The Wanderlings Volume Two

by Leslie Hudson

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1.
Jezebel met Esther in a bar and over drinks They traded stories ‘bout the kings they used to love Until their vision blurred and all men looked the same When it was dark Lydia met Delilah after work, ran up a tab Perfecting business plans they shared to rule the world And laughed about the way they liked to close a sale Through the night Salomé’s waiting tables, platter in hand While Deborah smokes the courthouse from her mind Naomi keeps her daughter close ‘little longer than planned And Leah’s still a lover to the blind We are all sisters and sinners, trying to unwind We are all sisters and sinners, girls, by our own design Mary M met her mother in the back and wore a veil To hide her face from anyone who knew her name And she’s still jet-lagged so she’s drinking Cabernet To remember And it’s last call so ladies, drink up This isn’t happy hour, honey We’re at the crossroads of heaven and hell And I don’t want your soul But I’ll take your money ‘cause Salomé’s waiting tables, platter in hand While Deborah smokes the courthouse from her mind Naomi keeps her daughter close ‘little longer than planned And Leah’s still a lover to the blind We are all sisters and sinners, trying to unwind We are all sisters and sinners, girls, by our own design 3 AM: Eve and Lilith pool their tips and share a cab They spend the night together, they’re comparing notes Of married men that they’ve lost track of on the road Saying We are all sisters and sinners, trying to unwind We are all sisters and sinners, girls, sparks of the divine We are all sisters and sinners, girls, making up our minds We are all sisters and sinners by our own design
2.
The Morrigan, in woman’s form Came looking for Cuchulainn To offer him her favour As a lover and a guardian “Be off with you, I do not need Your comp’ny or distraction It isn’t for a woman’s sake I fight as Ulster’s champion!” “Be careful what you say to me For I am no mere maiden And you will suffer greatly When you’re most in need of saving I’ll come against you thrice, I will Around your feet entangling To trip and trample, bite and tear Your entrails all a-dangling” Eel in the water And she-wolf I’ll be And hornless red heifer These shapes three For I am the Morrigan And you’re just a man Whose body will feed My corvid clan “I’ll be in the water when You’re fighting at the ford” Cuchulainn said, “I’ll crack your ribs And I won’t need my sword” “Then I’ll become a wolf and I will drive the beasts against you” He said, “I’ll sling a stone and blind Your eye, until I bless you” “Then I will be a blood-red cow To bring the herd stampeding Your enemy will fall upon you Broken there and bleeding” “I’ll throw a stone to break your leg” The bold Cuchulainn claimed “Until my blessing you receive You’ll be a woman maimed” Eel in the water And she-wolf I’ll be And hornless red heifer These shapes three For I am the Morrigan And you’re just a man Whose body will feed My corvid clan Yes, your body will feed My corvid clan All they promised came to pass The champion was spent He found a woman milking who was Squint-eyed, lame and bent “Woman, give me milk!” he cried Without a word she did “Good health to you” – a wound was healed As smiling face she hid Another drink, another blessing Then again, a third Whole at last the woman rose And then Cuchulainn heard: “You said you’d never heal me” As the Morrigan turned ‘round “If I’d known it was you,” he said “I’d not have made a sound!” Eel in the water And she-wolf I’ll be And hornless red heifer These shapes three For I am the Morrigan And you’re just a man Whose body will feed My corvid clan Yes, your body will feed My corvid clan For I am a raven And you’re just a man
3.
We were written like a villain into story Notoriety, little glory We the victims of an evil allegory Impropriety, never sorry As the servant who would be a queen The unrequited lover The barren bride abandoned Or the secondary mother We are damned because it’s our fault That you never stop to think The way we do when we see weakness And she stops to take a drink I am bitter (I am bitter) I am bitterness as cold as ice I am jealous (I am jealous) I am jealousy as old as night I want better I want better than your charming life I am other (I am other) I am otherwise a carving knife We were written to be foils and to be foiling Ever burning, ever boiling We the reason for your necessary toiling Needful learning and recoiling As the succubus who drains and draws The faery who entices The witch who weaves in darkness Or the demoness of crisis We are terrifying spectres There beneath the milky sheen Of our flawless imperfection You have never really seen I am bitter (I am bitter) I am bitterness as cold as ice I am jealous (I am jealous) I am jealousy as old as night I want better I want better than your charming life I am other (I am other) I am otherwise a carving knife You use me to draw a line Pay attention, little heroine It matters more this time You abuse me, break me down In an endless sea of back story I never make a sound I am bitter (I am bitter) I am bitterness as cold as ice I am jealous (I am jealous) I am jealousy as old as night I want better I want better than your charming life I am other (I am other) I am otherwise a carving knife I am other (I am other) I am otherwise a carving knife
4.
They can burn and scatter me Wrap me up and bury me I won’t make a sound As long as I am bound To unconsecrated ground Come to me, o children Whose mothers bore the shame Nameless and abandoned Gone before you came Take the long road round the hill Skip among the nettles Follow now the moonlit path Strewn with fallen petals Come to me, o sorrowful From the razor’s edge Anguished and afflicted Leapers from the ledge Oh, take the long road round the hill Tread upon the nettles Follow now the moonlit path Blanketed with petals Come to me, o drowned ones Taken by the sea Leeched of all your traces Anchorless and free Take the long road round the hill Past the stinging nettles Follow now the moonlit path Marked by scattered petals Come to me, o sisters Lovers for a price Healers and diviners Burned by your advice Take the long road round the hill Gather up the nettles Follow now the moonlit path Smoothed with whitened petals Come to me, o fringes Shadowy and pale Do not be forgotten Step beyond the veil Oh, take the long road round the hill Shiver through the nettles Ours will be the moonlit path We will be the petals They can burn and scatter me Wrap me up and bury me I won’t make a sound As long as I am bound To unconsecrated ground
5.
Powerlust 04:08
She moves through the room Like a river she flows Like a valley she curves Like a seer she knows All eyes follow her As she pours out her mead And all that you want Is to take what you need You grab her by the hair And you pin her to the wall She wanna taste her power You wanna watch her fall You tell her that you own her As you spill into her cup And when exhaustion takes you It’s then she rises up Don’t mistake the crown of her head For subservience Don’t relax when she falls to her knees When you dig your flagpole Deep into her mountains Remember magma flows Beneath her fragrant trees My power is my own And it cannot be taken The strength of the earth That can-cannot be shaken Without me you fall And no, none will support you For I am the one That all men must report to Don’t mistake the crown of my head For subservience Don’t relax when I fall to my knees When you dig your flagpole Deep into these mountains Remember magma flows Beneath my fragrant trees Pity the man Who forgets he’s the tool And tries to play king To forget he’s the fool
6.
He’d been warned of her beauty prior to her birth A leader of men by the strength of his girth A leader of men by the wisdom of his breath Yet his future was shrouded in sorrow and death Conor kept her life hidden in a deep lonely wood As from Emain Macha he ruled as he should And as Derdriu blossomed into a rose His lust to possess her alarmingly rose While out in the wood a young man did she spy Who said, “My eyes have seen a fine heifer pass by” Her love for him true and her heart and eyes full She said, “Heifers grow fine where there is no bull” She’d been raised as the king’s bride regardless of her will And safe in her hiding he thought her there still And while he was dreaming of taking her to bed She left with her lover, fair Naoise, and fled Conor found her bed empty; his curses filled the sky “You’ll never escape me although you may try “Ah Derdriu, my darling, your face fills my sight “And I’ll burn down my dún before I lose this fight” He sent Fergus to bring them by his guarantee And trusting his honour they sailed o’er the sea But as they approached Emain Macha on the hill They were ambushed by men who had come for the kill By the sword Eogan slaughtered the son of Uisliu And captured and bound his sweet lover, Derdriu And brought her to Conor, the king of the land Who claimed for his pleasure her heart and her hand Neither eating nor sleeping she mourned and she cried Saying, “Ah, with my Naoise I yearn to have died “His white skin and red lips and black raven hair “It’s with him, king of Ulster, you cannot compare” Enraged by her spurning, with fury in his heart He promised to Eogan she soon would depart A ewe between rams in the chariot she rode ‘Til she jumped to her death on the rocks by the road So come all ye who gather to listen to love’s tale Remember this story of lust and betrayal Of promise and warning and falling from grace And the burden that comes with a beautiful face
7.
He was waiting for her At the bottom of his well She was innocent And he could tell He’d been bound there By incorporeal bonds Just as ancient As the dawn She was coming for him Though she didn’t know his name He was dangerous And he’s to blame She’d been drawn there By the very fate she sought She was destined To be caught Magic token Golden ball What’s my future? Tell me all Will I be a happy bride With a loving husband at my side Until the day I die? He was counting on her Coming close enough to touch She was beautiful He knew that much She was mesmerized By the token she beheld Til she lost it In the well She was begging for it For her future lay within She was furious And he gave in But he grabbed her For one terrifying pause Then released her From his claws He stalked her As she ran from him A silent blackened wave A man but not a man who could be saved A bargain made in ignorance Has ne’ertheless a consequence And in the dark He held her like a grave Magic token Golden ball What’s my future? Tell me all Will I be a happy bride With a loving husband at my side Until the day I die? She was waiting for him To release her from his spell He was ravenous And she could tell They were married there In the light of her last day He the hunter She the prey Magic token Golden ball What’s my future? Tell me all Will I be a happy bride With a loving husband at my side Until the day I die? Oh, until the day I die Oh, he will love me Until the day I die
8.
Falling Down 05:30
Child of summer Flower-born Winter is coming You’re weary and worn Come share my hearth It’s safe underground And the leaves are falling down, my child The leaves are falling down Tell me about your adventures, child How did you come to this field? You must be hungry, you’re wasting away After your many ordeals Sit by the fire, tell me how does that feel? You won’t survive in this weather, child Stay here with me, earn your keep I have been gathering all summer long Close your eyes and go to sleep You nevermore will have cause to weep Child of summer Flower-born Winter is coming You’re weary and worn Come share my hearth It’s safe underground And the leaves are falling down, my child The leaves are falling down What a help you have been, child There is someone you should meet He’d make a wonderful husband As wealthy as you are sweet Go prepare dinner, you’re in for a treat Why do you bitterly cry, child? You’ll be a bride in the spring Life in the tunnels is safer You’ll never want for a thing All of our days will grow brighter when you sing Down in the darkness, you will sing Down in the darkness, you will sing Down in the depths of the darkness You’re the most beautiful sound Stay with us here, deep underground Child of summer Flower-born Winter is coming You’re weary and worn Come share my hearth It’s safe underground And the leaves are falling down, my child The leaves are falling down
9.
I bring heather for Hélène who’s not in So I pick up my pen To compose a short farewell And a hoping-you-are-well You’re no stranger to hydrangea And I feel the loss of you Lady of La Belle Écosse, adieu For three years or maybe more I have walked out of my own front door To the sights and sounds of you Though our spoken words are few I bring heather for Hélène who’s not in So I pick up my pen To compose a short farewell And a hoping-you-are-well You’re no stranger to hydrangea And I feel the loss of you Lady of La Belle Écosse, adieu In your driveway stands a bin All at once the movers fill it in I can’t see the orchids bloom In the window of your room I bring heather for Hélène who’s not in So I pick up my pen To compose a short farewell And a hoping-you-are-well You’re no stranger to hydrangea And I feel the loss of you Lady of La Belle Écosse, adieu Take with you this good luck charm That I trust will keep you safe from harm May you find a fertile soil And reward for all your toil I bring heather for Hélène who’s not in So I pick up my pen To compose a short farewell And a hoping-you-are-well You’re no stranger to hydrangea And I feel the loss of you Lady of La Belle Écosse, adieu Yes, I feel the loss of you Lady of La Belle Écosse, adieu
10.
The moon is risen, I can see your pebble path Leading brightly through the trees Stepping stones to safety Or at least to what is known But tonight there is nothing left to guide you Lose your way, my little children Build your fire higher May it keep you from the wolves Never fear, I will be your salvation Come near, eat your fill of my elation Nibble, nibble, like a mouse Who is nibbling at my house? Be ye friend or be ye foe Now you’ve come you’ll never go In the sunlight rosy windows sugar-spun Frosted eaves and ginger shingles Candy-petal gardens In the bright and dappled glade Come inside, oh, my poor diminished darlings Let me warm you by the hearth-flame Trust me, you’ll feel better When you’ve had a good night’s sleep While you’re sleeping I will weave for you a spell You are bound to my command, you will serve me well Never will you wander for this castle is a cage You can’t escape an orphaned fate and you’ve reached the final page You mistook the spider’s web for one last safety net Never fear, I will be your salvation Come near, eat your fill of my elation Nibble, nibble, like a mouse Who is nibbling at my house? Be ye friend or be ye foe Now you’ve come you’ll never go Nibble, nibble like a mouse Nibble, nibble like a mouse Nibble, nibble, like a mouse Who is nibbling at my house? Be ye friend or be ye foe Now you’ve come you’ll never go
11.
I Won't Fail 03:59
[HIM] I lost her too early My true love, you shone so brightly Without her I’m broken I swallow all these words unspoken I will make a vow right now By the morning light That I will bring her back to me Save her from the night Red feather dancing on the air Do not leave me, lead me there Spirit-wife I cannot see Do not set me free I will follow every trail Suffer through what they entail ‘Til you rest with your head upon my breast I won’t fail This journey is hard, love I’m struggling and you just float above You’ve travelled beyond this life The lake where the dead rest lies between us, wife I will make a vow right now Spirits, hear my call I have come so far and yet I will give my all Owl feathers dancing on the air Do not leave me, lead me there Bring my lover back to me Come and set her free I will follow any trail Suffer through what it entails ‘Til she rests with her head upon my breast I won’t fail [HER] My husband, you found me Our village I cannot wait to see Remember your promise Be patient and we’ll both get through this [HIM] I will make a vow right now Not to touch your skin Until we see our home again I will not give in But the sunlight in your hair, my love The warmth of your embrace What’s the harm – we’re almost home If I should touch your face? [HER] What have you done? We’d almost won Like a feather floating on the air I must leave you standing there Spirit-wife again I’ll be For you have set me free You may follow every trail Suffer through what they entail But you nevermore will rest With my head upon your breast You have failed [HIM] I won’t fail
12.
Have you heard the story Of the Cailleach on the hill of Cnoc an tSídhe? Living on the summit In a cabin that overlooks the sea Oh, the wind it is a buffet And it beats back the waves Where she wanders and wonders and plays As old as the stone of her limestone caves No, it’s nary a wonder she stays It’s nary a wonder she stays Once upon her travels Did the Cailleach find a lobster in a pot She stole it home alive So it could guard her wealth from those who had it not As she gathered dulse and fish and garlic Came a thief in search of her gold Who found the box beneath her bed And reached inside but when he did he felt a thing take hold Oh, the wind it is a buffet And it beats back the waves Where she wanders and wonders and plays As old as the stone Of her limestone caves No, it’s nary a wonder she stays It’s nary a wonder she stays When the sun was setting low, the Cailleach came home To find the stranger with his hand trapped “You did well, my lobster,” she said and smiled Raising o’er the thief her shiny axe Oh, the wind it is a buffet And it beats back the waves Where she wanders and wonders and plays As old as the stone of her limestone caves No, it’s nary a wonder she stays It’s nary a wonder she stays It’s nary a wonder she stays No, it’s nary a wonder she stays Surviving the waves She’s as old as the stone, she says
13.
The rolling of the sea Will be forever haunting me Underneath the moon I wandered to the shore The waves lapped at my feet I could not hear the beat Of the heart that lies within me In this mortal human breast Where’s the time gone? The rolling of the sea Will be forever haunting me Stepping ankle-deep I was bitten by the cold I never used to feel This skin is all too real Now I have lived a life inside it A life I have outgrown Where’s the time gone? The rolling of the sea Will be forever haunting me Shouldering my fur I gazed along the strand My footprints will betray Where I have gone to stay For the wild and blue horizon Requires that I return And there’s the time gone! The rolling of the sea Will be forever haunting me Oh, the rolling of the sea Will be forever haunting me, me, me

about

The Wanderlings are sonic paintings of the feminine in folklore and myth: goddess, witch and shapeshifter, villain, outcast and slave, spirit-wives and selkies, stepmothers and survivors. A true portrait of every gritty, glorious creature we are in story.

Upon completion this project will include 52 songs (one for each week) recorded in four volumes (one for each season). Volume Two is largely inspired by European and North American writings and traditions, the bulk of its 13 songs written as the leaves tumbled from the trees and twisted on the wind.

Special thanks to Karl Stahl for above-and-beyond artistic prowess; Charlie Jacklin for mixing advice and mastering the tracks; the Filk community for continuing to encourage me by listening; friends and fellow musicians for supporting me from project to project even through long absences; Jane Yolen for Favorite Folktales from around the World; The Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Gearóid Ó Crualaoich & the children of Dingle (1933), Thomas Kinsella & the Irish bards, the authors of Biblical stories, the villains & foils, and all those who give voice to the lost and forgotten, the magical and mysterious, the silent and vilified.

credits

released January 27, 2016

All songs written, performed and produced by Leslie Hudson at Scarlet Oak Studios, Burlington ON

Mastered by Charlie Jacklin at Kerr Village Productions, Oakville ON

Album design by Karl Stahl & Leslie Hudson

Insert cover photo (Connemara National Park, Co Galway, Ireland) and back cover photo (Webster’s Falls, Dundas ON) by Karl Stahl;

Inner insert photo (The Raven “Loon” at Burren Birds of Prey Centre, Co Clare, Ireland) by Leslie Hudson

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Leslie Hudson Stratford, Ontario

Leslie Hudson is a Canadian singer songwriter and pianist. Her albums range from storytelling styles to bluesy bar rock to dialed-up, full-band homages to pop culture. With lyrical piano skills and a voice that cuts through the crowd, her songs dive deep into archetype and folklore, modernizing ancient voices as she shines a spotlight on the paths women walk through life, myth and media. ... more

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