Chill in the Fire, live at the Time Does Not Reverse EP launch show at The Ellington Jazz Club, featuring harpist Michelle Smith.
One pet question that I get whenever I’m doing an interview for a radio station, blog, streetpress or magazine is, “So, where does the title of your album The Second City come from?” So many people ask that question that I thought it would probably make for a good blog article, and that way I could take my sweet time explaining it, and not feel the need to rush to keep time available for other interview questions, haha.
So there’s a song on the album called “Chill in The Fire”. You can read in detail about the meaning of the lyrics in “Chill in The Fire” here, but the point is that it’s inspired by a Persian mystical work by Bahá’u’lláh called The Seven Valleys. The Seven Valleys is a highly poetic book describing the journey of the soul, using the imagery of travelling through seven valleys to explain ones spiritual journey. In the opening section it reads, “The stages that mark the wayfarer’s journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities. And they say that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine.”
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The lyrics of “Chill in The Fire” are inspired by the second of these seven valleys, or seven cities, which is called The Valley of Love. I’m particularly enchanted by the imagery and language of that chapter in the book. So, since that song is inspired by the second valley/ city, and because this is my second album, I thought “The Second City” would make an apt title for the album. My second choice for the album title would have been “Beautiful Soul” (the title of the first track on the album), but I like the mystery behind “The Second City” more. Plus it gave me the excuse to have the album photoshoot with the skyline of my beautiful hometown, Perth city, in the background.
I did a really enjoyable interview with Geoff Wood on ABC Radio National’s The Rhythm Divine, talking about the spiritual inspiration behind my music and lyrics. Here’s a little except from the program, which you can download in full here.
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It reads like a film script—struggling musician posts demos online and gets interest from a Grammy-winning producer who offers to co-write her new single—but it’s what happened to young Perth-based Baha’i singer-songwriter Shameem, writes Geoff Wood.
‘It shows that MySpace isn’t completely dead,’ says Shameem, laughing as she recalls the day a Grammy-winning producer turned her life upside down.
‘I got this message on MySpace from James Bryan and I hadn’t heard of him. He’d actually found some demos that I’d done. He said, “I really love your voice and do you write your own music?”
The lyrics for “Chill in The Fire” are here.
The inspiration for this song comes from a beautiful book written in Farsi (the Persian/ Iranian language) by Baha’u’llah, entitled The Seven Valleys. The book is a long, mystical poem about the quest of the human soul to attain closeness to God, the object of its desire. It describes an analogy of the soul having to traverse seven stages (called seven valleys or seven cities) in this journey towards “the traceless Friend”. The second of these valleys or cities is “The Valley of Love“. In this stage, the soul, having already traversed “The Valley of Search”, is in a state of simultaneous ecstasy and madness. There are many wonderful contradictions of experiences in this valley. My favourite couplet, which is borrowed and adapted by Baha’u’llah from a Persian mystical poem, is:
“A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea.”
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All the lyrics in this song are based on the compelling images in the text regarding “The Valley of Love”. The Persian chant that is heard in both this song and its introduction is a melodic invention on the couplet that I quoted above, in the original language that it was written in.
Chill in The Fire
نشان عاشق آن باشد که سردش بینی از دوزخ
نشان عارف آن باشد که خشکش بینی از دریا
که خشکش بینی از دریا
Search for my Love in the desert of the world
Each mirage is magic; each horizon tragic
I drink the seven seas and yet still I thirst
And the fire inside me has burned up all logic