Grandfather

27 Nov 2014 ‘Grandfather’ Save

Forty innocent people hiding in an underground hole. The Armenian genocide. A mother holds her hungry baby and is forced to do the unthinkable to keep her baby quiet. My grandfather, sole survivor of his family, weeps each time we come to visit. Carola Baer.

Lyrics
She cradled her in her arms
Kept her quiet while they walked on
1000 lights 1000 times
A fire I can’t put out

Each story I can’t tell here
You know them all because they are real
1000 times
1000 lives
What did you get?
What did you get?

He lived to tell
His eyes would cry each time we came on by
He lived to tell
His eyes would cry each time we came on by

What you saw
What you saw
What you saw

We will never really know
We will never really know
We will never really know

She cradled her in her arms
Kept her quiet why they walked on
1000 times
1000 lives
1000 times
1000 lives
What did you get?
What did you get?

A poem, by Siamanto (translated into English from the original Armenian)

Asphyxiated

In the underground man made hole, forty people
scared like a herd of sheeps, being hunted by the sandstorm
scared of death, in the four walls we all squeezed

Empty silence heavy with fear, no noise, no breathe, lips shut
our looks all scary and mean, looking at each, wishing death for others
from sunrise until next sunrise like this, quiet and hungry, like the stones of the cemetery
on our bodies we applied the fear
lot of us just chewing their fingers from the anxiety and the stress of the fear

But under the sun, thousands of ungodly barbaric murderers
not tired from demolishing our fertile fields and houses
they were looking for our hiding place, they wanted our death

And in the underground hole, with fear, fear, fear
We heard the gunshots and the noise of the swords,
like the noise of the lightening under the sun
and bodies, bodies, bodies on the roof of our hole
like rootless trees were falling down
and the noise and moans of dying people was coming through the walls, driving us crazy
And from the roof, that was covering us like a casket
the hot blood started dripping on our faces through the roof made of soil

But a newborn started crying loud and sharp
our traitor was going to be that innocent soul
a decision, a murder would be our only hope
When the crying mother whispered
-God have mercy on us, my breasts are dry, I don’t have a drop of milk left, I even let my blood be sucked,
I don’t have anything left, decide whatever you want
-We should choke him, said someone with his angry arm in the air
– Must be asphyxiated whispered forty people at the same time
– Asphyxiate me first and than my child
-They heard us, they are already digging our roof
– We were all betrayed, they were digging the roof
The soil is dropping on us, we can see the light
– I beg you, choke me first and than my child,
here is my neck and the neck of my child
– And the Armenian mother extended her neck and the neck of her child in the dark
In the dark, two arms like snakes, they found the child’s neck and squeezed hard

Silence, this time in the hole was a storm
To me, for a moment, felt like we all were dead
for a moment, the bloodthirsty crowd thinking that they were mistaken,
hopeless, started leaving
Did we survive ? Slaves get saved ? Is this how we should be saved ?

And every day that poor woman half naked, standing on the roads
strangers, travelers, enemy and foreigners
hanging on their cloths begs them madly
– This hands that you see, this hands that you see
I choked my newborn with these hands in the hole
Believe me, I choked my own child, what kind of people are you
at least choke me too, my hands are not strong enough
it was me that choked my newborn with all my strength
don’t you have heart and mercy, choke me, my hands don’t have any strength to do it myself

Siamanto

 

Production Notes

This was performed in the studio largely in a single take, with the spoken intro and David’s bvs added later. All string sounds and lead guitar sounds were from a Guitar Synth. Carola sang and played acoustic guitar. With the centenary of the Armenian Genocide coming up in April 2015, we plan to add some spoken Armenian poetry to this track to make it more poignant to that memory.