Stars Rain Down: Live in Europe 2001​-​2003

by Erik Norlander

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1.
Caesar saw it in a dream All those many years ago Great is the fall With rocks and stones they built it up Towering castles in the sky Imperial walls Shaking the stones from the earth Rome is burning The whole world is turning Don’t know if I will survive Rome is burning History is learning What goes up won’t come down alive Nero played on as it burned Like a million fireflies Lighting the night A minuet before the fall Underneath an ashen sky In crimson twilight Shaking the stones from the earth Rome is burning The whole world is turning Don’t know if I will survive Rome is burning History is learning What goes up won’t come down alive Don’t turn around Keep your eyes upon the road Hear the deafening sound Where the river meets the sea One more down All the castles turn to sand Never to be found A thousand years have come and gone Aged as the time gone by Remember it all It echoes in the ocean still Memories of better times Before the fall Shaking the stones from the earth Rome is burning ...
2.
I let evil Into my house I let evil Turn me to stone Ancient evil Talking backwards Ancient evil Should’ve been left alone Came from nowhere Out of shadow Came from nowhere Time cannot tell Trapped in darkness Blood of angels Prince of darkness No soul to sell They seem so glamorous Beautiful and vain But once they have your trust They’ll leave you out in the rain Beware the Vampires They feed on the power of the good that you do Beware the Vampires They darken the light of the life within you Nether regions Is its homeworld Nether regions Sun never shines Neverending Star of darkness Out of Eden Serpent on the vine They rise out of the dust Driven by the vein Beware the succubus Doesn’t feel the pain Beware the Vampires They feed on the power of the good that you do Beware the Vampires They darken the light of the life within you Beware the Vampires They feed on the blood of the good that’s in you Beware the Vampires Their evil is greater than we ever knew They seem so glamorous Beautiful and vain But once they have your trust They’ll leave you out in the rain Beware the Vampires They feed on the power of the good that you do Beware the Vampires They darken the light of the life within you Beware the Vampires They feed on the blood of the good that’s in you Beware the Vampires Their evil is greater than we ever knew
3.
I couldn’t wait for it to be Finally over They’re gonna turn me back to stone It doesn’t mean that much to me It’s an illusion I’ll be on board the train for home I can tell you what it means to be Just one of the machines But I can’t tell you what it means to me I’m just one of the machines This is the new theology The building of empires It’s gonna turn your heart to stone They brought me to the factory The silicon bonfire So out of date this flesh and bone I can tell you what it means to be Just one of the machines But I can’t tell you what it means to me I’m just one of the machines Oh I can tell you what it means to be Just one of the machines But I can’t tell you what it means to me I’m just one of the machines
4.
I travel deep blue oceans Far from fields of green I long for lack of motion I dream for a change of scene Dark are the days Cold are the nights Deep are the oceans below But strong are the winds That carry me home I sing you the mariner’s song I leave from ports familiar Set sail to points unknown To pierce the heart of darkness Where the seeds of nightmares are sown Dark are the days Cold are the nights Deep are the oceans below But strong are the winds That carry me home I sing you the mariner’s song Dark are the days Cold are the nights Deep are the oceans below But strong are the winds That carry me home I sing you the mariner’s song
5.
6.
It was windy and warm And I’d had my fill of the summertime Think I’ll stop off for a glass of wine And sit it out ‘til the fall Too long out on the road I needed a change of scenery Looking for some kind of greenery In the west Texas sun But over the blue horizon A song of yesterday Out on the lost highway I was headed back home Movin’ out west through New Mexico Me and my old sense of vertigo Draggin’ the chains of the past But into the heart of midnight A song of yesterday Out on the lost highway It was just after dawn Comin’ up fast on oblivion In a haze of delirium Highway 10 stretches on But out of the misty morning A song of yesterday Out on the lost highway Nothing much to speak of Since my love has gone Guess I’ll be movin’ on
7.
8.
9.
I couldn’t believe it The sights I been shown My head explodes with ancient mysteries Seems like yesterday But in my heart I know We sailed across a thousand centuries I tried to take it slow But it roars in my mind like thunder Heavy metal symphony Stars rain down on the deep blue sea I gave you my will, and you set me free Heavy metal rain down on me We started in Berlin And made our way out west Played every hall ‘cross the seven seas We hit all the hot spots And broke down many walls Defied the laws of gravity I tried to see the signs But it roars in my mind like thunder Heavy metal symphony Stars rain down on the deep blue sea I gave you my will, and you set me free Heavy metal rain down on me I tried to brave the storm But it roars in my mind like thunder Heavy metal symphony Stars rain down on the deep blue sea I gave you my will, and you set me free Heavy metal rain down on me
10.
11.
There is a place where you program the sunshine And listen to rain as it falls from above Where silently I paint a private utopia Where lion and lamb lie with eagle and dove I think of old times when I look in your eyes Remember the days we walked hand in hand Now you live your life like a sole survivor A madman wandering the desert sand I will fly like the wind ‘cross the sea to be near you And my doubts, like the sun, they will fade through the night Fly like the wind, vowing love in the shadows Under moons crystal white and the waters midnight blue Wondering back to the summer of madness Flying away through the sheltering sky Wishing that somehow we could remain ageless But days get shorter as years roll by I will fly like the wind ‘cross the sea to be near you And my doubts, like the sun, they will fade through the night Fly like the wind, vowing love in the shadows Under moons crystal white and the waters midnight blue I follow three stars in the hovering darkness For it is well known there’s no map of this land The forest is deep and the journey is endless I’m finding my way however I can I will fly like the wind ‘cross the sea to be near you And my doubts, like the sun, they will fade through the night Fly like the wind, vowing love in the shadows Under moons crystal white and the waters midnight blue Fly back to you Fly back to you
12.
This time next year we’ll be looking at our yesterdays See how far we’ve come from here All of our fears are the history of future days Climb the mountain, touch the skyline If you know that change is constant You’ll find it’s nothing new Don’t be surprised when you realize it’s happened to you There’s a storm on the horizon It’s coming here to stay It’s a one way ride through the silicon sky Oblivion days The road is clear down the neverending motorway From the brink of fleeting time Along the banks of the river turning night to day Climb the mountain, touch the skyline If you know that change is constant You’ll find it’s nothing new Don’t be surprised when you realize it’s happened to you There’s a storm on the horizon It’s coming here to stay It’s a suicide dive through the hurricane’s eye Oblivion days This time next year we’ll be looking at our yesterdays See how far we’ve come from here The sound you’ll hear ‘cross the ocean land of far away Climb the mountain, touch the skyline When you know that change is constant You’ll find it’s nothing new Don’t be surprised when the compromise is all about you You can read it in the headlines It’s close in every way When the holes in the sky just multiply Oblivion days When you’re standing at the crossroads So far from hallowed ground The high road ends just ‘round the bend in a flash of sight and sound There’s a storm on the horizon It’s coming here to stay It’s a one way ride through the silicon sky Oblivion days
13.

about

From the original 2004 liner notes:

This album was recorded in Europe on tours spanning a period of three years. The highway to here has been long, sometimes arduous, but always full of wonder and fascination. Even in the most stressful moments, I never forget that I have the best job in the world. I have been lucky enough to travel the world playing rock 'n' roll, first in 1997 with Rocket Scientists, then in 1998-1999 with Lana Lane, and most recently since 2001 with the lengthily monikered live project, "Lana Lane and Erik Norlander", a joint effort with my wife where we play music that spans our complete recorded catalogs.

What started off as a simple vehicle to go out and deliver live performances of the songs from both Lana and myself utilizing a single versatile backing band of international musicians has grown into an annual touring tradition and one I look forward to each year. As I write these liner notes, I am on the eve of a series of solo U.S. summer dates followed immediately by a fall 2004 European Tour of "Lana Lane and Erik Norlander". I am truly anticipating these dates like a kid wishes for Christmas.

Not only is it a joy to travel while playing the music I love, it is a further privilege to work with this exceptional group of musicians that are kind enough to share both the stage and their talents with me:

The name Lana Lane is familiar to just about anyone who knows progressive and symphonic rock, and she is without a doubt the world's leading female rock vocalist. It was music that brought us together way back in 1987, and it is our good fortune to have kept on making beautiful music together in all the years since. On this album, Lana delivers powerful live renditions of her Into the Sunset tracks, the kinetic rocker "Fly" and the sultry bridge of "Rome is Burning". In addition, we have the delight of hearing Lana's interpretations of "Lost Highway" from the Music Machine album and "Oblivion Days" from the Rocket Scientists album of the same name. And let me not forget Lana's haunting harmonies on "Beware the Vampires" that are executed so transparently you hardly notice that this is a different voice than the lead which sung by Kelly Keeling.

And speaking of Kelly Keeling, I must quote Kelly's words about our collaboration, "We were meant to be on the same planet." I had done some sessions with Kelly in recent years, but it was bassist Tony Franklin that urged me to consider Kelly for the role of the narrator on my 2003 rock opera, Music Machine. From the moment Kelly sang the first line of the title track, "Music Machine", I was hooked. I knew I had found the "voice" of Erik Norlander. The Music Machine sessions were a huge success, and so I naturally wanted to hear Kelly sing some of my other music. I brought him in to record a version of my Rocket Scientists song, "Mariner", a track that I sang myself back in 1995 on our Brutal Architecture album. Kelly's interpretation was stunning, to say the least, and that was the catharsis for bringing Kelly to Europe for the 2003 "Lana Lane and Erik Norlander" tour. As you will hear on this disc, Kelly delivered "Mariner" with his own astounding interpretation along with powerful performances of the Music Machine songs, "Beware the Vampires", "One of the Machines" and "Heavy Metal Symphony", and the Into the Sunset track, "Rome is Burning". That last one is not a vocal mission to approached casually. Not only did Kelly survive it, he conquered it.

Hey, have you ever seen anyone play a bass and a guitar at the same time? That sentence has become a running joke with Don Schiff, my favorite Stick figure, but that's really a great way to describe what he does with these very unique and creative instruments. Don was the first musician to record and tour with the NS/Stick, and it that original instrument that appears here on this CD. While the Chapman Stick is predominantly a tapping instrument, the NS/Stick allows Don to utilize numerous techniques from traditional bass playing (check on Don here on the Threshold album favorite, "Neurosaur", originally played on Rickenbacker 4 -string bass) to right hand chordal voicings ("One of the Machines") to his own very recognizable "Slide Stick" invention as evidenced by his beautiful solo in the first breakdown of the Music Machine opus, "Sky Full of Stars". Don has toured and recorded much with me over the years in many band configurations including Rocket Scientists and Lana Lane as well as solo outings, and he is always inventive, ever visionary and of course a general joy to be around.

Another general joy to be around is guitar wunderkind Peer Verschuren. Okay, maybe he's not a "kind" anymore, but he is definitely a "wunder". I have played with an awful lot of guitarists in my career (happily not a lot of awful guitarists), and I have found that most them lock into one particular style better than another. One particular recurring issue seems to be the inherent musical conflict between metal music and progressive music. There are those that play metal well. There are those that play prog well. There are those that are masters of the subtle and sublime, and then there are those that are louder than an airport runway during the holidays. Seldom is there a meeting of two. But meet Peer Verschuren. He does it! From the sensitive chordal rhythm accompaniment of "Lost Highway" to the amp-on-11 blazing solo of "Heavy Metal Symphony", Peer gets it. Here's a musician full of sound and fury signifying MUCH.

I have also been lucky enough to play with two drummers who are truly virtuosos. And both of them from Holland! How such a small country grows these monster drummers is beyond me. Must be something in the water. (Did you notice how I didn't mention anything about cheese or dikes? That's willpower.) Ernst Van Ee had the unenviable job on the last tour of playing a collection of songs that we had previously recorded with no less than six other drummers. My instructions to the drummer are always "Play the parts, but play them like YOU, not like the guy who played them before you." Ernst rose to this challenge like the star that he is, and you can hear him deliver a range of material from the Into the Sunset metal anthem "Rome is Burning" to the Music Machine space ballad "Sky Full of Stars" to the Brutal Architecture vintage prog epic "Mariner". Another Dutch master is Ed Warby whose double bass technique is more solid and consistent than a fine Rolex watch. Check out the drums on "Fly" and you'll see what I mean. Ed also traverses some serious prog-fusion peaks and valleys in the aerobic "Neurosaur" and then bashes away with maximum heavy metal intensity on the martial "Oblivion Days".

These fine musicians have helped me capture a very wide range of music taken from five fairly different studio albums. When you wonder about the oceans of difference between a song like "Rome is Burning" and one like "Neurosaur", well that's just me. In my view, that's what prog is all about. We're not just going to go out and play Yes songs. Yes does those very well, and they don't need my help. So I'm trying something different out here on the lost highway. May you savor the journey, and keep a close watch on the sky as Stars Rain Down!

Erik Norlander
Los Angeles, June, 2004

credits

released July 5, 2004

Erik Norlander: keyboards
Kelly Keeling: vocals on 1-4, 9
Lana Lane: vocals on 1,2,6,11,12
Peer Verschuren: guitars (all tracks)
Don Schiff: NS/Stick (all tracks)
Ernst Van Ee: drums on 1-6, 9, 10, 13
Ed Warby: drums on 8, 12

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Erik Norlander California

ERIK NORLANDER is a progressive rock keyboardist, composer, producer and active live performer based in Northern California. In addition to his many solo albums, Erik works with vocalist Lana Lane (his wife), his band, Rocket Scientists, and The Bob Moog Foundation. Erik has worked extensively with ASIA Featuring John Payne, Last in Line, Big Noize (with Joe Lynn Turner) and many other artists. ... more

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