My story of the making of “Seven Rivers”
Seven Rivers was conceived way before the actual recording of this song.
Dan shared his thoughts with me about wanting to write a song about the story of the “floating candle” ceremony in the city of Hiroshima.* He asked me if I could help him write the song either with melody, lyrics and/or research. Before beginning to write, I decided to research—thus I began checking various books from the library and had brochures and pamphlets about the floating candles and found that there were seven rivers in Hiroshima. I took the information to Dan and he really like the concept of seven rivers and wanted to title this song “Seven Rivers”. This song did not make it for the recording of “Between Black and White”.
Not too much longer, I started working on my solo CD “Spirit and Soul”. I thought about asking Dan to complete “Seven Rivers” for my CD but decided against it since it was very much a “Hiroshima” concept.
Then came the recording of the band’s “Spirit of the Season” for the holiday season. Again, “Seven Rivers” was put aside.
Now came the crunch to record for Heads Up International “The Bridge”. Dan wanted to work on Seven Rivers. He started writing beautiful lyrics in a haiku cadence and using the chorus of “seven rivers” as the main words and even the chanting of “seven rivers!” I frantically looked for the research I had done years ago and could not find a thing! I spent days going through my files, notebooks, stacks and stacks of bills, unfilled papers, printed e-mails, and what nots!!! It was so exasperating that I decided it was easier to begin a new research. I called reverends at different local temples and began an Internet search for “Seven Rivers”. No reference to seven rivers in Hiroshima!!!!
There is a “Hiroshima-Ken” listing in the directory! BUT there is also a Hiroshima “Representative” office at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center! Aha!!! So I called and inquired about the rivers in Hiroshima. The lady there was very helpful but said according to the resources she had, there were only SIX rivers! I went down to the office and picked up many pamphlets pertaining to Hiroshima with maps and she was correct—there were only SIX rivers! Now what do I do?
I took a deep breath and apologetically told Dan I don’t know what happened, how it happened, but that there are only six rivers and I don’t know how I ever got SEVEN! He had a great attitude and simply grinned and said that if there’s only six, then the seventh will be our mystical river. We both laughed because inside, quietly, I know we were both thinking…. only June could do this… What happened?!#@$%#@!
But Dan did not want to change the name of the song. Six Rivers does not have the ring and vibe as you say “Seven Rivers”. Could it probably be the Japanese/Asian thing that odd numbers are better?
Plus, Dan had already written the lyrics and the cadence would not fit if we changed seven to six…
So the song was recorded and now on our “The Bridge” CD!
So you think that is the end of that loooooooooopng story? --- NOOOOOOO…!
Six months after the release of the CD, I get a letter from a temple friend of mine. (See below.) Look! There are seven rivers in Hiroshima! And he sent two maps to verify!!!
Thank you Kei!!!! And thank you all!!!
*According to one of my resources:
“Floating Paper Lantern Ceremony
“For this ceremony, Toro Nagashi is a ceremony at the end of the Bon season (a Buddhist event held during the middle of August to pay respects to ancestors) where lanterns are floated on rivers or the sea to take the souls of ancestors, who are said to visit during Bon, to the other world. In Hiroshima, the ceremony is performed to console the souls of the atomic bomb victims.
“Date: August 6
“Place: The rivers within the city”
Printed in 1930's
Printed in 1993
(note: the map shows only six rivers because the west most two rivers have been combined, rerouted and widened in recent years.)