I wrote the ballad Please Close Your Eyes, after a love affair ended. I knew that it would, one day – that I would walk away because that’s what lies frequently in the nature of a relationship with a lover. But I also knew that in the end, it would hurt.
That’s when I wrote the song: just humming the melody and fragments of the lyrics, I recorded it as a fast sketch on tape. But then I somehow misplaced the tape and these initial deep feelings dwindled as time went by. Years later, I found it while clearing out my family’s home in France, trapped in that old tape deck. Yes, a cassette – that’s how long ago it is! I then remembered having taken it with me on that work-holiday, hoping to complete it. Praying, that nobody had ever heard this very intimate and fragile sketch, merely a sentence, melancholically describing the end of a love affair.
The lover is now hopefully happily ever after, receiving and giving the love he deserves.
Shortly after retrieving and completing the piece, I met my husband, Greg Porée, who is also a musician and composer – and like I was soon to find out, a brilliant orchestrator and arranger.
He orchestrated the very first version of this piece, a couple of years before I recorded it with voice and piano for my album, The World I Am Livings In. For the very first time it came to life through that arrangement and with Ryan Cross’ Elevation Orchestra.
The Elevation Orchestra
The Elevation Orchestra is a group consisting of 17 string players and rhythm section (piano, bass, and drums). Members of the group include such names as world renowned violinist Karen Briggs, Chris Woods, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Lesa Terry. Its mission is to uplift the urban community through musical inspiration. Special guest vocalists and musicians are featured at every concert and the music blend ranges from Motown to hip-hop and jazz to classical.
Their goal is to bridge the generation gap in the African American community as well as expand the musical pallet by using traditionally classical instruments to tell their history through music – and one of the pieces was “Please Close Your Eyes”. It was indeed thrilling to hear the piece played by such great players: It was performed live on Sunday, February 1, 2009 at the California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Los Angeles, CA.
Unluckily, the person hired to video tape and record the show failed to do so, because of technical problems. But a new recording now exists; it is the last song of the twelve on my new album. I thought it would be appropriate because it is a farewell piece. Please Close Your Eyes, features my voice, grand piano (Jeff Colella) and a small string ensemble (Matt Cooker and Alisha Bauer on cello and Cindy Wu on violin)
This recording has the effect of a symphonic poem or tone poem. Greg Porée’s string arrangement almost giving it a classical aura – although the accompaniment is simple and intimate and never overpowers the delivery of the low and softly sung lyric.
Your copy of the song available for download here:
Music & lyrics by Frances Livings
Frances Livings ~ vocals
Jeff Colella ~ piano
Matt Cooker ~ cello & Alisha Bauer ~ cello
Cindy Wu ~ violin
from the album The World I Am Livings In
released in March 2013. Read the lyrics here.