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  • Writer's pictureFiona Mountain

Songs of Yesterday for Today

I always write to music. Not necessarily music that's obviously connected to what I'm writing about; it just needs to conjure the right emotions or sense of place or pace. When I was writing 'Lady of the Butterflies', twelve years ago, there were a couple of tracks that I listened to on repeat. One of them was 'World' by David Essex, from a rare album from 1979 of a rock opera, 'Alpha Omega.' It has an amazing history as it was created by songwriter and philosopher, David Gordon, who went on to found Peace Child International and Peace Child Israel which brought together Arab and Israeli children in theatrical and musical workshops dealing with conflict resolution. The only way I could listen to it was on one scratchy upload on YouTub. I later hunted for 'Alpha Omega' on CD, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music but it was not available anywhere. Until this year!

Another (unlisted) film of 'World' appeared on YouTube. The sound quality is better and it's a very powerful film - the rousing song paired with images of climate change. If you didn't know it was from over 40 years ago, you'd think it was a theme tune for Music Declares an Emergency.

Our world is fading...Our world is dying, today...Can't you see the tide is changing...People coming out from under, slowly rising to the thunder.

Then a new 'Alpha Omega' website appeared, featuring the whole '1979 Song Cycle', plus Classical Oratorio version from 1980. The intro brings it bang up to date and makes it very hard to believe it's nearly half a century old: 80 saw the world premiere of Alpha Omega as a Modern Oratorio at Coventry Cathedral.

There is philosophy out there... It can only go so far. There's religion out there... It can only go so far. There is science out there... It can only go so far. So what are we left with? That our world is one giant ship which we are all sailing in, and it behoves us all to take care of it. If we don't: it will sink, we will die, our world will die. Little Greta is out there shouting this message - wake up! Alpha Omega, it is my hope, can herald the same message. - Wake up! Alpha Omega, if let loose, will engender hope, faith, and most importantly - action! So much suffering in the world, so many people leading desperate lives, so many people waiting for the promise of change; let the revolution begin. Let it start on a stage, somewhere, anywhere." – David Gordon

The opening track, 'I, Who am I' also sung by David Essex on the 1979 version is equally magisterial. Give it a listen:

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