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*10.10-AIR (Incredible String Band)

Incredible String Band

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[Intro]

Breathing,
All creatures are
Brighter than the brightest star
You are, by far.

You come right inside of me
Close as you can be.
You kiss my blood
And the blood kiss me.

[Break 2x]

[Repeat 1st & 2nd verses]

[Coda]


Wee Tam and Big Huge were two parts of a double album by the Incredible String Band, sold separately, as Donovan had done with Wear Your Love Like Heaven and For Little Ones. These albums are the last that TLA will note of the Incredible String Band, as they quickly lost favor and influence with the waning of the psychedelic aesthetic. By late 1968, the ISB had become less of a collaborative effort between Mike Heron and Robin Williamson, and more of a “group” with the additional frequent use of the voices of their girlfriends, Rose Simpson and Licorice McKechnie. The Incredible String Band’s use of girlfriends on record as sharing the role of lead singer preceded by a year or two John Lennon & Yoko Ono as well as Paul McCartney & Linda Eastman. [It is true that Rasa Dicpetri sang with her husband Ray Davies on Village Green Preservation Society, but she is mixed so low as to be hardly noticeable. And it is true that pop groups in general—think Sonny & Cher, Mimi & Richard Fariña, John & Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & Papas—didn’t have a problem with including girlfriends and wives. But women in psychedelic music were rare.]

The titles of these albums seem to relate to “huge” or complex and “wee” or simple songs. Air is one of the wee ones, repeating the same melodic line ten times, four of which are for repeating two verses of lyrics with humming behind as harmony. Otherwise, the accompanying instruments, a Hammond organ, and acoustic guitar and a flute, continue without much variation of texture throughout. The song seems to have been composed for immediate retention of the simple homespun melody. Air is a continuation of praise to the four classical elements which was begun in The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, a companion to the Water Song, noted in these pages. The effect of the song is churchlike, ecclesiastical. Such songs by the Incredible String Band make the group popular when making lyrical choices for liturgy among such faiths as the Anglicans and Unitarians. Air, for instance, could be presented as in praise of God, in a similar sense to the Hindu understanding of Prāṇa (breath).

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