Songs
 

Angel of the North

Although the party of Government has changed not much else seems to have. There is little point in holding power if you don't have the resolve to change things and rectify the obvious inequalities and divisions within society. It seem strange that people are prepared to support protests against environmental taxes on fossil fuels but are not prepared to voice concern regarding the homeless.

Bill Shankly Said...

A song concerning a football match played between the Nazis and ex-players of Dynamo Kiev played in 1942, this is known as "the Game of Death". The Russians won, despite an invitation at half-time from the Nazi governor of Kiev to "throw" the match, and within 24 hours of the end of the match four of their players were found machine-gunned still wearing their kit. Other players were sent to concentration camps. At the end of the war there were very few survivors of the Russian team. Bill Shankly once said "football is not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that!". This instance, where the game became a statement for freedom against fascism, the comment of Shankly could ring true. The interesting part of my research for this song is that I eventually discovered the names of every Russian player, however I could not find the name of a single member of the opposing team. There is a statue outside the Dynamo ground recording this match.

Birdsong Lament

  This is an instrumental piece written for Watershed as part of the Confluence project. It arose from a composers workshop which concentrated on the bird-life in the Stour valley. To build up this piece I started by looping the calls of various birds who's habitat is on, or near, the river and looked for rhythms within this. This piece was composed for Clarinet, 'Cello and Double Bass with the arrangement by Karen Wimhurst, composer in residence for the Confluence Project. The piece is aimed to reflect the decline in songbirds within our nation, and the erosion of the habitat within Dorset.

Buckland Bells (Permanence)

 

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This is a song inspired by the bells in the church tower at Buckland Newton where I am fortunate to be a member of the band. Many of the bells have been in the tower for centuries and have seen many events such as War, Disease and Social Upheaval bearing witness to major events in human lives such as Baptism, Marriage and Death. The bells observe all these events, which are fragments of time in relation to their existence which will be to the end of human time. I am amused by the thought that I get up early every Sunday to ring the bells and think that in 100 years time some other individual will be doing the same. This song has also been arranged for choir, by Helen E. Porter and was sung at the Mere Literary Festival in Wiltshire and other events by Shreen Harmony a local choir.

Caesar  

  

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This was written for a special concert performed at the Minster in Wimborne Dorset in March 2001. The theme of the concert is the life of the otter and the otter as an indicator of the health of the river and it's tributaries. The concert celebrated the return of the otter to our nation reveres following decades of decline. This song is about the strength of the otter in his element, underwater in the river where he is top of the food chain, his only source of danger being man. 

Cold Dead Hand

Gun Laws in America This is a rock song and as a result does not get many airings. It was written after a shooting in a School in America, prior to Columbine. When I play a gig I often sing something relevant that has been touched off by an event in the news or a thought I have had during that day or sometimes from a song someone has played earlier. Sadly this song never seems to be far from the news. With the "election" of George Bush gun control looks even more unlikely than ever. Charlton Heston, President of The National Rifle Association in the USA, said "if you want my gun you will have to take it from my cold dead hand".

Destiny of Dorset

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A song written for the Millennium Songwriting competition for Dorset run by Agenda 21. It speaks of the former citizens of the County and their links with the land from which, although many of us work in factories and offices, we should not feel alienated or estranged. We are only custodians of this place and have a duty to respect, protect, maintain and where necessary repair it.

Dresden Skies

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My father was an Australian Air Gunner in a Lancaster bomber in the Second World War. He volunteered and crossed the globe to fight fascism and oppression, something he did throughout his life. This song tries to explain why men like him did what they had to do. There is a huge debate about the role of Bomber Command in the Second World War, particularly regarding the policy of area bombing, this song is my very personal view. It should be recalled that the losses sustained by Bomber Command throughout the war was equal to the losses sustained by British infantry on the first day of the battle of the Somme on a percentage basis.

First Blood

This is another piece written for the shoe "Otter" performed at the Minster in Wimborne Dorset in March 2001. I have written the lyrics and the music has been composed by Helen E. Porter of the Confluence project. The theme of the song concerns an Otter hunt, it is hard to believe that these creatures were actively hunted until 1979 (I was astonished by this fact), it is taken from the view of a young girl who hears the hunt coming and witnesses the end of the hunt.

Flood

A song based on the notion of what would happen if there was a second flood. "Who will send a Noah?" Over recent years this song has had more and more resonance to audiences who have driven through floods to get to events or suffered from local flooding.

Freefall

A love song written for people who have been together for a long time. I noticed there are very many songs about new love and lost love but not many about waking in the morning with the same feelings you had many years ago. I'm told it is sentimental, it probably is, and as it is personal I rarely sing it in public and certainly not if my wife is present!

GM Rag

In "celebration" of GM (Genetically Modified) food. A comedy song. This song was written with Alan Brown and my son Jack. It outlines the "benefits" of GM.

Green Shoots

 This song is my personal praise for the Confluence Project which has prompted musicians and writers of all ages, abilities, instruments to share their gifts with others and to establish a body of work reflecting the position of the River Stour and it's tributaries at the end of the Millennium. The variety and quality of the work from this project is stunning. 

Guardian Angels

This is a song about the civil war in Kosovo and the unwillingness or inability of democratic politicians to respond with enough alacrity and force to prevent the slaughter and dislocation that is still evident in these troubled lands to this day.

Gold Sovereign

A song based around objects I found in my back garden when digging away a bank. The song is constructed around several items from coins, clay pipes and ink-wells. It is set in the Lydden Vale where I live, although it travels to America, and concerns a man who flees accusation from a crime he did not commit.

(Legend of) Knowlton Bell

This was written for the "Cutwater Band" concert at Whitemill Bridge and Mill in September 2000. It tells the story of the church bell stolen by the citizens of Sturminster Marshall from the derelict church at Knowlton which was thrown into the Stour when it seemed they would be caught. When they went back to recover the bell they found they could never quite get their hands to it and as a result the bell remains in Knowlton Deep to this day and, as legend has it, can be heard ringing in the dead of night.

The picture is from www.whitemill.org.uk the Whitemill Website run by Andrew Borland. This site provides full information about the mill. This should whet your appetite to visit this unique building.

Longing for a Time Machine

This is a song about how our past humiliations shape us and the lengths we go to to make amends, the problem being that whatever we do we can't change the past, hence the title.

Lottery Man

On of the areas of arch hypocrisy of "new" Labour who gave all indications that they would reform The National Lottery following their election. A tax on the poor, desperate, and hopeful. Please remind me who has just won the licence to carry this on for a further 6 years? Yes, I do the lottery out of desperation, oh, and for research purposes!

Man Within

A song I wrote for a Christening when I was honoured to be a Godparent. It is about the ambitions parents have for their children but I hope that their Children learn to love our brothers and sisters the world over, irrespective of colour or creed. "See through colour, see through skin, and learn to love the man within."

Meeting of the Tides

  

This song is set on Dungeon Hill in Dorset and tells a story of an abandoned woman and the man who has wanted to be hers but has never had the courage to declare himself.

Millstone

 Another song for the Cutwater Band, Whitemill Bridge Concert. I wrote the words for this to a melody and chord sequence by Richard Gallop. It is the story of a millers' wife who is waiting for her husband to finish in his labours and to see to her needs.

Normal Day

 A song about Paddington rail crash. I was affected by the reports of mobile phones ringing from inside the wreckage as the rescuers tried to fight their way in.

On the Roof

Peace on a rooftop in summer.

On this Hill 

This song is based on the imagined personal experiences of the inhabitants of Hambledon Hill over the centuries. It underlines the impression the landscape has made on peoplesí lives and how this experience is affected by distant events which, however momentous, can't break the organic bonds humans have to a place

Polaris

A song about a couple losing their child and exploring if there is any sort of reconciliation from this situation.

Rose and the Yew 

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This is a folk arrangement of part of Four Quartets by TS Elliot. The chord structure is arranged to emphasise the positive comforting nature of his words and to underline the cyclic nature of life, death, and rebirth.)

Secret Lives

This was written for "Otter!" a special concert performed at the Minster in Wimborne Dorset in March 2001. I composed the lyrics and Anna Ekford, talented local musician, set them to music. It is about the secretive nature of the otter and the pressure put upon their habitat by man.

Sergeant Troy

A song set in Dorset about self obsessed love. He dumps the girl and them feels sorry for himself. A typical pattern of behavior..

Sleeping in the Wind 

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Our ancestors below the soil inform us of our future. The wind spreads seeds across the hill and life continues in its cycle. Some of the lyrics used are taken from an acrostic poem by members of Wimborne Community Theatre. The arrangement is intended to reflect the climate and the wind which seems a permanent feature of Hambledon Hill.)

Soul Brother

This is a song written about an experience a friend of mine had on train when traveling in China. He was listening to some Motown music on a portable CD when an elderly Chinese gentleman accompanied by his wife and son sitting opposite him asked to listen to the music. My friend handed it over and the old boy jigged around to the music. My friend spoke to his son and learned that his father had been a "military advisor" to the Vietcong in the Vietnam war and had been captured by the Americans. He thought he would be executed but was sent to a prisoner of war camp, run mainly by black conscripts, who had soul music playing through the PA and continuously treated him with great humanity and fellowship. My friend looked back at the old man who was crying. the music playing was Smoky Robinson's '"Tracks of my Tears"

Styx

A Winter Ballad set in the Blackmore vale. A song of loneliness, alienation and an acceptance of past mistakes and failure.

Ten Thousand Miles

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This is song on the basis of what would happen if an arid land was transformed into a lush valley like the Stour and the effect it would have on the inhabitants. There is a danger in our arrogance of judging others by our own values and standards. (My father was an Australian Bushman, one of the reasons he left Australia was that he found if hard to accept the treatment of the indigenous people. As a young man when he was working as a bush postman with my grandfather he became lost and was rescued by a tribe of aborigines. He felt in later life it was ironic that he had come to a nation where racial intolerance was in the ascendancy where later he was offered the choice to "register" for British nationality.)

The Heights of Abraham 

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General Wolfe trained his troops on Hambledon Hill prior to the Battle of Quebec, where the city was captured following a daring action when he and his troops scaled the Heights of Abraham from the St Lawrence River, a feat the defenders did not think was possible. This enabled capture of The Plains of Abraham which made further defence of the city impossible. The quote in the song is taken from a ballad Wolfe is reported to have sung on the eve of battle. Wolfe lost his life from the wounds he suffered leading his men whilst, ironically, gaining a form of immortality. The song is about how soldiers view their place their lives and their destiny.

The Last Milking

 

This is song about some friends who sold up their farm after their family had farmed the Lydden Vale for the last 400 years. I come from a town and was surprised by the noise on a farm, particularly the dairy machines. I thought that the silence could be oppressive once the cattle had gone.

The Red Train

The remains of the last Tsar of Russia were identified and reburied in St Petersburg. What interested me was that they were buried with some of the family servants who had stayed with them to the end and met the same fate. The song is about what may have made them stay when the could have denounced the Tsar, was it loyalty or for fiscal reasons?.

The Swing-bin of the Broken Hearted

A song of revenge which arose from a challenge to write a song with the word "Swing Bin" in it. It is on the notion that we often give gifts to our lovers. This is about someone who finds his affections being toyed with. He carries on giving gifts but these are not as pleasant as those previously bestowed. The song is not Auto-biographical!

Things the 'Keeper Told Me

 This was written for "Otter!" a special concert performed at the Minster in Wimborne Dorset in March 2001. It is a set of lyrics I wrote about a father who is a game-keeper taking his daughter to the river early one morning to show her an otter just before he goes to war. It was set to music by Barbara Sears and Helen E Porter.

Treachery

"And it seems in life all treachery is sealed with a kiss" For some reason this song is set in America and concerns the break up of relationships.

Waiting For Spring

This a song for which I wrote the words for a melody written by Hilary Charlesworth. It was performed at the Confluence Winter Ballads concert .It is about the turning of the seasons and that although everything may seem dormant in winter, life is waiting to burst forth.

Wessex Carol

 

A Christmas carol that has been performed around the Wessex region. It was written originally in a traditional style to include recorders and hand-bells. It has been arranged by Helen E Porter for choir. There is more information about this song on the 'Wessex Carol' page..

The Winnowing 

 This was written by for the Cutwater Band concert at Whitemill Bridge. It is a mandolin song. It is about both Whitemill Mill and friendship. It is written in memory of our friend David Dennison of Cannings Court Farm who made us welcome when we first moved to North Dorset.
   

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