Dave Dowdeswell-Allaway

Buddha Song

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About Dave Dowdeswell-Allaway

My first musical outings were on a boingy upright piano, aged 3. Classical guitar lessons at age 9 revealed the sage advice of the teacher that “David will never play very well”. Santana, Steve Hackett, ELP, and the Stranglers, launched me into playing music with others, as drummer, with my first band, The Logarhythms, playing covers of The Yardbirds, Rolling Stones, The Jam, and Elvis Costello.

I left school with an accidental A-level in art, and became roadie and live sound engineer for the neo-prog band, Airbridge for two years, based in Norwich, then London. Buddhism, rock climbing and kayaking lead me wonderfully away from music for several years. Zoom forwards to 1999 and it happened that my office mates played guitars, bass, and sang, so I played litter bins and C31 was formed. We gigged around Lancaster, culminating in our only festival performance. I wrote my first song in 1995, and got the bug for it in the 00s.

On returning to Norwich in 2009 I discovered that two members of Airbridge were still writing music so I joined them and we released a 4-track EP in 2013, but due to illness and geography, our final gig was at the Cambridge Rock Festival that year. However, Airbridge is still going as a recording band, and we are releasing an album in early summer 2021, and another in spring 2022. I have also spent a couple of years as drummer for Penguins Go Pop!, and currently also play drums and percussion for Bark Prelude.

 

I entered a songwriting competition as a lockdown fantasy and was pleasantly surprised to get through the first couple of rounds, but that was the end of my run. However, and far better to me than winning the competition, I met the other contributors to Late Night Flying. They are such talented people, so supportive, and we are sharing the excitement of putting this album together and setting it upon the world.



Buddha Song - LYRICS

Poems by Basho, Boncho, Buson, Issa, Sute-Jo,
Translations by Lucien Stryk, and Shio Amaya.

Sick on a journey over parched fields dreams wander on.
旅に病んで夢は枯野をかけ廻る
Withered grass under piling heat waves.
枯芝ややゝかげろふの⼀⼆⼨

Skylark sings all day, and day not long enough.
永き⽇も囀り⾜らぬひばり哉
Come, see real flowers of this painful world.
草枕まことの華⾒しても来よ

White lotus – the monk draws back his blade.
⽩蓮を切らんとぞおもふ僧のさま
Summer grasses, all that remains of soldiers’ dreams.
夏草や兵どもが夢の跡

Where there are humans you’ll find flies, and Buddhas too.
“やれ打つなはえが⼿をすり⾜をする”
Don’t weep, insects, lovers, and stars must part.
泣⾍も七⼣さまよ七⼣よ

Girl cat, so thin on barley and love.
麦飯にやつるる恋か猫の妻
Woman – How hot the skin she covers.
肌かくす⼥の肌のあつさ哉

Journey’s end – I'm alive, this autumn evening.
しにもせぬ旅寝の果よ秋の暮
Piled for burning, brushwood starts to bud.
⾻柴のかられながらも⽊の芽かな

The Story Behind The Song

My song, The Buddha Song, began musically with my usual noodling around the fretboard, discovering sounds that, at that time, attracted my attention, and focussed me on a nugget to develop, to polish, and to shape into a song. The lyrics have been friends of mine for over 30 years. Once-upon-a-time, my ambition was to work my way to Japan, to inveigle my way into a Zen temple, and to spend my days contemplating the experiences of nothing and everything, probably up the top of a sugi no ki.

The words are translations of Japanese haiku (massive concepts constrained within a strict syllabic form or 5 - 7 - 5 syllables) written in the 16th and 17th centuries. The translations are by Lucian Stryk and Shio Amaya. What fascinated me when I was in my early 20s, and continues to do so as I approach 60 is the beautifully succinct capture of a piece of experience. I formed the verses of the song by placing together pairs of haiku to create a loose narrative that you can apply to your own life as fits. You may enjoy discovering something about that.

I eventually made it to Japan and spent a remarkably informative year living in a Jodo- Shinshu Buddhist temple called, Hokoji, in the rice fields west of Nagoya, and within a gasping cycle ride of the mountains. I didn’t become ordained, didn’t spend much more than a few minutes up a tree, but I did fall in love with a country and culture that remains inside me always.


Fly A Little Further ...