The Alchemist

“For the once-alchemist
Full of golden regrets
He gave up all his strength
And put it to the test”

It would not be inaccurate to say that this ballad is based on a fairy tale, albeit a modern one. I’ll save myself the embarrassment of telling you outright, but I’m sure you can make an educated guess.

This is a hold-over from my early song-writing days. Poetry and songwriting were a little more fluidly intertwined then, and my songs were often written as ballads. I’ve since moved away from this style, but it’s not without its charms. Looking back on these lyrics, I am a little surprised at how clever/well-thought-out some of the references are (see smaragdine). I’m less impressed with my singing and my inability to find spaces to breathe throughout most of the song. Ah, well. C’est la vie. I can work on a single song until I’m blue in the face without  being satisfied,  but I have to get rid of them at some point. I have several more in the cue, so stay tuned….


There was a time not long ago
When a destitute man sold his wretched soul
To a greater cause— the safety of
An infant in lambskin clothes
The child born of a frabjous “was”,
And an aluminum man with vulnerable jaws
A heart of glass, but if you ask
It’s the least of his flaws

The man’s an alchemist
A lead-to-golden mess
He takes an empty plate and
Watches all the rest
He’s got no Midas touch
But he is mighty rushed
To find that golden boy,
His cure will leave you crushed

20 years fade and he’s tripping on
The lying tale from a serpent tongue
A whispered kiss that might have missed
The mark burned black and long
He’s twisted metals into bought time
And warped the fabric of this fragile mind
The boy’s confused by the smaragdine bruise
On our tin can knight sublime
It’s a secret kept like a quiet night
A guilty grip holding far too tight
He’s ruffled sheets but he won’t sleep
Vanished at first daylight

The man’s an alchemist
A lead-to-golden mess
He takes an empty plate and
Watches all the rest
He’s got no Midas touch
But he is mighty rushed
To find that golden boy,
His cure will leave you crushed

Upon his face the war’s been carved
No veneer left, just his savage art
To be gazed upon by lambskins donned
In a posthumously played part
A mighty god fills a mighty tomb
While his statue reigns o’er a lesser gloom
In an orchard raised by the boy he saved
And who keeps its beds abloom

For the once-alchemist
Full of golden regrets
He gave up all his strength
And put it to the test
He’s got the martyr’s touch
Being in such a rush
To sacrifice his life for
Lion boy he crushed

lyrics written c. 2010

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