Phil had released a number of albums by this point, and with this one he switched to a new label, New Song Records. It’s all instrumental and has a pleasant jazz sound emanating from his intricate guitar work.
The album comes with a story in the liner notes, and it is a must-read while you listen to this album. Press play and keep reading.
Music, especially instrumental music, evokes many images in the mind of an attentive listener. I have set below an account of the images which have been called up for me by The Master and the Musician, not as any final word on meaning or intent, but as a vantage point, if you will – a place from which you may consider this series of musical pieces before you do some exploration on your own.
We begin by listening to a dream, for at first the sounds are clearer than the sights. A young man’s voice, distinct and persistent. Then that of an older man, measured, balanced tones. Now they come into view: The seated old man leans against his high-backed chair, listening attentively. His eyes crinkle with hidden amusement at the young man’s insistence. Heavy, white eyebrows are occasionally raised as his eyes widen, echoing his initial surprise at the young man’s visit. A slender, long-fingered hand is brought to the side of his face. His fingers frame an eye, as one hand rests against his cheek, his clear eyes never straying from the face of the man across from him.
His younger visitor leans forward again, intent on explaining a request he barely understands himself. He is a young musician, and yet he shows the strain and wear of travelling, pressed by that fame which demands strenuous performance. The old man smiles, and for a brief moment glances at the worn wooden surface of an instrument hung upon his wall. Sensing a rapport which he had never though could exist, the young man leans forward and repeats his request:
“Teach me,” said the young musician. “Old man, you have seen much. You were Master Musician in your time, playing in the great halls. Your fingers, once young and lithe, filled the hearts of kings with music which changes the soul. Where did you learn music? It is said that you have even played before He who is not to be named. Teach me,” said the young man, his eyes intent upon purpose, “I want to know that music.”
“Young man, what have you to do with me? Your gift is in the marketplace, not playing in royal halls.” The old man smiled and shook his head. “How they dance when you play! The young women sway, and their eyes dart with fiery love at your tones. To play where I have, you must leave the marketplace behind, you must cease to play in the palaces of pleasure, and find your joy in other pursuits. Are you willing? Are you able to leave all of that behind?” The young man’s lips tightened. His eyes held the old man in unwavering gaze as he softly nodded his head.
The Castle’s Call
Deep in a sun-flooded valley it stood. Beyond the outcroppings of bare rock at the summit, the wind-blown trees along the steep slope, in the midst of the small forest on the valley floor. Open ground swelled up to meet its moat. White stone, hewn long ago from the valley itself, washed by aeons of the water of pre-history, formed its battlements and towers topped with dark green slate. The early afternoon sun bathed its walls in yellow brilliance. The drawbridge was down, and smoke curled from the chimneys of the great hall.
Hidden, yet apparent, the castle in his mind’s eye drew the young musician to its entrance, and called him to an as yet uncontemplated fate.
Wedding in the Country Manor
Wedding day! The village has been polished clean. Clear summer sun and unsullied sky. Who has seen a groom like this, strong and silent, dark and light? Clear eyes flash with joy, anticipating his lady’s gentle appearance.
She walks upright and unafraid, her lace veil blowing in the summer breeze.
Her gaze is neither timid nor bold, yet it holds the strength of her lord’s without wavering.
They kiss… A brilliant jewel between them sparkles, showering the guests with light and laughter. Then silence, as the meaning makes its home.
The children, unaware of grownup solemnity, dance out joy with unencumbered feet, whirling and giggling, giggling, and whirling away their summer joy. One by one, the grownups join them, bride, groom, and guests, until all fall from exhaustion, laughing at dignity and foolishness alike.
Suite – of Reflections
“This is the room where we must begin,” the old man said, “sit down – over there. Hold your instrument so. A thousand have sat as you have. Listen.” The old man played out the story of the room, asking all the age-old questions of the entrance.
The young man sat in silence. Then answered his every question one by one – considered, unwavering, sure of what he would find. His heart soared as each question was answered, anticipating the fulfillment of the promise each one held. Now tears of joy are flowing from his cheeks. He holds his instrument away so as not to spoil the strings. The old man smiles. The younger weeps: All I have lived for is here. The joy of new beginnings settles in his mind, as the old man sets down his instrument and opens up the door: “You must meet the King,” he said, “you must meet Him face to face. No, no -” the old man answered the unasked question: “You must go alone. You won’t come to harm; I will even meet you along the way. But – for now – you must go alone.”
Golden halls to walk down; flowing, gentle gold. Everything exudes yellow light. The young man looks at himself in a mirror. The hard creases etching the lines of his worry have been smoothed over. His cheeks fill with the youth of his years – once made long from the marketplace. Forever, he thought. I have never known its meaning. I shall live here forever, in golden light.
Now that the hot lights of the pleasure palace stage glare into his eyes, He steps up to the roar of a crowd bent upon his music, and all that it has brought to them. Then silence. He sings – no, soars with joy. The crowd no longer presses forward, but holds itsbreath at music it has never heard. His fellow players stand mute.
Follow Me Up
“Follow me up,” he cries, as they begin to understand. The marketplace reverberates with music of life. The young women, no longer dancing, cry with joy at the truth they have always known but were seeking to hide. Young men look for the source of his strength. “Follow me up,” he cries, again and again. They will remember this night forever, and never know why.
Along the castle’s golden halls, the sight of a long and narrow passage has stopped him. At the end, a single door gleams in green light: The stage door of the pleasure palace. It was unmistakable, and jarringly out of place. What music drew him down to open the door and gaze into his own face, bathed with sweat and green light, playing out the pleasures for adoring admirers? The young man in the room swayed and bent, his instrument playing out in twisted genius the stories of his lusts. The young man gazing at him drew back in disgust and horror of the truth. He slammed the door and ran back to the golden hall, his heart racing him to a finish.
Deep Calls Unto Deep
The old man sat in the great hall, his fingers resting lightly upon his instrument. One hand lifted, to silently indicate the young man’s own instrument, lying in the only other chair. The young man shook his head, no longer willing or able to play. He opened his mouth to explain, but could not speak. The old man began, as the younger stood before him in silence. The presence of He who cannot be named filled the hall. Never had he heard the old man play like this. His cheeks flamed crimson at his own inability. An unseen instrument answered the old musician, who raised his head slightly to acknowledge its presence. The younger walked as in a trance to his chair. He sat, and fingered the instrument. Unwillingly, he began to play, and himself was answered. His concentration was set upon his fingers, which played from some unrecognized but familiar depth. He never noticed the old man’s disappearance. The Presence lifted. Alone, the young man sang of a thirst quenched by water and salt.
The next room was lined in oak; leaded windows looked out over green forest at the setting sun. The young man sat in a window casement, and played down the sun to a half-remembered hymn. The sky became green and deep gold. Slowly, all turned cold – the stars came into a dark, black night. Since the old man’s disappearance, the young man had been incapable of calling back the Presence. The night turned darker, and the young one began to cry, not for loss, but lack. Oblivious to his surroundings, he bent his head and sobbed. His tears ran saltily upon his instrument, dripping from the strings. They can be spoiled now, he thought, what does it matter? I cannot play.
“I too was alone,” said a voice, “I too could no longer play the Music.” The young one bit his lip and looked up. The King was before him, not as a king, but as the young man himself, his heart empty. Royal robes hung over one arm. “Wear these,” said the king, “for they are yours.”
The King gazed at him as a bridegroom at his bride, and the young man played; joined, not by an instrument, but by the voice of the Presence itself. The King was lifted up and out of sight, golden walls illuminating His departure. Still the young man played, for the Presence was greater than ever. He sang with It, It sang with him. Voices called cross to one another; all led upward. A joy far deeper than his own emotions held him in its grasp. It would not let him go.
The high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose Name is holy,
He dwells in a high and holy place
And with him are the lowly in spirit,
In order to revive their hearts.
A1 Pilgrim’s Flight 2:22
A2 Agora (The Markerplace) 3:26
A3 The Castle’s Call 0:47
A4 Wedding In The Country Manor 3:20
A5 Suite Of Reflections 5:45
A6 Golden Halls 5:13
B1 Mouthpiece 1:18
B2 Follow Me Up 4:05
B3 Jungle Pleasures 0:55
B4 Deep Calls Unto Deep 3:52
B5 Medley (7:05)
B6 The High And Exalted One 1:48
Classical Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass, E-Bow, Synthesizer [Arp Bass], Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Producer, Arranged By, Mixed By, Composed By, Sleeve Notes – Phil Keaggy
Engineer – Gary Hedden
Engineer, Mixed By – Mal Davis
Illustration – Claude Schuyler
Lyrics By [Story Written By] – Stuart Scadron-Wattles
Photography By – Chris Maggio (3)
Vocals – Bernadette Keaggy