Singing seas and mythical islands - September 11
Steve looking out at sunset over Mykonos
Jo and I have just returned from a belated honeymoon in the Greek islands. We stayed on Mykonos - a beautiful island of white washed houses, shrines and windmills contrasted with deep blue skies and bright red flowers highlighting the rugged landscape. We wanted to see more and hired a quad bike, which spluttered up hills and occasionally conked out altogether! We swapped it for a car to "venture off the map", often ending up on dirt roads in wild scenery, peppered with remote monasteries, ruined fortresses and idyllic inlets with tantalising views of other islands...
Even more untamed was the sea, crashing against rocks and buildings on the coast like a raging beast unleashed. You can fathom how stories of sea monsters like the Kraken came into being. We braved a boat journey on really choppy waters, amid Poseidon's white-tipped horses, drawn by the lilting sounds of moaning winds. The Sirens came to mind, with their enticing wails, luring ships on to jagged outcrops. It's an image that appealed to Genesis as much as myself, and is part of the inspiration for my guitar sound on Firth of Fifth.
The boat took us to Delos with its famous archaeological site, once known as the "sacred island" and believed to be the birthplace of the god Apollo and his sister Artemis. In classical times it was a place of life, while its neighbour Rhenia became the Isle of the Dead, a necropolis dedicated to deaths and burials.
Every island seems to have a powerful energy. When we briefly saw Naxos, two ancient pillars formed what seemed like a gigantic window to the heavens. The most extraordinary of all was Santorini, its towering cliffs around a huge caldera with an active volcano in the middle. We sailed in through a gap that had been blown out into that half remembered mythical world. It's unlike anything I've ever seen and took my breath away. It's the most likely source of Plato's Atlantis story of an island within an island, an advanced culture that disappeared in a day. During the time of myth this island blew up in an explosion three or four times bigger than Krakatoa, creating tsunamis 200 metres tall. Hard to imagine! The huge dramatic cliffs bear the scars and the new volcano reminds us that the story is not over...
It was such an inspiring week that several ideas for songs and riffs rushed into my head. Like the powerful stuff that came to mind as I stood beside the Sphinx in Egypt, pieces of music seemed to emerge from the fabric of these exceptional places. A fantastic setting to spend a honeymoon!
Steve and Jo celebrate their honeymoon
Church of Paraportiani, Mykonos
Delos, with Rhenia in the distance
Towering cliffs of Santorini