November 25, 2013
Very recently my daughter brought in a grey pigeon feather from the garden. She held it out, and told me it was a gift for me. Then she left it on the living room table. I was playing guitar at the time, and I was inspired to write a song about an Indian called Grey feather. It was all done very quickly without thought of an end result. I remember vividly, it being a bit of fun, on a London summers day. I called my mother and sang the song to her into the telephone. She then called my brother Blue, who was living with his wife and daughter on an indigenous native Indian reservation camp in Canada.
My brother Blue was in many ways already a brave, strong in conviction, takes after my mother. For this reason he fought many battles, most internally. They say the tallest blade of grass always gets cut down in life, he was misunderstood to those who practised deceit.
He had been for many years trying to find his place in the world. Somewhere he could call his own and rest his weary head. He had travelled extensively, nowhere felt right, but then he stumbled on this paradise for his Soul. His whole aura changed instantly moving there. I as was all of my family very comforted to see and hear him so happy. He used to drive a Rolls Royce, live on Abbey Road, and enjoyed the finer things. He swapped it all for the realness of people who took him on his word and not the car he drove. He found his home and there was nothing more he wanted. For the first time in his sensitive life, he found others who were spiritual and egoless, in the indigenous native way. Very quickly he became part of the community, with the permission of the elders and the help of the braves, his family built a cabin through the cold winter. His wife is a pretty incredible women; she was an international model doing very well, then gave up her career and became his rock. They lived under harsh conditions for a long time, including when she gave natural birth in their cabin. No hospital, no doctor, no epidural, squaw style.
The months grew to years and soon they were part of the geography of the landscape. Acceptance and love from these beautiful, warm kind people who in a ceremony of honour named their Daughter River.
My mother had told my brother I had written a song, and he was very interested to hear it. He was always a fan and in the beginning he my father and mother re - mortgaged the family house to raise money to make one of my early records. They invested £20,000, back when that was a lot of cash. We have always been a close family, and writing this brings back so many fond moments, where without my supporting, loving family, I could have sank into obscurity with many other individuals who were not so fortunate.
It went like this, were going to invest in you Noah, you make a record and pay us back asap. With my father’s management skills, and a book full of my songs, which I had been working on for fifteen hours a day, some days eight hours with my friend and keyboard player John Lenny. Within a two-year period I was signed to Polydor records. Then I was being picked up from Wales in a vintage Bentley, compliments of David Walker & David Munds / Polydor records and had paid my debt back in full to my family, with an extra £20,000 in their pockets for the love.
I have always made music and my family have always been genuinely interested in my music. What is sad to me is that it should be a given, but I have met many families that don’t care enough about the things that matter most to their children.
I had made a mental note to call my brother to discus the song, get his first hand opinion, as he was the expert, but before I had, I got a distraught call from my middle brother Tojo about midnight, he told me my brother Blue had died of a heart attack. He asked me to speak to mum. She was as you can imagine beside herself.
A few days later I took my mother to Canada. We arrived at the airport I hired a car then we drove over the biggest mountain I have ever come across, in torrential rain and heavy winds, being passed by trucks as big as Cardiff. My sat navigation told me the destination did not exist; we were lost in a vast darkness. There were no streetlights here; we were truly out of our modern comfort zone. It was the first time in my life I felt I needed a mobile phone. I called my sister in law and she told us someone would come find us… It was not as if I picked a spot, I just stopped the car. The rain was a lot softer at this point, as we sat in the midst of nature my mother and I, brought here by my brother, that brief moment of silence made a lot of sense. After about half an hour I could see in my wing mirror a headlight, flashing accompanied by honking. A guy who later turned out to be Tom a very close friend of Blue rolled his window down and said, “ this is the spot your brother died”. What was amazing was, in the middle of this vast country, an indigenous native not only looked liked he belonged, he looked like he owned it. His spirit was free of all our shit, he might as well have been on horseback, I was in, and I totally got why Blue ended up here.
At the funeral we were met by my brother’s extended family, a reaching arm that fitted perfectly around us. He really had made a difference to these peoples lives. He had started a magazine called The Foundation, great name. The Indigenous Native Global Awareness Magazine. He wrote it, printed it, edited it, and owned it. My brother Tojo is built that way also, he’s an exceptional artist, who does it all, script, storyboards, and drawings. We three are all cut from the same cloth; we take after our parents, grafters. The elders had great hopes for the magazine and it was beginning to take perfect shape. It was reaching the right ears, and word was spreading. He was even a salesman, walking for miles in the snow delivering the magazine to whoever would stock it. Most importantly he left a legacy for his daughter, when she gets older she will understand her dads writings and get a lot from them. She will understand him more through his work, and I believe will receive great closure on many questions regarding what kind of man he was.
To sum up this place for me, I felt like Gene Kelly in the classic movie ‘Brigadoon’ it truly is a pure place, when your there you feel like your part of a 21st century global secret.
I sat in the great hall with my mother as her eldest giving solid support. I looked around the room at the indigenous people. People watching is fascinating at the best of time, but these guys had a rare gift of just being. As I sat down, one of the braves sat next to me and handed me a small crumpled piece of paper, it was from Blue. He had written it when he was dying; it said, “Please take care of my family”. That was one of my most serial moments of my life. I nodded to the brave, he left my side, and the seat remained empty for the rest of the service. I had purposely taken my guitar with me, and after many people speaking, crying, I got up to represent Blue and my family.
I explained how my daughter brought me a grey pigeon feather and how I wrote this song, then my brother passed and it went from a song of fun to an ode to my brother. It will always be a magical song, written with lightness of heart, instigated by his nice. I sang the song and there were a lot of tears. After the service hundreds qued up to shake our hands and give a blessing. It took hours as they told my mother and myself beautiful stories about her son & my brother Blue. It was a truly incredible moving ceremony, a day I will never forget.
The opening line to the song is - On a dusty old trail in a white pick up truck. We put my brother into a modest coffin and I found myself putting his casket onto a white pick up truck. The possession was what felt like about fifty cars following behind. I rode with my brother’s coffin and six braves. We held onto the casket, it was also a surreal moment, as we travelled up a dusty very old trail, to burry Blue. Sitting with these strangers that I had just met, felt like family. I had previously carried my father’s brother’s coffin in Wales, with friends and family members, all black pole bearers. It felt practically the same, same tribe different place.
I sometimes think of my brother buried so far away from our home, it’s strange, but his wishes were to be buried there. He told my mother he wouldn’t make it to old age. It was like he always knew something we did not. The scene I will always remember is burying him on sacred ground, an eagle flying above and a small group of indigenous people chanting over his grave. It was so beautiful, I asked their permission to record them, and because it was their brother Blue they agreed. I now have the indigenous natives on my debut album ‘Life & Times’ and when I listen to that song grey feather, I see my brother, happy & Content. I see the tribes gathered, and I am standing on that beautiful green prairie with my mother, sister in law, their daughter, and his new tribe.
God bless you my brother, see you in a little while,