Writing As Year Follows Year

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/track/5mQWk4bTwa1pCMmafn6Buy?si=361d0f62115a4a83

iTunes https://music.apple.com/us/album/as-year-follows-year-feat-savannah-stevenson/1680477048?i=1680481109


‘As Year Follows Year’ develops Anna’s character. Looking out across the water, Anna sings a lament about her lost husband, a fisherman, who is missing at sea. The opening lines in the first, second, third and fifth stanzas reflect the changing of the seasons. Anna feels the loss all year round. She asks the elements of sea, earth, and air to return her husband, to return love to her life. Or should she let the past go, which is holding her captive, and seek new love. And if she does, would that be some kind of betrayal.

Savannah Stevenson’s performance tenderly expresses the sense of yearning and loss, almost breaking to desperation in the fourth stanza as she questions what she should do. And the lyrics, again, reflect the to and fro of the sea, and the rhythm of the waves.


So, presented with Steve’s lyric my first task was to pen a suitable melodic lament. Once satisfied with the tune it was time to think about the harmonisation which I chose to hold back in the first stanza allowing Savannah’s beautiful voice to feature virtually Colla Voce with just a suspended high C in the violins and the gentle lapping of waves by way of accompaniment. In the second stanza, the sound of the sea and the high C cease, giving way to some gently swelling strings in representation of the opening blooms of spring and summer. In the third stanza as we enter autumn the string orchestration thickens with the double basses and cellos joining in, providing a richer harmonic expansion.

In the fourth stanza Anna questions her feelings and I wanted to introduce an element of false hope as the key switches to the relative major and the melody climbs, but this is quickly dashed as the harmonic progressions become less conventional and increasingly dissonant. The extended and difficult to pitch intervals within the melody serving to enhance the desperation of the moment. In the fifth stanza we return to the original lament, but the season is now winter, the strings are more stark and bare and the basses tonally more edgy.

Finally in stanza six the basses pin everything down with a long pedal C and Anna’s hopes recede with the gently falling motif played by the Irish flute in quiet submission, finally settling into a fading repeat.


As year follows year, as green from the ground
I look and I look, will my first love be found
To the earth, sea, and air, I offer my prayer
No longer to keep, my heart in the deep

As year follows year, pale primrose in bloom
I look and I look, will my true love come home
To the earth, sea and air, I tender my prayer
No longer possess, my heart’s lonely quest

As year follows year, when chestnuts have browned
I look and I look, for my raw love is bound
To the earth, sea and air, please hear my prayer
No longer contain, my heart’s aching pain

Is there truth to forgive
And allow me to live
From the morn to the eve must I grieve
Should I try to relive
From a past held captive
Binding all hope to believe or deceive

As year follows year, white ice grips the flow
I look and I look, for my past love to know
To the earth, sea, and air, please answer my prayer
No longer to hold, my heart buried cold

As year follows year, I await his return
I look and I look, for my first love I yearn
To the earth, sea and air, please hear my prayer
No longer to keep, my heart in the deep

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