Palace of Tears

by Ray Cooper

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about

'With his new abuim Cooper has stepped beyond the cultural and geographical confines of the British Isles and opened himself up to the musical styles and stories to be told from all of Northern Europe. It works incredibly well, he continues to develop as a songwriter and impress as a multi-instrumentalist' (Spiral Earth)

His second solo album Palace Of Tears which will be released in May 2014 is unashamedly romantic. It is a bittersweet album about living and working in Northern Europe over the last quarter century, 'I tried to avoid nostalgia, but many songs deal with the past and how it can never be reclaimed. My first album Tales Of Love War and Death by Hanging has a strongly historical theme, this one is about more recent history , more personal history'…'The sound of the album is placed firmly in Northern Europe too, with the addition of Swedish musicians, and some songs that reference Sweden, Scotland, and my roots'. All this seen through the prism of the Swedish winter as I look out from my studio.

The title track Palace of Tears was inspired by my memories of working in the former East Germany. The Berliners had a nickname for one of the checkpoints in the wall, this was a tube station in Friedrichstrasse and was used to visit their relatives in the East. On the way back it was a place of goodbyes, hence the ironic name 'Der Tränenpalast', The Palace Of Tears

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Mit seinem zweiten Soloalbum "Palace Of Tears" verpflichtet sich Ray Cooper (Ex-Oysterband) endgültig der ehrwürdigen Singer/Songwriter-Tradition und rückt eigene Texte und Kompositionen in den Fokus. Hatte das Debüt "Tales Of Love, War And Death By Hanging" noch eine starke historische Komponente, weht nun ein frischer Nordwind durch das Album. Cooper, seit einigen Jahren Wahl-Schwede, schöpft textlich zum Teil aus skandinavischen Quellen und bedient sich der schwedischen Fiedel und der Kantele aus Finnland. Doch auch Cello, Gitarre, Harmonika, Mandoline und Bassgitarre kommen zum Einsatz. Alle Instrumente werden von Cooper selbst gespielt, lediglich ein Pianist und zwei zusätzliche Streicher unterstützten ihn bei den Aufnahmen.

Auch thematisch ist "Palace Of Tears" ein sehr persönliches Album, auf dem der Musiker kein Blatt vor den Mund nimmt. Bereits der erste Song "A Line In The Sand" prangert zum Himmel stinkende politische Missstände an, denn Cooper setzt sich kritisch mit den Kriegen, die im Nahen Osten wegen des Erdöls geführt werden, auseinander. Im Lied "Palace Of Tears", das dem Album seinen Namen geliehen hat, verarbeitet der Künstler einen Teil deutsch-deutscher Geschichte.

Er war im Juli 1989, also kurz vor dem Fall der Berliner Mauer, zu Gast in der DDR und erinnert sich: "Dieses Land war so vollkommen anders als alle anderen Länder, in denen ich gewesen bin. Ohne Werbung, fast ohne Kriminalität, aber auch ohne Alternative." Besonders nachhaltig hat den Schotten die innerdeutsche Grenze im geteilten Berlin beeindruckt. "Es gab einen Grenzübergang am Bahnhof Friedrichstraße, an dem die West-Berliner für einen Tag in den Osten der Stadt gehen konnten, um Verwandte zu besuchen. Auf ihrem Weg zurück kam es dort zu großen Abschiedsszenen, weshalb das Gebäude des Grenzübergangs vom Volksmund den ironischen Beinamen Tränenpalast erhielt." Seine schottischen Wurzeln besingt er in "Sleeping Giants". Wiewohl Cooper seinen Lebensmittelpunkt nach Skandinavien verlagert hat, verbringt er jedes Jahr einige Zeit in Schottland - leider immer häufiger bei Begräbnissen.

Den größten Raum auf dem Album nimmt Coopers Wahlheimat Schweden ein. Inspiriert von der Weite der Landschaft und der Tiefe der Wälder spürt der Musiker fantastischen Sagengestalten nach, die dort gestern wie heute ihr Unwesen treiben. Manchmal bringt aber auch ein simples Foto den Künstler dazu, einen Song zu schreiben. So wie dieses 1985 aufgenommene Bild, das eine Menschentraube vor dem Rathaus in Coopers Wohnort Malmköping zeigt. Die jungen Leute haben ihre guten Kleider an, vermutlich werden sie am Abend tanzen gehen und vielleicht lernen sie ja dort ihren zukünftigen Lebenspartner kennen. Im Lied "The King's Birthday/Maarit's Waltz" geht es um die junge Frau in der Mitte des Fotos. Was wohl aus ihr geworden ist?

credits

released August 29, 2014

Ray Cooper - lead vocals, cello, guitar, kantele, harmonicas, mandolin, percussion, harmonium, bass guitar.
Gustav Andersson - piano, organ, harmonium and string arrangement and programming on Palace Of Tears
Rowan Godel - vocal harmonies.
Jenny Tidman and Patrik Andersson - violins

Photography Volker Neumann and Judith Burrows

All songs written by Ray Cooper

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about

Ray Cooper UK

Ray Cooper is a singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist currently residing in the depths of Sweden where he moved in 2000. He left Oysterband in 2013 after a year in which they picked up 3 BBC2 Folk Awards and appeared live on the "Later..with Jools Holland' show. Since then he has carved out a successful solo career. ... more

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Track Name: A Line in the Sand
A Line In The Sand
(Ray Cooper)

Somewhere there's a line in the sand
Somewhere there's a map, there's a plan
Hear the thunder roar
The drums of war

See the fires burn again
The lines of marching men
Someone has a a vision of how things should be

So the black snake will wind through the valleys
Through bones and empty farms and poppy fields
Past the the tulips and wild flowers
The barbed wire and the towers
To the great ships waiting at the sea

Somewhere there's a line in the sand
Somewhere there's the death of a man
Somewhere a decision is made far away

Hear the sky scream again
The whine of great engines
Hear the thunder roar

To pound the earth to pound the heart
The power of steel the power of fire
And the iron horse will go through
The iron fist will rule
Twisting in the old country

And the fruit of all this toil
The pipelines and the oil
The railways and the roads to the sea
Through the tulips and wild flowers
The barbed wire and the towers
To light the lamps of great cities
Track Name: Mountainside
Mountainside
(Ray Cooper)

I was born by border where the forest meets the plain
Before me were the roadways to fortune and fame
But behind was the mountain with her valleys black as night
That drew me like an ember away from the light.

And I am bound I am tied
I am chained to the mountainside

I was warned of the autumn and the mist that comes with the dawn
I was warned of the wolves in winter coming closer to the farm
I was warned of the spring ice and the summer adder's bite
But I still chose the darkness and the stars of the night

I am bound I am tied
I am chained

Once I had a lover long long ago
We parted in the valley by the green waterfall
And sometimes I hear her singing on a warm summer's eve
I know to never answer she's calling to me

And I am bound I am tied

And here beside the fountain with it's waters cold and clear
I sit and watch the heavens the turning of the year
And the creatures of the forest draw close to me at night
I see their yellow eyes shining in the dying firelight

And I am bound I am tied
I am chained to the mountainside
Track Name: Palace of Tears
Palace of Tears
(Ray Cooper)

The steel gate shuts behind me
Like the bolt of a Russian gun
Part of the wall around us
That keeps us on the run
Well it cuts right through this city
It cuts right through my heart
It cuts right through this country
And keeps our worlds apart

Past the grey stone walls
Shattered by the marks of war
The tide mark of a century
So many died for
And the statues were silent
On that cold rainy day
Waiting for the cranes
To take them all away

I remember your flat in it's faded grandeur
You said that it suited you
Well it suited me too
I look back on those days with love and anger
That we never dared dream
We'd see the wall crashing down
And the world rushing in

We lay on the floor
With the double doors open
We didn't talk about time
Our love was unspoken
We knew that I would leave again tomorrow
You could never follow
We watched the rain coming down

You walked me back to the checkpoint
Back to the clamour
And the lights of the western world
And there by the sickle and the hammer
We said goodbye my dear
Like so many others here
At the Palace of Tears

Auf Wiedersehn mine hertz
We said goodbye at the Palace of Tears

Now the checkpoints are demolished
The city has survived
The losers and the winners
Just get on with their lives
If I talked about the good things
From the bad old days
You'd say it's nostalgia
And I don't understand the time that's gone to waste

You walked me back to the checkpoint
Back to the clamour
And the lights of the western world
And there by the sickle and the hammer
I said goodbye my dear
Like so many others here
At the Palace of Tears
Track Name: Sleeping Giant
Sleeping Giant
(Ray Cooper)

I dreamed I saw a giant asleep upon the land
The brown hills of the Highlands he cradled in his hands
And I dreamed the giant had a smile upon his face
For all the loves he thought he'd lost had never gone to waste

No, they all came back to forgive him
And to his great surprise
They understood his passions
From the fire in his eyes

He left his giant footprints all over their white sand
But they forgave his foolish ways and all that he had done
When he loved he loved them truly and never meant to part
And when he cried, he cried a river, with all his giant heart

Now all these years and their players have passed away
Like so many dreams of the hills of our childhood days

He turned to face the morning, that way his journey lies
He reached for the horizon, where the sun would rise
And I dreamed the giant was never more to wake
His lover was the sky now, she'd help him on his way

And I watched until the dawn came
And I saw him melt away
Till all that's left was the outline
Of the hills of our childhood days

And we'll drink a glass to friendship and to home
We used to say wha's like us, damn few, and they're all gone

Now all these years and their players have passed away
Like so many dreams of the hills of our childhood days
Track Name: Destroying Angel
Destroying Angel
(Ray Cooper)

Destroying Angel...

I met you in the forrest
At the fading of the day
You looked so sweet and innocent
You were so innocent
I thought that I could dally
I thought that I could play
Pure and almost holy
I almost prayed

Destroying Angel, dressed in white
You tempt destruction with every bite
Oh fair deceiver, you wait and call
Dissolving hearts, the willing fall

You stood there in the twilight
With a smile upon your face
You'd waited for a century
For some fool to fall from grace
Mirror to my weakness
I tried to cry or run
I felt my liver melting
I knew what I had done

Destroying Angel etc.

I never thought that I would do that
But I knew that I could fall
Oh I never thought that I would do that
But I knew that I could fall

Is it me that brings corruption
To this quiet wooded glade?
To curse the fair deceiver
And try and pass the blame?
I knew what I was doing
To taste the flesh so white
I knew that it would take me
As I took the second bite

Destroying Angel etc.

I never thought that I would do that
But I knew that I could fall
Oh I never thought that I would do that
What else could I have done?
Well I guess I should have run
Track Name: The King's Birthday / Maarit's Waltz
The King's Birthday / Maarit's Waltz
(Ray Cooper)

Her name was Karin
And on the King's birthday
She put on her best bonnet for the town parade
You can see from this photograph
From a very different time
She wants you all to know this is her prime
For she was a beauty of renown
In this small market town
She's a marriageable age
She turned sixteen today

Now that she's blossomed
She can spread her wings and fly
If only to the pine tree tops nearby
She's on the threshold
Of all that is to come
She can feel her power she can be someone
She might have that chance to choose
To be a tradesman's wife
And to wear the apron blue
Or she might just fly away

And the boys came down, they lined up to stare
In their new suits and hats that they wear
Ill fitting suits for ill fitting lives
The choices are here, we all compromise
And the band played a waltz for the King
The courting began we're caught up and caught in
If your luck is true and you catch the right eye
You live with that choice for the rest of your life

Her name was Karin
And long ago she bloomed
Like so many others a little too soon
You can see from this photograph
How she stood out from them all
Even though she faded long ago
And lost her lovely looks so young
Or rather passed them on
To another who will come to another town parade
On another King's birthday
Track Name: The Tears Of Isis
The Tears Of Isis
(Ray Cooper)

Like the drawings, the drawings of dreams
So incomplete, like the unseen
I dreamed a dream, I thought we had spoken
You smiled so sadly, that was enough
Never nearer, than the shadow,
Maybe that's all, we need to know

I'd like to meet all my mothers and fathers
All the way back through the shadows of time
I'd like to tell them, tell them they did so well
Just to survive, and I will survive

And all the tears of Isis
All the waters of the Nile
They bring me their blessings
I am their orphan child

I went down, down to the river
I felt the waters touch my skin
I let my fingers break the tension
Between the seen and the unseen
Never nearer than the shadow,
Maybe that's all......

And I carry, carry that river
I feel it flowing in my veins
And I'm riding, riding these rapids
And I don't know where it will end

And all the tears of Isis
All the waters of the Nile
Bring me bring me their blessings
I am their orphan child

Never nearer than the shadows
Maybe that's all that is revealed
Like finding the source of a great river
Is just a muddy field

I'll raise a stone in bonny Scotland
I'll splash whiskey on the ground
I'd like to do my very best for you
And never let you down
But I'm never nearer than the shadow

But all the tears of Isis
All the waters of the Nile
They bring me bring me their blessings
I am their orphan child

Never nearer than the shadows
Maybe that's all that is revealed
Like finding the source of a great river
Is just a muddy field
Track Name: Calling of the Dove
Calling of the Dove
(Ray Cooper)

I do believe in the simple life
And when you find the right one you need never part again
We found each other here in the dust
Among the towers of steel and rust
It was love in the dockland till night turned to day
And now I hear the calling of the dove again

The cobbled streets look just the same
Glistening wet in the morning rain
As I followed the lights till the end of the street
And I found the bar where we used to meet
It's 4.00am and the lamps are low
They're playing the same music on the radio
Tamla Motown never gets old
But chances come and chances go
And oh, so much time has passed
Another show has another cast
And other actors fill our shoes
And the harbour town sings the harbour blues
Things can never be the same
Ships move on but the docks remain
And I can hear the calling of the dove again

The ice ship lies sleeping by the harbour wall
How I long to hear those diesels roar
And cut me a channel through this pack ice
That locks our hearts come back to me tonight
I used to believe I had only cold blood in my veins
And now I hear the calling of the dove again

I found your letter in a box one day
And reading it again in another way
I can see maybe we had a chance
But we gave up on that big romance
There were ties, I couldn't see
I didn't know what you meant to me
But I'll just say thanks memories like this
Have been a comfort in the wilderness
And now I'm back in this harbour town
Think I'll take the time and look around

I can see not much has changed
Ships move on but the docks remain
And I can hear the calling of the dove again
Track Name: This Foolish Dream
This Foolish Dream
(Ray Cooper)

It's the middle of the day and I'm still dreaming
I don't feel a rush to leave this mood
Well I think I got myself into believing
I'm touched by something good

In a few more hours, I'll be right as rain
Your familiar friend
But just for now, I'll be living in
This foolish dream

It's not the blade of pain or sorrow
That got to me today
It's a taste so rare I don't want to swallow
If I can let it just fade away

A taste of love, rarely comes along
But it came my way today
And it could be wrong, but it's oh so wrong to waste....the taste

As a feather falls, I will touch the ground
In my own good time
Then I'll turn around, never looking back
At this foolish dream

These shapes of coloured glass moving in my window
Will have to be enough for now
I think I fell a little in forbidden love
I can let it last a little while

And then leave behind what almost had to be
Another song unsung
I'm not such a fool, as truly to believe
In foolish dreams
Track Name: When the Curtain Falls
When The Curtain Falls
(Ray Cooper - based on Grinds Hans' jässpödspolska från Rättvik efter Börjes Olle)

When time divides a point is passed
Never can unsay those words
A mood can change from light to dark
When the curtain falls
I saw my friend so happy there
His tears were tears of laughter
The candle burned it's brightest flame
As we watched the dancer

So I guess I'll take you home
Then you're on your own
I'll say it again
It's for the last time
Come on and take a bow
We'll get you back somehow
When the curtain falls

They say that sometimes drunk man's words
Are thoughts he has when sober
The hell hound's never far away
His muzzle's on your shoulder
And sure we had a good time here
Until the dark clouds gathered
The parting glass is empty now
It never really mattered

So I'll take you home again
My special friend
I'll say it again it's for the last time
The demons of the day
All come back to bay
When the curtain falls

And now we're floating down the street
The music's getting fainter
The hardest part of every day
Is knowing when it's over

And thank you beer, thank you wine
For all of our times together
Everybody stand
Raise a glass in hand
A toast to better weather