When Robert Fripp's mother passed away in 1993, he chose the new age sounds of his soundscape series to serve as a tribute to her. The liner notes in the CD booklet contain a beautifully written eulogy (by Fripp himself) about the interesting life of his mother Edie. Fripp does an excellent job of conveying his grief in the eight selections that comprise A Blessing of Tears, while his sorrow is evident in some of the tracks' titles - "The Cathedral of Tears," "A Blessing of Tears," etc. All of the tracks were recorded live during a week-long U.S. West Coast tour, and it differs from the preceding Soundscapes release, Radiophonics, because its sole purpose is obviously not to test his audience's "listening capabilities." Fripp has once again successfully put his most personal and heartfelt feelings into his music, the proof being heard throughout the beautiful A Blessing of Tears, 1995 Soundscapes Vol. 2.
- Greg Prato (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
The solo Soundscapes were supported at all the performances by The California Guitar Trio. Their instruction, given prior to the first performance at The House of Blues, was "blow me off". This they did, regularly.
I would come onstage and play for some 20 - 30 minutes the kind of whirring, bleeping and droning sounds, a selection of which are presented on this record. Then the (generally polite and patient) audience would gratefully embrace something more recognisably musical from The CGT. This exchange would be repeated once or twice until finally the triumphant Trio would be called back for encores.
The Tokyo Hands, a Guitar Craft acoustic quintet from Japan who were attending the Application & Assimilation course in Ojai, provided additional support at Tower Records and The House of Blues.
This small and mobile tour, organised by Bill Forth, is part of an ongoing series of performances which has the aim of finding a way in which intelligence and music, definition and discovery, courtesy and reciprocation enter into the act of music for both musician and audience. These performances take place within a commercial culture in which we are inescapably ill-placed. We also carry a merchandising stand wherever possible.
These performances are themselves part of an ongoing exploration of how music might enter our sorry world, despite all our efforts to keep it out. Discipline Global Mobile, Guitar Craft, Soundscapes are all part of this applied enquiry.
Redemption is an actual event, and music is one of its voices. Or so it seems to me.
Gladys Louise Green Edith Fripp Elizabeth Bennett Irene Miller Estelle Gavalas
Life is what we are given, living is what we do with it, and then we die. Probably nothing gives life its keenness and poignancy as the presence of death and dying.
The death of one's mother is about close to home as we get, but the death of friendship and trust remind us of the richness which both give to life and our living of it.
There are different qualities of dying. The quality of our dying reflects the quality of our living, the quality of our living determines the quality of our dying.
May my living honour my parents.
May my living honour my family and friends.
May my living repay the debt of my existence.
Tuesday 28th. March, 1995
San Jose Seminario, GANDARA, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.
Basis of Eulogy for Edie Fripp delivered at Wimborne Minster on July 30th. 1993 dun'ng the service to celebrate her life and commemorate her death.
My dear little Mother slipped gently from this life Thursday evening the 22nd. of July between 9.07 and 9.10 while I was holding her hand, just three months short of her 79th. birthday.
Twelve hours later her heart was still warm.
She was born on October 14th. 1914 in Abertillery with a twin brother who died an hour after birth. For this reason, being a twin, her temperature was always lower than normal.
Edie spent the first 17 years of her life in Aberbeeg, a Welsh mining village in what is now the county of Gwent. When she was 17, having never been christened, she organised her own christening and took the name of Edith, the name given to her by her parents. She never liked the name Edith and often mentioned to me that if she had had more sense she would have called herself by another name.
Her home was in a terrace of houses built by her grandfather and his eight sons for themselves and their families. This was Greenland Terrace. One of the sons was killed during the construction when a wall fell on him.
The centre of village life in this Welsh mining community was the chapel where Edie's talents for singing, elocution and social interaction were encouraged and practised. This Chapel background may also have been the origin of her anti-clericalism. Barney Hopkinson (the officiating minister at her funeral) is the only man of the cloth for whom she ever felt affection and respect, and who might have lead her to regular church-going. Otherwise, she said that she felt closer to God in Poole Harbour or Bournemouth Bay while fishing on my father's boat. Or at least, this was what she told a visiting evangelising former vicar of Wimborne Minster when he called.
Edie's father, Joe Green, was pigeon racing champion of Wales for three consecutive years with his blue checker pigeon "Lily of the Valley". Joe lost a leg in a mining accident, and in the following week as Joe hovered between life and death my grandmother's hair turned white. He died in 1948 at the age of 59 from angina, a result of his occupation. My mother was very close to her father, a connection maintained throughout her life, and always considered a visiting pigeon to be an omen of good fortune.
As I left my home to attend Edie's funeral service a pigeon rose from a cable and flew above me.
Gladys Louise Green, nee Lewis, Edie's mother, remained in Wales to marry Joe following the early death of her mother and the subsequent emigration to Australia of all her family. Nanna Green was proud that her children Evelyn and Edith never had to attend the soup kitchens of the Welsh mining communities in the hard times of the 1920s. Nans died at age 95 in 1985, outliving my father by several months. I visited her with my cousin Malcolm a month before she died. Although her mind and memory had mostly gone, she recounted in living detail the night on which her husband, Granky Joe Green, had died. His last words, spoken in the morning to a friend, were " Take care of Glad". She told this story as if she were speaking of the previous night. In actuality the event had been 35 years before. Neither death nor a widowhood of 35 years affected the love and loyalty which my grandmother held for husband. Her last words, spoken to my cousin Jean, were: "I've said my prayers and I'm ready to go".
Edie left Aberbeeg around 1930 because her only other choice was to marry a miner. She came to Bournemouth at a time when job applications bore notices: "No Irish, No Welsh". I never myself knew my mother to discriminate between people whatever their background or circumstances. At a dance during the war, following the influx of American GIs, my mother was reproved by a white GIfor dancing with a black GI. My mother's response was that both were fighting to support England. And then she went off to dance with another black GI.
During the war my mother worked in Bournemouth, initially in the Records Office. Her earnings as a civilian were substantially more than enlisted workers and these earnings, saved by mother, established my father in business with the acquisition of a property in Leigh Road, Wimborne, then No. 75 and now No. 14. At the rear of the ' property was a Spiritualist Temple which in time became a dance hall and eventually an auction room, somewhat to the disgust of Mr. Jenner the spiritualist minister.
Then, in 1945 my sister was born and 1 year 1 month 2 days 121/2 hours later, so was I. My mother had had no wish to be a mother, but once motherhood arrived she gave her family her life.
So, my mother was an energetic, social creature who gave herself to her children and husband while smartly dressed in bright clothes and often wearing large, pendulous earrings. She accepted my father's anti-social nature, which was in marked contra-distinction to her own social inclinations, and supported her children in whatever way was needed and possible. This included visiting infant school plays and carol singing in Broadstone which my father managed to avoid without difficulty.
On Christmas Eve 1957, after she had already bought all my Christmas presents, Mother spent the day shopping with me in Bournemouth and bought me my first guitar.
Subsequently, she took me to Westbourne for guitar lessons with Don Strike nearly every week for two years. My father encouraged my practising by paying for the lessons.
My father was who he was, and I sensed his children were something of an interruption in a life which otherwise might have been quieter. I think he found us continually surprising and not quite part of the world which he understood.
But my Mother learnt from her children. My sister became the person she is because of my mother, and my mother became the person she was because of who my sister became. Mother was also pretty zingy, and had no sense of direction at all - a talent practised over a period of 38years driving in all directions including the one which lead to where she was going. She loved James Bond movies, particularly when Bond punched out the baddies, and was becoming educated in high action Jean Claude van Damme movies the week before she died.
Mother was an unrepentant smoker, although smoking undoubtedly contributed to the cancer which killed her. The Friday before she died and upon her return home from Wimborne Hospital she celebrated with some fierce toking of her 100mm stogies, the packet of which bore the clearly displayed banner: "Smoking is bad for your health". She commented to me how good it tasted after a smokeless week in Victoria Hospital. To acknowledge this, her last pleasure, we put in her coffin a packet of her favourite cigarettes contributed by Rosemary, her neighbour at Millstream Close, in the hope that wherever Mother is now or shortly going to there will be a smoking section. We also placed in her hand a pink rose from the garden of our home in the Wiltshire countryside, the much loved garden created by Cecil Beaton.
Four years ago, following the death of my spiritual mother Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett, and reflecting upon the death of this my second mother, I came to appreciate the utter necessity of death.
In an obvious sense, life and death are reverse sides of the same coin. Without life there cannot be death, and without death life lacks its imperative. Death, in this view, is an inevitability.
But death is far more than a mere inevitability: it makes a contribution to life which enables life to continue. At the completion of a life lived well, something of what has been acquired is returned to life and living things.
Our contemporary culture seems to be the only culture in history which doubts that an individual consciousness, concentrated within one particular life, is an ongoing and continuous action contained within the growing overall human consciousness.
For my part, I have no fear that my Mothers death has ended very much at all, but perhaps provided her the opportunity to trade in an old vehicle for a speedier model. Although given my Mothers total lack of direction, practised to a near art-form over a lifetime of hair-raising achievements, that might be a legitimate cause for concern.
My mother gave me her unqualified love and support, without which the difficulties of the music industry, particularly the very hard early years of constant travelling and pressure, would have been overwhelming for me. I wish to acknowledge publicly and gratefully that my mothers unconditional love has been the foundation of my life.
There is only one father in the world, there is only one mother in the world, but there are many children.
I have not lost my mother, but I miss her company.
Following the service on Friday 30th. July 1993, I rode with my Mother in the hearse, such was her sense of direction, to Witchampton Churchyard where she was placed with my Father in the plot which had been prepared for them both since his own burial on April 19th. 1985. The Fripp family has been living in the village for some 300 years and on May 16th. 1986 my marriage to Toyah took place in the church which now both my parents look down upon.