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Another long day has come to end
Heading out towards the evening sun
The sky turns crimson in its wake
Setting sail into the dead calm...
There isn't a moment when I am not afraid
I've even knelt down on my knees and prayed
You may think it is so lonely on the sea
But it's the last place that feels like home for me
It's 2 in the morning and I am still awake
Startled by a foreboding that I just couldn't shake
A distant coyote howling in the dark
And a murder of crows are fleeing to the north
I can still see that look upon your face
And it still haunts me until this very day
But even as those dark visions fade my mind
I clutch onto them and the world I left behind
There's nothing left here in this world for me
So this old man sets out his course for sea
As the Harbormaster sounds his last alarm
I set sail into the dead calm
the dead calm...
music and lyrics: Trewavas • Blackwood
Our aged sea captain has already lost all that he has to live for. The terror on the face of his lost soul mate... as she was about to succumb to one of the many incoming "random disturbances" is all that remains in his mind. Yet... as hard as it is to remember the pain that co-insides with that moment ...he doesn't want to let go of that hurt because that is all he has left to remember her by.
As our "old salt" sails off into a dead calm sea, a murder of crows are flying north to run from the massive “occurrence” about to descend upon this town while coyotes are howling ahead of the apocalyptic event.
The Harbor Master sounds his alarm for the very last time as he begins to close the floodgates watching as our old captain pass on through just before they close ... knowing that he is sailing off to take on the wrath of mother nature as no one had ever seen before or maybe ever will again...
sailing into the dead calm... to face the storm they both know he will never come back from.
Yet the Harbor Master allows him pass on through knowing deep down inside... the old salt will at the very least be leaving this planet behind on his "own terms".
Wendy Darling took a picture of the "Super Moon" (during one of its closest rotations to the earth) rising on the Cape Cod Bay while the boys were recording at an old Coast Guard Captain's station looking down upon the sea from its rocky coastline. The "crimson sky" of the photograph reflects the lyrics of the song's "the sky turns crimson in its wake". The photograph is super-imposed with buoys from the lobster boats giving the photograph a bit of a bizarre and nearly space-like and almost disturbing twist as "Wendy Darling" is of course... well known for throughout all her famed artwork.
With the "Super Moon" reflecting upon the "Dead Calm" sea ... it is as peaceful and beautiful and yet as paradoxically frightening as the "Dead Calm" sea in the actual song. In this exact location right where the moonlight is "cut off" for a few beats in front of the rocks... a massive 16 foot great white shark would come and try to eat two young kayakers who came to watch the seals sunning themselves on the rocks. (The seals were so loud and numerous that you could hear them in the recordings of the original demos).
The two girls would survive the vicious shark attack but the kayaks were destroyed, luckily the harbor master was able to fish them out of the harbor before "jaws" came back for another bite.
This "Great White Shark Attack" that took place at this very spot of Wendy's photograph would become world famous and appear in many of The History Channel's "When Shark's Attack" shows and would become a feature of the Discovery Channel's famous "Shark Week".
Perhaps one of the most beautiful and haunting guitar lines that Pete Trewavas has ever written ... inspired by days of Pete, Eric and Wendy walking amongst the quaint fishing harbors of northern Massachusetts and Maine and experiencing the paradox of how tranquil and peaceful this seaside villages were yet adorned with so many memorials to those lost at sea... by the men who chose this hard life as their way to make a living.
Eric Blackwood chose Pete Trewavas' "Entangled" like fingerpicking as the moment to reveal why our old salt is going to take on Mother Nature. With the storm coming in, he reveals the hurt and the pain left behind from losing everything he has ever loved to the sea. Now he is going to take her head on at her very worst.
Winning no longer matters as he has nothing to come back to ... nor will there be anything left once this disturbance passes anyway.
He will instead go to the sea and do what he needs to do... battling her at her most destructive before succumbing to the abyss the way so many of his friends and family have before him.
He is most certainly afraid... He's not too hardened to admit that. But... he can no longer keep waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares of what his future holds.
He has to face her head on... be afraid yet fearless and venture off into the dead calm from where he will remain forever.
This was one of the last songs that Pete Trewavas wrote before Eric was unable to continue on with the album. It was perfect timing because he got Eric at perhaps his most creative moment in terms of vocal phrasing and lyrical content as well as "Paraglider FX". It would be the last song that Pete and Eric would be able to do together and it is ironic that it follow directly after the first song they would ever write together.
All of the fingerpicking guitar work was written and performed by Pete Trewavas. The "paraglider guitar" effects were done by Eric Blackwood which is one of the trademarks of "Edison's Children's sound" and appears on nearly every song on every album at various locations. There is no percussion/drums at all in this song and was meant to be as vibrantly stark as possible..
The Paraglider Guitar is played by Eric Blackwood on a Robert Godin XTSA Guitar and Robert Godin Freeway SA Guitar using the Roland VG-99 Guitar Synthesizer module that is used for every song that Edison's Children plays upon by Pete Trewavas, Eric Blackwood and Rick Armstrong who all have their own modules and personal settings.
For those of you who see The Paraglider Guitar listed in the credits under Eric Blackwood on every album but is not exactly sure "what it is" ... there is no better place to understand it's unique and trademark Edison's Children sound than "Into The Dead Calm", where it is perfectly placed at the end of the first stanza "The sky turns crimson in its wake, setting sail into the dead calm..." at 1:02. Though it is listed as a Paraglider "Guitar" it sounds far more like a bowed instrument and when left to decay itself out without much behind it... this unique instrumentation will bounce around in stereo making bizarre and disturbingly beautiful sounds (as it does at the very end of the song when Eric sings "The Dead Calm" for the final time and at the 3rd note at 1:12 into the song after the end of the first stanza). It also plays in the back while Eric is singing "I've even knelt down on my knees and prayed ... you may think it is so lonely out at sea but it's the last place that feels like home for me" and again at the end of Pete's cello arrangements at 2:12-2:17.
Pete had originally written much more orchestration throughout the earlier demos but Eric felt that they were taking away from the "starkness of the song". This was the Captain's decision to leave port and face his final moments at the hands of Mother Nature and the orchestration was taking away from the darkness and foreboding of Pete's "Entangled (Genesis)-like" fingerpicking so it was scaled back tremendously to just small sections of orchestration with the paraglider guitar making a final emphasis on sections. In many ways this made the parts in the song like Pete's startling "triplicate staccato strings" at "It's two in the Morning and I am still awake... startled by a foreboding that I just couldn't shake" stand out so much more when they occur and make the lines "I can still see that look on your face and it still haunts me until this very day" so much more poignant. Then when the big crescendo comes at the end following Eric's paraglider lead in to "There's nothing left in this world for me"... the orchestration finally takes us to the "heavy heavy heart" that the Harbor Master has watching his long time sea captain friend and confidant pass "into the dead calm". Pete's bowed cellos and double bass undertones at this point are meant to set off the sub-bass on most systems and be heard particularly intensely (especially on the 180g Vinyl Edition) as the Harbor Master sounds a very disturbing sounding alarm. After listening to hundreds of alarms, none of them sounded as "haunting" to Wendy Darling as the one from the movie "Silent Hill". Though that exact sound wasn't utilized, it was re-created by Pete using Steinberg's FX modules and then mimiced into shorter burst to fit within the song's context.
Pete would spend quite a lot of time on FX on this song ... especially when it came to the crows who were fleeing the storm and you could hear them taking off quickly across the sky flying north away from the encroaching "Disturbance". Pete was able to make the crows nearly come out in "Surround Sound" on normal stereo headphones and speakers. You can feel the crows pass from your right ear across your brain and into your left ear and out into the air for a spectacular effect. With Eric no longer able to contribute artistically, Pete was able to make what they had recorded together truly come alive with some of the best special FX that he had ever utilized in an Edison's Children song.
This song was written and recorded in a historic Revolutionary War Era Carriage House (complete with an official historical marker) located in the Northern Fishing Villages of Northern Massachusetts.
Eric Blackwood sang the song in the carriage house's 3 story 300 year old stairwell where his voice was able to rise up into the top of the stained glass enclosure and come back down into his Rode Microphone capturing all of the historic reverberation within.