Tales of Woe

by Silas J. Dirge

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Matt Killer, dark with depth. Time travel. Favorite track: Crippled King.
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Lute FP Haunting gothic americana, reminds me of 16 Horsepower/ David Eugene Edwards. Compelling stuff.
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Below some insight into the songs, their lyrics, meaning and some random thoughts that I felt like sharing.

ps: if you're interested in a physical copy of the album please let me know on jankooiker.com/silasjdirge/preorder/

1. Preface
This is sort of an introduction to the next song, Sirens of the Tar, hence the title. Although a preface is usually used in books I thought it could be used as a song title as well. It's the sirens singing their luring hymn. Well, actually it's just me singing and pretending to be the sirens, but don't tell anyone please. In the video for the song Sirens of the Tar I've used an edit of this track for the intro.

2. Sirens of the Tar
Meeting Death who speaks about sirens with black eyes who call you from afar to lure you into the black water. Death doesn't know if the ones who get into the water are dead or not, which scares him. In the end (spoiler alert!) it turns out Death is in on the whole thing and while you wade into the water (which turns out to be tar) he screams from the shore that it's all been a trick of the mind and the black tar is your black soul and the sirens are your own mind. It's really a song about how everyone has a black soul, and how it's just a matter of constraining yourself giving in to it. There, I said it...
For the video I rented a camera and took an early morning walk through the woods... Where I got chased by sirens! No, not really. It was a nice and quiet hike.
VIDEO: youtu.be/OPO__EuVV3Y

3. Reaper
A journey through the underworld by the hand of a snakelike guide who has the power to change lives. The chorus tells us that living a protected life is a safe bet but pretty mind numbing and living a dangerous life is well, dangerous. The guide gives birth to the reaper when things get stormy. Say what? When the bow played double bass (played by the great Thomas Van Voorst) kicks in at the end you know there's no turning back.

4. On the Train of Aches
Getting on this train is a really bad idea... The train driver in this song turns out to be someone who answers prayers and is tired of that so he's looking for a replacement. While he tries to leave and give you the job he tells about how hard it really is to lend an ear to so many people telling you about their problems, asking you to help them.
I found a home movie of a train trip through the Tehachapi Mountains, dating back to the 1920's and used that for the video. I combined it with images from the movie Danger Lights (1930), which is in the public domain.
VIDEO: youtu.be/8EJkqfql2v8

5. Save Me
Nothing wrong with a good set of rules to help you make the right decisions in life but it's good to open your eyes now and then to see the truth and to stop and think about what you really believe and choose your own path in life. Wow, where did that come from? In a way this song's about recognizing your demons and facing them.

6. Idyll
When I started recording this album I had come up with the idea of releasing it as an illustrated book with a CD attached. For every song I had an illustration in mind, or the other way around. That turned out to be a lot of work and pretty expensive to publish, so I settled for a traditional album format. Well, not even that, a traditional digital album format. An idyll is usually used in poetry and prose (just like the first song, Preface) as a romantic or peaceful interlude, sometimes ending abruptly. I thought it would be fitting to put it there, as a resting point after those gloomy tales.

7. Below and Above
Pretty straightforward story about someone who comes home to find his wife missing. That happens you know. After some detours he decides to go after her and look for her wherever she may be, in this life or the next. Forgot to add the spoiler alert there, sorry.
I stumbled upon the cult classic Carnival of Souls and thought the movie was a perfect fit for this song (or the other way around). Be it from a different perspective, namely that from the woman.
The movie stars Candace Hilligoss and is directed by Herk Harvey and is in the public domain.
VIDEO: youtu.be/YUowluFT1Rc

8. Tender Eyed
Wisdom comes with age, that's a good reason to value and respect older people, they can advise you on the many issues you'll encounter in life. Some people never grow wise though, they only get older. I'm a good example of that. Anyway, this song contains some sound advice someone once gave me and I'm passing it on pretending to be smart. It's about not giving in too easily because life is unfair man. So take charge of your life, don't accept empty promises and stand up to your oppressors, being physical or psychological. And talk about it. Don't shove it under the carpet. As for the Leah part, the story goes that she asked for someone else to be married to and she got her way, albeit after a long long time. So if you want something, ask for it, you might get it. Or not, but at least you've asked.

9. Crippled King
An evil king who lives a life of luxury get's thrown into jail from where he watches the country plummeting into chaos. He then returns but even more vicious and out to punish his people who he feels mistreated him. I wrote this one with a middle rhyme or internal rhyming scheme (AABBA to be precise), which was cool to do. Might do that some more.
For the video I used footage from part 1 and 2 of the epos Ivan the Terrible (Иван Грозный or Ivan Grozniy) by director Sergei M. Eisenstein. Both movies are in the public domain.
I mainly used clips of a young Ivan, combined with other clips from this 3 hour saga. It was a long night. Great movies though, with a lot of beautiful shots and great acting.
VIDEO: youtu.be/XH9rdJ5dp14

10. Old Scars
Although this song musically sounds more hopeful than the others (only a little though) its lyrics tell a different story. It's about sensing that the end is near and having to admit that you never really acknowledged a bigger power and all those old pains you thought you never would feel again come back to plague you when you are at your weakest. And you realize that although you thought you were free you always had to answer to the demons you yourself created. So yeah, pretty upbeat stuff.


released December 1, 2018

Vocals, guitars, harmonium, piano, percussion: J. Kooiker
Guitars: H. de Ruiter
Double bass: T. van Voorst
Harp: Y. Bergsma
Additional vocals: J. Zandbergen

Artwork: Y. Bergsma


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Silas J. Dirge Amsterdam, Netherlands

Silas J. Dirge is the moniker adopted by songwriter Jan Kooiker. With mostly character driven and story based lyrics he explores subjects like death, religion and (lost) love while accompanying himself on a beat up acoustic guitar. He is often aided by musician friends, with Harald de Ruiter as a returning contributor on electric guitar. ... more

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Track Name: Preface
Ahaahahaaa ahahahaaahahaaaaaaaaa
Ahaahahaaa ahahahaaahahaaaaaaaaa
Ahaahahaaa ahahahaaahahaaaaaaaaa
Ahaahahaaa ahahahaaahahaaaaaaaaa
Track Name: Sirens of the Tar
On my way through ever densening woods
I came upon a lake that strangely lured
A sudden fear made me flee in horror
Still I felt drawn towards that black water

I rambled on, searching for my home
As I met Death but he did not roam
He told me rattled; 'Traveler thou must know
I’m stranded too, and am now child of woe'

These pits are watching you
Black eyes that see straight through
They call you from afar
The sirens of the tar

Death spoke concerned; 'Don’t wander off too far
The ones who do, I find facedown in the tar
Eyes black and mute. And this ain’t known widespread;
But even I’m not sure if they’re alive or dead'

These pits are watching you
Black eyes that see straight through
They call you from afar
The sirens of the tar

Then, through the trees I heard singing up yonder
A lovely sound that eased my pondering
As I started wading I heard Death crying;
'Your soul is the tar and your mind the siren'
Track Name: Reaper
The queen of mud made us float
She troubles the water as we go
As we go

White is dressed the host
She sheds her skin as we go
As we go

Out in the calm
Won’t do you no harm
Won’t do you no good

It’s the painless lies that hold
She makes them up as we go
As we go

Out in the calm
Won’t do you no harm
Won’t do you no good

Out in the storm
The reaper is born
Spawn from her roots
Track Name: On the Train of Aches
He said ‘You’ll get accustomed to the leaking roof and the cold
Coasting this train through a winter on hold’
I sensed trouble from the moment he started to stare
Into the void outside, mumbling ‘bout finding an heir

On the train of aches
There ain’t much to do, just a lot to take
And keep an endless wake

‘Well son, so long and goodluck!’ he said, as he jumped off the car
Into the deep, cold, all engulfing dark
I reached out, got grip of his arm and didn’t let go
But he begged and he pleaded, screamed ‘what do you know?’

On the train of aches
There ain’t much to do, just a lot to take
And all the towns you’ll reach
No one wants to live their broken dreams
Ripped at the seams

‘Have you seen what I’ve seen? Taken in years of praying?’
And in his eyes I saw countless lifetimes of pain
He shook himself free while he shouted ‘incoming freight!’
Now I ride this train by myself, but at the deadliest pace
Track Name: Save Me
Now why I killed my friend?
Hailed from the promised land
A noose that would save me now
Save me now

Well he was long condemned
But unaware I went
‘Save me now
Save me now’

When I learned his name was Doctrine
I slayed him on the scene
Exclaiming ‘save me now
Save me now’

But more came and a plot they hatched
For all the lost sheep must be fetched
Pressed on to save me now
Save me now

I fled and on my trail
Cried through a midnights gale
‘Save me now
Save me now’

Now as the bright moon curves her arc
An angel descends, pale and dark
To save me now
Save me now
Track Name: Below and Above
As I came home one night
I called out to my love but there was no reply
Scratched on the table I could make out a line
It read: ‘I’ve taken her with me, to make her mine’

Oh, where has she gone
Where is my love
Oh, I will look for her
Below and above

I went out on a search
But got no help from the law, so I turned to the church
The vicar he told me ‘A lean man dressed in black
said he was looking for your lady and I pointed him to your shack’

Went back home in a haze
To find her body upstairs. I grazed her cold face
I wrote a note to be found by the ones that I love
‘Gone looking for her, below and above’
Track Name: Tender Eyed
Stained with red eyed mourning
And pulled from the dead crow’s beak
Came the old man’s warning
Not to turn my cheek

Hollow a promise spoken
Grown from the barren ground
Bending the pact that choked them
They came and took my crown

Don’t you cover this up

Leah was tender eyed and broken
Nailed to the churches door
Telling a tale softspoken
A long forgotten lore

Don’t you cover this up
Track Name: Crippled King
I have ruled with iron hand
There ain't much I did not ban
But I fear that dawn is near
And a rising at hand

It’s despair this kingdom bleeds
And my servants who’ve tended to my needs
Fight the urge to sing their dirge
These are signs you see

Anger expelled me, made me flee
Living in wealth brought me to my knees
Strapped and tortured, stripped from my fortunes
And put in penitentiary

Hear my broken muttering
Stowed away I quietly sing
All hail
Your crippled king

Now there’s a new king called anarchy
His reign is painless but weakening steadily
On the shore of a civil war
I await their call for me

All hail

Now I’m back with iron fist
Trials so foul you wouldn’t believe existed
Now pray and hope as I take this rope
With which you bound my wrists

This is the day of reckoning
I’ll make you feel my sting
All hail
Your crippled king

All hail…
Track Name: Old Scars
Moira’s here to set me free
I can feel her beady eyes on me
She told me that my lot weighed down
And that she’s out
To make me wear my crown

For years I thought I’d be left alone
But my guardian angel got enthroned
She asked me if I knew her god
As she stood awed
I told her I did not

So here they are
Back from afar
Here they are
Them old scars

The king had left his son in charge
A ruthless tyrant by and large
He told us that he would forgive
All our sins and shit
But now rules as he deems fit

So here I lay
Rotting, bone dry
Here I lay
Cover your eyes
Because here they are
All over my heart
Here they are
Them old scars

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