Seven Bells John is a character that has been haunting my songs for quite a while. In fact he’s obsessed me so much that he’s spilled out of songs and into short stories as well.
Who is Seven Bells John?
He’s a criminal, a murderer. He first turned up by name in the perfectly sensible song The Steam Engine Murders and the Trial of Seven Bells John, but his first appearance was in Lines overheard at a Séance on my first solo album Spinning the Compass.
The songs haven’t been released in chronological order however so here’s the low-down on which songs fit where in the saga of Seven Bells John.
Nightfall is chronologically the earliest song. It tells the story of Seven Bells John as he struggles with what Dr Margoyles and her husband did to him. Imagine running through a forest at dusk, craving meat and hating yourself for what you’ve become.
Moon the Water
Moon the Water is a song from Seven Bells John’s point of view. Several years have passed since he escaped from Margoyles. He is once again forced to flee from his home, pursued by people who want him dead, but he does not care because he feels free. He has come to terms with what he is and knows what he must do – kill the doctor.
Lines Overheard at a Séance
Having exhausted the more orthodox methods available to him in his pursuit of Seven Bells John, Detective Coppertree turns to a medium. He and the parents of some of John’s victims ask the spirit world to help. When they ask for information on where the last bodies are buried this is what they hear in reply.
So that’s a guide to the first half of the story. Part two will turn up soon. Ish.