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The Sleeping Angel

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It was during the recording sessions for debut solo album, Bella Donna, when she crafted the song "Sleeping Angel." When the LP debuted in July 1981, "Sleeping Angel" hadn't made the cut of the record's 10 songs. The tune, however, would not be lost to history. Inside Time reserve the right to republish comments in its newspaper or in any of its other publications, however, in these cases, comments will be anonymised.


Three views of the sleeping angel on the grave of Mary Nichols. The inscription reads: “In Ever Loving Memory of Mary, the darling wife of Arthur Nichols and fondly loved mother of their only son Harold who fell asleep 7th May 1909. Also of Dennis Arthur Charles son of Harold and Winifred who died 28th April 1916 aged 18 months.” Jeane Trend-Hill explains that Mary's husband was a bank manager, so he could afford this kind of splendid and unusual monument. In this case the implication seems to be that the deceased is herself a sleeping angel. Stevie performed “Sleeping Angel” during the acoustic set (“After the Glitter Fades,”“Garbo,”“Rose Garden,”“Sleeping Angel”) of the 1998 Enchanted Tour, the only time the song has been performed in concert. Alternate Version In 1813, fellow Quakers encouraged her to visit Newgate Prison, infamous for appalling conditions. She found it overcrowded with no separation of men from women, leaving women at risk of rape. Many had not even been to trial. Many would be shipped to Australia in vessels Ms Fry described as no better than slave ships, some dying on the way. Disease was rife; hanging common, even for trivial offences; the system foul. She determined to see change. In 1817 she helped found the ‘Association for Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate’. She persuaded senior politicians to spend nights in Newgate to experience the horrors, and one year later became the first woman ever to give evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee, a century before women got the vote. Her campaigns touched the nation’s heart.

The story goes that the angel was covered in ivy for many years and discovered by a photographer. The ivy was removed and she was on display for a while but now she is usually covered with planks of wood as the cemetery management don't want people to know she is there in case of vandalism and questions about her came to an abrupt end. Hmmmm....I love getting to the bottom of a good mystery! The chorus "Take me sleeping angel, catch me when you can" suggests a longing for the other person's affection and emotional support. The line "real love affairs are heavy spells for a woman and a man" implies that genuine love can be intense and deeply transformative.

Writing in her popular God's Acre: Or Historical Notices Relating to Churchyards (1858), Mrs Stone described angels as playing important roles in human life, and especially at the time of death, as heavenly messengers whispering "of faith, of hope, of comfort, in that Divine expiation made for all sin." [405] All photographs by Robert Freidus, who also provided names and dates. Text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. Photographs reproduced here by kind permission of Highgate Cemetery. Related Material If you drive around the North Circular Road and turn towards Barking in east London, before reaching the town centre you pass the magnificent Gurdwara Singh Sabha Sikh Temple. Two hundred yards from there, down narrow Whiting Avenue, is Quaker Burial Ground Gardens. This beautiful open space is lush and green. Wild flowers thrive.

The narrator emphasizes their need for the other person's presence because it allows them to breathe, suggesting that their relationship brings them a sense of life and vitality. However, they also caution against taking their love lightly, as it may jeopardize their ability to stay in the relationship. Are there any specific musical techniques or instruments that enhance the emotional impact of the song?Towards the end of the song, there is an allusion to the passage of time and growing old together. The imagery of silver-grey hair and unbraiding with love like a soft silver chain implies the narrator's desire for a lasting and deep connection. In modern days, also, has it not been at the shrine of death that the highest efforts of the Michael Angelos, the Canovas, the Thorwaldsens, and the Chantreys, have been elicited and exhibited? The tomb has, in fact, been the great chronicler of taste throughout the world." [John Claudius Loudon 13] Mary Nichols proved to be rather elusive as it was a very common name in the UK when she died in 1909 and transcribing the records often went awry, she could have been entered as Nichol or Nicholls in which case I’d probably never find her. After looking through 526 death, marriage and census records, I narrowed it down to four possible’s and sent for one death certificate which was hopefully the right Mary Nichols and will contain more information. In 2017, Rhino Records issued Bella Donna, including an “Alternate Version” of “Sleeping Angel” on Disc 2 of the 3CD expanded edition. Lyrics

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