I Have Seen

Lyrics: © 1984, 1994, 2002 by Neville Potter
Music: © 1986, 1994 by Michael Strand

Before you listen to the music, you should read the lyrics, which I "sound-painted". The recordings are only demos which you might look upon as a draft, which shall show the potential but also complexity of the work. Now the composition is like a slide-show, where the pictures change too fast. The idea is to extend the transitions between verses with instrumental parts. The drum-part in the "ouverture" will probably be kicked out, and by using real instruments, the dynamics will also change a lot, and so can the tempo.

The time codes after the verses relate to version 1 with only 17 verses, and time codes in blue relate to version 2 which has 19 verses.

  1. 3:46I have seen the dawn of the universe,
    (while) standing, bold and proud.
    The game to end all games they laughed,
    then wrapped it in a bitter shroud.
    While the horsemen of the Apocalypse,
    rode swiftly o'er the crowd,
    and you'll likely feel I'm a foolish man
    to tell this tale out loud.
  2. 9:48 6:01I've seen the eyes of a soul in pain,
    distraught by the wrath of fools;
    entrapped by aesthetic promises;
    laced with the stings of the cruel,
    wondering why he left his home
    to taste their bitter gruel.
    Hoping that someday, somehow,
    he'd overcome the tyrants' deadly rule.
  3. I've seen the glow of a bright new star
    reflect in a stagnant pool;
    dimmed by the mindless bigotry
    expressed in the words of a fool.
    Determined more to shine in spite
    of all who'd stem its fuel.
    Knowing that through trust and love
    could come to shine, a better world renewed.
  4. 10:54 7:25I've seen the building of the pyramids,
    to hide the treasure rare.
    Entombment of the living flesh
    to serve the pharaoh's lair.
    Visitations in the night,
    creating a great despair.
    A million violations of a caring being
    and no one seemed to care,
    and no one seemed to care.
  5. 12:10 8:26I've seen a knight scale battlements
    no mortal man could climb,
    to rescue from that cruel black prince,
    a princess pure and kind;
    and seen him smote an evil spell,
    that through their hearts had been entwined.
    To live to share an honoured life
    in which themselves they'd find.
  6. I've seen conquistadors embark
    to conquer unknown lands.
    I've seen them sell their souls for gold
    abandoning all pious stands
    defenseless in their faithless faith.
    Retribution now demands
    that all be made to pay a price
    for wasted hope and bloodstained hands.
  7.    10:19I've seen the hurricane awake
    on a golden balmy day;
    to punish all but the stoutest barks
    who deep within its jaws did stray,
    with black green walls of sea and spume
    like devil's armies on display.
    But there were always fearless men
    who would never yield to dark dismay.
  8. 14:00 11:15I've seen the tempest's anger pound,
    upon a hull of oak.
    I've heard its timbers creek and moan,
    as the violent sea inflicts its stroke.
    And many ships have failed to see
    the welcome dawn unfold its cloak.
    They only live as legends now,
    but of them a thousand tales are spoke.
  9. 15:27 12:57I've seen a thousand armies bold
    a marching off to war:
    Byzantine, Persian, Mongol hordes.
    And each one felt he knew the score,
    but all who won and all who lost,
    are marching bold no more.
    And silence stalks the battlefields,
    wondering what it all was for.
  10. 17:26 15:18I saw a young boy lose his dog
    and fight to hide his tears.
    I saw him search and search the land,
    till darkness swamped his fears.
    With blooded feet he walked the land,
    his purpose strong and clear:
    to find a friend, who for him
    was something more than dear,
    was more than dear.
  1. 18:27 16:21I saw a gentle man shot down,
    that made me feel unreal.
    I cried for those whose pain is such
    that they no more can feel.
    In times of hate I searched for love,
    in famine searched for meal.
    And even though he died with naught,
    I saw a man refuse to steal.
  2. 19:25 17:22I saw a mighty river flood;
    I watched it taunt the morning dew.
    Upon a golden throne I sat,
    holding orb and scepter too.
    I've given knighthoods, taken heads,
    and watched as discontentment grew.
    I faced the pain at Agincourt,
    when stronger men they all but flew.
  3. 21:00 18:58I've seen an empire built and lost,
    while most men sat and wondered why.
    Not one man stood to boldly ask,
    why empires strongly built must die.
    But it was clear when screams of terror,
    filled the crimson sky,
    that having more but serving less
    brings mighty kings to cry,
    yes, having more but serving less
    brings mighty kings to cry.
  4. I've seen false prophets take their toll
    on men who seemed so strong.
    Misled by leaders' frantic cries,
    fanatically being wrong.
    But there are those who won't accept
    that fatalistic throng;
    who won't succumb to fixed ideas,
    as puppets fed a battle song.
  5. 22:24 20:24I've seen the books of wisdom burned
    by men who claimed to know
    what minds should see,
    what minds should read,
    what seeds a man should sow.
    I've yearned for knowledge as for love.
    'T was always such a blow
    to feel suppression's mindless bonds,
    while wanting so to fully grow.
  6. 23:54 21:57I've seen once more the mushroom clouds
    that sent a shiver through my spine,
    and breathed for those who breathed the dust
    that permeated such a crime;
    and screamed for those who could not scream,
    through throats that burned like lime;
    and wept for those who could not weep.
    They never had the time.
  7. I've seen a city skyline changed,
    by an evil spawned through mindless hate.
    Twin Towers turned to twisted steel,
    as the song of death played at the gate.
    But many heroes heard that deathly song,
    and ran to cleanse the bloodstained slate.
    Yet no one thought to fail the test,
    and no one thought to wait.
  8. I've seen the price of freedom paid,
    by the few who know they must
    defend with constant vigilance.
    Those guardians of a sacred trust.
    And there are times when some must die,
    to keep a people free,
    with willingness to sacrifice
    for precious Lady Liberty,
    for Lady Liberty.
  9. 25:58 24:03I've seen a man who dreamed a dream
    that all mankind could share,
    who taught that truth and love could win,
    where lies and hate had built a snare.
    Then seen him left by those he helped
    who somehow seemed to dare,
    to throw his dreams back in his face,
    and leave him hanging bare,
    and leave him hanging there.
  1. 27:16 25:22I've seen the hope of a wistful child,
    exuberant with joy,
    and felt the warmth of a love so pure,
    that no man could alloy.
    I saw him drink the morning sun,
    that quadrillion-year-old boy,
    and gazed upon the Milky Way,
    as if it were his favourite toy.
  2.    27:01I watched a galaxy unfold
    felt wonder as it grew.
    I've seen the universal hope
    in a newborn's smiling eyes of blue.
    But there are some who'd cloud those eyes
    and visions of the few,
    who dare to look beyond this world
    for other worlds to view.
  3. 28:26 28:26I've seen this solar system's mass
    from every point of view,
    from Venus, Pluto, Saturn, Mars
    and even asteroids I knew.
    But Earth impacts and Earth detracts,
    the visions of the few,
    who dare to look beyond this world,
    for other worlds to view.
  4. 30:24 29:55I've seen a wild rose bring to life,
    a wretched desert stark and burned,
    from eons fraught with dust and drought,
    a host of rainbows now returned.
    A place where songs of hope are sung,
    where once survival's voice was spurned.
    The dawning of a brand new world
    where life's true lessons can be learned.
  5. I've seen enigmas disentwined,
    revealing futures filled with pride.
    The longings of eternal dreams,
    awakening a worldly maligned.
    A hope for all mankind to share,
    his better nature now defined.
    A bigger, better game for sure,
    immortal travellers so inclined.
  6. Be sure, I've glimpsed a bright new day,
    confronting with no compromise
    a vision of a better world, discerned,
    despite the doubting of "the wise".
    And though it may be long and hard,
    we will not fantasize.
    We'll keep the will to see it through,
    to hold the line, to break the ties.
  7. 31:51 31:35Yes, now I've seen the key to life
    unfold before my eager eyes.
    The mysteries of the universe, revealed,
    emblazoned over cloudless skies.
    And all we have to do is want to reach
    and wish to shed the lies.
    To find a better way to live,
    to set the goals, to reach the prize.
    And all we have to do is want to reach
    and wish to shed the lies.
    To find a better way to live
    to set the goals and reach the prize.
    Let's find a better way to live
    let's find a better way to give
    let's set the goals and reach the prize.
    And all we have to do is want to reach
    and wish to shed the lies.
    To find a better way to live
    to set the goals and reach the prize.

Surplus vers:

I've watched a young girl shed the bonds
of a repressive company.
Overcoming fierce reproach
to her unquestioned right to be.
But there still lurks the wrath of those
who sight pious blasphemy
when faced with loss of specious powers,
and fear of spirits being free.


Some comment about the lyrics

At the end of the nineties there were quite a number of newspaper articles in the Norwegian papers about the pakistanian writer Taslima Nasrim, and the priesthood that had put a death sentence on her head for her criticism of the malpractice and misinterpretation of the Koran. To this occasion I asked Neville to write two new verses. After the terror-attack on the Twin Towers in New York city, Neville wrote several new verses in 2002.

If you want to read the lyrics while listening to the music, you have to skip the following verses:
Version 1: Verses 3, 6, 7, 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, 25
Version 2: Verses 3, 6, 14, 17, 18, 24, 25 (all indented)

I Have Seen, version 1

This is the original, first version, which has a longer ouverture than the second version and the original 17 verses. Some of the instruments' voices drowned or disappeared in the mix because of time problems. (A big thank you to Øystein Boassen who back then worked at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, and helped me with his time and know-how for free.)
During the intro there is a drum-part, where the bass drum got lost in the mix, and therefore this drumming might sound kind of awkward, and during the verse starting with «I saw a mighty river flood» the cello-voice got drowned in the mix. Both of these problems are fixed in the second version, but the piano is not loud enough.

Musicians:

Michael Strand - Sequencer programming of all instruments and voices, guitars and lead vocals
Other vocals: Ingvil Strand, Richard Ogilvy, "Lella"
Right-click the link I-Have-Seen-1st.mp3 to download the file (46,62 MB!)

I Have Seen, version 2

In connection with a Norwegian competion I ordered two new verses from Neville, and rearranged the piece to some extent. This recording was made on a 4-track cassette deck, and therefore lacks "space" in the soundscape. The lead-singer, Stig Olav Gjendem, had the ungratifying task to sing the whole piece in just one day, without much practice, and we did not harmonize so well.
Many parts, e.g. the last two verses, are rearranged, and I added more guitar.

Musicians:

Michael Strand - Sequencer programming of all instruments and voices, guitars and vocals
Stig Olav Gjendem - lead vocals
Right-click the link I-Have-Seen-2nd.mp3 to download the file (46 MB!)

Plans and ideas for further arrangement

If you are interested, you might want to read this page.

Her kan du lese om noen av mine tanker rundt bakgrunnen og forklaring til teksten.