About “Songs From Being of the Sun” CD, including production notes and lyrics

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Buy the CD, “Songs from Being of the Sun”

Songs from Being of the Sun is a 2013 remastered version of a 1973 archival recording made by Ramón Sender Barayón, of himself and me (Alicia Bay Laurel) performing our original songs, chants and improvisations from our spirituality, music and nature book, Being of the Sun (Harper & Row, New York, 1973, and Soshisha Ltd., Tokyo, 1974 and 2007).  A new English language edition will be published in 2021 by Echo Point Books & Media.

Here’s what I wrote about the CD and the process of making it:

Ramón loves modes and drones, and was, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, collecting autoharps, taking the “machines” off of them, tuning them to pentatonic modes and using them as drones for sacred chants and drone orchestras.

We wrote a book together, published in 1973 by Harper & Row, titled Being of the Sun. The book includes Ramón’s information on drones and modes, plus some songs I wrote, some he wrote, and some we wrote together. Ramón recorded the two of us performing some of this music, he mostly playing harps and me mostly on open-tuned guitar,  and both of us singing, shortly before the book was released. He also made field recordings of wild birds to add to the recording.

After Being of the Sun was released, I moved to Hana, Maui to learn Hawaiian style open-tuned guitar, and I forgot about these recordings, until November 2012, when I discovered a cassette copy of the recording in my collection of cassette tapes I’d made of my original songs in the early 1970s. I played it, was charmed by it, and called Ramón to find out what had become of the original 4-track reel-to-reel tapes on which he had recorded this music.

The 4-track tapes turned up in an archive of Ramón’s music at Mills College, where he had earned his MA in Composition under Darius Milhaud many years before. Ramón introduced me to Maggi Payne, Chairman of the Music Department at Mills College, who kindly located and digitized these tapes in December 2012.

Ron Grant, a dear friend and film composer in Los Angeles, used 21st century audio technology to remove various hums, hisses and clunks from the recordings, then mixed in the bird tracks, and also recorded a few new tracks of Ramón and me singing to enhance the original. He sampled some bells and small gongs I brought to the studio and played them on some of the tracks.

Ramón listened to the result and gave my collaboration with Ron a “thumbs up.” The CD went to press in May 2013.

~ Alicia Bay Laurel


CD disc art for Songs from Being of the Sun



1 Planting Day Ceremony (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal: Alicia; zither: Ramon

(Sing to the earth)
Let the elements be harmonious
Welcome these children of the sun
And bring them to fruition

(Sing to the plants)
You are collecting sunlight for us
We will bring you compost, mulch and posts to lean on
We will sing your praises and protect you from blights, frost and passing deer herds.
Will you give us your sunlight when the earth collects your bodies?

2 Only Thou/Sunset Chant (music & lyrics: Ramon) vocal & Buchla synthesizer: Ramon

Only Thou, assuager of all sorrow
Only Thou, Oh, Giver of tomorrow
Only Thou, Oh, River of delight
Only Thou through endless day and night


3 Spring Equinox (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal & guitar: Alicia; vocal & zither: Ramon

Today the darkness gives way to daylight
Wakening from winter on the spring side of the sun
How the narrow path of sunlight has widened
As our hemisphere returns to the light
Plant we now our gardens
Blossom now the love in our souls


4 Zither Meditation (improvisation: Ramon & Alicia) zithers: Ramon & Alicia

(no lyrics)


5 Summer Solstice (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal: Alicia; vocal, zither, & bells: Ramon

You have reached the highest in our heavens
And the widest span of our horizon
As we traverse the summer side of the sun
We are in the joy of your attendance
Upon this half of our mother’s breast

6 Welcoming Chant (music & lyrics by Ramon) vocal & guitar: Alicia; vocal & accordion: Ramon

Naked, nameless, homeless, harmless
We welcome you, oh brother (or sister)
Naked, nameless, homeless, harmless
We welcome you to your home
Come share in the love of our common mother
From her womb are all things born.

7 Noon Chant (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal & guitar: Alicia; vocal & zither: Ramon

Hey, there you are on high, the brightest hour of the day
Winking through the trees and clouds, golden on the meadow

8 The Sun is Forever a Lover (music & lyrics: Alicia) vocal & guitar: Alicia; vocal & accordion: Ramon

The sun is forever a lover
But we are all just passing through
So don’t try to think on forever
And love ‘til the sun breaks through

Look in my eyes and I’ll look in your eyes
Lord, can’t you see it shine?
Don’t hide behind all the thoughts in your mind
And love ‘til the sun breaks through

The earth is forever our mother
And gives us the love that she can
But all we can give to each other
Is the love of a fellow man

9 Everything is Flowing (improvisation: Ramon & Alicia) vocal & guitar: Alicia; vocal & zither: Ramon

(no lyrics)


10 Autumn Equinox (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal: Alicia; vocal & zither: Ramon; bells: Ron Grant

Once again the night is equal to the light
On the autumn side of the sun
We have gathered to make light
For the darkness approaches
Thank you for the bounty of the summer
Thank you for the fullness of the harvest

11 The Gayatri (Sanskrit sunrise chant: vocal: Alicia; vocal & zither: Ramon; bowl gong & bells: Ron Grant

Aum. Oh earth, oh air, oh golden light, oh that sun, most adored. 
We drink the splendor of that god; may he fill our day with light.

12 Clouds Chant (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal & guitar: Alicia; zither: Ramon

The sun always shines; the earth brings forth her own clouds
If I have doubts or fears, I remember that, outside me, love is always shining.

13 Oh Friend (music & lyrics: Ramon) vocal & accordion: Ramon

Oh friend, tell me why there’s but one person breathing
Oh friend, tell me why there’s but one heart beating
Oh friend, tell me why there’s but one soul being
Is it life, is it light, is it love?

Oh friends, tell me why there’s but one mind sharing
Oh friends, tell me why there’s but one body caring
Oh friends, tell me why must I die in the daring
Is it life, is it light, is it love?

Oh Source of all life, all bliss bestowing
Oh brothers and sisters with radiance glowing
Unite now with all, o’er the whole world flowing
It is life, it is light, it is love.

14 Aditaya Hridayam Punyam (Sanskrit  – “All evil disappears from those who keep the sun in their hearts”) vocal: Alicia; vocal & shaker: Ramon, shaker: Joe Gallivan.

Aditya hridayam punyam, sarv shatru vinai shanam

15 Winter Solstice (music: Ramon, lyrics: Alicia & Ramon) vocal: Alicia; zither: Ramon; chimes: Ron Grant

Our half of the earth has tipped away from you
And we are on the winter side of the sun
When we are in cold and darkness
We see you in candle flames and fires
We have stored your energy to feed us
Until the day you warm us through our skin

All tracks originally recorded on a Sony TC-854-4 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder by Ramon in 1973, except “Only Thou,” (which he recorded in 1968), and the two Sanskrit chants, which he recorded digitally in 2013. Editing, mixing and mastering and additional recording by Ron Grant in 2013.

Many thanks to Maggi Payne, Chairman of the Music Department at Mills College, where Ramon’s tapes are archived, who digitized the original tapes in 2012.

CD art and design by Alicia, based on the book Being of the Sun (written by Ramon & Alicia, illustrated and designed by Alicia, with sheet music by Ramon, published by Harper & Row, 1973). Digital graphic layout by Al Lopez of Wolf & Lion Communication Design

“Only Thou,” Welcoming Chant,” & “Oh Friend” © 2013 by Ramon Sender Barayon. “The Sun is Forever a Lover” © 2013 by Alicia Bay Laurel, Indigo With Stars, Inc./Bay Tree Music ASCAP.  All other songs © 2013 Ramon Sender Barayon & Alicia Bay Laurel Indigo With Stars, Inc./Bay Tree Music ASCAP, except “The Gayatri “& “Aditya Hridayam Punyam,” which are in public domain.  All rights reserved.

Sheet music, lyrics & zither tunings are in the book Being of the Sun, 1973, Random House, New York, and in its Japanese edition from Soshisha, Ltd.  A new English edition is being prepared for publication in 2021 by Echo Point Books & Media, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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