“Capricious Bird”

Calligraphy by Linda Renc, copyright September 2012

Song by Noel Paul Stookey

copyright 2012 Neworld Publishing

used by permission



“The songs that move us the most are the ones whose melodies invoke a passion and whose lyrics inform and inspire our lives; songs that transcend the moment because they are the articulation of our hearts.” – Noel Paul Stookey

I first heard Noel Paul Stookey sing “Capricious Bird” live on stage at the Palladium Theatre, following his elegant introduction that included amazing hand gestures centered around the key work “capricious”. That and its chorus caught my attention and I scribbled what I could in the dark. Meeting Noel after the show, I mentioned I was a calligrapher and would like permission to write one or two of his songs for use with my artwork. He was happy to send me the lyrics. I was quite busy and let months go by before I had time to sit & think about how to write them “capriciously” just as I had seen him describe the song. Perhaps I was secretly intimidated by such a noble personage as Paul (from Peter, Paul & Mary) seeing the fruits of my labors!

In this song, the title alone influenced my mental picture of his song, as I’d long since forgotten the tune,  rhythm, accompaniment or anything else except meeting the famous songwriter. Finishing the artwork, I emailed it to Noel so he could post it on his website. A brand new CD “One and Many” arrived in the mail a few days later. It featured a refined version of “Capricious Bird”, a studio recording with a minor key melody, subtle harmonies, and driving rhythm. It sounded rather more dark & moody than capricious! I thought about my bright, cheerful colors and fantastical bird drawing.

Noel was most appreciative of the beautiful job I did. He immediately noticed a slight change in wording between the original version he sent me, and the recorded version on his new CD. It changed the original context. Would it be possible to make a slight change in that lyric? My original art couldn’t be corrected; by that time it was framed on my gallery wall. But through the magic of Photoshop, I fixed the print version to match the CD lyrics. The changed line is – not going to be revealed here! You will have to buy the download or CD. A final note: the original lyrics ended with ‘amen’ which I decided was not required of the calligrapher- artistic license – but it’s an appropriate finish, nevertheless. I’ll add it next time.

Here are Noel’s liner notes for this song:

“The soul’s relationship to the heart has always been a subject of curiosity to me. Are our deepest feelings those which are held in the heart or simply sensed there and truly dwell in the soul? My conclusion might not be provable but I sense that souls are the resting places of our spirituality to which our hearts, searching for the meaning in life, inevitably return.” – nps


6 thoughts on ““Capricious Bird”

  1. Interesting to see how one artistic piece of work inspires another. What an articulate insight into the artistic process, both the origination and evolution of a work.

  2. I predominantly write with my ltapop resting on a minifridge in the basement jam spot which itself rests on a table John made for me when he first started building stuff when I was in high school. The fridge sometimes falls off and it is certainly rickety but I don’t get a new one. Our perspectives are different on the old man for a slew of reasons, the biggest probably being that I live in the house we grew up in and see different examples of his workmanship on a daily basis. I think it’s great you have the table and I know as much as you do that he would be incredibly proud of you and all you have done to make a good life for your family. He would never say it out like that, just as when people constantly tell me at my band’s shows that my dad would be so proud and would be right there. He would be proud and I feel like he’s always right there, but we both know he never used his words and he would give us a nod and wander off to collect his thoughts or whatever it was he did when he wandered. He is proud of us and I’m proud of you.As a post script, i almost forgot about my birthday. 28 is just a minor road sign to thirty anyway.Great piece.

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