14/4/15 – This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren – 1983

Video Of The Day

Song Of The Day

This Mortal Coil Song To The Siren Cover Art 1983It’s difficult to discuss This Mortal Coil without mentioning Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie’s version of Tim Buckley and Larry Beckett’s masterpiece, Song To The Siren. Although it appeared on This Mortal Coil’s 1984 debut album, It’ll End In Tears, the single version was released a whole year before the album in 1983. The version wasn’t credited to Cocteau Twins, possibly because it was an interim period when Simon Raymonde was joining the band as bass player Will Heggie was leaving (Heggie went onto join Scottish cult band Lowlife). Raymonde doesn’t appear in the video either but does appear on the album in his own right on four different tracks. (Latterly he is the brains behind Bella Union records).

The song  was the result of a collaboration between Tim Buckley and school friend turned Buckley’s songwriting partner and drummer and eventually poet. The song (unbelievably) was originally recorded and released by lighthearted crooner Pat Boone on his 1969 album Departure. It wasn’t released by Buckley until his sixth album Starsailor in 1970.

A line in the lyric was changed from “I am puzzled as the oyster” to “I’m as puzzled as the new born child” as when he played it to his producer Jerry Yester, Yester’s wife, singer Judy Henske started to laugh. Yester produced Goodye And Hello (1967) and Happy Sad (1969) and this explains why Pat Boone recorded the song first as Yester also worked with Boone as producer in this period. As far as the alleged Judy Henske’s mockery, apparently there’s something in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick that explains Beckett’s writing of the line – let me know when you find it in the text!

Whatever you say about Buckley’s version, Pat Boone’s version or countless other versions, This Mortal Coil’s version has its own special magic with Fraser adding her own special voice to what was already an amazing song.

Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
Till your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle

And you sang, “Sail to me
Sail to me, let me enfold you”
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was foxed/full sail
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks

For you sang, “Touch me not
Touch me not, come back tomorrow”
Oh my heart, oh my heart
Shies from the sorrow

I’m as puzzled as a newborn child/I’m as puzzled as the oyster
I’m as riddled as the tide/I’m as troubled as the tide
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Or should I lie with death my bride?

Hear me sing, “Swim to me
Swim to me, let me enfold you”
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you









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