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Incredible String Band

hedgehogs and mad hatters
you can all join in
for the benefit of mr. kite
Incredible String Band
the song has no ending
Eric Clapton
Fairport Convention
liege & lief
i can ride my bike around the room
Mabel Greer's Toyshop
signs and wonders
the 14 hour technicolour dream
John Peel
clowns, lullabies and butterflies
El Pea
Burnin' Red Ivanhoe
A Gift From A Flower To A Garden
Family: Music In A Doll's House

Incredible String Band. the official website

"For those of us who fell in love with the ISB, there was a feeling of breathing the air of a very expansive imagination indeed."
-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Five Thousand Spirits Singing and Gladly Dancing

Incredible String Band,Fillmore West,Sept. 10 1969

Of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, they sing, of the tales that haunt our our hearts and souls they sing, and life is made sweeter because of them. They touch us where others cannot see, cannot or will not, the result is the same. Of days walking by pond and stream, or along a dusty lane way, or watching the gulls wheel and cry on the breeze that comes off the ocean, the feel of the sand between your toes, and the sun's warmth softly caressing........Robin Williamson, Mike Heron and Clive Palmer are many of these, the wonderous, beautiful and joyful Songs In The Key Of Life, and have been for the passed thirty some odd years...the music of The Incredible String Band is of neither time nor place despite, or perhaps because of, the emotions they stir up
We hope you will enjoy looking at this, somewhat more colourful page, than usual, and explore the wonders to be found, through the links we've provided...............Be safe, but above all be kind and gentle to each other.
Bright Blessings

5000 Spirits or Layers of The Onion. 1967

The Hedgehog's Song

 The Hedgehog's Song
Mike Heron

I'm not the kind to complain
That I never had a girl to love.
Many a fine girl I tried hard to know,
But I think I never tried enough.

Sitting one day by myself,
And I'm thinking, "What could be wrong?"
When this funny little Hedgehog comes running up to me,
And it starts up to sing me this song.

Oh, you know all the words, and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.

Every day when the sun go down,
And the evening is so very still,
Many a fine girl I've held in my arms,
And I hope there's many more that I will,
But just when everything is going fine,
And absolutely nothing is wrong,
This funny little Hedgehog's always around
And every time he wants to sing me this song.

Oh, you know all the words, and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.

One day when the moon was full I thought I might settle down,
Found myself a pretty little girl,
And I stopped all my running around;
But just when the preacher come along,
And he's just gonna pop on the ring,
This funny little Hedgehog comes
running down the aisle,
And I don't have to tell you what he did sing.

Oh, you know all the words, and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.

I'm not the kind to complain
That I never had a girl to love;

Many fine girls I've tried hard to know,
But I think I never tried enough.
But now I'll be looking all my days,
And it isn't just me I got to please,
There's this funny little Hedgehog
Who's always around,
And the only words he ever sings to me are these.
Oh, you know all the words and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.

The Hangmans Beautiful Daughter. 1968

 Witches hat
Robin Williamson
certainly the children have seen them
in quiet places where the moss grows green
coloured shells jangle together
the wind is cold the year is old the trees whisper together
and bent in the wind they lean
next week a monkey is coming to stay
if I was a witches hat
sitting on her head like a paraffin stove
I'd fly away and be a bat
across the air I would rove
stepping like a tightrope walker
putting one foot after another
wearing black cherries for rings

Mike Heron

Winter was cold and the clothing was thin
But the gentle shepherd calls the tune
Oh dear mother what shall I do
First please your eyes and then your ears Jenny
Exchanging love tokens say goodnight
Lay down my dear sister
Won't you lay and take your rest
Won't you lay your head upon your saviours breast
And I love you but Jesus loves you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight,
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.
One of these mornings bright and early and fine.
Goodnight, goodnight
Not a cricket not a spirit going to shout me on
Goodnight, goodnight
I go walking in the valley of the shadow of death
Goodnight, goodnight
And his rod and his staff shall comfort me
Goodnight, goodnight
Oh John the wine he saw the sign
Goodnight, goodnight
Oh John say I seen a number of signs
Goodnight, goodnight
Tell A for the ark that wonderful boat
Goodnight, goodnight
You know they built it on the land getting water to float
Goodnight, goodnight
Tell B for the beast at the ending of the wood
Goodnight, goodnight
You know it ate all the children when they wouldn't be good
Goodnight, goodnight
I remember quite well, I remember quite well
Goodnight, goodnight
I was walking in Jerusalem just like John
Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.
Who would lose and who would bruise
Or who would live quite prettily?
And who would love what comes along
And fill the air with joyous song
Who would go and who would come
Or who would simply linger
And who would hide behind your chair
And steal your crystallised ginger
Nebulous nearness cry to me
At this timeless moment
Someone dear to me wants me near, makes me high
I can hear vibrations fly
Through mangoes, pomegranates and planes
All the same
When it reaches me and teaches me
To sigh
Who would mouse and who would lion
Or who would be the tamer
And who would hear directions clear
From the unameable namer

Who would skip and who would plod
Or who would like quite silly
And who would ride backwards on a giraffe
Stopping every so often to laugh
Amoebas are very small
Oh ah ee oo there's absolutely no strife
living the timeless life
I don't need a wife
living the timeless life
If I need a friend I just give a wriggle
Split right down the middle
And when I look there's two of me
Both as handsome as can be
Oh here we go slithering, here we go slithering and squelching on
Oh here we go slithering, here we go slithering and squelching on
Oh ah ee oo there's absolutely no strife
living the timeless life
Black hair brown hair feather and scale
Seed and stamen and all unnamed lives that live
Turn your quivering nerves in my direction
Turn your quivering nerves in my direction
Feel the energy projection of my cells
Wishes you well.
May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide you all the way on.

Wee Tam and The Big Huge. 1968

Robin Williamson

The dust of the rivers does murmur and weep
Hard and sharp laughter that cuts to the bone
Ah, but ever face within your face does show
Going gladly now to give himself his own
And twelve yellow willows shall fellow the shallows
Small waves and thunder be my pillow
Upon the gleaming water two swans that swim
And every place shall be my native home
The east gate like a fortress dissolve it away
The west gate like a prison O come break it down
Island I remember living here
Wandering beneath the empty skies
In time her hair grew long and swept the ground
And seven blackbirds carried it out behind
It bore the holy imprint of her mind
As green-foot slow she moved among the seasons
The great man, the great man, historians his memory
Artists his senses, thinkers his brain
Labourers his growth
Explorers his limbs
And soldiers his death each second
And mystics his rebirth each second
Businessmen his nervous system
No-hustle men his stomach
Astrologers his balance
Lovers his loins
His skin it is all patchy
But soon will reach one glowing hue
God is his soul
Infinity his goal
The mystery his source
And civilisation he leaves behind
Opinions are his fingernails
Maya Maya
All this world is but a play
Be thou the joyful player
The wanderer no sense does make
His eyes being tied in the true love's knot
The trees perceive his soul
Do not detain him long
Dear little animal dark-eyed and small
Caring for your fur with pointed paws
This hawk of truth is swift and flies with a still cry
A small sweetmeat to the eyes of night
O dandelion be thou thine
Reflecting the sun in sexual glory
In every-changing tongues
The every-changing story
The book, man, bird, woman, serpent, sea, sun
Blessed O blessed are they of the air
Your eyes are the eyes
Of the glad land
Ye twelve that will enter the seasons
The great ship, the ship of the world
Long time sailing
Mariners, mariners, gather your skills
Jesus and Hitler and Richard the Lion Heart
Three kings and Moses and Queen Cleopatra
The Cobbler, the maiden
The mender and the maker
The sickener and the twitcher
And the glad undertaker
The shepherd of willows
The harper and the archer
All sat down in one boat together
Troubled voyage in calm weather.

Robin Williamson
Only a palace with interior doors
Well painted well gargoyled with multiple floors
Two windows let free this projector machine
and the magical world here appears on the screen
My servants attend me with tricks of the senses
The past and the future and similar tenses
and on platters of air they convey me my measure
both gladness and sorrow, I lack not for treasure
The lord and his lady are seated within
In the court of the mind where the song does begin
The song is as fine is as fine is as follows
The song does continue through measureless hollows
that sink from the level of personal being
through caverns of darkness where dragons
are dwelling
The mountains above them are raised at my calling
Where the apples are ripe or the rain is a-falling
In ships of white vision I sail the horizon
where three spinners stand beyond the
horizon under the tree of the apples of beauty
I watch them arranging my days and tomorrows
The song is as fine is as fine as it follows
I stood on the beach where the moon was a-curling
Laughed on the wings of the sea birds calling
I loved when sweet Venus a lover did bring me
I cried when sweet Saturn and Jupiter moved us
and all of my servants were fighting their brothers
And the lord and the lady they hated each other
Till the spinners arose with their work on their fingers
Commanding the presence of Heavenly singers
That spoke of the silence so soon to be coming
When all would be still in the wonderful palace
The peace is not stillness but peacefully changing
This hope is the hope of the man on the gallows
The song is as fine is as fine is as follows
The infant I was in the womb of my mother
White sperm I was in the loins of my father
Before that I swam in the oceans of nowhere
Where the fish are as fine as the colour of colours
Where waves are the message of centuries rolling
Where wind is the breath of the Holy Creator
Where no ship sails but only the ocean
Where all the rivers grow mighty with showing
And crowned with the gifts of the myriad valleys
Return with a sigh to the sea of the coming
Forever and ever and ever and ever be glad,  be
Glad for the song has no ending.

An Incredible String Band Compendium 2003

Cited as an inspiration and a sign by Led Zeppelins Robert Plant, admired by artists as diverse as KLF, Billy Connolly, Paul McCartney, the Delgados and the Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant,the Incredible String Band have always exerted an influence that far outstripped their record sales. From their Edinburgh folk club beginnings to pioneering an eclectic, world music approach on Sixties albums such as 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion and The Hangmans Beautiful Daughter, taking in enthusiastic experiments with theatre, film and lifestyles along the way, to a final incarnation as a six-piece folk-rock group,theirs has been a fascinating career.

In this first major book about the Incredible String Band, writers from award-winning magazine beGLAD present the fruits of a decade of research. Featuring interviews with Mike Heron, Robin Williamson and all the ISB key players, as well as a wealth of background information, reminiscence, critical evaluations and arcane trivia, this is a book that will delight any reader with more than a passing interest in the Incredible String Band.

Publication date was September 2003.

Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending. the DVD
Released. 2001. in U.S. 2002

This was originally destined to be shown on BBC's Omnibus programme but it was never broadcast. It contains footage from the band on stage and in the studio as well as interviews at home. The second part of the video has the fantasy tale The Pirate featuring the Stone Monkey mime and dance troupe.

Darling Belle
By Robin Williamson
Likky: vocals
Robin: guitar, oboe, flute, banjo, string arrangements, vocals
Heron: bass, piano, vocals
Malcolm: glockenspiel, harmonica, clarinet, church organ, vocals

papa would take me to the park to see the swans
by hansom cab trotting so high
holding his hand to see the swans
hissing louder than rustling dresses of gracious ladies bustling by
see swan ships come sailing in
white as the clouds on a windy day
James I suppose would be in school
James I suppose would be in school
I was I was learning to spell
laughing at loud smells
avoiding the rod of the codfaced master
was it your absence made me quiet at noon
playing british bulldogs on the gravel
was it your presence coloured my dream
I burrowed in cupboards like a mole all saturday
under old chairs and old ladies knees
I framed your half remembered face
with frail white embroideries
calling for you down the mousey garden
calling for you down the mousey garden
o did you meet him at the ball
eighteen years on
tall soldier now and you full grown
Belle did you meet him at the ball
o do you remember me
thin girl with cold hands
you in your scarlet and you knew my name
step to the veranda under the wisteria
in the mysterious november
dancing as if with death or fate
to the moon black ballroom
of the silk skinned lake
kissing me you lifted my skirt
under the willow trees
keep the home fires burning
though your heart is yearning
though the boys are far away
they dream of home
there's a silver lining
in the dark clouds shining
turn that lining inside out
till the boys come home
o did I see you march to the train
did I cry was my nose red
my two day bride can you feel me in your memory
I will be the redness in your iron fire
how could i write
my words would seem sad or gay
we regret to inform you
we regret to inform you
meet me by gaslight in the dark dawn
on waterloo bridge we will walk arm in arm
hearing the leaves fall with whisper into the foggy dew
when we are dead
when we are dead
now she sits in her brother's window's house
skin like a lizard aura like a daffodil
migrant guest from relative to inlaw
she stares into the embers and remembers
From the album Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air

Nebulous Nearness. 2004



this funny little hedgehog......

 The Mabinogion

or  Y Twrch Trwyth

 Other Wonders


Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending. Recording

Desert Island Hedgehog

Rowan Williams,
Archbishop of Canterbury,
selected The Hedgehog's Song as one
of his Desert Island Discs:
 "The chorus is a powerful
summing-up of
 life and relationships"

Incredible String Band @ the BBC 1971/1972
Strange Fruit. August 25, 1997

 layers of the onion is
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