The Circle Path

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The Circle  Path CD By Withe And Stone

Our First Worldwide Release

Inspired by the labyrinth around Glastonbury Tor, this original modern folk collection follows the cycles of life and beyond to the realization that we are the journey, not the destination, on the Circle Path.  Performed by John Corbin Goldsberry on a variety of instruments like Guitar, Mandolin, Hammer Dulcimer and some like the string drum and the Humblebee he invented for this project, The Circle Path is that journey, following the death of his songwriter wife , blending mysticism and the struggles of the life path that all of us face. While deeply personal, it is at once accessible to all who undertake the climb to the epiphany of our existence.

Lots of videos detailing the instruments used and created for this production on YouTube

The Circle Path: Art, Lyrics, Stories

About the Art:

The inspiration for the cover came from this painting of Jan’s called “Solace” I had to crop it down for the cover, so I wanted to show it properly, full size, without the graphics. Even her title seemed appropriate.

Not far from Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is Rocky Valley. There are two labyrinths carved there which many believe are dated from the  Bronze Age (1800-1400 BC I used this image for the CD label, and it’s roughly the same layout as the one around Glastonbury Tor

This is a picture Jan took from within Merlin’s cave at Tintagel castle
in Cornwall UK, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. I used it for the tray on the CD

Jan and I made several trips to England together. One of my favorite experiences was climbing the 4000 or so year old labyrinth to the top of Glastonbury Tor. I had a dream that I had accompanied her when she was a Priestess to an enclave there. While the males ringed the bottom, the women progressed up the switchback path to a stone circle at the top. It’s hard to see now and some say it isn’t really there, but that doesn’t detour many each year from taking this spiritual quest. It was the inspiration for the Circle Path. Jan snapped this of me on our ascent. It’s the back of the CD.

The Songs and Lyrics

Traveler

I wrote this in summer of 1997 while musing over the climb around the labyrinth on Glastonbury tor Jan and I had taken one foggy morning in 1989. We were both feeling homesick for a place we had never lived, in this lifetime anyway.  It languished in a file box for years until we started to lay out The Circle Path, and it occurred to me that this might be a great way to set the tone for this collection.

I used to have a wire strung harp that sounded much like this, but sold it several years age, as musicians do, to pay bills during the lean times. I played it here on an old Dusty Strings Dulcetta Hammered Dulcimer, a very small instrument, and was pleased at how well it sounded. I also used handmade Mideastern sheep bells I picked up back in the 70’s sometime.

The traveler sat on a rock, and pushed back a lock of unruly hair and stared up at the night sky. The stars set amidst the blackness shone brightly, each one a messenger of hope, each one with a voice, a blessing.

It was quiet here, with only the sound of the wind in the grass. Somewhere in this land’s memory he heard sheep bells. The small harp on his back caught the breeze and the wire strings hummed, seemingly eager to join the memories. He could feel his need to reply and he pulled the harp from over his shoulder and placed it on his leg, one cheek resting on its carved side. His fingers danced lightly on the bronze of the strings playing, not a familiar tune, but one from the beating heart of the earth, it’s endless font of grace and beauty.

It wasn’t so much inspiration as supplication, playing tunes of the angels, lifting his prayers with each note, one for each soul he had met. Those whom had helped him along his difficult odyssey, for those he had cared for, those with no voice to speak up with, for the forgotten ones, for the ones with hands out pleading only for love, the one thing there is no short supply of, for those whom had thrown themselves from grace and had yet to discover it always follows you, for all his friends distant in time and space who, before and after, trod this same path through the wilderness, the moors, the forest, the mountains, the shore. Shaman, Merlins, Bards, Saints, Poets, Dreamers all.

There was always one to tread the path, there had always been. Sometimes many, sometimes one, but though the grass grew tall and threatened to obliterate it, it could never be lost if there was one willing to walk it.

Two lights caught his eye in the valley below, a car speeding down the empty road on its rush from here to there. He knew they could not see him, or the stars, or hear the wind or the music. They were unaware of all but there destination, the culmination of there dreams, the goal, never realizing tell it’s over that the journey is the most important part, the questions, not the answers are what make us who we are.

So one more blessing goes out then for those who do not see, as he shouldered his harp, walked slowly down the hill, and crossed the highway. Walking into the first light of morning he smiled and thought of those who travel past him. They would meet again, for although there road slices thorough his arrow straight on its way to the sea, his is a circle which all must eventually walk.

Skipping my Boat

Jan said this one came to her in a dream. she was walking down a path made of stones, and in between lights were coursing around. At any junction where two met they would burst in intensity for a moment then move on. She woke up and scribbled the whole thing down while I was at work. She sang it to me and It immediately became one of my favorite tunes.

Skipping my boat

Words and music by

Jan Goldsberry June  2001

Another day dawns on a misty horizon

Storm clouds transforming from sea

Another day breaks that I can surprise in

I never know what waits for me

A laugh and a heartache my constant companions

I never go sailing alone

Come rain or come wind I don’t feel abandoned

I’m always heading for home

 CHORUS:

So I’m skipping my boat on the water

skipping my boat or these seas

riding the crest of my troubles oh

And ride on the waves to my dreams

So I’s skipping my boat on the water

I’ll skip on my hopes and my tears

I’ll fly in the face of my troubles oh

And ride on the waves to my dreams

 Sailing away on unbroken waters

The stars reflect back up at me

Leaning over the bow I can almost imagine my part in infinity

Pathways unmarked yet always connected

All that I do affects you

And I cannot say that it doesn’t matter

How we live the life that we choose.

The View from Castle an Dinas (Into the Mist)

Jan and I and Three of our kids had the privilege of spending the summer 1998 in a little, and sadly, no longer existing theme park just outside of St. Columb in Cornwall England. Just next door was an Iron age hill fort, and on a trip there I was struck by the vision of different events in time all happening concurrently, and felt I was a personal observer to all of them, even though I had no words to explain it all. The experience stuck with me and I wrote this a couple of years latter.

    Music: Jan Goldsberry

    Lyrics: John and Jan Goldsberry

The wind it keeps blowing across an endless sea

It brings me jumbled pictures of who I used to be

These valleys spread beneath me, these ancient mounds of time

Old memories dancing through me, profound and so divine

I pray to God for him, in names I do not know

I lay him in the ground like the crops I should have sown.

We can’t protect our golden ages , the hands of time will turn the page

The signs are all around us , the king has gone , our time has come

(chorus)

Retreat into the mist from whence we all appeared

What dies and what lives on, It’s not the future that we fear.

Into this mystic landscape we find it’s more than chance

Tell me whose hands have drawn these lines leading to this circumstance

Here beneath me, so ancient, these cairns of others’ lives

There is no name for this man , no stories to eulogize

This earthwork now surrounds him, a fortress proud and strong

A cold wind passes through me, I hear a distant battle song

Off in the distance, well beyond the Seven Stones

There’s a cloud I see rising that will sweep away our homes

I cannot save my children’s laughter, nor sustain their many dreams

In the fading light tomorrow beckons, rising up on angels wings

(chorus)

We’ve plowed the earth, mined her wealth, we’ve fished out of the sea.

Standing here there’s a vista of all our history

The naked hills of china clay slag, the crumbling (winding) engine sheds

Still there are boats out in the harbor fishing for the forgotten dreams within our heads

These valleys spread beneath me , these ancient mounds of time

Old memories dancing through me, profound and so divine

The nameless ones who stood here, never really fade away

The light remains even at our passing, joining tomorrow to yesterday

In Circles

Before we were married, Jan and I took a trip to England. I Had been there before but she had not. On our first night we ended up at Arundel and when Jan got out of the car and saw at the end of the street her first real castle, as opposed to a Disney one, the reality of where she was made her literally dance in the middle of the road. Years latter that image was the beginnings of these lyrics. At one time in a fit of despondency, I through them out, but Jan fished them out of the trash, made a few minor changes, wrote a tune for it, and told me it was her favorite thing I had ever done. She made me see the significance of what I had written. It became the spoke for the wheel of this whole collection.

In Circles

Music: Jan Goldsberry

Lyrics: John and Jan Goldsberry

You spread your arms out wide as your world came crashing down

A brilliant soul burning in the night

You rake your gentle fingers through the empty space in time

And bring down dreams that bring us light

Chorus:     In Circles , you slowly turn the tide

                 In Circles , to turn our inner eyes

                 You slowly turn the tide and turn our inners eyes ,

                 To endless circles, endless circles

I’m tired of politics and the details of work-a-day

Theses well-trod roads just leave me cold.

So you can take these things these useless things for where I want to go

‘Cause I found you dancing in the road

Chorus:    In Circles, the stars sweep overhead

                And dance,  In Circles , while everything is done and said

                The stars sweep overhead while everything is done and said

                And fade away  In Circles , dance away In Circles

Dispel the vague illusion that the dancer spins alone

Oh, the faces change in every breath we take.

One more time round this mountain, the way I used to jest.

Now I see the spiral footpath I must make .              

Chorus:  In Circles, the long road though it seems to go

              In Circles, is still the shortest path to dreams

              The long road though it seems is still the shortest path to dreams

              To go In Circles, to dance in circles

 Repeat first chorus ( key change)         

A Hope Carol

We picked up a book one time of poetry from Christina Rossetti, a Victorian Poet and Brother to Dante Gabriel Rossetti. , the Pre-Raphaelite painter, from whose interest Jan had led her to Cristina. She felt a deep infinity to her and could see her sitting at a desk next to an open window onto a garden, the sound of distant children’s laughter and birdsong, writing these words. This inspired her to write the melody, I think the most beautiful she ever composed. Her dream was to hear one of the English cathedral choirs sing it. Some day I hope one chooses to. These are Christina’s original words which Jan altered only slightly to be more lyrical.

A night was near, a day was near, 
Between a day and night 
I heard sweet voices calling clear, 
Calling me: 
I heard a whir of wing on wing, 
But could not see the sight; 
I long to see my birds that sing, 
I long to see. 
Below the stars, beyond the moon, 
Between the night and day 
I heard a rising falling tune 
Calling me: 
I long to see the pipes and strings 
Whereon such minstrels play; 
I long to see each face that sings, 
I long to see. 
Today or may be not today, 
Tonight or not tonight, 
All voices that command or pray 
Calling me, 
Shall kindle in my soul such fire 
And in my eyes such light 
That I shall see that heart’s desire 
I long to see. 

Th Man in the Moon

I can’t think of any particular event that triggered this lyric, other than general frustration at not working at music at the time, and being overwhelmed with adult life. Jan added the twinkle little star part in the middle which was voiced by me and a whole lot of plugins.

The man in the moon dropped in last night

He and Miss Muffet stopped in for a bite

They said little boy blue was out for the night

Chasing cows through the Milky Way

They ask my opinion on kippers and kings

And did I think trouble went around like a ring

Did you ever hear such a curious thing

Did you think it would make me cry

I say to myself down and said where did you go

Why did you leave as I started to grow

They both shake their heads and softly said no

It’s a trick of perspective you see

Like all the king’s horses and all the kings men

You’ve been marching away since this story began

You went straight away in search of an end

For something you thought might be

Now I sit at a desk while my dreams all die

The telephone rings, the debts pile high

While I’d rather be somewhere up in the sky

Singing songs with the man in the moon

Twinkle twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are

Op above the world so high

A diamond in the sky

They both smiled and stood and said thanks for the tea

But they had an appointment at a quarter to three

They said look them up if by chance I was free

They’d be happy to shine on down

So I’m sleeping out in the yard tonight

And I don’t care if the midges may bite

For the stars overhead are a beautiful sight

And the moon is shining down

So when you sit at your desk in your dreams all die

The telephone rings and the debts pile high

Wouldn’t you rather be up in the sky

Singing songs with the man in the moon

Oh what a wonderful tune

Singing songs with the man on the moon.

Revolving Door

I must confess, that even though Jan put this down in the track listings as a possible song for this collection, I never payed that much attention to it. It wasn’t tell after her death when I realized it was never even typed out, but only existed as the fragments of two old song of hers she had combined, that I knew I had to act. I had to add one line to make it come out right, as she never finished one verse, but the result floored me. She told me the story I needed to hear in my grief. I am still here. The story isn’t over.

Revolving Door

 Music and Lyrics by Jan Goldsberry

It’s another sad old story or so the story goes

An old man feeling restless at the aching in his bones

And he wonders if tomorrow he’ll see the light of day

Or close his eyes to find that he, just like an old memory slips away.

He remembers scraps of childhood, bits of tattered dreams

The light it shone much brighter then now days so it seems

If only he could just remember the way that song was sung

He thinks he’d finally have the answer to keep away the darkness when it comes.

But its not over just cause the lights go down

These things keep happening that turn your life around

A new beginning can look like it’s the end

But there’s always so much more

Life’s a revolving door

She died only last autumn his wife and lifelong friend

Now all he knows is loneliness, the heartache never ends

But he’s a daughter and a grandchild who need his memories

To build a path from then to a future paved with life’s uncertainties

So, Life goes on and in its time our chapters slip away

and we tire out from clinging hard to hold our yesterdays

We must trust that there’s a future out there built upon our dreams

This story’s still revolving round the circle, so it seems

Closer Than the Beating of my Heart

Caribbean Bluegrass, is what comes to mind. This is Jan all over. The bridge is what really sets it off. She wrote this before I ever met her. It’s been locked away far to long.

Closer Than the Beating of My Heart

  Music and Lyrics: Jan Goldsberry

Early morning sunlit rays, soft and misty rainy days

Brilliant starry nights of midnight blue,

Cardinals on scarlet wings, happy songs I love to sing.

The little things I love to do with you

Chorus:

  Cause’ you’re my closest friend, you’ll be there ‘til the end

  Closer than the beating of my heart

  You’re my eternal lover, there’ll never be another

  Closer than the beating of my heart

  Closer then the beating of my heart

Piles of golden autumn leaves, fragrant smoke blowing through the trees

Rosy sunsets in the air

Stormy days descend on me but you are there you’ll always be

Even on the dark days I have peace….(chorus)

(third part)

And so the seasons they spin ‘round and we keep dancing through them

In and out of time we stay as one

With change being the guarantee, the present is always a memory

All my lives begin and end with you…

Sunlight splashes the summer leaves, lavender dappled shadows weave

Checkered patterns in the air

The heady smells of earth and green, fluffy clouds so white and clean,

I feel a sense of this oneness we all share …(chorus)

When I Close my Eyes

As much as this sounds like I wrote a lament for my wife, She penned this after having to come back from England. We were trying to move there permanently, but alas, it was not to be. In latter years she saw it not as England itself, but separation from what she saw as an idealized village, filled with music, laughter, love and creativity which she named Withe & Stone, hence the land I now inhabit.

When I Close My Eyes

     Music and Lyrics: Jan Goldsberry

I see you when I close my eyes, the heartstrings forever straining.

To reach you the longing lingers on , a bittersweet song refraining.

Chorus:  Without you I never feel at home , I feel alone wherever I am.

              I need you like night needs the day, just a breath away,

                    from heaven

I see you when I close my eyes, pleasant memories I recognize,

Yet I feel your cool breeze upon my brow, and even now

I start with surprise

Chorus:  For I should just be able to open any door

              And find you in front of me , not just a memory

              You’re more real to me than the waking state I’m in

               Then the ache sets in, I’m not …in heaven

I see you when I close my eyes , in the sunshine and the rain

To be with you in any mood you’re in, in just loving you I risk the pain

Chorus:    For I should just be able to turn myself around ,

                And find you in front of me, not just my memories

                I need you like night needs the day ,

                Just a breath away… from heaven

I see you when I close my eyes…

Wend Through the Day

We did a few Renfairs latter in our career, and I wrote this to be one of those ‘everybody sings together at the closing ceremony’ things. Never happened, but it was a nice fantasy. I did however work great in our track list to complete the day that began with the sunrise of the first story, and “Another day dawns” from the first song. It would then be followed by the lullaby to cap it off. Things change, and I felt the big boisterousness of this song needed to segway to what followed. but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Wend through the Day

When the clear light of morning peaks over the earth

And the dewdrops like diamonds all shine

The world reaches forth like an infant at birth

To the infinite vistas of time

To the infinite vistas of time

The sun warms the barley and the wind blows the sails

The horse journeys forth on his rounds

The milkmaids come back with their buckets and pails

And the hares scurry forth through the downs

The hares scurry forth through the downs…

Chorus:       Savor the feel as you wend through  the day

                   Cool shadows reach over the grass

                   All the happiness found here shall ner’ fade away

                   Though the space of this moment shall pass

                   Though the space of this moment shall pass…

The earth keeps on turning , it waits for no man

The sun keeps on climbing ‘til noon

The miller is grinding , the carpenter sands

And the piper pipes a new tune

The piper pipes a new tune

Adrift in the moment you glide through the day

Like water that flows down the stream

Through fields where your mind can take leisure to roam

And the drone of the bees guides your dreams

The drone of the bees guides your dreams…  (chorus)

The dusty roads shimmer in afternoon gold

The song of an anvil still rings

From memories past to futures untold

Don’t forget what the present can bring

Don’t forget what the present can bring…(chorus)

Bellas’ Vision

As I was mixing songs down for this, and missing Jan and her wisdom and producing input, I went to bed one night and had a long dream. In the dream I heard the voice of Isabella. I have to back track just a bit. About two months before she passed, Jan and I were both having a lot of breakthroughs in our lives and confronting a lot of obstacles we had been carrying with us our whole lives. It was incredibly cathartic. I had dreamed that my body sloughed off leaving a small boy with raven wing hair and emerald green eyes. She congratulated me on finally meeting my inner child. We called him Corbie, from my middle name meaning crow, and the obvious reference from his hair. She showed me a picture she had painted called “Isabella in Sunshine”, and said that that was her inner child. She thought the two were great friends. She also felt that we both would be moving on from this plain of existence around November the first. “This is who we can be there,” she said, “whenever we want too.” She died two weeks latter and I’m still here whatever that means. So in the dream Bella plays for me all these songs, but in reverse order to what she had originally wrote. The songs became clips, like we were moving backwards in our journey. Finally, it ended up with individual phrases that, in her voice, made a coherent message. I woke up from this dream and ran to the front room, Spread the lyrics out on the floor and cried. There it was. Just like in the dream . Bella’s voice rang in my ears. I finally felt all the grief and joy rolled in one come spilling out. She knew it was there, just what I needed to hear in the way it needed to come out. It was what all of this had boiled down too, the reason these songs had to be put down the way they were, the reason I needed to record them. I immediately started to record what I had heard and knew exactly how and where to put it. Maybe I’m nuts, or just maybe, shes still here, and this existence is not what it seems. Whatever your beliefs are, here is Bella’s message.

Don’t forget, wherever I am, in and out of time we stay as one. For the story’s still revolving round the circle and, singing songs, where on such minstrels play, when everything is done and said, our pathways unmarked, are always connected. We will meet again, for all your friends, distant in time and space, can never be lost.

Bella

This Fragile Bliss

This short piece was from Jan’s notebook. She started it as a song lyric, but let her mind go and wrote down her impressions as she went. It seemed fitting as I could not record her reading it, to have the voices of some of her children and grandchildren read it instead.

This Fragile Bliss

Mosaic patterns of green and gold, Sunlight dancing on the leaves, sparkling crystal azure air, clouds and wings accented by the breeze. Warm breath of basking earth, ambrosia scented waves lift to be inhaled and infused and disturb the stagnant slumber of my natural heart, my inner eye, stirring the memory of some other place just on the fringes of my deliberate mind. It’s okay then. I’m suddenly still and at peace.  I almost don’t breathe, wary of frightening this bliss like some fragile bird feeding in my garden. At once I know just where I am, what land the sun is lighting, and at the same time I realize it’s not of this earth, or is it? Some hidden realm I don’t remember visiting, or some present view reflected through another’s eyes.

Night Prayer

This was going to be Jan’s closing for the cycle. I find myself singing it to say goodbye, and at the same time I hear her singing it for me. I guess thats how spirit works. I had no music from her, so I just closed my eyes and this is what came out.

Night Prayer

Lyrics by Jan Goldsberry

Music by John Goldsberry

Sleep, close your eyes

Be at peace

And know that you are loved

Sleep, rest your weary soul

Watched by spirits eyes

And know that you are loved

Sleep while the stars dance cross the heavens

The sleeper’s angles hasten by your side

So, sleep, caressed by moonlight

Kissed by starlight

And know that you are loved

Isabella In Sunshine

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