How Coud I Forget?

Jim earlier asked us about trains. I blasted out the first song I thought of. A good song, don’t get me wrong, but how about train tracks? How about the tracks that separate whites from blacks?

It was 1989, the summer of my finals. The exams were the easy part, backed by sixteen-hour days at the university library. In the middle of a city, I was cut off from the world. I knew it was going well – we do – so I allowed a few chinks of light in. Song For Whoever. Was that The Beautiful South‘s first? And this wonderful new, young, raw American artist, who spoke about all the things we cared about. It wasn’t just me, all my friends had the album too. It was played constantly, one of those albums where every song carried a message. So, to single out one track is unfair. If you’ve time, listen to the album from start to finish. Just this album – her subsequent albums lost their cut – but this first album had all the pent-up energy of youth. I subsequently heard many covers of the songs on the album, but none ever came close. Tracy Chapman, Across the Lines.

Am I allowed to post twice? Well, who’s stopping me? 🙂

Across the lines
Who would dare to go
Under the bridge
Over the tracks
That separates whites from blacksChoose sides
Run for your life
Tonight the riots begin
On the back streets of America
They kill the dream of AmericaLittle black girl gets assaulted
Ain’t no reason why
Newspaper prints the story
And racist tempers fly
Next day it starts a riot
Knives and guns are drawn
Two black boys get killed
One white boy goes blindAcross the lines
Who would dare to go
Under the bridge
Over the tracks
That separates whites from blacksChoose sides
Run for your life
Tonight the riots begin
On the back streets of America
They kill the dream of AmericaLittle black girl gets assaulted
Don’t no one know her name
Lots of people hurt and angry, she’s the one to blameAcross the lines
Who would dare to go
Under the bridge
Over the tracks
That separates whites from blacksChoose sides
Run for your life
Tonight the riots begin
On the back streets of America
They kill the dream of America

Note to self – more haste, less speed.

Song Lyric Sunday – 29 September 2019

Jim Adams – newepicauthor, A Unique Title For Me – challenges us, every week, to come up with a song on Song Lyric Sunday. This week he suggests the subject “trains”. I want to keep this personal, so shall select a song from my own collection, simply, the first one that sprang to mind.

Back in the mid-nineties, I was very upwardly mobile, establishing my business in the IT world. These were the last few years before I met my wife, we had our child, and I became a responsible person. I happened to spend a lot of time in the car visiting one client or another, and of course I ended up listening to the radio. I was listening to chart music, aged thirty, for the first time since I was a teen.

At that time there was this wonderful phenomenon of Britpop. There were obviously the big performers like the Spice Girls, Blur, Oasis, but life was refreshing because of the sheer volume of music from less well-known bands which was bubbling to the surface. For my part, when I heard something I liked I was in a position to buy CDs without thinking twice, and so collected a lot of this music. \Just for these few years, there is a real spike in my collection.

So my choice this week is a song called The Day we Caught the Train, from 1996, by a band called Ocean Colour Scene. I have but this single track of their’s, from a compilation from the time which I later ripped to MP3. Enjoy.

I never saw it as the start
It’s more a change of heart
Rapping on the windows, whistling down the chimney pot
Blowing off the dust in the room where I forgot
I laid my plansin solid rockStepping through the door like a troubadour
Whiling just an hour away
Looking at the trees on the roadside
Feeling it’s a holiday
You and I should ride the coast
And wind up in our favourite coats just miles away
Roll a number, write another song
Like Jimmy heard the day he caught the trainOh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la laHe sipped another rum and coke
And told a dirty joke
Walking like Groucho, sucking on a number ten
Rolling on the floor with the cigarette burns walked in
I’ll miss the crush and I’m home againStepping through the door with the night in store
Whiling just an hour away
Step into the sky in the star bright
Feeling it’s a brighter day
You and I should ride the coast
And wind up in our favourite coats just miles away
Roll a number, write another song
Like Jimmy heard the day he caught the trainOh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la laYou and I should ride the tracks
And find ourselves just wading through tomorrow
You and I, when we’re coming down
We’re only getting back
And you know I feel no sorrowOh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la la
Oh oh la laWhen you find that things are getting wild
Don’t you want days like these?
When you find that things are getting wild
Don’t you want days like these?
When you find that things are getting wild
Don’t you need days like these?
When you find that things are getting wild
Don’t you want days like these?Oh oh la la
Oh oh la la

Super Song Saturday

Okay, it’s not Sunday quite yet, but I wanted to get in early this week with a favourite song of mine.

I’m disabled these days. I don’t protest, I don’t shout about things. But some of my feelings are every bit as radical as when I was in my teens! This is one of the songs that makes me tick.

On to the song. Haile Selassie was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to the mid 1970s. He is revered as the messiah, by Rastas. If you’re gonna have a religion, it may as well be this. Christians, after all, believe that a messiah came out of Judaism, and furthermore that the messiah will come again. So there is a certain synergy between the two beliefs. It’s no surprise that the singer, Bob Marley, was also a Rastaman.

The song is an almost literal transcript of a speech made by Haile Selassie to the United Nations way back in 1963. I guess intentionally, the music is very background, and the lyrics take centre-stage. Please listen to these words, and marvel that more than fifty years have passed, and so little has changed. The subject might have moved on from race (possibly. Some of my friends would disagree.) but this void has been filled by any number of other prejudices.