Azul Lago (2014)

Copyright Paul C Hanson and Chris Wagoner 2014
Lyrics and melody by Paul C. Hanson
Arrangement by Chris Wagoner
Musicians: Chris Wagoner (violin and vocals), Mary Gaines (bass), Doug Brown (guitar), Jordan Read
Sound engineer: Tom Blaine

The word order in the title, Azul Lago, suggests a human element to the song – blue, as in a lake – a metaphor for what we see in another’s eyes.   For me, it also speaks of the lost opportunity when someone close to us leaves and the difficulty in recreating the past as we seek to understand what we’ve lost.  The lyric borrows an idea from science, “Time hides the proof, we can’t find the truth, just stories our memories belie.”  A past veiled in mystery is a concept familiar to scientists who always are working with partial information when trying to stitch together a story. Stories are muddled by uncertainty in what we have observed and how we interpret it.

I wrote this song in honor of my father, Wallace Hanson, and for anyone who has lost a father before having the opportunity of truly understanding him.  Dad was intensely shy in a crowd, but open, friendly, and accepting of everyone who was part of his life.  You could see that in his blue eyes. He was a victim of Alzheimer’s, and in the last few months of his life, slipped quietly away.

There are two recordings of “Azul Lago”, and in both, Chris Wagoner has managed to draw out the intensity and meaning behind the song by recording violin and improvised vocals in unison – in one take.  The solos section, book-ended by Erik Radloff’s driving drum, features both Chris and Doug Brown, who continues his improvisation through the end of the song.  The three sections of “Azul Lago” are in the earlier version (2015 release), which includes Jordan Read on drums; however, the 2016 release has only the middle section.  In the full piece, the rubato introduction laments the loss.  The driving middle section is life, and the closing, again recorded only in the original, is an answer.  The mariner’s feel of 6/8 time represents Dad’s service in the Navy during WW II, a time of great pride for him and a place to where he returned as he slipped backward in time during the last few months of his life.

The credit for arrangement, like most of our pieces, goes to Chris.

-PC Hanson