The Recording Process:

Tony Garone - vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, keyboards, Mesopotamian stomp and African voices, percussion

Recorded and mixed at Cow Pilot Studios

I had the acoustic guitar part in my head for quite some time and recorded it on the ADAT (a digital 8 track recorder. The entire CD was originally recorded on this device). The media used to record on was high quality, specially designed SVHS video tape. I subsequently added the vocals, keyboards and sampled sounds. I wanted this song to sound like a crowd of angry people; more to the point, the angry people of Uruk. Why were they angry? Read on...

Here's where it all started; the humble Cow Pilot Studios circa 2001. Tall oaks from little acorns grow. Well, maybe not.

What is this song about?

I wanted the first song of the Gilgamesh epic to have a little bit of everything in it; both musically and lyrically. This song really does not follow any particular tablet per se (that was one of my earlier naive missions which proved to be impossible), but it does give you a quick picture of where Gilgamesh was in the context of our history, what his "ambitions" were, how he treated his people, and ultimately their reaction to his kingship.

The many references may differ as to whether Gilgamesh was an historical figure, a legend, or even in some cases a demigod, but when I read the translations, it appeared to me he was very human. He certainly had all the vices that most of us have and had a difficult time dealing with them.

In a nutshell, Gilgamesh was a powerful man who abused his subjects. He believed, as king of Uruk, it was his privilege to personally consummate marriages with the brides of newly wedded couples. Even Enkidu, (who was a beast of the forest and new to humanity) knew this was wrong. Essentially, Gilgamesh was arrogant, egotistical, and rude to his people.

An image of Gilgamesh wrestling a bull - perhaps it's the "Bull of Heaven"

Here is an excerpt from the Epic describing the darker side of Gilgamesh:

"His arrogance has no bounds by day or night. No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all, even the children; yet the king should be a shepherd to his people. His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior's daughter nor the wife of the noble; yet this is the shepherd of the city, wise, comely and resolute."

It is no wonder that Gilgamesh behaved in this manner! He was king of Uruk, and he was an Adonis of sorts. Here is yet another excerpt from the Epic which describes the physical attributes of Gilgamesh:

"When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun god endowed him with beauty. Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull, two thirds they made him a god and one third man."

So we learn through this passage that Gilgamesh was a handsome demigod. Regardless of how handsome Gilgamesh was, his actions made him ugly in the eyes of his people. So the citizens of Uruk prayed to Anu to send them a person of equivalent strength to defeat Gilgamesh and free them from oppression - or at least bring someone who would keep him occupied and out of Uruk.

There were some positive things to be said about Gilgamesh that need to be addressed here. The third paragraph of the prologue tells us that Gilgamesh "built walls" or was a "builder of walls." The building of walls was one of the most important things that a ruler could do for his people in Mesopotamia. In that period of time (circa 2700 BC), most people were nomadic and pillaged their neighbors goods, so having a city with very high walls was extremely important for the security and safety of its populace. But don't be too hard on Gilgamesh - let's think about it - are we any different? Have we become more "civilized" after so many thousands of years?

This is a reconstruction of the city of Nineveh. It is possible that the walls of Uruk were very similar to these in construction and architechture.

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The Cuneiform for "Gilgamesh"

Dr. Pagan explains:

In Edmond Sollberger's glossary to Texts from Cuneiform Sources, vol. 1 (New York, 1966) there is some interesting information about the name Gilgamesh (Sumerian Bilgamesh). The name is composed of two elements - the first is Bilga (bil3-ga) and the second is mesh (mesh3). The first element bilga means "elder, ancestor"; the second element means "young man, hero." This may have some interesting implications for my own analysis of the epic in terms of stages of life and rites of passage, for the name is literally "old man, young man," perhaps to be interpretd as "old man (from) young man."