with the secrets of their works. In Temple Giant the stone cutter looks back on those days hundreds of centuries ago and realizes, damn 'Nobody ever told me I would never get out of there alive'
So yes, I turned this on it's head by making the artisan aware that he had been there so long ago but up here in 2017 he simply shakes his head and realizes that not a damned thing has changed. Demonic rulers, slavery, wars and destruction, all moving along splendidly along side cell phones and spaceships. When The Nile flooded in ancient times it was time for rejoicing! It meant new crops and fresh water... life! Now the rising oceans will engulf cities, continents and destroy many innocent lives in their wake! So yes, I did see the parallel that we're faced with now as people in power are calling climate change a hoax. And yes, the speed at which these changes will come will be unparalleled ... something no man will have ever seen before.
mwe3: The High Road is subtitled A Soldiers Prayer. What is the High Road and how does it relate to the song? Its got a great melody and a driving beat. Theres something so hopeful in the song yet also an element of futility. It seems like were all soldiers these days with so much fighting going on, even fighting in our own country. I guess its our duty to find that high road, where no one goes alone.
Arthur Offen: With The High Road it's important to remember my acoustic introduction at the beginning of the album. There we catch up with A Wanderer who stumbles upon a poem carved on a wall of 'pale alabaster'. That poem or soldier's prayer that he finds are the words to The High Road. I know that it paints a dark landscape in a time where 'the fortress close their gates one final day' as the out lands fall into what we call feudal times. I wanted the verses sung as if it was a squad of soldiers on patrol or a couple of families searching for cover before night fall... weary but committed to survival. As we become the human community again by necessity I don't think we will ever lose the spirit to break away from dark times, somehow save the children, find a family, and build a fire at the top of that shinning hill we hope will be there if we go searching for it. I think you put it so completely right in your question. It becomes the final cause worth defending to find that high road. Go and seek a place of rest and safety and to bring all those you love to that new land and make it our home.
mwe3: The Last Invasion has a kind of Black Oak Arkansas kind of vibe. Is that your Southern influence? Does the song speak of an invasion by real or unknown sources? Never forget today, they took your world away Scary thoughts but your vocal is quite humorous sounding! Tell us about Shiloh. Does that point back to the Civil War times? Excellent guitar work on that track, puts Black Sabbath to shame! They will be here soon
Arthur Offen: The Last Invasion was a guitar piece I've played over and over in my head for a while. I was wondering what to do with it and I started writing for it from the standpoint of a temporal traveler equipped with Time-ship and crew. This being and his technicians obviously knowing that a massive planetary invasion was headed our way on a certain date and having seen this as past events, went back in time to record it for logs and records by being there to witness the entire ghastly business. The fact that he does wise crack that it 'look a bit like Shiloh' can only reinforce the bloodshed and muddy roads and swamp against more insanity ahead in an all out alien ground attack. It was also the ultimate proof that yes, he absolutely was at the Battle of Shiloh with ship and crew! Was he originally a Southerner himself from another time? I also never thought of it as darkly humorous but then I did include 'Skeleton run your dance on the burnin' hillside'... All of my Southern friends always tell me how redneck it sounds! (lol)!
I was really dead set on trying to present the ultimate wide screen alien invasion seen by someone who was entirely unattached to all of the madness going on around him. There is serious dying and human loss 'The Innocent died in an empty town' yet his biggest concern was " Ok, they're getting close ...time to move away". Let's engage the time ship and disappear into the event stream no big deal. (lol) I'm really glad you dug the guitar work, thanks for the shout out! I'm definitely tipping my top hat to the immortal Tony Iommi!
mwe3: Twas Meant To Be has a great orchestral opening. Is it a kind of love song? Is the song a look at putting our hearts back together in a heartless world? Worlds are born in an instant and destroyed in the blink of an eye pretty powerful. Its also the shortest song on the album right, good choice for a single for radio?
Arthur Offen: Twas Meant To Be had been finished first. I had a lot of time to carefully map out that production. The whole thing was great fun to record and I can remember Rick and me sharing guitar parts and numerous layers of guitar colors all done in one evening... tremendous fun and hard work. We were also deep into a new set of incredible MOTU symphonic instrument sounds that did up our orchestral palette; hence the really strong opening and other spots. It is a love song if one is needed I suppose. It's also telling someone that their presence in your life reaffirms a reason to continue on in the midst of troubled times. It's also throwing joy on maybe being in love for the first time and telling someone that even if they lose their way they can always find that other special person. The last verse is a reminder to remember how fast all of this going and that as all of us find out eventually how it seems to move faster and faster... worlds are born in an instant you know the rest.
Twas Meant To Be is a totally closed system as a song. It moves through its gear shifts and machinery and puts down wheels for a landing and comes to its last fade. It's just one of those tunes whose musical arc starts in a certain place and follows a very tight course. It really isn't very long as you say ... I have people that tell me all the time "Hey! There's your Air Raid song!", and I'm always saying, really?
mwe3: Wearin' That Crown has a kind of religious vibe to it. Does it speak about God choosing the land we love? Theres kind of a religious vibe to the song. Is there some acknowledgment of religion in your music or is it more a kind of biblical aura?
Arthur Offen: Wearin' That Crown lays down the slate pathway that leads to Grail Cycle. Yes, that's Merlin following Pip, actually Arthur as young man through the streets of the old town shortly before events leading to a certain sword tightly gripped by a large cut stone. Are the towns people enraptured by his presence? And what to make of the symbols glowing above his head? Are these only things that Merlin is witnessing? A feeling of joy? Definitely ... on the cusp of a new age? absolutely... The days of The King are upon the land and the long age of the Old Sorcerer and Magus are coming to an end as Wearing That Crown gets going. Set in the years before the times of the round table, I was trying to get an innocence and lightness to the words.
To say that God has chosen or preordained your land or country is an ancient way of seeing things. It has more to do with even older ways of thinking that God or the God's were interacting with the human race in our daily lives. My images here pull from those times and sentiments I guess, but more importantly, the whole arc of the words is all about having an overwhelming faith in a great man coming forward to lead his country. The 'Summers Eve' section even more so... a street dance setting on an enchanted summer night with 'bright torches and laughter' and later 'a coronation is at hand,' as I said, could help set the stage for Grail Cycle.
Wearin' That Crown is all Rick Hinkle in guitar layer and "many string instruments" heaven. I'm playing bass and Jimmy Porter is on drums but all the rest including the acoustic middle section with mandolin, ukulele, slide, guitar and various other guitars is pure Hinkle magic. It was amazing watching that track grow and bloom I am blessed!
mwe3: Grail Cycle is the centerpiece of the album. Tell us about Thaddeus and the mythological inspirations for Grail Cycle. You also speak about King Arthur. Do you feel some connection to King Arthur as you share his name? Tell us about The Courtyards Of Avalon and the race to the sea. Do you see some relevance between King Arthur and whats happening today in the world? Also do you see any connections between ancient mythology and the world today? Is everything preordained? It always seemed like the Gods were fighting these incredible battles during the ancient times of Thor and the great Greek mythological heroes like Zeus and Heracles and then King Arthur. Where did you first get the idea for the Holy Grail and do you believe the ancient myths and legends?
Arthur Offen: It seems like I've been hearing people say for my entire life "Why don't you write something about King Arthur or Arthurian times?" And I suppose that it's because it's my name as well. Long ago in my twenties. I did start on such a thing and planed for it to be a long piece with sections but all I really had was the opening song and only a verse or so. The bits of music I had stayed with me somehow... I just could not find a way inside that world with some opening lines to get things rolling. It was a thorn in my skull from 1977 or so until spring 2014 when I stumbled onto an opening scene I could plainly see in my thoughts. A knight Captain on a leisurely ride with his squire and friend through a glorious English fall countryside with blazing colors in the old trees. The knight, unnamed as are many in Grail Cycle, and his trusty friend Thaddeus are speaking of times past and the darker times in the fray of battle as well ... and of a lady,an older Guinevere?, of high regard who has called on them to find the Grail for grave, yet unknown reasons.
So, there was my start and I quickly realized the entire tale would be told in the times after the fall of Camelot after the death of Arthur. The knight realizes he must fetch the Grail from Avalon the spiritual home of all that encompasses the realm that Arthur has created in his extraordinary times. They must proceed quickly as he soon learns his lord, the ruling lady has fallen ill and is near death. Only a sip from the grail will restore her life and possibly restore a fragile kingdom.
I as said, in starting to map out the pieces that would become some sort of musical narrative I didn't really have very much at all. So I started rehearsing it with Jimmy Porter with just drums and piano in the late summer of 2014 and I knew right away I was really on to something. I knew I needed a section about the North Sea journey to mystical Avalon. I knew I had to progress things along but I was really starting to see and feel a strong connection to the world within those medieval times. In September of 2014 I went to southwestern France to visit an old friend, also a musician as well. While I was there I literally had an epiphany with many of the words and musical pieces like 'My Larkin' ...words and all starting to fall into place in the course of about seven days. It was once again just a magical time and the beauty of that ancient French territory with old watch towers and castles at every hill top did play an incredible part in the wealth of usable poetry I came away with from that visit. The biggest challenge of course was the more mystical interaction between the Knight Captain confronting the spirit of the King at Avalon.
All that follows here is for the listener's imagination and insight. The mind and heart will put together a story that is much more satisfying than the poetry itself. What the Grail is will be different to everyone's eyes... it is a personal discovery, the fulfillment of a promise, a sight that is so pure and simple as to go without any way to describe it. In raising the Grail to your lips to sip from 'The Cup of Christ' as legend calls it, ALL receive whatever miracle or salvation is hoped for. ALL are reborn in some way. One can only hope to tell a story again and again knowing our legends will never fade away. That's what I was trying to do. My Grail Cycle is just a tale of those times... someone else will come along with another section of the story and weave another tale in his or her own words and their tale will be added to the tapestry as well. That part is the most important part of all. Arthur's name became synonymous with the term "I and the Land are one". It echoes away at the end of Canon Call ... 'take me up ...cast me away' is still written in the steel of Excalibur down there in the bottom of that sacred lake. A new King will find that sword, Believe me!
I remember one after show talk with Jon Anderson and him saying to me clearly, "Arthur if you go looking for the England of those times, you will find it so quickly around every corner, and down that alley... through the park and just beyond those trees... it's still there ...waiting for you!"
mwe3: Tell us about working with Eddie Kramer on the Air Raid album in 1980. When and where did you record that album, do you still keep in touch with Eddie Kramer?
Arthur Offen: I really enjoyed working with Eddie. For any band making their first major album it would be a dream come true and it really was for me. Rick Brown and I were very close to him during those days in the summer of 1980. Rick Hinkle and Tommy Walker our amazing bass player on the other hand found Kramer a bit oppressive from time to time and way too "my way or the highway." The band was in spectacular shape when we recorded the basic tracks at the Colgate Mansion in Sharon, Connecticut. As with Led Zeppelin, Kramer loved using the ambient natural echo of a giant house for getting a huge airy sound on tape especially drums. He parked the Record Plant mobile unit right outside the front door and pulled in miles of cable and hundreds of giant boom stands and an infantry of microphones and over the course of a days work made it all work for us via a set of small video cams where we could see each other play. Rick Browns drums were set up in a stairwell with close and distance mikes. It sounded like God marching! I was upstairs in a front bedroom with a wonderful Yamaha grand that I loved plus Mini Moog and other keyboards. Guitar and bass were down stairs with an army of Marshall amps. Kramer had recorded Kiss and Ace Frehley's solo album there so he was familiar with the nuances of that old house.
I always found him enthusiastic and always up for trying something new. He had an amazing imagination for sound painting and special effects in general but first and foremost he was a monster basic tracks engineer especially for drums and guitars. He did have a really sick sense of humor... very Monty Python / the Goon Show, in other words, quintessentially British and very funny. It was always wonderful to ask him about Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix and as you would guess he had amazing stories to tell. He was a great casual photographer of those times and shared all of his enormous collection of photo work with us ...so many wonderful rock n roll people through the 1960s and 70s ...truly amazing... incredible tales and glasses of wine as he spoke about it all ... the past illuminated and warmly shared by his having been there through his terrific shots of people you most admired. It was always a mind-blowing journey.
That summer was divided in to three parts. Most of June we lived in Connecticut and rehearsed, usually five days a week and went through everything we had at the time and decided on final song choices. We moved into the mansion in July and recorded for two weeks then moved to White Plains to Northlake Studio's in White Plains, New York for overdubs and vocals. I got to spend six magic days mostly by myself with him doing the vocals for the album and it remains one of the highlights of my life... unforgettable! The last phase was mixing at The Record Plant. Kramer was so much fun in New York City, one of his real stomping grounds and always took us to his favorite restaurants and haunts.
I thought Eddie was a good leader through all of the changes to bringing in the finished product. The band became aware that he had loosened his grip a bit in wanting to put his ideas on everything as time went on and therefore tunes like "Soldiers Of Fortune", "Mystery Man" and "Ballad Of Anymore" are very much us as a band playing our live arrangements straight up. His wide screen "Long Ships" production is pure Eddie. He always wanted us to take things as far as his imagination demanded. I haven't spoken to him in a while though I know Rick Hinkle speaks to him occasionally. I always think so fondly of him and will never forget those wonderful days we spent together.
mwe3: Tell us about working with Rick Hinkle and Tom Waltz on Seven Wonders. When did first work with those two artists and who else was responsible for getting such a great sound on Seven Wonders? Also what can you say about the incredible album artwork on Seven Wonders, for instance it should win a Grammy!
Arthur Offen: I started working with Rick Hinkle in late summer 1972. He had hired me to play keyboards for a band that was going to back up singer Paul Davis. In doing that gig I met Tommy Walker on bass from Carrollton, Georgia and Rick Brown on drums from Marietta Georgia. Little did we know Air Raid was in place just like that. We all worked at Melody Recording doing session work and recording sound-alikes, a music industry anomaly involving hits of the day re-recorded and sold as compilations. But we started working on my music almost immediately as well and Rick was always at the center of it. An amazing guitarist and my chief go to collaborator in teaching my songs to him. Hes the guy, except for Tom, who knows more about my music and how how I like to put it together than anybody. The Seven Wonders game plan was that Jimmy Porter and I would cut drums and piano up at Woolly Mammoth studios in Boston, amazing studio and drum room!
Then, Tom would make a drum mix down to two tracks and include piano and a scratch vocal and send it down to Rick Hinkle where we did all the overdubs at Rick's Audio Cam Studio in Atlanta. Rick and I overdubbed Seven Wonders from March first though September 22nd, 2015! When everything was ready for a final mix we sent the finished songs back to Tom at Waltz Mastering. I returned to Boston and we mixed through the fall. I must say that Rick's excellent rough mixes of our finished work were very much the sound templates Tom used as well. For recording guitar and bass Rick has really become hard to beat. The enormous amount of care he puts into is all there. Overall, Seven Wonders has such an amazing sound because of Rick's instrument engineering and Toms incredible mixes. Tom was really excited when he first checked out all the tracks and found out how hot and clean we had gotten everything!
The cover art was done by my friend Garry Limuti. He's an insanely great portraiture artist and his sports action paintings had really caught my eye. They are totally amazing, magnificent! I knew album jacket time was coming up and I got the idea of getting in touch with him and maybe having him do my portrait in a science fiction setting. We talked and decided I would come up with a concept I liked so being an artist myself I drew up a couple of ideas and we got together to look it over. I very much wanted the formal officers jacket concept and with more discussion we found out we were both Dune fanatics! The rest is history! I had the Photo of the curved stone window from The Great Wall of China and I posed. The most amazing thing is he just needed "head and hands" the rest is pure Garry and that's Paul Atreides jacket from Dune as well as the Ducal ring and the shield at my waist. The Painting is 44"x 33" and what a beauty. All of the other album panels are his work as well. I did the Arthur Offen logo and we collaborated on ideas. I was really glad we got to include the Grail middle panel on the inside. It is such a great centerpiece for the entire production and has such an amazing look.
mwe3: How about the reissues of the three Flag albums? When did they first come out and how were they prepared for reissue and when did they come out?
Arthur Offen: I started the Flag reissues in late January 2017 and it was very apparent that I had much work ahead of me. Once again thank God I had the help of fellow artist and friend Garry Limuti to put not one but three album packages into fighting shape. I had all of the raw illustration material at hand but
There was no order to each albums art work on the flash drives where it was all stored. Everything was in disarray, believe me! So the progress was slow at first but Garry was invaluable in setting up newly found bits and pieces into the proper templates and reorganizing many visual elements as they were needed. He has exquisite taste so it was easy to let him take the lead and make important color and layout decisions. He also put tons of new sparkle on anything that might have been a bit tired looking or in need of some individual polish. I had booklets done from previous printings that were quite usable and Grammy winner and designer extraordinaire Susan Archie came on board to help me put together a booklet for Perihelion. It was something that had never been done before for that album so it was wonderful to see that for the first time. The harder we worked on everything the more fun it became to revisit all three of these albums. Tom Waltz had remastered everything right about the time I was starting in on the graphics and he got all three albums sounding gigantic and very clean ...such a thrill to hear! As I said it ended up being a great experience to revisit Flag World and finally see all three albums completely reborn and so full of life again. It has been many years since they first appeared. Across The Stars first in 1996 then again in 2005 Book Of Conquest in 2005 and Perihelion with a very short run in 2011. It feels fantastic to have them back in such terrific condition. All three are available right now at CD Baby and soon at other vendors as well. The AIR RAID album is next in line for a truly deluxe reissue coming up this fall. I keep thinking and day dreaming about this album called AIR RAID 2020... can't seem to get it outta my head.... driving me nuts.... Hmm ... what to do ...what to do....??
mwe3: The title track Seven Wonders again delves into mythology. Theres some great brass like sounds in the intro which gets into YES territory with its romantic melodic cadences. How much mythology did you manage to get into that song? Does it look back to the First Age Of Man? I love the line about Zeus at Mount Olympus. Where did they all go? So is love our only connection between modern man and the mythological times? There are connecting themes throughout the album about love of the land being our true master. So, as you prove there are 21st century connections between us and our mythological roots!
Arthur Offen: The song Seven Wonders was going to be the big opening to the whole album. I had very stubbornly designed it to do that job but Good God it was difficult to edit and put together as a coherent piece of music that could be recorded! Edit, Edit, Edit! God bless Rick Hinkle for being there to say "come on! move it along! Faster transition here! and there!" A cut at this spot ...cut at that spot and put that confounded bridge here! Also I must thank Tom Waltz who finally got the perfect mix when I finally left him alone, took his advice and went to the bar. Once it was all sorted out I worked really hard on all of the verses and the bridge. I had the first verse so I knew how to put the puzzle together. I'm glad you were digging the Orchestral stuff.... Difficult to get those colors and very difficult to make them sit in the mix just so. Thanks Tom!
It was important to include at least a mention of all the seven ancient wonders of the world. But it was even more important to explain my point being that once man found love he stopped really needing the giant monuments as much... and they slowly crumbled in the winds of time or fell into the waves. A ridiculous romantic conceit I know but it really gave me a chance to breathe some vivid 'lived in' feeling to my poems and visions of very specific ancient settings that I most loved. I always wanted those glimpses to be nothing short of spectacular so ...the seven ancient wonders were a tremendous backdrop for the scenes.
The first age of man has happened many times through the millennia of the distant past in every part of our world you can imagine. A time once again of pure unbridled creativity and learning as well as a time of exploration and discovery. This is the time when mythologies are born though the people telling the stories are very, very real. The only serious point that remains an ongoing struggle is that man at certain times finally realizes that he must save himself and his soul as well. One goes hand in hand with the other. Do the same struggles continue daily way up here in the 21st century? They always will without a doubt.
'At the end of the day I'm walking out on that sunlit balcony with the last of the Great Pharaohs. The last Ptolemy, The Queen of Egypt who was never given due credit for being a tremendous administrator, a brilliant land conservationist and an extraordinary leader of her country in her time. She is wrongly remembered for her shattered dreams of Unity with other, stronger Empires and badly damaged liaisons with the chosen men of her life. I, her loyal scribe, gaze along with her out across the sapphire bay to see that never ending fire atop The Light House of Alexandria ...when she speaks she says 'the power and the passion we give to this land is our true master and our only freedom'. (drafting for verse six, Seven Wonders )
That's how I got that closing thought and the one that opens all of this work as well. I put myself in that place and it just seemed like all of what I needed was waiting there for me. It really doesn't feel like our real needs have changed all that much. I only hope we will be allowed to find our way back to a place where all human beings will look upon each other as brothers and sisters. One God, One planet, One home.