William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience

by Victor Vertunni Family & Friends

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about

"one of the most interesting records I've heard so far this year" Massimo Marchini - Rockerilla


Music, song-writing and singing were a vital part of the visionary artist William Blake’s creative process. According to his friend J.T. Smith, Blake 'was entirely unacquainted with the science of music', yet, 'his ear was so good, his tunes were sometimes most singularly beautiful, and were noted down by musical professors.' Although no trace of that sublime music has surfaced yet, I like to think Blake wouldn't have minded our playful attempts at filling that silence.

Review

It might not be entirely accurate to call Victor Vertunni a renaissance man. Renaissance implies a rebirth of sorts, whereas Vertunni comes across as an old musical soul; not so much plucking items from the past and giving them new voice, but speaking and singing from some deep ancestral or universal memory that has never required remaking. The attraction to the works of William Blake seems almost natural in this light. Blake was renowned in his time for both the musical flow of his poetry, but also for the melodies he would craft for them, almost by accident. Without any formal music training, Blake was cited by music professors of his and later times for his musical ability. While none of that music has filtered down through the years, Victor Vertunni has provided fitting musical backdrops for Blake's creations. The album, William Blake's Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience, is an often seamless marriage between Blake's fluid poetry and Vertunni's arrangements.
Wildy Haskell

credits

released November 28, 2011

Lyrics William Blake (1757-1857)
Music, Voice, Guitar Victor Vertunni
Voice, Harmonies Deborah Eckman
Acoustic, Classical, Electric Guitars, Bass Guitar ( in track 6) Leo Vertunni
Electric Bass, Double Bass, Maxim Vertunni
Cajon, Drums, Percussion Amedeo Luviè
Bansuri (Indian Flute), Sopilka (Ukrainian Flute), Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Keys Ruslan Pashynskyi
Violin Josef Brazda
Accordion Didier Lamothe

Musical Production and Arrangements by Leo Vertunni
with additional material by Deborah Eckman, Ruslan Pashynskyi
Sound engineering, mixing and mastering by Daniele Mandelli, helped by Alex Lizzori
Recorded at Elfo Recording Studio, Tavernago PC Italy www.elfostudio.com
Graphic Design by Massimo Luvié studioluvie.com
Cover artwork by Maxim Vertunni

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about

Victor Vertunni London, UK

"A small masterpiece of musical invention...Truly inspired". Massimo Marchini, Rockerilla

Victor is a singer, songwriter and actor. He is particularly noted for his melodic adaptations of William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience". He is the artistic director and founder of Theatre of Eternal Values, an international touring theatre company.
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Track Name: The Lamb
The Lamb

Little lamb, who made thee?
Does thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little lamb, who made thee?
Does thou know who made thee?

Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild,
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by His name.
Little lamb, God bless thee!
Little lamb, God bless thee!
Track Name: Nurse's Song
NURSE'S SONG

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.


"Then come home, my children,
the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away,
Till the morning appears in the skies."

"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep."

"Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed."
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,
And all the hills echoed.

William Blake (Songs of Innocence)
Track Name: A Little Boy Lost
A Little Boy Lost

"Nought loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
A greater than itself to know.

"And, father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door."

The Priest sat by and heard the child;
In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
And all admired the priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
"Lo, what a fiend is here! said he:
"One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy mystery."

The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place
Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such thing done on Albion's shore?

William Blake (Songs of Innocence)
Track Name: The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)
The Chimney Sweeper

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry "Weep! weep! weep! weep!"
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved; so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! —
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and let them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

William Blake (from Songs of Innocence)
Track Name: Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience)
Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine,
And their fields are bleak and bare,
And their ways are filled with thorns:
It is eternal winter there.

For where'er the sun does shine,
And where'er the rain does fall,
Babes should never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.
Track Name: I Prophetic See (from The Little Girl Lost)
taken from The Little Girl Lost

In futurity
I prophetic see
That the earth from sleep
(Grave the sentence deep)

Shall arise, and seek
For her Maker meek;
And the desert wild
Become a garden mild.
Track Name: My Pretty Rose Tree
My Prettty Rose Tree

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said, ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.
Track Name: A Poison Tree
A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.
Track Name: The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Experience)
The Chimney Sweeper

A little black thing among the snow:
Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!
Where are thy father & mother? say?
They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winters snow:
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy & dance & sing,
They think they have done me no injury:
And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.

(from Songs of Experience)
Track Name: The Fly
The Fly

Little Fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance,
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly.
If I live,
Or if I die.
Track Name: The Tyger
The Tyger

Tyger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright.
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye.
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Track Name: Ah! Sun-Flower
Ah! Sun-Flower

Ah, sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
Track Name: The Voice of the Ancient Bard
The Voice of the Ancient Bard

Youth of delight! come hither
And see the opening morn,
Image of Truth new-born.
Doubt is fled, and clouds of reason,
Dark disputes and artful teazing.
Folly is an endless maze;
Tangled roots perplex her ways;
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead;
And feel they know not what but care;
And wish to lead others, when they should be led.