From: Stephen Shutt, December 7, 2010
What a great interview (with Andrew Batt re:"19 CD Box-Set", posted on Steve Hoffman [http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=235533]. Too bad there appear to be many mistakes in the transcription. I just cleaned up [as best I could without access to the original tape] this paragraph to send to a friend as both of us have always been fascinated by the song, "Northstar Grassman and the Ravens." As Andrew told the interviewer:
"Sandy's songwriting is often symbology and she often writes cryptogram style, it's never as straightforward as you think.The way they are written...It's just a song about pretty nature, sometimes she's writing as if she's the water in the song, so you have to look at it in a different light. In fact, a friend of my mine Phillip Ward wrote a great piece about this , he's written the biography that's in the box set. He does a lot of work on the meaning behind the songs and the imagery and symbology that's in them. And we quite recently go into the [situation the title] song was about, it's basically about death. It's based upon this person she knew called Tigger, who she actually lived with. This is actually before she moved in with Trevor. And he was a merchant seaman and he used to regale them with tales on the sea,he dabbled in drugs. "The North Star" is a pun, "The North Star" was a pub he used to deal out of. So basically you have the North Star [the pub], The Grassman [The Dealer], The Ravens [the symbol of death] because in the song: "To the tower and to the ravens, to the tale which hopes they'll never leave." There is a story in the folklore of England that if the ravens leave the Tower [of London], death will come. [i. e., The Kingdom-England-will fall. In some versions it is actually about the death of the monarch.] He actually died if not exactly at sea than abroad. I can't remember where it was it was somewhere like Tunisia. The song was the story of her finding out about his death or watching someone depart on what is to be their final journey.That's the viewpoint of the song. [end quote]"
This was really fascinating to read.
All the best,