Kindred brothers and sisters equals the BrotherSisters

Apr 10, 2012 by


NOTE | As a way of introducing my new trio, The BrotherSisters, here’s a cross-post from the band’s recently launched website,


by douglas imbrogno| One of the functions of the BrotherSisters site will be to track the evolution of songs as we move through the recording process. (Obviously, since we are willing to put half-baked renditions online like the straight-to-mike version of “Long Black Veil”, complete with verbal flub.) Hence, I introduce the first — and solo — rendition of a song with an offbeat pedigree. This is a song which will sound very different, and a lot more folk-rocky, once we start working-up a studio version by The BrotherSisters.

The name of the song is “The Mountains of Instead” (the original title was ” I Won’t Be Famous,” which the YouTube video still bears) and I wrote it while lying around an apartment in Rome. As a high school graduation present for my son, Lucas, I traveled with him and his cousin Neil to witness Santana perform in June 2008 in the remarkable Roman coliseum that still stands in Verona, Italy. It was part of a two-week jaunt across the northern half of the land where my father was born.

As the boys discovered the charms of post-midnight clubbing in Rome, I came back to our fifth floor apartment near the Termini train station and penned a draft of this song. I recorded it on my Macintosh once home, then matched it to some portraits of our peregrinations around Italia. The song is one of the opening numbers to “Saint Stephen’s Dream: A Space Opera,” and was heard in the staging of part of the space opera in a 2011 FestivALL Charleston official production. The BrotherSisters version will be part of the soundtrack to the web version of “Saint Stephen’s Dream,” coming to and a computer or video screen near you eventually.


“The Mountains of Instead”
by Douglas Imbrogno, copyright 2012

“Clear, unscaleable, ahead

Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams,
None may drink except in dreams”

W.H. Auden (from “Autumn Song,” 1936)


I won’t be famous, I won’t be known.
But I have tales to tell. Places I have known…
And we can harvest, the seeds
we have sown.

I have been greedy. I have been lost
In the Valley of Darkness
Where all the roads criss-cross
Where the stone stops rolling
Swallowed by the moss.

More time behind than time ahead
You cannot scale those Mountains of Instead.
Sons and daughters take your place …
In their eyes — you leave a trace.

I have been crazy, one of the mad.
I have been cruel, I have been had.
I built a castle — it looked so grand!
The ocean turned it back into sand.

I’ve lived in Paris (‘Paris est très belle …’),
Dreamed in Rome (‘Roma è meravigliosa …’)
Told lies and truth in unread poems.
It comes to nothing in the end
Except for if you have been a friend.

(Instrumental over chorus chords)

Have we been brave? I’m not so sure …
Wise men advise: ‘Go seek the cure!’
I sat an hour just yesterday. The world
swirling and twirling, stumbling and bumbling,
slipping and tripping — along.

I’ve been so good! I’ve been so bad …
I have been a saint! I have been a cad.
Some people love me. I love them back.
‘Cause one day this movie — will fade to black.

Some people love me. I love them back.
‘Cause one day this movie — will fade to black.
One day this movie will fade to black.
One day this movie — will fade to black.
One day this movie — will fade to black.
‘Cause one day this movie — will fade to black.

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