The Strand, Dave McKeown with Liz Monument by Dave McKeown published on 2012/03/18 11:55:37 +0000 Here is a collaboration with a lovely old friend Liz Monument. Liz and I both studied music at Bretton Hall in Yorkshire a few years ago. Those of you who have had the chance to do something like that will know that the friendships you make there go beyond the social...you share creativity with your classmates and for me, I always keep a cozy seat in my heart for anyone with whom I make good music. Back then, Liz was a fantastic classical guitarist, but since then she has widened her range to encompass many more styles and stringed instruments....including the sparkling harp that features here alongside the guitar. A couple of years ago we renewed friendship via facebook and this year we're making music again via soundcloud. Please listen to more of Liz's beautiful playing at http://soundcloud.com/lizmonument Here I play the Uillean Pipes and Low Whistle. I absolutely adore the pipes, but they also frustrate me as I don't think I'm physically cut out to play them to the standard I'd like to. But now and then I give them a day out. If by any chance you like the sound here, please do me the favour of going to youtube and checking out what REAL pipers can do, like Paddy Keenan, Cillian Vallely and Davy Spillane. Liz's harp provides a perfect setting here for Louis MacNeice's amazing poem The Strand. The harp's chords lap like waves on the poet's beach. I have a strong identification with this poem; my father was also a Northern Irish clergyman who “kept something in him solitary and wild”. The last quality time I spent with my father was a wordless walk on such an Irish strand. The image attached to the song is a washed out old slide I took that very winter afternoon....'white Tintoretto clouds' behind Slieve Donard, towering above the beach at Newcastle, County Down. All that's missing is the 'square black figure' beyond the viewfinder to the left. The Strand by Louis MacNeice White Tintoretto clouds beneath my naked feet, This mirror of wet sand imputes a lasting mood To island truancies; my steps repeat Someone’s who now has left such strands for good Carrying his boots and paddling like a child, A square black figure whom the horizon understood - My father. Who for all his responsibly compiled Account books of a devout, precise routine Kept something in him solitary and wild, So loved the Western sea and no tree’s green Fulfilled him like these contours of Slievemore Menaun and Croghaun and the bogs between. Sixty-odd years behind him and twelve before, Eyeing the flange of steel in the turning belt of brine It was sixteen years ago he walked this shore And the mirror caught his shape which catches mine But then as now the floor-mop of the foam Blotted the bright reflections - and no sign Remains of face or feet when visitors have gone home.