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Alan Brown: Music

LETTER TO LEONARDO

(Alan Brown)
(John Damian de Falcusis was the Italian Abbot of (Tongland in Galloway and an alchemist at King James IV’s court in Stirling Castle in the early 1500s. He was a friend of Leonardo da Vinci and would probably have met Michaelangelo because he namedrops him in the song)

Dear Leo, buongiorno from northern climes,
Incantations and charms and rhymes transcend the ocean
Dear Leo, I hope that this finds you well
No vellum I’ve scratched for a spell or even a potion
Dear Leo, up here on the castle rock
Some say I neglect my flock in Galloway
They’re my base metal, easily led
But, with God’s grace, gold and silver instead
To King James go the spoils, a familiar story,
But the Abbot of Tongland to his name the glory

Dear Leo, how goes it in sunny Rome?
Is that where you’ve made your home with the Giaconda?
Dear Leo, this country is wet and cold
A man dies before he’s old though his heart grows fonder
Dear Leo, has Mick done the Sistine roof?
It would take quite some hundred proof to get him that high
But when I discover the elixir of life
My name will resound far beyond Royal Fife
Here in the carselands of Wallace and Bruce
The Abbot of Tongland's the King’s golden goose

Dear Leo, I’m keeping the best till last
Remember that time we gassed and I mentioned flying?
Dear Leo, I built me a pair of wings
The money was all the King’s, there’s no denying
Dear Leo, some time on Friday night
If I've calculated right I’ll be away
Soaring up high in the heavens I’ll be
Next time I write it’ll be from Paree
Over the rainbow with stars in his eyes
The Abbot of Tongland takes to the skies

Oh how we laugh at those long ago scenes
Fantastic notions and flying machines
Leaps of the mind from the page into space
Imagination that flew in the face
Of the kirk and the crown, the dish and the spoon
Either to reach for or howl at the moon

Dear Leo, next time the Doge comes round
Tell him I think I’ve found the Philosopher’s Stone
Dear Leo, after I wave my wand
My power will be beyond mere skin and bone
Dear Leo, we'll solve the quest for truth
We'll find eternal youth, come what may
I'll dabble in alchemy, play with the runes
You've got your airplane and all your cartoons
Signed, yours sincerely, a man in his prime
The Abbot of Tongland ahead of his time
Dear Leo