Lovely music for Brontëmaniacs
http://www.greenmonkeyrecords.com/wordpress/catalog_Goblin_Gondal.php With Olivia Spenser as Charlotte Brontë and Jonah Bomgaars as M. Heger. Filmed by Carlt...
The Goblin Market is a long-time side project of Green Pajamas members Laura Weller and Jeff Kelly. The music draws inspiration from both art and literature. The duo’s third and latest album, Beneath Far Gondal’s Foreign Sky, takes another foray into 19th century England with a focus on the work of the Bronte sisters. The songs focus primarily on Emily, author of Wuthering Heights as well as numerous poems, many of which the subject is the imaginary land of Gondal, a place conceived by Emily in her youth.
The songs on their first album, Ghostland, focused on 19th century England, including Pre-Raphaelite art and poetry. In fact, the name Goblin Market comes from the famous Christina Rossetti poem written at the height of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Their second record, Haunted, featured songs inspired by the writings of American author Joyce Carol Oates, especially her more "gothic" short stories and novels.
True confessions of a Brontëmaniac
Kate Bush. I blame her for my Brontë sisters fixation. Well – actually I guess it was, in truth, my wife. We were in the car, listening to Wuthering Heights and I was saying – man, what a great song. Susanne said: “Have you ever read the book?”
I said, no.
“Oh my god, Jeff. You absolutely have to read that book!”
And that was the start.
But I think the first book I read in this regard was The Brontë Story by Margaret Lane, a biography based around Mrs. Gaskell famous The Life of Charlotte Brontë. This is where it first started getting interesting for me.
The family’s story is as fascinating as the fiction they wrote and one tends to find oneself, via the diaries, letters, recollections by others, poems and, ultimately, their fiction, in a very…voyeuristic position. You start to really get to know these girls; you see them running from a storm blowing hard off the moor; Emily in the kitchen making bread; playing their – as Charlotte called them – “bed games” and living in their imaginary worlds of Glass Town, Angria, Gondal.
You feel close to them as they are growing up; you see them pace by the fire, reading each other the latest chapters of their works in progress – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Anne’s, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – as the rain pours on the gravestones just outside the front window. One gains a vivid mental image of Emily, coming into the Black Bull inn each night to collect her troubled brother, Branwell, and walk him – probably more like carry him - home.
Their lives are well documented and yet…there is the stuff that never got written down. And that presents to us an enduring mystery: What happened in those minutes and hours and days in between?
Like many before me, I became obsessed with the Brontës, especially Emily, who became, truly, an infatuation. As I read Wuthering Heights, I found myself thinking of what she may have been thinking while she wrote down the lines. What she was wearing while she wrote them down. I imagined her in her small room, writing her musical poems as the night wind “waved her hair.”
I learned that Charlotte later edited her manuscript poems for publication, which I found extremely annoying; how could one hope to go in and “fix” such beautiful language? (In setting her poems, I have only ever used the original manuscript versions.)
I wondered what she looked like in real life, when she smiled or cried. How her skin smelled, her hair felt. I wanted to get in a time machine and go back there. I imagined what it might have been like, walking along a dirt road and suddenly coming upon Emily and Charlotte, two anonymous girls in their little carriage, on a day trip to Leeds.
The strange thing is, I slowly started to realize that there were thousands of others just like me. Obsessed.
Imagine then my shock while in 1999 touring their home, now a museum, and seeing an actual lock of Emily’s hair! (It had been cut off to save, in the tradition of the time, shortly after her death.)
I kept going back to that room, that glass case and looking again and again. She was real, not some mythical thing I had dreamed up. I was hesitant to finally leave.
Hence my song, The Lock:
A piece of you, there is a lock
Nothing more and nothing less
It blew wild in the moorland rain
Felt your sister’s caress
The lonely nights above the graves
It brushed against your face
And if I could I’d take it
Steal it from this case
And if I could, I’d kiss it and hide it away
So that no one was as close to you as me
Still this song is not completely autobiographical. I like to think of it as an homage in a way, to the others who suffer from acute brontëmania, some afflicted with the disease far worse than me, destined to suffer a lifetime.
And it is also a tribute to Emily who, in Wuthering Heights, wrote about obsession in a frightful manner. She, I think, was one of us.
I could carry on and on about the beautiful prose of Jane Eyre, the unimaginable heartbreak of Patrick Brontë’s long outliving his wife and all six children, the breathtaking beauty of Haworth moor and the joy of drinking a pint with my family in the very Black Bull inn where Branwell got shit-faced every night. And the truly otherworldly quality of Wuthering Heights, the only book I’ve ever read twice.
And I will happily do so if you corner me in a bar sometime and say, tell me about the Brontës.
Suffice to say, this new record is Laura’s and my very humble tribute to some very shy sisters who – as it turns out – just so happened to change fucking everything. They were the foundation of the gothic revival in literature: the virginal Charlotte and Emily imagining and then writing down the two greatest romances of all time – Charlotte in her refined and perfect language, Emily, in her sensual and queer… Plainly, there is truly nothing else like Wuthering Heights.
Luckily, Charlotte lived to see the success of Jane Eyre though she would of course never know its great influence.
Emily died on the parsonage sofa at 29 years old, never even to begin to imagine, in that December of 1848, the success of her novel or how it would affect so much and so many, right up to this day.
Winter eyes, gray to blue
You, the one whose only lover was the moon…