Burning Daylight

by Christine Fellows

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In a nutshell:
Winter was hard on everyone.

Burning Daylight was conceived in the backseat of a car on the way up to Dawson City, Yukon from Whitehorse in February, 2011—as a theatre piece, which it may yet grow up to be one day.

The album was originally released alongside a poetry collection by ARP Books; the book features a series of original collages by Alicia Smith, and package design by Urbanink. It can be ordered online via All Lit Up (Canada) and AK Press (US).


released September 23, 2014

Produced by Christine Fellows
Recorded by David MacKinnon in a July 2013 heat wave at 6 Nassau, Toronto, Ontario
Mixed by David MacKinnon
Mastered by Andy Magoffin at House of Miracles in Cambridge, Ontario

Executive Producers: Lesandra Dodson and John K. Samson

The Burning Daylight Trio
Christine Fellows: piano, ukulele, melodion, pump organ, vocals
Alex McMaster: cello, clarinet, trumpet, vocals
Leanne Zacharias: cello, piano, vocals

Guest Musicians
Doug Friesen: trombone, double bass
Dave MacKinnon: guitar, piano, percussion, pump organ
Ed Reifel: glockenspiel, vibraphone, timpani, xylophone, bass drum, additional percussion
Greg Smith: harmonica on In a Far Country

Arrangements for Burning Daylight, On Trail, The Gold-Seekers, In a Far Country and The Last Stampede by Ford Pier

All songs C. Fellows SOCAN 2013

The following songs take their names from short stories by Jack London: Burning Daylight, Call of the Wild, The Sounding of the Call, To Build a Fire, In a Far Country and Grit of Women.

C. Fellows is grateful for the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts (Grants to Individuals, Music Section), Manitoba Arts Council (Major Arts Grant and Manitoba/New Brunswick Residency Program) and The Winnipeg Arts Council (Individual Artist Grant) during the creation and development of the songs and arrangements. Special thanks to Camerata Nova for commissioning Arcadia!


all rights reserved



Christine Fellows Winnipeg, Manitoba

Christine Fellows finds music in sounds we tend to take for granted: the voices of the people we love, the sounds of the spaces we move through as part of our daily lives. Fellows is based in Winnipeg, Canada, where she collaborates with artists from all disciplines to create and produce performance works and recordings. ... more

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Track Name: Burning Daylight
In the middle of the night I will take my leave the way I come, in a gunnysack drug over Chilkoot Pass. I stayed for the wild blue iris, hemlock and the devil’s club, for the glowing coals of burning daylight.

The Yukon thirsts under a coat of ice near three feet thick. She’s unquenchable in spring and early fall. Damned if I could beat the ice run, out of spite she took my dogs. One by one they slipped into her waters.

I howled in vain, January through Victoria Day, nursed my mother while the river seethed and raged. She shouted, “Pack the sled! I’m goin’!” May her dogs keep their legs, may her matches always draw a fire.

You frostbitten warriors, bounding for glory, I howl for thee
You frostbitten warriors, bounding for glory, I howl for thee
You frostbitten warriors, bounding for glory, howl for me

In the middle of the night we must take our leave the way we come, tether harness to the burning daylight.
Track Name: On Trail
Two bags of oats, one sugar, one flour
Hardtack must be gift-wrapped,
string goes once around,
twice around

In summer, I travel light
pinch of salt, rifle, whipsaw and a coffee can
but winter, she’s a cruel master
50 below, 60 below, colder at night
(more than you know, more than you know)

One winter we nearly starved
Six dogs, just skin and bones
Buck went mad, burst in the cabin, ate a candle whole
flame and all

In winter it is not wise to set on trail all on one’s own
I’m going out there anyhow, gonna take her home
San Francisco here we come
me and Mum
Track Name: Call of the Wild
a soft growl, a whisper
quick from the slumber
from hollows and burrows we leap out
kick the frost from our ragged paws

we live to run

we run for the wander (we run further yonder)
tethered to shadows long (tethered to shadows)
we run with our whole hearts’ abandon
our shadows run tall as the mountains

we live to run

we watch and we wait here
we watch her through half-closed eyes
ears tuned to howls in the distance
she lights the fire
we cry

we live to run
Track Name: Circling Darkness
Grey wolf circling the darkness, a crooked light in her eyes
Grey fur bristling with frost, she leans into the night
remembering, remembering, remembering
(hear me, hear me call)
Track Name: The Sounding of the Call
Panic red rises up from its shallow breath
Rears its head, slams its weight into hollow chest

I give! I give!

Arms thrash, blind, a wild, jagged run along the trail
Snow screams, angered by the wind, and the trees shiver and wail

I live! I live!
Track Name: To Build a Fire
On this winter morning
wake up, up above the tree-line, in the dark

On this winter night you will sleep
dreamless underneath a canopy of stars
wherever you are, wherever you are

Oh, to build a fire

On this lonely mountain
turn to watch the snow creep down into the valley,
you stumble and fall

On this lonely mountain you will lie
face up, waiting for the fire to subside

Oh, to build a fire
Track Name: Credo, White Silence
I would rather be ashes than dust
I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze
I would rather be a meteor, every atom
in magnificent glow
Track Name: The Gold-Seekers
I saw these dreamers of dreams go by,
I trod in their footsteps a space;
Each marched with her eyes on the sky,
Each passed with a light on her face.

They came from the hopeless and sad,
They faced the future and gold;
Some the tooth of want’s wolf had made mad,
And some at the forge had grown old.

The light will fade from each eye,
The smile from each face;
They will curse the impassable sky,
And the earth when the snow torrents race.

Some will sink by the way and be laid
In the frost of the desolate earth;
And some will return to a maid,
Empty of hand as at birth.
Track Name: Feu de joie
You were born May 24th in early morning
on the banks of the great river, muddy and wide

I heard from a distance the feu de joie and bagpipes
felt the pull of the gold rush for the very first time

Oh Emmylou, you were my prize
Oh Emmylou, you were mine

You were born to embrace the great white silence
On the frozen river she waits by your side

She sees from a distance those dogs flat out runnin’
“Man might win the battle, but woman hold the field”

Oh Emmylou, you were my prize
Oh Emmylou, you were mine
Track Name: In a Far Country
At last the dawn
bids rasp and bray
all gold

Its broken strains
pierce shadows cast
all gold


A faint voice pleads
Her yellow light
burns cold

Her broken strains
cast frozen earth
in gold

Track Name: The Last Stampede
A thousand miles from nowhere
wind will rankle ravens’ wings
I did not see you go there
No one saw you go

In that snow-choked valley
creeks run black in ragged lines
A thousand miles from nowhere
No one saw you go

Down from the mountains
the little streams will tumble
The sun will flood the valley
rousing crocus, blooming willow

The wild dogs and wolves
will raise their muzzles to the sky
run circles in the melting snow
where no one saw you go
Track Name: Grit of Women
Winter was hard
on everyone

Winter was hard
on everyone

Trail-sore and tired
Cold ashes of dead fires
The darkness and pain
drew down on everyone

Spring is a fearful, raging river
You think winter was hard
Think again
Track Name: Eldorado
You could never leave but you could never stay
The perfect equilibrium to keep your heart at bay
Speck up on the mountain, shadow on the hill, so far away still

Swimming out to sea, skimming ‘round the bay
They’ll gladly let you dock here but you get for what you pay
Waving from the pier, shoring up the bank. What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

You could always leave. You could always stay,
stumble on the icy path, roll backward down that mountain
Track Name: Arcadia!
speak in chirps, winnow those skinny featherless claws
you can’t unlearn what lives within you can’t unlearn what lives within
eyes shine bright in the dark, that curious blue glare
happiest among the dogs, skim along on calloused palms

dive headlong hit the dirt shadows huddle, clouds scream past
tongue escapes the lips to taste the salt and muck and melting plastic
silence cracks in a word deliver me arms stretched out in air
sprint across the spring-green lawn

no mother, no father
beating wings to carry me across the foothills to the sea

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