About Songs of William Blake

'Songs of William Blake' album cover artKevin Hutchings writes: The CD Songs of William Blake features original musical interpretations of fourteen poems that Blake composed in the late eighteenth century. First published in Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794), Blake’s poems explore themes of love, community, and visionary imagination. As a writer of protest songs nearly two centuries before Bob Dylan reinvigorated the genre in the 1960s, Blake also composed lyrics attacking political oppression and institutional corruption during the revolutionary era we now refer to as the Romantic period.

Recent decades have witnessed an impressive surge of interest in Blake’s life, poetry, paintings, and designs. But modern-day enthusiasts all too often forget that Blake composed melodies for many of his early poems, and that he occasionally sang these songs for his friends and acquaintances. Because he lacked a musical education, however, Blake never scored his poems’ musical settings; hence, when he died in 1827, his melodies—which were said to have been very beautiful—were lost. My CD attempts to imagine Blake’s famous poems as songs rather than as mere words on a page.

In addition to my own guitar and vocal work, the album features performances by Sahra Featherstone (Celtic harp, violin, whistles, harmony vocals), Jason Fowler (finger-style guitar), Joe Phillips (double bass), and other hot players. It also includes a 24-page booklet containing Blake’s lyrics, related artwork, and a substantial liner-note essay about the poet’s life and musicianship.

The year 2007 marks the 250th anniversary of Blake’s birth, and I offer my musical performances of Blake’s poems as a birthday tribute to a man whose art has enriched my life. I hope listeners will enjoy the CD as much as I have enjoyed the process of its creation!

The CD is available for purchase online through Indie Pool, a Toronto-based international distributor of independent musical recordings. Just click through, and follow the easy instructions.

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