Sunday, October 10, 2010

“Guinnevere” - An Island Mystery

My wife Pam and I went to Brookfield Zoo today. It was perfect, warm and sunny afternoon for seeing the animals, especially a family of meerkats, and a tiger that thrilled the crowd with some energetic hijinx. While we were sitting at an outside cafe eating ice cream, two peacocks walked right past our table. The line, “peacocks wandered aimlessly” from the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song “Guinnevere” immediately came to mind.

Last year, I featured a different spooky song each day in October for a feature I called 31 Songs For Halloween. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off anything that ambitious this season, but I would like to bring back some of the profiles for those who might not have seen them the first time around.

Alfred Hitchcock understood that sometimes what is unseen is more terrifying than what is clearly visible. “Guinnevere,” a haunting folk rock tale from the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash record, plays a similar game of suspense. Set in a lush tropical paradise with peacocks and orange trees, and conveyed through gorgeous harmony vocals, the song describes two beautiful but doomed young women. One, Guinnevere has mysteriously vanished, perhaps a consequence of having dabbled in the occult with pentagrams. The second woman seems to be following in her footsteps.

Writer David Crosby casts himself as a sailor who has romanced both women, and it’s left unclear as to whether he’s an instrument in their destruction or just a helpless observer. See “The Lee Shore” for another of Crosby’s mysterious seafaring yarns.


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