ANCESTORS' EYES - Track 12 Video

This week's song, the final track on "The Clarke Hall Sessions" is a song that lead me to a personal discovery about my own ancestors.  Co-written with my wife Mary Ellen, Ancestors' Eyes has been a fan favourite over the years and this stripped down live version with Justin and Sean's sensitive accompaniment seemed like a good place to sign off the record.  Check out the video performance below and the story behind the song.
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- BEHIND THE SONG -
Not long after moving to Canada I read a book about the legend of Prince Henry Sinclair. This Scottish adventurer traveled with an Italian navigator named Antonio Zeno, and a party of two hundred men from the Orkney Islands in Scotland to Guysborough Nova Scotia in 1398 - 90 years before Columbus came to the shores of North America. From Nova Scotia, they explored the land and waterways traveling as far as Massachusetts. They came in peace and made no claims upon the lands of the Micmac Indians with whom they lived. Indeed, the legends of these native people recount their harmonious relations with the visiting Earl of Orkney. It may be that their peaceful approach to the new land and its people contributed to their being overlooked by the pages of history. I was fascinated by this story, perhaps because of my own journey across the Atlantic some 600 years later and wanted to write a song about the legend. The song "Prince Henry" was co-written with Kristi Magraw. 

After it had been recorded, it was circulated amongst the Sinclair Clan and eventually made it overseas to the UK where it reached Niven Sinclair. Niven had devoted a lot of effort publicizing the adventurer's story and was so moved by the song he phoned me. After discussing the Sinclair story he drew attention to my own surname Leask and mentioned that there was a lot of Leask's on the Orkney Islands. He offered to search my own ancestry through his contacts on the island. I was absolutely flabbergasted when Niven faxed me evidence to show that a Thomas Leask was very close to Prince Henry and in all likelihood sailed with him to the new world. Niven concluded his fax by saying, "There's a reason you wrote this song, for what is born in the bone is not lost in the blood." It sent shivers down my spine and this experience of discovering my roots inspired the song "Ancestors' Eyes". 

- LYRIC -
I found a dusty photo 
With a black and white expression 
Staring back at me 
I knew his only grandson 
Since he was my father 
Who was this man to me? 

I took a good look at life, 
Through my ancestors' eyes 
Learning from the wayward and the wise 

I heard of one called Thomas 
Who loved the open water 
And longed to be at sea 
He sailed out with Prince Henry 
Sought a new horizon 
And found a whole new world for me 

I took a good look at life, 
Through my ancestors' eyes 
Learning from the wayward and the wise 
I took a good look at life, 
Through my ancestors' eyes 
Looking back to where the future lies 

I left my home and family 
The safety of the harbour 
And faced a lonely sea 
Through all the storm and struggle 
I found the kind of courage 
That's been handed down to me 

Looking, learning, loving through their eyes 
Through ancestors' eyes 
I found some dusty photos 
I heard forgotten stories 
All, all part of me 

Written by David Leask, Mary Ellen Beatty © 1999 Power Of Song




 

2 comments

  • Karen Marshall

    Karen Marshall Etobicoke

    Hello David.....I'm enjoying your new CD very much. It's been awesome listening to new renditions of past favourites as well as all of your new songs and sounds. It's a great mix. As always, it was a delight to hear the stories behind the making of the CD and tracks. Congratulations! Leasky Fan Karen

    Hello David.....I'm enjoying your new CD very much. It's been awesome listening to new renditions of past favourites as well as all of your new songs and sounds. It's a great mix. As always, it was a delight to hear the stories behind the making of the CD and tracks. Congratulations!
    Leasky Fan Karen

  • DAVID LEASK

    DAVID LEASK

    Thanks Karen. So glad you are digging the new disc. Thanks for reading and listening.

    Thanks Karen. So glad you are digging the new disc. Thanks for reading and listening.

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