Rosko's Book of Songs and Visions: Do Was a Deer / by Sam Abelow

The multi-headed image, here in a close-up detail from my painting, reveals varied aspects of what the feminine contained within my psyche. She is an early emergence of the soul within me: earthly and erotic; an innocent doe; a terrifying, exotic mask.

Her personality is full of primal energy; this is attractive and mysterious. The foremost face is akin to Paul Gauguin's paintings of Tahitian women.

The full scene reveals the natural world, which surrounds my instinctual, primal, seductive image of the feminine. Her height and slender waist are like the tall and slanted trees and branches. Her long limbs are like the vines of the jungle, which swing across the backdrop.

All of this lush greenery and natural life breaths with fertilizing energies. And yet, within all this worldliness, she remains immaterial; her purple skin indicates that she is surreal and in all of her bodily beauty, she is transcendent and ethereal.

Long after completing this painting, in the process of researching symbolism and writing this, I came across Lucas Cranach’s vision of Adam and Eve from 1526. This Renaissance painting places many deer, as well as a lion and sheep around the tree and fruit that infamously tempt Eve.

It is the knowledge of their nakedness that the Serpent reveals. This allegory places femininity as the catalyst for the “fall of man” into sin. It was an undeveloped, or undifferentiated view, which not only diminished the role of women, but also the capacity for men to relate to the “feminine psychological tendencies, such as prophetic hunches, intuitions, moods, receptivity, capacity for personal love, a feeling for nature, and his relation to the unconscious.” [Click here for source.]

In 2012, I had been living out in the woods, in a small cottage. One afternoon, as I was bumping along the rough driveway, surrounded by thick overgrowth, a small female deer hopped past. I came to my studio and began to sing the opening lines of the song.

Just as the “The Sound of Music” equated the musical identification “Do” with the female deer, “Doe,” I did the same. She is music, she is sound.

At the time, I was using a technique of stream of consciousness for lyrical compositions. For me, this meant playing the music and singing, without forethought or intention, and then recalling the words which happened to come out, during that heightened moment of trance or inspiration.

In those instances, when the “muse” decided to strike, the words proved to be rich, yet abstract, puzzling and yet evocative. I also believe that they reveal the deeper psychological state of mind, which was intuitively grasped in the freestyle activity. 

A longtime favorite of mine —  since being composed throughout 2012 — I decided to re-envision the enigmatic tune, while staying true to the original sentiment. 

The first section was recorded live. I played acoustic guitar and sang, while James Southworth sat behind the drum kit. 

Next, the second section was stitched in. It was also recorded live, this time with James on the Indian drums, known as Tablas. 

With the two parts collaged, I overdubbed piano as well as slide guitar. Other musicians include, overdubs of bass, by Forrest Savage, and back-up, harmony vocals from Madeline Horrigan. 

For "Birth Certificate: The Basement Tapes" I have sourced all of my favorite, most memorable, most potent songs from the years 2011 through 2014. This culmination of many years worth of songwriting, comes together in a purposefully loose, raw and understated form.

Download free in MP3:

The album is also available to stream on Bandcamp, Spotify, Tidal and on iTunes for purchase.