Englishman in Berlin - A Time For Everything (single)
As the name of his project - Englishman in Berlin - indicates, the singer-songwriter Robert Metcalf lives in Berlin, where he is well-known as a writer and performer of children´s songs in German. However, most of his musical heroes have an Anglo-American background and belong to an earlier generation of writers and composers: Paul Simon, Lennon & McCartney, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman...
For his latest song the Englishman was inspired by a verse in the Bible. It is the wellknown passage from the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes 3), which starts with the lines "To Everything There Is a Season." The phrases that follow all begin with the same three words - "A time to..." - which are repeated through the whole passage:
A time to be born, and a time to die...
A time to plant, a time to reap...
A time to kill, and a time to heal...
In the 1950´s the verse inspired Peter Seeger´s song "Turn! Turn! Turn!", which was interpreted by various artists and was finally made famous by the group The Byrds in the early 1960's.
Metcalf himself says of the Bible passage: "You do not have to be particularly religious to comprehend the wisdom in those lines." And further: "It is satisfying to know that what was written thousands of years ago (NOTE: the lines are attributed to King Solomon) is still true and important today." However, the songwriter has changed many of the original phrases and expressed them in his own personal way. For example:
A time to listen, a time to speak,
A time to be strong, a time to be weak...
But even if the songwriter has written new lyrics, these are in the same vein as the original, biblical text. And in the prologue he freely admits to this:
"A verse in the Bible inspired this song..." adding with a wink: "...If it´s there in the Bible it can´t be wrong..."
The music to Metcalf´s song is gentle and cautious, beginning with an acoustic guitar accompanying a haunting melody from an alto recorder. In the middle of the first verse an E-piano is introduced, with fill-ins from an alto clarinet gradually coming in. In the second verse bass and drums add a rhythmical strength to the arrangement, climaxing in the bridge with supplementary wind instruments and a weaving instrumental passage, before coming back to the same quiet lines cited in the prologue:
...There´s a time for everything und the sun.
And the night only comes when the day is done.
The song ends with the initial melody of the intro, leaving the alto recorder to recede into the distance with its final quivering notes.
Stream "A time for everything" on this link: