Asked about the song, Bill replies:
The first version, called "Forgotten Cries of the Unheard" (also
called "Reflections on the Nature of Life and Death" ), was originally written in
1971. It's a long song (8:02) with a long story behind it. It is in no way meant
as a commercial piece, but rather as an art song. It was written in a very
transitional period in my songwriting development, in terms of music exploration
and subject matter.
Structurally, it is a collage piece, with musically
distinct sections strung together, essentially like seven songs in one, similar
to what Harry Chapin did in "Sniper", although this was written before
"Sniper" was ever released.
The form of the song was influenced by the album "A
Quick One While He's Away" by the Who, where the last track (the title song) is
also a collage piece, and was actually a trial run for the group in preparation
for their major Rock Opera, "Tommy". Many of the music themes from "A Quick
One..." can be heard in "Tommy".
Similarly, "Forgotten Cries" became a musical
test-run for me before I wrote my Rock Opera "Song of Time to Come". The musical
themes are all there, and the major philosophical questions addressed in
"Forgotten Cries" are central to the Rock Opera.
"Forgotten Cries" has two characters speaking, not
to each other, but to the listener. In my typical delayed-gratification
style, we don't find out for sure until the end who the characters are, but all
the clues are there. This was written as a male-female duet, with the parts
dovetailing through most of the song . The female part is the voice of a fetus
about to be born, and the male voice is that of a person who has just died and
is "crossing over". The song looks at the question of pre-life and after-life,
and the roles of religion, faith, and reason -- all things I was trying to
figure out at that part of life.
The song was first performed in public at a well-attended coffeehouse event at Bucknell Univerisy in Lewisburg, PA. I was joined
in the duet by Mary Matthews, a vocalist in my band "Hatching Process", and
backed up by members of the band. This was not an easy song to do live, but the
response to the piece was very strong and positive, both from the music
community, and also from the local Chaplain, who said it "provided unique
insights to the nature of life and death".
The next year I started writing the Rock Opera, and
the musical themes and subject matter became incorporated into that.
However, the original 8-minute version remained in
my memory for 35 years as a cohesive entity, and it seemed appropriate to
include it in the "Dare to Dream" CD collection, especially since the CD also
contains the song "She Made It All Worthwhile", told from the perspective of a
person who is watching others talk about him at his funeral. Also, the CD
contains "Blind Man" which is from the Rock Opera as well, and "I Will Never Be
Lost Again" which uses the music from the part of the Rock Opera which segues
from "Forgotten Cries".
I produced the song as I would have had it
sound when it was first written. To be able to do it as a duet with my
very musically talented daughter was a wonderful treat.
So 35 years after it was composed, this unusual
performance piece has found a home, and the philosophical questions it poses are
still in search of answers.
You can get the song on
from the CD
"Dare to Dream"