Merlin & the Fox

from by Francesca Baines

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Merlin & the Fox was written whilst walking in the enchanted forests of Broceliande in Brittany, home of the Arthurian stories. I was looking for the tomb of Merlin when I could hear a fox hunt happening. I started singing a song of protection for the fox and was reminded of one of Merlin's stories; how he grew up wild and nurtured by the forest itself, and how Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, entrapped him by encircling him in a silken bind, in which he was invisibly tied to her for life. She trained him in spellcraft and gave him many powers, and yet he was a wild man enslaved. Sadly on this day, as I regarded a bright acorn, I could hear the gun shots of the distant hunters. And as I felt the shock of a dead fox, an owl feather fell to the ground - the bird associated with this fine wizard. So this song is for the wild and the untamed.
Working on the song in Foix at the the foot of the Pyrenees, I stayed with a man Paulin who told me his experience of walking with a Mongolian shaman woman, who sang in clicks, buzzes and hums. By accentuating the consonants within the lyrics and merging the voice with recordings of woodland walks I have endeavored to evoke the elemental nature of a witch's intonements to echo the aliveness of these whispering forests. French accordionist Bruno Hollemaert brought so much depth of feeling to this song written on guitar and voice.


He dwells in the forest with the sleeping owl
The infants of his oak crack on the ground
The distant cry of a horn turns to a nearing howl
Approaching are the huntsmen and their hounds

The fox I feel him falter, wild-eyed and panting fast
Together we'll be surefooted let us be calm
And turn our gaze to the grandfather trees that open out their boughs
To the outlaws, to the travelers seeking alms

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild
Broceliande bore this child

My path it strays in the maze to the line of men holding their guns
I fight my flighting urge to turn and run
And offer them my heart 'though their foe is more my friend
We greet each other in a foreign tongue

Cloak him in the scent of heather and the stirring leaves
Soothe his shaking body still as stone
Shroud his beating heart in the lichen and the moss
'Till fur and the forest become one

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild
Broceliande bore this child

And Merlin you were near as the shots ran out so clear
As I held a glowing acorn in my hand
Like a bullet how it shone, like the eyes of your feathered one
That left a tawny token where I did stand

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild
Broceliande bore this child

Restez toujour un âme sauvage
Ne les laissez pas vous apprivoiser


from VelA, released October 21, 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, guitar, whispering forest
Bruno Hollemaert: accordion


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Francesca Baines Cork, Ireland

"A spirited and spiritual intervention in the world-music it celebrates.”

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