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  • Writer's pictureChloë March


How the sensual optimism yet deep melancholy of Spring has inspired many of my songs

Still from 'May' video by Chloë March/Post Production Cam Merton ©

I tend to write a lot of my songs in winter when I’m more hunkered down and introspective and the bleak, beautiful landscape is more melancholy. But I also get incredibly inspired by the Spring. I’ve recently collated 'Bloom' a new playlist on Spotify of my songs there that have a connection to or are inspired by Spring.

'Ice Release' is one of my most obviously Spring-inspired songs and one of my favourites from my back catalogue.

'On velvet moss

Scattered with water drops

Of the melting snow

I’m watching the Spring and way it begins…'

This song appears on my 2008 album 'Divining', an album inspired by water in all its forms. I can remember the place I was when the spark of the idea for this song began. We were on a beautiful walk in Yorkshire that wound through a woodland near the waterfall Janet’s Foss. It was a very cold but bright day in April when that intense fresh green is appearing in the undergrowth with the moss, the wild garlic and the young nettles.

There is something about the sensuality of the contrast of that icy cold clarity in the air with the softness of new spring growth and blossom that energises my imagination. My song 'Orchardie' (on 'Blood-Red Spark' 2017) also came from that same feeling:

'I’ll wait here in the first warm sun of the day

On the fragile edge between bloom and freeze

Ankle-deep in velvet blossom sea'

As well as the beauty and the sensuality of Spring, there is also the inspiration that comes from that powerful rush of hopefulness and creation of new life. It’s a time when I feel both connected to the past and to the future. It’s a moment of change that happens so fast but must be deeply embedded in our collective memories. I think perhaps there is always something creative about these moments or times that are between states. And now, as we are spinning so dangerously close towards destroying our natural world and our ancient seasonal rhythms, I feel the pull of Spring even more intensely. I need to trust in it, but I am also frightened that one day it may not happen. The title and warning of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book 'Silent Spring' is terrifying. But in 'Orchardie' I was still seeking solace in the inevitability of Spring.

'I trust in the spring

I trust in the bloom and the blossoming'

'Turn Fox Then' (on 'Starlings & Crows' 2020) touches on my anxieties and sense of loss about the natural world. I grew up in the Warwickshire/Worcestershire countryside in the '70’s and '80’s and even though I remember changes happening due to destructive pesticides and road building etc, my memories are of seeing so many more insects, birds, trees, hedgerows and fields of wild flowers that I would go to at different times of year to see poppies or cowslips or wild dog-roses. And I suppose, obviously, there is something very different about being young in the Spring to being older and each year carrying the memory of all the Springs gone before. Last year during the pandemic was particularly extraordinary. The lack of aeroplanes and traffic meant that the air in April and May was crystal clear and sweet. I could smell the blossom and flowers even just walking through suburban streets. The clarity and astonishing beauty of the Spring clashed so horribly with what was happening to people. It created a deep nostalgia in me. Mostly probably longing for times before the pandemic, but also the quiet and clear air triggered memories of an intense physicality.

'Long since gone those flowers those fields…'

'Primavera' is another favourite from my album 'Divining' as it features my sister Emma Bell on French Horn. There is a melancholy to it but it’s quite a pulsing, optimistic and energised track. 'Wild Cherries' (from 'Blood-Red Spark') written some years later, is definitely more melancholy and 'May' from 2009 is the most melancholy of all on this playlist. It was partly inspired by the name of a flower: 'Miss Willmott's Ghost'. I had a powerful image of a woman in a garden, waiting in a beautiful dawn half-light, on the same day every year. I couldn’t decide if she was a ghost herself, or if she was waiting for a ghost, but I knew I wanted to write a song about her and about a partner left behind.

Still from 'May' video by Chloë March/Post Production Cam Merton ©

The other powerful inspiration for me during the Spring is the birdsong. I get a bit obsessed with it and am especially mesmerised by the sound of the dawn chorus. We live in quite a big valley and the extraordinary pulsing of dawn birdsong reverberates around the streets and gardens here. Possibly the most left-field of my songs so far 'Hyper-Arboreal' (from 'Garden On The Boulevard' 2009) was an attempt to translate the feelings of dizzy otherworldliness this creates in me into a soundscape.

When I’m immersed in the dawn chorus it does feel to me like another dimension. The natural world unfolding in its utterly beautiful and powerful way, completely oblivious and unconcerned with us. It feels like opening a door to another world, purely through sound.

This EP isn’t yet on Spotify ~ here is the track so you can hear how I tried to re-create that feeling:

This year Spring has felt different of course. I haven’t felt as uplifted by it because of all that’s happened, and I’m worried about how things will turn out over the coming months. But I hope that feeling of renewal and creativity will come back in those moments when I can feel more connected to the natural world. I will try to let it all in, the joy and the grief.

I hope you enjoy the playlist x

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