Despite the impression I might give from time to time, there are few things in the world that have made me weep tears of joy. This is one of them.
Back in the early 70's, there were still a lot of young people running around repeating the slogan "never trust anyone over 30." Thankfully, Fleetwood Mac didn't listen to that when they were putting together their 1972 Bare Trees album, one of the best releases in their early years. Some of its best songs are linked to a poem written by an elderly lady named Mrs. Scarrot.
Information about Mrs. Scarrot has been difficult for me to find on the Web, and I have been researching off and on for many months. Even her given name seems unavailable on any of the numerous Fleetwood Mac fan sites or music review sites out there. Apparently, she was a neighbor of one or more of the band members living in Hampshire at that time.
According to the CD insert in my copy of Bare Trees, her reading of the poem, "Thoughts on a Grey Day," was recorded in her own home. Some web sites report that Mick Fleetwood handled the recording session personally. It does sound like his voice that appears briefly at the end of the recording. I'll talk some more about that in a bit.
Predictably and sadly, some Fleetwood Mac fans fail to share the band's open-minded artistic generosity. Some express their loathing for this track in the most vitriolic terms, including wishing bodily harm on poor Mrs. Scarrot. I hope no such person ever contacted her or otherwise rudely conveyed their lack of taste to her. The poem is the final track on the album, so anyone that doesn't like it can easily avoid it. Some reviewers say the original vinyl LP track began with 15 seconds of silence, possibly added just to give people that choice.
For me, and I suspect for many others, the charm of Mrs. Scarrot's reading is her unfeigned enthusiasm and joy. This is not the polished, measured reading of a professional performer. One can easily hear the paper rustle as she turns the pages to find the poem, and even though it is short, she seems to turn a page in the middle of it, as if reading directly from a little notebook. In one or two places she clearly stumbles in her reading, but catches herself well enough to preserve the meaning of the line.
Without further ado, here is her poem, reproduced to the best of my ability to hear it. Afterward, as promised, I'll talk about the voices at the end of the track.
I thank my God for perfect love and peace
I'll hold her tight, as always, mine forever
Love; love. So great, so divine
Trees -- the grey day has changed everything
It's beautiful, just beautiful, so beautiful
This first grey day is ours
My loving child, by grace of God, we live my child and love
I crawl to my knees, my dear love; will you promise to kiss
My perfect healing hands and fingers and make a promise to me?
You will always obey my each command and never, ever fail me
You'll be mine forevermore
The sun is here, my love
My love, my sun -- our sun complete
God bless our perfect, perfect grey day
With trees so bare -- so bare! but oh, so beautiful; so beautiful
The grey-blue sky; the world is here!
Ours, just. . . just ours. . . our own
Hold us tight
I am yours, just a dream, and go on dreaming
May this joy of ours never, ever cease
My love, my love; pregnant sweet
Love is tender
(After the poem finishes, there is a brief pause, then:)
Man's voice: "Lovely."
Mrs. Scarriot: "Is it all right? I'm okay?"
Man's voice: "I think it is, yes."
Mrs. Scarriot: "You do? Because, you see, I'd have put it into, ah..."
Man's voice: "If I didn't think so I wouldn't say anything!"
Mrs. Scarriot: "Well, these are the..."
(The sound fades out at this point.)
This is the part that brings a tear to my eye. Whoever this man is, the reassurance in his words and in his voice is so clearly motivated by love. I can't explain, exactly, why I feel so certain that this is a pure love, free of manipulation, seeking no advantage for the speaker. But that is how it sounds to me.
The presence of such a love in this world is always cause for celebration.
I believe including the text of Mrs. Scarrot's poem in this review falls within the definition of fair use.
Source for the lyrics: listening to my own copy of the CD release of Bare Trees