After the grueling campaign down the Mediterranean coast
the army moves west into Egypt. The Egyptians have long
suffered under Persian occupation and Alexander is, for
once, greeted as a liberator rather than as a conqueror.


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2/10/2010: Needs lead guitar, lyrics, vox and a big finish.
4/28/2010: Lead guitar & lyrics done, still needs vox.
5/20/2010: Big finish & transition to "Victory" done.
9/14/2010: Vox done, principal recording complete!


A year of hell behind us
And in the south we find an
Unexpected warm reception

The cryptic sphinx and pyramids
The people cheer within the
Land of pharaohs, hailed as heroes
Told to seek the oracle

Into the west, the desert
It seems we've left the world of men behind

Searing endless dunes, could we have been betrayed?
A cunning snare to kill without the need to lift a blade
Alexander marches on, parched but unafraid
Then vast, astounding forest and a temple in the glade

No mirage
The lap of the gods
The acolytes are chanting
The oracle is ranting:

Pharaoh Alexander, candle burning ever faster
Cast down our Persian masters
You don't know your father but you're still his chosen son
Call him Ra or Zeus, his true name is "Ammon"

Cleitus barks, "it's blasphemy"
Parmenion just nods
Hephaestion argues "it can't hurt
"If our foes think you're a god"

They look to me, as always
As the voice of reason, so I say
If it helps defeat the Persians
Do what you have to do
But don't expect the men to believe it
And nor, my friend, should you

A word of explanation:

Alexander enters Egypt uneventfully and revels in the legendary
architecture and culture. He visits the oracle of Siwa oasis in
the Libyan desert, and the Egyptian priests there proclaim Amun
is Alexander's father, and Alexander is true Pharaoh of Egypt
(presumably because Egypt had been treated poorly under
Persian occupation, so the Egyptians view him as a liberator).

Amun was the hidden, essential aspect of Amun-Re, the Egyptian
creator diety, and counterpart to Ra, the divinity revealed. The
Greeks were quite familiar with Amun, who had several temples
in Greece and whom they considered to be an aspect of Zeus.

Alexander is 25, and he's basically just been told that his
mother's claim that Zeus was his father is true. That's a bit
of a head trip, and it's true that henceforth, Alexander
often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father. Personally,
I doubt if he truly put much stock in prophecies like this
or the legend of the Gordian knot, but he was clearly
willing to use them to inspire fear in his enemies and
minimize the risk of civil unrest in conquered territory.
Unfortunately, his willingness to accept this kind of
diefication would eventually lead to dissent among his
fiercely independent - minded Macedonian troops.

Epilogue: Shortly before leaving Egypt, Alexander
founds the port city of Alexandria to serve as a link
between Greece and the rich Nile valley. In a fitting
tribute to Alexander's renowned bibliophilia, a few
decades later the Great Library of Alexandria is built
there, the largest library of the ancient world. It also
becomes the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria,
one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

Songwriting Notes

Sometimes I write a song from end-to-end on one or two
principal instruments. I usually have some idea what
the rest of the arrangement will sound like, but I don't
get bogged down in the details. When the writing is done,
I lay down a track or two from start to finish, most often
bass or rhythm guitar. Then I add the other layers,
embellishing the primary harmonic and melodic structures
until I think it sounds complete. Occasionally the original
skeleton track doesn't even make it into the final mix, if
something better suggests itself while recording, but the
song itself is still composed before recording starts.

Other times, like writing this song, I have what I think
is a good idea for an intro or a stanza (or maybe just a
riff), but I need to hear what it sounds like with the whole
band before I know what needs to come before or after
it. In those cases, I'll lay down a more or less full mix for
as many bars as I've written, and see what comes next.
Sometimes what I thought was the intro becomes the
chorus or the bridge. Sometimes I end up with scattered
"islands" of related themes that need to be connected.

I wrote Ceremonies using the first method, and I am
posting intermediate versions as I add layers to the
arrangement. I'm not quite brave enough to post many
intermediate versions of songs written the other way.

Copyright 2009 Jeff Buser.

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