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Amarok, Too

We've had good use for the title Amarok 11 lately - there was a glitch with the previous ML, and so we all migrated to somewhere called Amarok2, at (Write that down - who knows when we may need it again!) Anyway, Noah rose to the occasion, as you can see. The mailing list is not called Amarok for nothing, as many of us cherish the work of art that shares the name. Sadly, the man who wrote the 'fairytale' that accompanies Amarok passed away last year. It is with the greatest reverence, and the author's permission, that the following post by David Porter on the legendary William Murray is reproduced.

Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999
From: David Porter
Subject: [Amarok] William Murray

Sad news.

I've just had a phone call from Tom Newman who told me that William Murray died recently. Willie was someone who figured largely in Mike's life during one of his most creative periods. As the drummer in Kevin Ayers and the Whole World he gave lifts to Mike to and from the sessions. Later they shared a flat where Mike put together the demo for Tubular Bells, Willie helping to take it to record companies.

Willie also played cymbal on Hergest Ridge - not an Earth shattering role by his own admission - but he was a little hurt when they left him off the credits! His name is probably more familiar to us fans as the percussionist on Ommadawn and In Dulci Jubilo. He spent the best part of a year living with Mike at The Beacon and Througham and developed a keen interest in photography after Mike bought him a camera for his birthday. The hobby turned into a profession and the circle of life led him many years later to the art direction and photography on the cover of Amarok.

I was privileged to meet him at that time and we talked for an hour or so about those early years. He was full of enthusiasm for Amarok which he had just heard from a DAT - - about 3 months prior to official release. It had prompted him to write the little story which I'm sure you have all read. He was visiting Clodagh Simonds in Ireland when he died.


Unbelievably, with the July 2000 release of the remaster of Amarok, Virgin have seen fit to omit William Murray's classic tale. So here it is. For those of you who with the Fastrac Fashion font installed, it should look a little like it did on the original Amarok. (The original Parkplace font was indecipherable!) For others it will default to fairly large "Times".


A long time ago, in a place which may have been Ireland (but could just as easily have been Africa, or Madagascar) there occurred a very unusual series of events.

Two men - good friends - heard of a great golden statue found standing in a great hole in the Earth, quite close to their village. Now, these were a simple people and rumour spread like contagion. Some said it was not a statue, but not a man either. One thing was certain: it never moved. But it was also said that it produced a noise, a sound, or several sounds from time to time. Now and then, people had said, it made all of its noises at the same time. The men made a plan to visit it. They left early one morning.

They progressed slowly.

"Do you feel exhausted, as I do?" said the first man.

"I've felt better," said the other, "but we must achieve our aim."

After many hours the first man stopped in his tracks, staring into the distance.

"I see it," he said quietly.

"What do you see?"

"A gleaming of beautiful gold, a great haze of light...."

Despite their tiredness, they began to walk faster. But however briskly they walked, the distance between them and what the tales refer to as "the gleaming golden light" remained the same. After a while they stopped. They were very frustrated.

The quieter of the two men said, "We'll never get there."

"If we walk back, we will get there," said his friend.

The other surveyed him.

"Why do you think so?"

Without replying the first man rose, turned around and began walking back the way they had come.

To the amazement of the other, after a while the light became visible to him too and as they walked it drew closer. Soon the countryside around them began to look as if there had been a great fire. Blackened trees lay cracked on the ground and the Earth was scorched and barren. They felt uneasy. But they carried on.

Sure enough, they came to a massive charred hole. It was as if a great rock had been hurled from the heavens.

"What a mess," said the first man, "let's go and look."

"You go," said his more cautious companion, "tell me what you see."

His friend crawled to the edge of the great hole. Hanging onto a blasted but well rooted tree, he peered over.

In the great pit gouged from the Earth was the tallest figure he had ever seen. It was of a beautiful golden finish, entirely smooth. It was not a statue, but it was not a man. He had never seen anything like it, and he couldn't look away.

"We have come so far," he said to himself. "I hear it has voices to speak of things we cannot speak of."

He looked around, and there was his friend standing next to him and he was staring into the crater.

He said. "I am told that when men hear its voice, it stays in their ears, they cannot be rid of it. It has many differemnt voices: some happy, but others sad. It roars like a baboon, murmurs like a child, drums like the blazing arms of one thousand drummers, rustles like the water in a glass, sings like a lover and laments like a priest."

"I have heard it says only one word," said the other.

"I was told it depends on how you listen."

"What can you mean?"

"Imagine a creature with a melody for a voice. You either hear it or you don't."

"I do not understand," said his friend.

"He describes himself but he cannot see it; when he sees it, he cannot describe it. But there is always the sound. He will always make the sound."

They fell quiet. A long time passed. The second man turned to the first man.

"Doesn't look like we're going to hear it, does it?"

"I have heard it."

His friend looked at him sharply. "But there was no sound.

None. What are you talking about?"

"Cheer up, cloth ears," he said, "it's only a fairytale, innit?"

William Murray

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