LYRICS TO ENGLAND GREEN & ENGLAND GREY

 

WHAT WOULD WILLIAM MORRIS SAY  A (G 2nd)

A                    E              D             E

We used to go out in our town

A                          E     D                          E

We’d go to the pub til the pub shut down

A                               E          D                      E

They smashed the piano no money for bands

A              E                   D                                    E

Karaoke led the way, the bland leading the bland

 

We used to go out in our town

But the halls are quiet now shows don’t come ‘round

we ran the bar the place was full, council paid the fees

But corporate greed with slash and burn brought our culture to its knees

 

A                     D    A      E   A                  D    A       F#m   E

CHORUS)      What would William say if he could see England today?

A                     D    A      E    A                  D    A        E            F#m   A   A   E

What would William say, what would William Morris say?

A                   D    A                                         E

Hark, the wind in the elm-boughs! from London it blows,

A                        D        A                                 E
And tells us of gold, and of hope and unrest;

A                         D       A                                  E
Of power that helps not; of wisdom that knows,

A                           D                    E                       A
But teaches not aught of the worst and the best.

 

We used to see farms from our town

But now it’s all warehouse, industrial ground

Radio screams fill the air their lame electric lungs

And liars all spit politics with poison on their tongues .   RPT CHORUS

 

The wind bears the message: “Rise up on the morrow
And go on your ways toward the doubt and the strife;
Join hope to our hope and blend sorrow with sorrow,
And seek for men’s love in the short days of life.”

Come back to the inn, love, the lights and the fire,
And the fiddler’s old tune and the shuffling of feet;
For there in a while shall be rest and desire,
And there shall tomorrow’s uprising be sweet.

 

TONY BENN’S TRIBUTE TO EMILY DAVIDSON    D (C2)

She slips through the doorway

Away from the crowds down the stairs – she steals through the night

Just a plain looking woman

Concealed in her coat and her cares – pursuing her right

 

In a tangle of corridors

Furtively turning the locks – the day growing dim

Footsteps in the distance

She hears the men coming her way – the last door gives in

 

There in the dark with the mops and the brooms

She opens her handkerchief makes herself room

A small piece of bread and a small piece of cheese

And a jar filled with water between her knees

By the light of a candle she reads a small book

and she waits – and she waits

 

On the third day of April

Nineteen eleven she woke – and she gave her address

‘These houses of commons

houses of men and now me’ – she smoothed down her dress

 

‘I’m not asking for favours

Just claiming what’s rightfully mine’ – she cried to the world

‘To rebel against tyrants

Is to show your allegiance to god’ – she cried as she fell

 

A hundred years later he slips down the stairs

And he senses her purpose he breathes in her air

He’s made her a sign which he nails to the door

He knows the equality Emily gave her life for

He lights a small candle to honour her name

And he waits – and he waits

 

ENGLAND GREEN & ENGLAND GREY                C  (G5)

CHORUS

C                                G                      C                       G

England green and England grey Look out on a summers day

Am                                    F            F

To all things bright and fair and gay

C                               G     C

To my home my love my England

 

C     F           G     C                F                                G           G

I believe in dignity rich or poor we’re all born free

Am               F            C                                    G

Austerity and slavery I thought they were behind us

C             F                 G  C                      G

I don’t believe the BBC monarchy or anarchy

Am                        F                       C                     G    C

Or an empire built on piracy by our history you’ll find us

 

For years our women had no say no right to work or equal pay

God help the crippled and the gay the fragile flowers of England

Shut the factories shut the mines punish those fell on hard times

While they honour them who do the crimes the greedy men of England

 

How can a man respect a man who steals his house and sells his land

And takes the wages from his hand to pay his own expenses

The NHS our England’s jewel is bartered by Westminster’s fool

To justify his public school and military defences

 

Sing the songs of old John Bull Cecil Sharp and John and Paul

Come English folk come one and all to the sweet songs of our England

Take my hand and walk with me down the back roads to the sea

In spite of all we’ll both agree there is none so sweet as England

 

RIVER RAIL AND ROAD         (C4 – E)

I’m going down the station getting on a train

I don’t care where it’s going I won’t see this town again

 

There’s nothing here to keep me now that my love has gone

Like the heavy clouds above me I’ll soon be moving on

 

She took the moonlight from me put the stars out one by one

Shut the light of hope inside me and then she took the sun

 

So I’ll go where none can find me and my name nobody knows

My future laid in ribbons of river rail and road

 

CHORUS       River rail and road, river rail and road

Where my future lies in ribbons of river rail and road

 

My love was like the morning’s sweet promise of the day

And the cool embrace of evening that soothed my cares away

 

Now the hours hold nothing for me the light just comes and goes

My future laid in ribbons  of river rail and road

(CHORUS)

No unkind words were spoken there were no such words to say

She just said I love another and I have to go away

 

Was I careless was I foolish or did I reap the seeds I sowed?

Now my future lies in ribbons of river rail and road

(CHORUS)

 

THEY CHANGED HER MIND            Cm (Am3)

Cm                                                      Ab

You closed the suitcase and you waited for the bus

Cm                                              Bb

To take you from this place away from all of us

Cm                                                                   Ab

They said you would be better and they said you’d be ok

Cm                                                           Bb            Bb7        Cm

Just read and sign the letter they’re taking you away today

There’s pictures of your mother and there’s pictures of your sister

There’s nothing of your father but you want nothing of him

There’s pictures of your brother and his watch and medication

He wanted you to have to stop the devil getting in

 

CHORUS

Eb                  Cm              Ab           Bb

She got the shakes her love was wrong

Eb                          Cm         Ab           Bb

She grieved her stillborn child too long

Eb                         Cm              Ab                       Bb

They locked her up to see what they could find

Eb Ab Bb

They changed her mind

 

There’s flowers from your wedding made of cloth and made of paper

You thought they wouldn’t last but they outlasted any love

There’s perfume for the morning and there’s perfume for later

Something special for a Sunday and some wisdom from above

 

“Take some writing paper you could be there for some weeks

In no time you’ll be better you’re not like those other freaks”

That was 1927 now it’s 1958

And she is just a number upon a nameless grave

Repeat CHORUS

Sometimes in the name of kindness man lets the devil loose

Is ignorance or blindness an  acceptable excuse?

Remember the forgotten remember the condemned

Another time, free of crime you could be damned like them

 

COUNTING MY FOOTSTEPS TO YOU     D (dadgad)

Waiting in line for the rain gathering pieces of blue

Frightened of cars and there’s too many stars

And I’m counting my footsteps to you

 

Somebody loved me ok I’m searching my mind to find who

So send me to bed if I lied when I said

That I’d always remember you

 

Mary I don’t know my age anymore   My Mother says I’m 104

Listen to me, leave me alone Mary I can’t find my way home

 

Everything’s in the wrong place everything’s broken in two

I’ll start the repair when I find out just where

And I’m counting my footsteps to you

 

This place is just like a hotel or a prison sometimes I’m not sure

For my postal address try ‘Just Sleeping’ I guess

Or the weeping behind any door

 

Mary I’m lost and there’s enemies near

Speaking in voices I don’t want to hear

Listen to me, leave me alone Mary I can’t find my way home

 

Loved ones and friends come and go

like the sun and the moon fade from view

I pray the sun sets and I never forget

Who I’m counting my footsteps to

 

I’ve come here from so far away and my poor brain is broken in two

But the scent of your hair sometimes hangs in the air

And I’m counting my footsteps to you

 

SING TO ME A WORKING WEEK     (Mayday 2014)    D (C2)

Come sit by me you working men and play a song to soothe me

This place is full of bleating sheep and none the power to move me

They sing of lives unknown to me like pages from a diary

Like hot air and dry bones to me and nothing to inspire me

 

And sing to me a working week

To Friday from a Monday

And what you don’t sing Saturday night

Sing to me on Sunday

 

Come travelling man and sit by me and sing your song of sorrow

We may not get the chance again you might be gone tomorrow

Come singing girls raise up your voice and set the spring trees ringing

Let those who’ve lost the skill to hear be woken by your singing

 

Come sit by me you working man and sing me of your labour

Office farm or factory and the trials of your neighbour

Tell me how you earn your crust and how you gain your pleasure

Who you cherish who you trust and those you love and treasure

 

Come sit by me you rambling girl and bring your rambling brother

And talk to me of family and the man who loved your mother

And like the bird sweetens the air sweeten my night with honey

Your beauty and your history are more to me than money

 

Don’t chase the lightning flash of fame it’s the light of angels dying

And the song you sing that’s not your own is the sound of angels crying

And sit beside the fire with me and sing to all your story

A song that fills the air with truth, your small and perfect glory.

 

SAILOR GO DOWN              F  (Tenor 3- Gtr C5)

Go down go down you restless boy

Go down into these arms

She’ll hold you like a child at night

Or like a ship becalmed

Lay down and sleep where seamen sleep

One eye on those above

While safe beneath the secret sea

In her redeeming love

 

Go down go down you restless boy

Into the flesh of night

Where all are scared but no one cares

And only love is right

Lay down among the pleasure boats

Their silk embroidered sails

And leave the priests their righteous peace

And martyrs with their nails

 

Sailor go down  Sailor go down

 

Go down go down you restless boy

And leave behind your fear

On bended knees the angels please

There’s no unkindness here

Lay down with her where heroes lay

The queen of broken things

Your wisdom is your weakness now

Oh give your weakness wings

LOVESICK JOHNNY                       E (Dulcimer)

Sally you’re the one i love
Sally you’re the one i love

Where did you stay last night
Where did you stay last night   Sally my love

 

I went down to the Sailor’s Bar
I went down to the Sailor’s Bar   Johnny Johnny
I thought I’d find you there   handsome Johnny
I thought I’d find you there   Johnny my love

 

I was drinking in the Port Hotel
I was drinking in the Port Hotel   Sally Sally
The captain’s man was there   drinking talking
The Captains man was there  talking bout his new love

 

Johnny, you’re the one I love Johnny, Johnny

Johnny you’re the one I love Handsome Johnny

I’m not the captain’s girl my sweet Johnny
I’m not the captain’s girl I did not, stay with him

 

Sally don’t you hide from me,  Sally sally

Sally don’t you hide from me   cruel sally
I’ll shoot the man behind your door I’l shoot, your captain
I’ll shoot the man behind your door Sally you’ll be my love

 

Johnny, why are you so cruel  Johnny Johnny
Johnny why are you so cruel  Johnny Johnny
To shoot me through the wooden door  Silent, deadly
To shoot me through the wooden door  Johnny, my love

 

The captain’s man comes in “They’re hanging Johnny”

The Captain’s man comes in “Lovesick Johnny”

The Captain says “poor girl, poor sweet Sally”

And pours himself a drink His arms round his new love

 

THE BAND PLAYED ‘SWEET MARIE’                            (dadgad 4)

G                    D         G   C       G                             D

I bought my love a violin so he could play for me

G                    D         G    C      G                                      D           G

I bought my love a violin to calm the waves of the stormy sea

G            C              D            Em            G                         D

Though he’d be gone the longest time he’d return again to me

G         D            G           C

And every note my darling played

G                            D              G

Took further away my love from me

 

My name’s Maria Robinson he called me Sweet Marie

And that’s the song that all night long my darling boy would play to me

All through that long remembered night I heard that melody

And the notes he played while the few were saved

Took further away my love from me

 

That ship went down to the mournful sound

Of my sweetheart’s violin

With no safety vest he strapped to his chest the case he’d placed it gently in

And the icy water froze his breath but it never froze his heart

By the song he played a pact was made

That my love and I would never part

 

I bought my love a violin so he could play for me

I bought my love a violin to calm the waves of a stormy sea

There are those who say Wallace Hartley played

‘Nearer my God to thee’

But our souls were bound as that great boat went down

And in my heart the band played ‘Sweet Marie’

 

 

I’LL BE THERE TO LOVE YOU   (DADGAD)

 

I hear your voice in love songs and a distant midnight train

When the owl calls in the moonlight I hear your voice again

The barmaid’s unfamiliar and the barflies’ lost in time

And I’ll be there to love you in the morning

 

There’s a picture of an actress and her hair’s a lot like yours

And the woman in the corner wears a dress like you once wore

The clock ticks into Sunday but no one seems to care

And I’ll be there to love you when there’s no one there

 

I know you’ve heard those lines before

But this time love it’s true

There’s nothing here can stop me

Bringing all my love back home to you

 

Three hundred miles between us and there’s snowstorms down the line

I killed that car a hundred times it came back ninety nine

I know I’ve let you down before but I’m coming through this time

And I’ll be there to love you in the morning

 

Just one more night without you

Just one night til you are mine

I’ll be there to love you in the morning time.

FLORA SANDES                                Dm  (Am5)

She was born to God’s disciple she was born to hold a rifle

She taught herself to fight while all the other girls played mum

Learned to ride and learned to drive fix a wound and stay alive

How to use a sword and how to shoot a gun

 

When the war broke in the east she begged her father to release her

To a front line nurse’s station in North Albania

He said ‘women are created to give life and men to take it

So care for and repair them and remember who you are’

She strapped a soldier’s tunic round her charms

She said ‘let the girls bear armies I’ll bear arms’

 

CHORUS

Flora Sandes Flora Sandes Wasn’t born a fighting man

But God help the man who finds himself At war with Flora Sandes

 

Drawing close she heard the rattle of the angry guns of battle

She begged her captain free her to the raging heart of war

He said ‘there is a way but you must swear an oath today

That you will love no man completely Give your body to your country

And wear the clothes that other soldiers wore’

And flora smiled sweetly and she swore

 

To her a woman’s life was boredom only fighting brought her freedom

Her lethal independence craved the brotherhood of men

Between killing them she healed them later married and concealed them

But their annihalation was her greatest pleasure then

She took comfort in their silence and their moans

Only then she knew she’d brought death’s victory home

 

She fought hand to hand with men winning time and time again

Til an enemy grenade cut her down – cut her down

She was honoured and promoted for her injuries deported

And her doctors tried to lead her to a woman’s life again

She said ‘I never came this far to lose

And I will be a woman when I choose’

 

She died at home among the flowers in the quiet English hours

The soft hands of a woman lay still upon her chest

Hands that killed and mutilated lie content and compensated

It was a woman that they buried and a woman laid to rest

But as she breathed her last she felt the joy

Remembering when she was a boy

 

2 Responses to LYRICS TO ENGLAND GREEN & ENGLAND GREY

  1. Andi Cale says:

    Reg Meuross I love you! It doesn’t seem like long ago when, in order to recreate a well loved song, I had to play a cassette over and over again – frantically writing down random words, using a kind of shorthand, missing out words, missing out lines, and then playing again in order to fill in some of the gaps, etc etc. Now – how you spoil us. Thankyou most gratefully, and I hope to see you again soon.

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Reg Meuross Singer Songwriter Storyteller