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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.