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7.33-NIGHTFALL (Incredible String Band)

Robin Williamson & Mike Heron
Robin Williamson & Mike Heron

LISTEN

Nightfall night,
River of night flow through me
Washing thoughts of the day on your waters away
For the morrow that dawns never knew me.

Nightfall night,
Nightfall folding her dark locks around you
Her eyes they have found you
Would show you this new dream they're holding.

[Break]

O sleep o come to me.
You who are night's daughter.
And I'll give you my eyes for the colors that rise
As time's echoes reflect on your water.

[Coda]


Nightfall is the last song of The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and as a pleading for sleep, it is a bit of a lullaby, and a fitting finale. (Later in 1968, the Beatles would place a lullaby Good Night as the final song of their White Album.) The major instrument of accompaniment is the sitar, which occasionally pairs up, as during the break and coda, with what I believe is the high pitched plucked string of an oud, but perhaps it is a mandolin. This combination of sounds tugs at my heart.

The lyric itself again has a liturgical feel (as in the Water Song) with its prayerful tone, though this time it evokes an Arabic tradition rather than a European one. Each verse begins with an arabesque vocal flourish. As before, there’s much personification of natural phenomenon, with sleep being “night’s daughter”. Sleep reduces time itself to mere echoes between waking moments, its continuity broken for continual little rebirths to dawns that “never knew me”.

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