Bright Eyes

Is it a kind of dream,
Floating out on the tide,
Following the river of death downstream?
Oh, is it a dream?

There´s a fog along the horizon,
A strange glow in the sky,
And nobody seems to know where you go,
And what does it mean?
Oh, is it a dream

Bright eyes,
Burning like fire.
Bright eyes,
How can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes.

Is it a kind of shadow,
Reaching into the night,
Wandering over the hills unseen,
Or is it a dream?

There´s a high wind in the trees,
A cold sound in the air,
And nobody ever knows when you go,
And where do you start,
Oh, into the dark.

Bright eyes,
burning like fire.
Bright eyes,
how can you close and fail....

Art Garfunkel


Across two generations Simon and Garfunkel have become synonymous with the best in popular music. In their wake they have left a medley of questions behind. Why did Simon and Garfunkel split up at the height of their fame? Who is the mysterious silver girl who sails on the Bridge Over Troubled Water? What did Frank Sinatra do to Mrs Robinson? Is it a kind of dream?

While Paul focused on a solo career in music and won the Grammy award in 1988 for his Graceland album. Art branched out into acting and used his angelic-like voice in such commercial ventures as Bright Eyes. The song was composed in 1978 by Mike Batt one of Britain's best-known songwriters. His unfailing track record of successes embraces the production, composition and conducting on projects as varied as Phantom of The Opera with Andrew Lloyd Webber and orchestrating this musical hit. The song was part of the musical score for the movie version of Richard Adams' Watership Down produced by Nepenthe Productions LTD in Elstree, England.

So begins Watership Down, a complicated movie about the lives of rabbits who want nothing more than to survive. Where rabbits become such deep creatures, replete with mythology, poetry and a will to be free. The story tells a classic tale of a band of vagabond rabbits as they flee their warren fated for destruction by man. Viewers both young and old share in the many dangers and victories of the group as they search for the promised land known only to them as Watership Down. Along the way they encounter predators, double-crossers and fearsome enemies everywhere. It comes as some relief when uncertainty and hardship are met with rewards.

The lead character is Hazel a levelheaded and sharp minded member of the warren who goes from a bright yet immature fellow, to a wise and respected leader The song takes place at the point when Fiver searches for hid brother Hazel following a vision of the Black Rabbit of Death. In a chillingly heartbreaking moment Hazel learns of his brother's fate while the restrained musical score with its judicious use of strings floats out a haunting tune that not only adds a touch of class but transforms the atmosphere. Teeming with natural images woven through an ethereal melody that is a perfect match for Garfunkel’s floating voice. Strangely calming, the lyrics transmit a message of child-like wonder pondering the very nature of existence; asking “How can the light that burned so brightly, Suddenly burn so pale? … "Is it a kind of dream?"

The film is shrouded in an epic myth the rabbits have created to make sense of their world much like humans and the story has been extolled as an allegory for human nature. A word of caution: even though it's animated and the story is written for both children as well as adults, there are many scenes of violence, bloodshed and killing depicting the harsh brutal reality of nature. Scenes that feature bloodied tooth and claw battles remain as one of the rare occasions in mainstream animation with a semi-realistic portrayal of nature; a film that dares to be bleak. Most reviewers recommend that parent’s watch it with their children.

Bright Eyes was the one song, which remained in the movie at the final edit. Film producer Martin Rosen relates that the film was failing at the box-office until the song was released. The record went on to sell over twenty million copies, achieving number one status in six countries and earning Mike Batt his second British Academy Ivor Novello Award for Best Movie Song. The tune lasted for six weeks at the top of the music charts before being removed by Blondie's Sunday Girl. In 1999 the "Watership Down" television series surfaced and the song was re-released this time sung by Stephen Gately from the band Boyzonereaching number three on the pop charts.

It was Garfunkel’s second solo hit, and his second number one, his previous being I Only Have Eyes For You back in 1975. Bright Eyes appears on the third track on Garfunkel’s Life After Paul album and it was released on Garfunkel’s 'The Best of' albums. In the movie Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) there is a brief nod to Watership Down when Gromit sits uneasily in the passenger seat of his absent owner's car. The 'Were-Rabbit' is out there someplace and the canine anti-hero is hesitant and edgy. Restlessly moving around while searching the empty village street through the windshield he turns on the radio for company and hears the haunting strains of this Art Garfunkel ballad.

Even though only portions were heard in the skillfully animated silver screen presentation, Bright Eyes flourished outside of the boundaries of Watership Down. Imbued with verdant orchestral arrangements it has since transcended the film it was written for. It possesses real heart and beauty deep within it, and will never burn pale.

Sources

Hat tip! Many thanks to Timeshredder for the addition of the movie trivia from Wallace & Gromit.

Adams, Richard. Watership Down. Avon, Reissue edition (August 1989).

Mike Batt Official Web Site:
www.mikebatt.com/zerozero.cfm

Latest News on Art Garfunkel:
www.artgarfunkel.com/latest.htm

Watership down.:
www.mindspring.com/~lychelle/movies/watershi.htm


Email requesting permission for fair use of Mr. Garfunkel’s lyrics was sent August 14, 2003 to
dmc@artgarfunkel.com
http://www.artgarfunkel.com/.

CST Approved

Conor Oberst IS Bright Eyes. I have never had the luck to see him, but from what I'm told, it's a beautiful experience. Conor sits in a chair with an acoustic guitar, drunk, going crazy as his voice screams and wails and whispers of love.

Conor started out at the ripe young age of 12. After completing his first recording, he attempted to sell his sole copy for $25. He has played shows since he age 12, which is an astonishment to many. In 1995 (at 14 or 15 of age), he formed the band Commander Venus. His lyrics are absolutely remarkable for such a young man, and combined with the unpolished scratches of guitar and other musical instruments, it makes for potent concoction of love and its searing pains.

I sit surrounded by strangers and teenagers in the Moore Theater, which is in Seattle and the kind of place you can imagine Eddie Vedder swinging from the chandeliers (by which I mean it's been there since Seattle meant Ivar's, not Starbuck's, and is not made of stucco). I am not sober but I am not smoking. Regardless of the substances flowing through my plumbing, I am having flashbacks.

As a young kid, convinced I wanted to be a witch, I bought two tiny vials of essential oils, Sun and Moon, respectively. They both smelled similar, heavy cloying musky smells like nothing I could put my finger on. Someone sitting near to me is wearing Sun. It is exactly the same, with the same potency that caused me endless teenage embarrassment whenever I made the mistake of dabbing some on.

Dissimilar from my teenage concert-going experiences, however, is that no one smokes. Anything. I realize I am of the age where I should be the one in the audience surreptitiously lighting a jay. We are on the top balcony and there is not even a cigarette.

If you listen to the lyrics, it makes sense. No, these angel girls aren't walled off by their politics or their heroin. They're made distant by their brattiness. By the things their Prozac and Ritalin should have cured. In my day, singers who stared at their shoes wrote love songs about girls who cut themselves. Now the love songs are about the shoes. The kids are keeping it clean. The internal drama of their occasional unhappiness is trip aplenty.

In the mid-nineties I would walk out of a concert in a sea of flannel limbs and green hair, all pushing and smelling of young sweat. We walk down the stairs single file. A girl is talking on her cell phone. "It was so sad. You should have been there."

Don't these kids dance anymore?

At the bottom of the stairs we stall, needing to merge with the crowd flowing out of the GA area and the other balcony. There are doors no one is standing in front of. I push, they open. Ten years ago, I would not have been the one to think of that. Ten years ago, we pushed on everything. Didn't we?

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