Turning Toward the Morning

“Hawkins on the Wentworth” ~ Bronze casting, Gordon Bok

Woodworker, carver, sailor, and musician Gordon Bok is an American treasure. When I find myself pondering the maelstrom of changes currently sweeping through our lives, I often return to his music as to a touchstone, grateful that, in an earlier time, the graciousness of a reader introduced me to his life and his seemingly unbounded creativity.

Al and I had been exchanging thoughts on music. In an emailed post-script to our discussion he added, “I can’t think of a better song than Gordon Bok’s “Turning Toward the Morning.Pointing me toward Albany, New York’s WAMC and their Saturday night broadcasts of the “Hudson River Sampler” he said, “I can almost guarantee you’ll hear something by Bok: if not this Saturday, then next Saturday, for sure. And something by Stan Rogers, as well. But you’ll also hear songs you’ve never heard before, and will want to hear again.”

He was right. Having been introduced to Bok and his fellow musicians, Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir, I couldn’t help wanting to hear more from their rich repertoire. Drawn from an historic sea-faring culture, redolent of seaweed and salt, their net-hauling songs and ballads of the Maine coast evoke a world whose broad outlines would be recognizable even to Gulf coast shrimpers.  It’s a world that informs Bok’s original compositions, as well as his retelling of folk tales rooted in cultures from around the world.

Listening to his music, I’ve wondered at Bok’s pathway through life, and been touched by his simplicity and kindness. I’ve even laughed at certain similarities between us. “I didn’t understand what my father did because he worked in an office,” Bok once said. “There was nothing that came out of it that I could feel – you couldn’t put a coat of varnish on it.”

After much reading and listening, I still agree with my friend. Good songs continue to be written, and the great songs endure, but there’s no better song than Turning Toward the Morning. Like a small-boat day on the water, it’s easy and rhythmic, perfectly designed to soothe away preoccupations and care.

But “Turning Toward the Morning” is more than easy listening for an easy afternoon. It’s a poet’s way of stating an inviolable truth: that in the face of all that life imposes in the way of difficulties, chaos, and fear, life itself goes on. As Bok tells it, the song was born of personal experience:

“One of the things that provoked this song was a letter last November from a friend who’d had a very difficult year and was looking for the courage to keep on plowing into it. Those times, you lift your eyes unto the hills, as they say, but the hills of Northern New England in November can be about as much comfort as a cold crowbar.
You have to look ahead a bit then, and realize that all the hills and trees and flowers will still be there come Spring, usually more permanent than your troubles. And if your courage occasionally fails, that’s okay, too. Nobody expects you to be as strong as the land.”

In this time when political wrangling, deep division, fearfulness, lack of trust, and generalized crass nastiness increasingly characterize our society, Bok’s song affirms what faith proclaims and what hearts dare hope: that despite appearances, despite the coming darkness of our winter-shortened days, the world continues to turn. And always, no matter the depth of darkness, it is turning toward the morning.

When the deer has bedded down
and the bear has gone to ground
and the Northern goose has wandered off
to warmer bay and sound,
it’s so easy in the cold
to feel the darkness of the year
and the heart is growing lonely for the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.
Now, October’s growin’ thin
and November’s comin’ home,
you’ll be thinkin’ of the season
and the sad things that you’ve seen.
And you hear that old wind walkin’,
hear him singin’ high and thin,
you could swear he’s out there singin’ of his sorrow.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.
When the darkness falls around you
and the north wind comes to blow
and you hear him call your name out
as he walks the brittle snow.
That old wind don’t mean you trouble,
he don’t care or even know,
he’s just walking down the darkness toward the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.
It’s a pity we don’t know
what the little flowers know
they can’t face the cold November,
they can’t take the wind and snow.
They put their glories all behind them,
bow their heads and let it go,
but you know they’ll be there shining in the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swinging slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.
O, my Joanie don’t you know
that the day is rollin’ slow
and the winter’s walkin’ easy, as it did so long ago,
and if that wind should come and ask you
“Why’s my Joanie weepin’ so?”
won’t you tell him that you’re weeping for the morning.
Oh, my Joanie, don’t you know
that the stars are swingin’ slow,
and the seas are rollin’ easy, as they did so long ago.
And if I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
that the world is always turning toward the morning.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

106 thoughts on “Turning Toward the Morning

  1. What a lovely post you have written. I enjoyed this very much. Folk songs to me are the heart of our country, The songs are filled with a richness, simple times and simple lives and very descriptive.

    1. Long before there were amplifiers, and huge crowds, and audio-visual extravaganzas to fill up YouTube, there were voices, and instruments, and the sheer pleasure of song. Whether it was Sunday morning hymns, or a family gathered on the back porch for some ‘pickin’ ‘n’ grinnin,’ nearly everyone participated. Now, music’s just as often a performance, but where the traditions of simple music making endure, my hunch is that people tend to smile more.

  2. This splendid post and wonderful song takes me straight back to the early 60s when I stumbled upon Tom Paxton’s ‘Ramblin’ Boy’ album and was immediately hooked. In our youth Jackie and I followed him when he was in London. For years after we parted I could never listen to him. I can now.

    1. I think if someone handed me a guitar, I still could replicate Paxton’s version of this one. I spent a lot of time learning how to play it, in the old-fashioned way: resetting the record player again and again, until I gained another few measures, and could move on.

      I’ve experienced the phenomenon you mention; music, experience, and emotion certainly can be inextricably tied. I’m glad you can listen to Paxton again.

  3. Oh Linda, this is a beautiful post containing a beautiful song. It made me cry (which is fine, because it’s good to connect with ones heart). Thank you!

    1. This is a song I never hear without tears rising. It’s not that it’s sad; it’s that it’s so true. I’ve decided one advantage of increasing age and experience is that truth is easier to recognize, and accepting the complexities life offers becomes at least easier, if not always comfortable. I feel as though that’s part of what Bok was trying to express, and I’m glad you enjoyed the result.

    1. Even when a singer’s easy to understand, lyrics can pass so quickly some of them get missed. Every now and then I’ll search out lyrics to a song online, and I’ve found it helps me to enjoy the song even more, so I thought I’d do the same thing here. I’m glad they added to your enjoyment.

  4. Thank you for introducing me to this song; it is just beautiful. I listened to it this morning after I awakened and it gave me great peace. As I listened, a line from Psalm 30 ran through my mind, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

    1. That’s such an appropriate reference; it’s a wonderful affirmation of Bok’s song. (Or vice-versa, of course!) Like you, I find the song brings a sense of peacefulness, despite its acknowledgement of sorrow. It’s also a reminder that the most strident voices don’t necessarily have more to offer in the way of insight and wisdom.

  5. This time I remembered Gordon Bok’s name and “Turning Toward the Morning,” as I hadn’t two years ago from five years earlier. In 2017 you spoke of “legislative wrangling, nuclear proliferation, urban violence, and generalized crass nastiness.” Now it’s similarly “political wrangling, deep division, fearfulness, lack of trust, and generalized crass nastiness,” so progress seems to have eluded us. We can still hope that turning toward the morning will bring better things.

    1. Your comment brought to mind the old joke I remember hearing even in my asper-grass days: “‘Cheer up,’ they said. ‘Things could be worse.’ So I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse.”

      The only thing that might be worse than thinking progress has eluded us would be looking over the landscape and realizing that some progress has been made. Just think what the world would be like if that weren’t so. (How’s that for a touch of salty cynicism to balance a sweet song?)

  6. As an old Michigan boy, I had listened to my share of Stan Rogers on public radio (though not for a very long time, now), but this is the first I have heard of Gordon Bok. Thanks for pointing me in his direction…I will be getting to know him better and re-acquainting myself with good ol’ Stan this weekend.

    1. In that case, I’m glad to have improved your weekend, because a dose of Gordon and Stan, and their various compatriots, always is salutary. I’m surprised, yet not surprised at all, that you haven’t heard of Bok. From what I can tell, his popularity and his production over the years has kept increasing, but it’s remained somewhat limited to the traditional/acoustic/folkish fans. In my own mind, I’ve always paired him with Ian Tyson. Both of them exhibit a kind of honesty and straightforwardness in their music that I appreciate. Enjoy!

  7. “I didn’t understand what my father did because he worked in an office,” Bok once said. “There was nothing that came out of it that I could feel…”

    Perhaps, but then one doesn’t readily feel the effect that time and water has on rocks either.

    1. Opinions could differ on that one. Colorful autumn leaves and pristine snowfalls evoke strong, usually pleasant feelings for me, but both (and a lot more) pale in comparison to the feelings evoked by rock. Especially in limestone country, the effect of water and time always is obvious, and near at hand. I can’t tell you how many rocks are hanging on tree limbs in a certain part of the Texas hill country because of the effect of time and water on them. With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I’ll ask, “What could be more evocative than this?” I couldn’t find a limb strong enough to support a fourteen-pound rock, so it came home with me.

      Steinbeck seemed to feel the time/water/rock relationship, too. I’ve been saving this quotation from Tortilla Flat for a post at Lagniappe, but it certainly fits here:

      “”Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks, and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra “

      1. Sorry, my replay was a bit terse. Yesterday, we had a perfect harvest day on the farm, a rare thing this year – but then there were the break-downs. The bottom bearing went out on the grain cart. A circuit kept tripping on the dryer and a faulty sensor on the combine shut us down for a half a day.

        So we worked hard but accomplished little. Add that to the lousy yields, bad weather and miserable crop prices.

        But enough of that.

        What struck me about “I didn’t understand what my father did because he worked in an office,” was why? Why did he not know what his father did? Why did he not appreciate the office work that sustained his childhood? There is something troubling about that. Something alienating. I appreciate Gordon Bok’s artistry and craftsmanship and “Turning Toward the Morning” is an astonishingly beautiful song – but it is distressing to know that someone who is that in touch with art and things of beauty cannot understand, or perhaps appreciate office work.

        There is a disconnectedness there.

        My comment about the effects of water and time on rocks spoke to all the drudgery of office and field work – being what has shaped not only our lives, but the earth itself. It is like the pull of the moon on the ocean tides. You don’t see it working but the effects are profound.

        I would hope that artists would seek understanding and connectedness, for if they cannot, who can?

        1. I don’t see any evidence of what you say in Bok’s comment: it never occurred to me that he didn’t appreciate his father’s work, or realize the ways in which it sustained him, or understand, on an intellectual level, what it was that his father was doing.

          In fact, Gordon couldn’t help but know what his father, Cary Bok, was engaged in, since for years his father served as treasurer and senior vice president of the Curtis Publishing Company. That company had been founded by Gordon’s grandfather, Edward Bok: a literary Pulitzer Prize winner and editor of the Ladies Home Journal for 30 years.

          There certainly wasn’t any familial conflict over Bok’s artistic path. Bok was introduced to music and encouraged to pursue it by his parents. His mother, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, was responsible for the establishment of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1924; its directors have included Efrem Zimbalist and Rudolph Serkin. The institute continues to train primarily orchestral musicians; Gordon chose a different path.

          I suppose part of the reason his comment seems so reasonable to me, and resonates so strongly, is because of an experience I had late one evening, while scrubbing the kitchen floor. When I’d finished, I looked at the floor and said aloud, to no one in particular, “Well, at least I can see what I accomplished.” I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that was the beginning of my own exchange of academia, a respected profession, and long hours in offices for varnishing boats on the docks.

          In short, my sense of things is that you’re misreading Bok. Knowing what I do of your own career, it’s perfectly reasonable that you’d take a certain offense, or at least react strongly, when someone seems to criticize office work. But I don’t think that’s what Bok was doing. I think he simply was saying, “that’s not for me.” Maybe he didn’t want to feel he was working hard and accomplishing little.

    1. It is enjoyable — and interesting — to track the genesis of any piece of art, whether painting, writing, or musical composition. I remember several pieces you’ve written about the process — both yours and others — and I’m glad this brought you pleasure.

    1. Because of your interest in singer-songwriters and traditional music, I’m sure you must know Bok and the others. I’m glad to have shared what I consider to be one of his best: both lyrically and musically. Perhaps the next Gordon Bok is playing this weekend, somewhere. Like you, I hope people turn away from YouTube and go out to find some of our hidden treasures.

  8. That was so very delightful. Such a strong Stan Rogers feel. I love the rolling refrain ‘that the world is always turning towards morning.’ It comes round and round and instantiates what the poem points toward. Just great. Thanks so much.

    1. I’d not thought of that — how the repetition of the refrain mimics the action described in the song. What a great insight that is. The thought started me down another path, and I found that the verb ‘refrain’ and the noun ‘refrain’ are differently rooted. It certainly wouldn’t be good for the world to refrain from turning toward the morning.

  9. The song does take us back to times when music was simple. It was a pleasure listening and watching. You always bring us good things. And we should always turn away from the darkness and go to the light. Enjoy the glorious fall weather along the coast!

    1. It seems as though today is going to provide us some of that glorious autumn weather, especially since the wind finally has laid. For a time, it seemed as though it might strip us as bare as your skeletons!

      Bok’s song is lovely and life-affirming. It’s one of those that I especially enjoy in fall — the ‘other’ time of the year when our sense of real seasons is heightened, and the sense of passing time seems sharper.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it, too.

  10. Thank you. Impressive craftsmanship in those rhymes that never jingle. And that baritone. I liked his revision of the penultimate chorus, and let us hope we’re weeping for morning and not night.

    1. He’s a fine singer, and a consummate story-teller who introduced me to traditional Scots/Irish/English ballads I’d never heard. Obviously, there’s more to the Canadian and New England fishing culture than Jaws.

      As to where we’re headed — who can say? But his song is a bit of the light we all long for, and any weeping it evokes is far different from the tears of rage and frustration that other aspects of life can produce.

    1. Your use of the word ‘balm’ reminded me of the old spiritual, “There is a Balm in Gilead.” The reference from Jeremiah has been put to many uses, including by Poe in “The Raven.”

      “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! —
      Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
      Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted —
      On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore —
      “Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
      Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

      Fanciful as it is, I wish Poe’s character could have had Bok to listen to, rather than that one-worded raven. Those qualities you so rightly listed might have made him feel a little better!

      1. That’s funny and I have to agree! I do love Bok’s voice and delivery– reminds me of another Gordon–Lightfoot, especially his early work.

  11. What a beautiful song and made all the more memorable by the images in the video. As a sailor and nature lover, I can well understand how you identify with the words.

    1. Another video created in the 1980s includes Bok’s song with sailing footage. It’s been my personal favorite for years because of the sailing, but I decided to use the newer video, which I thought it might appeal to more people.

      The constant, of course, is the song. It is beautiful: as beautiful as any morning.

      1. I sent that “personal favorite” to a life-long friend who loved sailing. He immediately ordered a Bok CD. We are going to enjoy the songs together. Thanks for the recommendation and reference.

        1. Wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and passed it on to your friend. It’s music that seems meant to be shared, and I can’t imagine anyone with connections to the water who wouldn’t find a lot to like in Bok’s work.

    1. Even though I’ve written about Bok before, I was sure there would be some who hadn’t heard of him. I’m glad to have introduced his work to you. It really is worth exploring — it’s strongly regional in many ways, and yet universal in its themes and appeal. And he’s not only about the boats and fishing. Here’s his paean to a blackbird that you might enjoy.

      1. Thank you, Linda, I just listened to the song, and will again. His voice is as warm as a fire on a cold winter’s night (it just snowed 7 inches in our part of Colorado Springs!). My husband also enjoyed listening to “Turning Toward the Morning,” and it reminded him of Gordon Lightfoot.

  12. Such a lovely post I will think of it as I look at my dried up zinnias, and I won’t feel sad that they are done for the year. As they know, they can’t face the cold November…..bow their heads and let it go. Always turning toward the morning!! That is so beautiful. I needed this today. Thank you!!

    1. I think those lines about the flowers are among the most poignant in the song: partly because they reflect our sadness about seeing them go, but also because they point to the little flowers being so accepting of the natural processes each season brings.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the song. I’d heard a lot of people expressing some melancholy about the coming of ‘real’ autumn; that brought it to mind, and I thought it would make a fine, pre-November post, and maybe even a good one to return to as we get deeper into winter.

  13. What a wonderful voice and poetry! And at this time of year, especially as you say in the times we are living, this is a welcome sentiment and I am surprised by how much I needed to hear this right now as November closes in. Thanks, Linda for introducing me to Gordon Bok.

    1. I always think of Bok as almost-Canadian; he seems to fit so well with Ian Tyson and Gordon Lightfoot. He’s a wonderful interpreter of traditional music, but his own lyrics are equally pleasing — grounded in wood, water, and a world less contentious than our own. I suspect you would find others of his songs equally pleasing; I’m certainly happy to have introduced him to so many who haven’t known his artistry.

  14. Your post on the song sung by Gorden Bok touched my heart. Truly, it struck a chord with me. It offers hope in a time of turmoil and dreary moments as we are heading into winter. I shared your well-written post on Facebook. Thank you!

    1. ‘Heading into winter’ certainly has a different meaning for you than for us coastal dwellers, even though most of us are reacting to this week’s forecast lows between 3C-6C as though an arctic express is coming. Of course the shortened days affect people, too, despite the very real beauties these fallow seasons bring, so anything that eases the dark and the cold is good..

      As for the various sorts of turmoil that surround us, letting that go occasionally is good for the soul. There’s a difference between being informed and being obsessed, and artists like Bok can help us understand the difference. Thanks for sharing his song — I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Andrea, and thank you for letting me know you were here. Blog readership can be both random and fluid, and I suspected there would be some who hadn’t heard of Gordon Bok. I’m happy to have introduced him to you; his music’s well worth exploring.

  15. Oh that was just lovely! I listened to the whole song. It’s so true that sometimes you have to lie fallow for a season before morning comes (to make a hash of my metaphors).

    1. There’s nothing wrong with hash — it was a familiar way to deal with left-over roast beef when I was growing up, and it’s still one of my favorite comfort foods. The song certainly wears well. I’ve been known to listen to it even in summer, but at this time of year, it’s perfection.

  16. I don’t guess I’ve ever heard that song, Linda — thank you! It sounds very optimistic, and I like that. I think we all need a reminder — especially in these challenging times and with the days getting shorter and the cold upon us — that things eventually will get warm again and there’s always hope for better times.

    1. That other sign of the changing seasons — the end of daylight saving time — comes this weekend, and I’m certainly glad. I’m not fond of the shorter days, but since there’s no solution for that, at least we can have some light in the morning. One of the good things about getting older is that we’ve seen the world turn so many times we can be somewhat more sanguine about current events. We know spring follows winter, and when it comes to world events, we begin to suspect the truth of that old saying: “This too, shall pass.”

  17. This is beautiful. I had forgotten what a beautiful writer and photographer you were.
    I am just popping in for a visit after a few years. My time ran out with WordPress and as I moved to Dorset from Southampton I decided not to pay to continue. However miss you and other bloggers. Not much changes here in England, still waiting for Brexit. But because my health is better I am outside a lot more rather than being on my laptop. Hope you are well.

    1. My goodness! I’ve thought of you so often, and wondered where you’d gotten off to. I’m glad to hear that you’re in good health, and it sounds like life is fine. I confess I laughed at ‘waiting for Brexit.’ The echoes of Waiting for Godot are inescapable. I suppose it’s still uncertain whether Brexit will show up, but we watch and wait.

      Time spent outdoors always is restorative. I enjoy my blog, but I try to keep things in check — one reason I stay off social media. Again, it’s great to have you visit. Pop in whenever you like, and if you ever are overcome by the desire to start another blog, do let me know.

  18. Good thoughts here for me these days. Big things, little things – all can hold me down if I let them, and this is the time of year when I start to let them. I can use all the little nudges upward I can find, and this is a good one.

    1. I have a big thing to cope with this fall, having decided to exchange my beloved apartment with the wonderful sky and water view for a smaller, land-locked one. I don’t mind smaller at all, but the loss of that view could be depressing beyond words if I gave it half a chance. I suspect I’ll give myself a nudge or two with this song as the weeks progress and the changes are made. I hope the nudges work for us both.

  19. I really love the refrain and the lilt of the entire song. The message is natural and hopeful and so many times if you make it through the night, everything is better in the morning. Thanks for bringing this lyric to us!! Can’t wait to play it when I get to a computer with speakers.

    1. The cycles of nature can be restorative; there’s no question about that. The trick is to accept them all, rather than picking and choosing. I suspect you’ve come across people — as I have — who seem to take the realities of the natural world (heat, cold, snow, hurricanes, shorter days, longer nights, insects, unwanted critters) as personal insults rather than as part of a larger and more dynamic world.

      It’s a beautiful song; I hope you’ve heard it by now.

  20. I forget about folk songs. Seems like a silly thing to admit but they were never a part of my childhood, nor have I listened to many as an adult. I like the song you share here, the tune is delightful and the lyrics are haunting.

    1. It’s interesting the way a few years one way or another can make such a difference in the music that we know, and that appeals to us. I recently was introduced to a group called Muse. I’d never heard of them, and was astonished to find they’ve been winning awards and topping charts for the past several years. I was even more surprised to find that I liked some of their music. You never know.

      Several comments here have referred to this song as folk music. That intrigues me, too, since I don’t think of it that way at all. Of course, good music is good music, however we categorize it for ourselves, and I’m glad you liked this one.

  21. Oh Linda, he is quite splendid. I do love folk music but I don’t think he’s ever appeared on our series here. Pity. I’m sure he’d give a wonderful concert. And indeed, it is a perfect song to contemplate as we wait and move slowly ahead.

    1. Bok doesn’t tour any more, and isn’t part of any series. Even when he was more active, it seems he preferred house concerts and such rather than big stage events. In fact, I laughed when I checked his concert schedule. His next appearance is a house concert in Belfast, Maine — on June 5, 2020.

      However! On November 9, he’s going to be part of the10th Annual Working on the Water event in Rockland, Maine. It’s a gathering of mariners who share their experiences and their inspirations from working on the water, and it’s taking place at the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum. If I were in the neighborhood, you know I’d be there.

  22. As Forrest’s mother told him, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

    Visiting your blog is rather the same; I never know what interesting new thing I’m going to find!

    1. Something for everyone, that’s my motto — or at least, a little variety to keep interest alive. Now, if only we could find an easy way to punch a little hole in the bottom of every blog entry, just to see if we want to indulge or not! I still remember the lectures that came with every Whitman’s Sampler: “Don’t poke the bottom of the candy!”

    1. He seems always to have been a little reclusive, and is better known in New England and the Canadian maritime provinces than in other parts of the country, but he’s a real gem: both personally and professionally. He captures life on the water as well as anyone I know.

    1. And that’s exactly what he and his friends are. It does add a wonderful dimension that those he sings with are true friends, and that their long, shared histories are a part of their performances, too.

  23. The world is always an imposing entity in our daily lives and lately it seems even more so. It’s nice to have a source of calm and Bok’s song certainly is that. I’ve never been to one of his performances. Wish I had and there is still time.

    1. You’re more likely than most of us to be able to enjoy him in person, since he’s stopped touring. Most of his recent appearances have been in Maine; wouldn’t it be great if he were performing during one of your trips to Acadia?

      For me, his wood-working and carving is as interesting as his music. There are links to some of his work on his website; one newspaper article included this:

      “Folk singer Gordon Bok has been a woodworker for most of his life, having grown up with the local shipyard as his playground and place of learning. While not a boat builder, he has built a few small boats and repaired and maintained many larger ones. He has designed and built many tools and articles of furniture, houses and barns to his and others’ needs. His woodcarving was a natural extension of his woodworking. His bas-relief carvings celebrate the people, boats and fisheries he grew up with around the coast of Maine.”

      The best place to find several of his pieces was in this image search.

    1. I think many of us tend to ‘forget’ musicians like Bok, who are reticent by nature. Especially when their touring ends and their music-making is limited to local appearances, it can take a little nudge — often just a snatch of remembered melody — to bring them back to mind. I’m glad to have provided a nudge for you.

    1. It’s hard to believe we’re in November already, but you’re right that this suits the season perfectly. It’s one of the loveliest songs I know, and I’m glad you enjoyed it, too.

  24. I remember Gordon Bok from long ago, when I was learning guitar as a teenager. Listening to him sing again reminds me of the deep voices of Stan and Garnet Rogers. Thanks for this, now I’ll have to find out about his woodworking and metalworking.

    1. I suspect there are a lot of reasons that so many people with New England-ish roots remember Bok, while I never heard of him until recently. I suspect one reason is that he was so closely tied to the sea and its traditions; I grew up with the Sons of the Pioneers, and odes to corn. I’m just glad to have found him, and I’m glad you remember him. He is quite a guy, and talented in so many ways.

  25. “And if I had a thing to give you, I would tell you one more time that the world is always turning toward the morning.” How these lines remind me of these lines from ‘Is He Worthy”: “Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do) But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through?”

    Thanks for the gentle music and soothing lyrics, Linda. I really enjoyed that.

    1. The same wisdom appears in many guises, doesn’t it? The lines you quoted reminded me of a few other words from Annie Dillard: “You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary.”

      Our world can use a little gentleness these days. Thank goodness we have people like Gordon Bok to help provide it.

  26. It’s great you’re so much into folk music. I believe it’s the heart of the land, no matter which country it comes from. You share your nautical background and experience which makes it all the more interesting.

    1. Long before the record companies figured out they could make money from people like Peter, Paul, and Mary, people were singing, and creating the body of work that later folksingers would draw on. Work songs, ballads, stories of love lost and gained, celebrations of victories in war, and sorrowful songs of defeat all were passed on from generation to generation. Those songs are great ways to study history, as well as being wonderful music.

    1. I’m glad you found it, too. I thought about asking you if you’d read it, because I knew you’d like it. I don’t always cry when I hear the song, but I always tear up. Always. I don’t know precisely why, but that’s not important.

  27. Gordon Bok! I only was introduced to him a couple of years ago, by another blogger. If I had to choose a favorite man’s singing voice I would be tempted to choose his over my late husband’s, which was pretty great. And the poetry of his songs, when I listen to them again and again in my car, seems to be bottomless. To be in a house concert with them filling the place sounds like the most heart-nourishing thing.

    1. He’s a true treasure, both for his interpretation of old songs, and the lyricism of those he writes. I always think of him in tandem with Ian Tyson. Both men are grounded in the natural world in ways more akin to the 18th and 19th centuries than the 20th and 21st, and the life experiences of cowboy and fisherman certainly make their music memorable.

      I’m sure you must know Ian and Sylvia, but Tyson has some newer music that appeals to me even more. I think you would like this one.

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