Letting go, moving on, going forward ~ Camel and Ice

Camel’s lilting, melancholic and epic instrumental, Ice is among my favourite pieces of music. Discovered on a late-night college radio station in 1979 in Rochester, New York, it stands out on the album I Can See Your House From Here (despite the DJ’s touting of Remote Romance as, “Best on the album”)

I suppose its weepy, wailing guitar and minor chord ridden keys make it a natural mood setter for angst in all its varieties, but for me it’s become a song in three acts: Letting go; moving on; going forward. A long time ago I even scripted, shot and edited in my mind a short, dialogueless film telling that story. It goes something like this:

Gently played acoustic guitar strings intertwine with an increasingly insistent piano. These overlay the darkness as we fade in on a park, a couple picnicking, frolicking, laughing, happy. As we pull back, slowly, their images dissolve, dissipate, and we reveal the man of the couple, sitting on the roof of his car, looking onto a fading memory, and from his guitar come the notes of the song. He stops playing, takes one last long look at the park, then turns quickly away, climbs into the car, guitar in the passenger seat.

The engine rumbles to life. One last look, then with a pained grimace, he slams the car into gear. Stones and dust fly as the electric instruments make their crashing entrance.

Now he’s on the move. Town to town. Camping. Driving, and driving. Lonely nights by campfires with only his guitar for companionship. Odd jobs, here and there. Living simply. Frugally. Singly. A man, his car and his guitar. Here and there, her image intrudes on him. More often at first. Always with a wince and a turning away, he shuts the image out.

Late one night, he plays in an empty cafe after work, and the manager hears him. Listens. An offer is made. A refusal. A smile, and the offer re-extended. A querying look: really? And so he plays for a small, appreciative house. His mind and heart only know the song, and the play of his fingers on the string. Again in another town. And another. The crowds and halls getting larger. He plays to them, engages them, opens to them, to people on the road. Where he eats.

He hasn’t seen her in a long time. And then he does, and sighs. No turning away. No more grief. Instead, a smile. She smiles back, and fades away. And as her image fades, another woman’s face rises through, rapt, in the audience…though he doesn’t see her, yet.

The electric instruments mingle and fade in the song, then we’re back to the gentle, lyrical plucking of acoustic strings. The campfire is ringed with friends. Happy friends bundled up against a cool night’s air. He plays and laughs, a minstrel holding court. Still he doesn’t see her, this new woman, though her eyes are only for him. He plays and plays, while the friends drift off, one by one, into slumbers, into tents, into the night hand-in-hand until it is only he and her and a guitar. That’s when he sees her, looks fully into her. Into the eyes that are only for him. The final notes. He stops playing, and as the last note fades, he smiles into her eyes.

One Response to “Letting go, moving on, going forward ~ Camel and Ice”

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  1. Stephen Guy says:

    Hey Pat, I see you feel as strongly about “Ice” as I do about side 2 of Camel’s “MoonMadness”.. specifically, “Lunar Sea”. I like Ice alot, and ‘feel’ it much as you do, but my passion for “Lunar Sea” surpasses that of Ice. I have been listening to that piece since about the same time you discovered Ice… I now own the US original Janus record label pressing, and after a search of some time, a very clean mint 1st edition UK pressing, which is the best. I too have a cinematic vision for the piece, going something like this.. opening scene, ceremonial procession in the future, celebrating man’s first interstellar space ship launch.. as the music ramps up and builds, the Interstellar ship roars it’s hot fusion motors up to full thrust and begins to exit the (our) solar system.. the middle section of the song begins the long long frozen sleep of the craft as it drifts, for a hundred years, towards it’s target system.. as the music ramps back up to progressive rock levels of mayhem, the craft must invert and thrust retro high gees to slow into the new solar system, the crew is unfrozen and they begin their exploration of a new solar system.
    whaddya think????
    — Stephen

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