"IN my OWN WORDS" is the new segment on the website, where Gary Hughes is discussing the lyrical concepts behind the tracks from the band's back catalogue...
ARABIAN KNIGHTS (HERESY AND CREED - 2012)
This song is based on the considerable amount of reading I have done in recent years on The Crusades. It charts not only the physical struggle but the internal mental turmoil that the knights themselves must have gone through. Rallied by the pope to create a safe passage for Christians wishing to make religious pilgrimages to the Holy Lands.
They found themselves, more often than not, on the loosing side of a battle with a people driven by equally powerful religious beliefs.As the years went by the knights must have questioned their reasons for being there in the first place. Aside of the Papal directive they were essentially strangers in a strange land. Fighting in the name god and fuelled by their Christian faith, but against a people who belonged there and believed equally strongly in their right to fight for, and to protect, what they saw as their land and their sacred cities.
For the majority of the knights, the heat, the hunger, the dehydration and the disease became too much and the majority perished. Those who remained questioned their faith and defeated they filtered back to their homes through Europe and Africa.Realising that the survivors would require some recompense for their years for hardship and endeavour, the Vatican which had instigated the idealism of the Crusades, now branded the returning Crusaders as outlaws and heretics. Obviously burning them was cheaper than paying them.
Along with all the reading I did at the time of writing the song I also watched the Ridley Scott film 'Kingdom Of Heaven'. This, although not wholly factual, is as close as I believe cinema has come to a true and realistic historical account. The song is a 'first person' account. Seen through the eyes of the Crusader. The never ending nature of the battle. The absence of their God in these terrible conditions. Yearning for the lush, green lands of home. Destined to return, denied by the Vatican and condemned despite their beliefs.
THE NAME OF THE ROSE (THE NAME OF THE ROSE - 1996)
When I began to write it, the song was to be based on the Umberto Eco novel of the same name. Set in Italy in the Middle Ages, the book is not only a narrative of a murder investigation in a monastery in 1327, but also a chronicle of the 14th century religious wars, a history of monastic orders, and a compendium of heretical movements. It is a substantial read.
In a nutshell, there are monks dying mysteriously in a monastery and a medieval detective is summoned to solve the mystery. Each monk that dies has his own particular passion whether that be a simple quest for knowledge or sneaking local village girls into the monastery for sexual favours in return for food. Anyway, I won't spoil the book for you by delving into it further.
At this point the idea developed beyond the book and what I did glean from it was this lateral but all important thought. Everyone has one thing in life that they treasure above all else.The one thing that they will sacrifice anything and everything for. Something they will even die for should the need arise.
For everyone it is different. Unique to the individual.
'The Rose' without which life would be meaningless and empty.
This then would be 'The Name Of The Rose'
'The Name' or manifestation of which is only ever known by he or she who coverts it.
Think about it. You have one. Everybody does.
THE ROBE (THE ROBE - 1997)
This weeks song is 'The Robe' from the album of the same name. It is based on the biblical story of the centurion robe that Christ's body was wrapped in when it was lifted from the cross. Stories vary on this and as usual Hollywood have given this particular legend several 'curve ball' twists over the years that serve only to blur and pixelate the original tale.
Although I am not a particularly religious person I embrace the beliefs of others and I believe the church is in everyone and your god goes with you. So, as the Crucifixion story goes, a centurion speared the body of Christ as the sky turned black at that fateful hour of death. Christs body was then lifted down by another centurion and wrapped in his cloak. The Robe therefore is said to be covered in the blood of Christ. The gesture however can also be seen as a symbol of merciful comfort from a centurion who realises the great wrong that has befallen an innocent man.
The legends surrounding various religiously empowered objects have always fascinated me.Whether it be the Ark of the Covenant, The Holy Grail chalice or The shroud from Gethsemane (The Turin shroud) to name but a few, the fascination for me is the lack of concrete fact, historically or otherwise. The beauty then in all subjects of this nature is the openness to interpretation. No one really knows the entire facts for sure and so from a creative standpoint the 'artistic licence' is limitless and challenges the imagination.
In the case of 'The Robe' there have been various historical accounts from as far back as the Crusades, of Knights from the Templar and St Columbus leaving the Holy lands by any route available, and taking with them relics and artifacts deemed to be of immense religious significance. As legend would have it these same Knights became the protectors of these relics, eventually passing this responsibility down from generation to generation add infinitum.
The song depicts this legendary Exodus of the Knights and of the robe they transport. Searching for a place of safe haven for this priceless spiritual object of such great religious significance. A place where they can hold this timeless vigil for eternity.
It then occurred to me that the spiritual strength of the robe could be found in the beliefs of the strongest or most meagre of hearts. Therefore, on stage with TEN in the euphoria of the live arena I always close the song (as on the album) by simply asking the audience the question "Could this be the final resting place of the Robe?..."
WAIT FOR YOU (THE NAME OF THE ROSE - 1996)
This is a lyric that I am particularly proud of as on the whole it is fairly completest in that it pretty much covers all the bases in regard to the specific part of the legend it portrays. Egyptian mythology is vast in its complexities.'Wait For You' covers the particular legend of the lovers Osiris and Isis, following, as it does, "Ascension To The Afterlife" on the album itself.
The most complete ancient Egyptian account of this particular myth is the 'Great Hymn' to Osiris. This is a tomb inscription from the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1550–1292 BC) that gives the general outline of the entire story but includes very little by way of detail.
The myth concerns the death of Osiris and the birth of Horus.
When Ra reigned as king of Egypt, Thoth prophesied that Ra's wife Nut would have a son who would reign as king. Nut gave birth to five children. Miraculously in only five days. Osiris on the first day, Harmachis on the second day, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nephthys on the fifth. So Osiris and Isis were in fact brother and sister when they became lovers later on. This was not uncommon. There was an obsessive desire for purification in the royal blood lines throughout Egyptian History.
Upon Ra's death Osiris took the throne in succession. His brother Set was jealous and plotted to kill him.
The original form of the myth states that Osiris was killed by a wooden sarcophagus when Set tricked him into lying inside it. It was then sealed with lead and thrown into the Nile. Upon hearing that Osiris was gone, Isis set out to look for him. She was afraid without proper ceremonies and burial Osiris would not be able to go to the place of the dead. She also longed to avenge his death. She learnt that the coffin had floated down the Nile river up to the coast of Byblos. So in a nutshell, she reclaims the body but hides it in an area of marshland.
Set, while hunting, finds Osiris' coffin and dismembers the body. Cutting it into 14 parts and scattering them across the land of Egypt. Each part represented one of the 14 full moons. Once again Isis set out to look for the pieces. She was able to find 13 of the 14 parts, with the help of Nephthys (Set's sister-wife) but was unable to find the 14th, as it had been eaten by a fish. Instead, she fashioned a phallus (the 14th piece) out of gold.
She performed the 'opening of the mouth' ritual which allows the spirit to re-enter the body through the open mouth and Osiris came back to life. Osiris was resurrected and impregnated Isis.(the son eventually to be Horus) Osiris could now have proper ceremonies and a formal burial. He then became Lord of the Dead, and of the Afterlife.
The core of the song though involves the idea that the spirit of Osiris is waiting for the day that his love Isis can resurrect his body through the 'opening of the mouth' ritual thus bringing his body back to life just long enough for him to be able to impregnate her with a son who will become his rightful heir and consequently his fateful avenger.
Egyptian Mythology is very rich in colourful stories.
A tapestry of religious rites and time soaked rituals.
Read the lyrics again sometime.
After reading this short piece they may make more sense.
ROME (THE TWILIGHT CHRONICLES - 2006)
The song takes us back to a legend that is in itself the foundation stone of the vast history associated with the Roman Empire.
Most people are familiar in some way with the legend of Romulus and Remus. They are the twin brothers synonymous with the origins and founding of Rome. "Ab Urbe Condita", as the...Romans used to say.
For such an ancient city it is not surprising that the origins of Rome are a mixture of myth and reality.
The poet Virgil in 'The Aenid' tells us that the forefather of the ancient Romans was Aeneas, who, together with his father, his son, and a number of fellow Trojans, escaped from the burning city of Troy. Years later they eventually landed on the coast of central Italy in the region known as Latium, now called Lazio. Aeneas settled here and later married a local princess named Lavinia who was the daughter of king Latinus.
A distinguished lineage followed. The eleventh prince being Procas. Procas had two sons: Numitor was the elder and heir to the throne: Amulius was the younger but also the greediest.
Amulius managed to force Numitor to give up his claim to the crown and forced Numitor's daughter Rhea Silva to become a Vestal virgin. Amulius believed that her vows of perpetual virginity might prevent her from baring a threat to his throne.
This is where the main legend truly begins.
The Roman god Mars fell in love with Rhea and she gave birth to twin boys. Amulius didn't want to be overthrown, so he sent one of his soldiers to slaughter the boys. The soldier couldn't bring himself to complete the task and instead he concealed the twins inside a homemade cradle and set them afloat on the river Tiber. Amilius believed that the boys were dead.
A female wolf (she-wolf) found the boys on the bank of the Tiber but instead of killing them for food she took them back to her pack and fed them as she did her own cubs. Faustulus found the boys with the female wolf and took them home to live with him and his wife, Acca Larentia. Faustulus and his wife named the boys Romulus and Remus.
The existence of the boys came back to light when the teenager Remus was caught sacrificing some of the king's sheep. Numitor's men captured Remus and after being questioned by Numitor, the king realised that he was indeed speaking to the grandson he thought had been killed.
Romulus and Remus then set out after their treacherous great-uncle Amalius, the man who had sent them be killed. Amalius was killed in the war which ensued and the kingdom was given back to the boys grandfather, Numitor.
Romulus and Remus then set off to build their own city but they couldn't decide where the city should be built. So they wagered each other that each could count more eagles than the other. Romulus won the bet by spotting twelve eagles, while Remus spotted only six.
Romulus decided to build on the spot where the female wolf had found them as babies. Remus wanted to build on the Aventine Hill. Since neither could agree they both decided to build their own cities.To found a city one had to follow specific rituals. One element of this was the ploughing of a consecrated furrow around its perimeter using a sacred Ox. While building was underway at their separate sites, Remus is said to have jumped over the sacred trench that was protecting Romulus's city to prove to all that an enemy could enter his brother's city if he wished. Jumping over the sacred furrow (the pomerium) Remus taunted Romulus saying "That is what your enemies will do". Romulus retorted "And this is how they will fare" striking his brother with an axe. Thus Remus was killed.
The birth or Rome is accepted as having been the 21st April, 753BC. Romulus was the first King of Rome.
The song depicts the conflict between the brothers but also evokes the grandeur and spectacle that was Rome.
It was universally recognised for centuries as being the centre of the civilised world and its Empire stretched from sea to sea and beyond.
Continually at war, the victories of Rome's professional army quickly spread the power of Rome across Europe and slowly but surely it changed the face of the world.
It is extremely difficult to cover such a vast subject matter as this in just one song.
For this reason I may revisit this subject one day.
Read the lyrics again sometime and enjoy a momentary step back in time.
KINGDOM COME (STORMWARNING - 2011)
At risk of opening something of a delicate debate here I have chosen the song 'Kingdom Come' from the album 'Stormwarning'. For some time now I have been questioned, albeit politely, regarding my religious orientation. People always have a habit of reading into many Ten songs as having religious undercurrents and although it is true that I am a Christian, I am very definitely none practising.
If the bible gives anyone solace or promotes moral directive then I say it is a good thing.
However, I find the whole notion of a society built on the meanderings of a vast novel, itself based on scrolls discovered centuries ago to be 'ambiguous' to say the least. Indeed, it is not unlike someone stumbling across a hidden Lord Of The Rings novel in 2000 years time and deciding to structure and build society around it as the word of law.
'Kingdom Come' was in actual written for my sister Joanne who unfortunately never saw life. She was 'still born' some 4 years before I myself came into the world. My mother was a Catholic and my father was a Protestant.
They fell in love and came together at a time when both churches denied such couplings the right to wed in either church and so they were married by a registrar. My mother's family in particular were against the marriage as my father was not catholic. Some time later my mother fell pregnant with Joanne with the aforementioned unfortunate conclusion.
A priest from my mother's church visited her. My father assumed that he would wish to console her in her grief.
However, he proceeded to orate to her on what he called their unholy union and passed off my sisters death as saying her existence would have been 'against god'.
As you can imagine, my father all but threw him out of the door.
This situation was not uncommon for the times.
The church has a lot to answer for.
Although, unfortunately, all my life it has been at the core of my hatred of the church itself, and of my sense of ambiguity toward anyone taking religion too seriously.
You only have to turn on the TV to see what kind of damage the different religions are doing to the world.
The song therefore chades a society 'chained' by the 'myths of Israel' but laments how something so beautiful could be 'crushed in the wheels of love'.
It also speaks of my 'un-ending' love for the sister I have never seen but will never forget.
Karl Marx said it best, and his criticism of religion was essentially complete.
He claimed man could find only a diluted reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven. Where he sought a superman. Seeking consolation and pseudo-reality to replace and obscure the need to find some sense of his true reality.
’Man makes religion, religion does not make man‘.
Religion is, indeed a self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.
It is a crutch. A placebo.
Society produces religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, essentially because it is an inverted world to begin with.
Religion is the general theory of this world. It is an encyclopaedic compendium. It is logic in popular form. For some it is a spiritual 'point d’honneur' but with what substance?
It is a moral sanction and it is a universal basis for consolation and justification.
It is a mirage, a rose coloured filter on reality for those who have not acquired any true reality.
It is said that Marx called it ‘the opiate of the masses’ but what he actually said was 'Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.'
Before I invite a barrage of debate here, I must point out that I am really not interested in debating this.
These are purely my humble opinions based on happenings and circumstances that have shaped my own life.
Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and it is, of course, for every individual to decide otherwise.