Faraway People album sleeve notes by Mike Davies

SLEEVE NOTES WRITTEN BY MIKE DAVIES FOR FARAWAY PEOPLE by REG MEUROSS

I felt very honoured when writer, journalist and radio presenter Mike Davies said he would write the sleeve notes for Faraway People vinyl. We couldn’t fit these notes onto the CD booklet, so I’m sharing them here. Thank you Mike.

(CD out 28 July 2017, vinyl out Autumn 2017)

Pre order HERE

Faraway People The big picture is important, but sometimes you only get there via the small details. None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, some you may recognise, others not, but all those mentioned in the lyrics have died as a direct result of the govenments’s cuts to incapacity benefit. They are the faraway people, but they could be your neighbour. They could be your family. They could be you. 

Angel In A Blue Dress A titular tip of the hat to either a Walt Mosley novel or a Mitch Ryder rock’n’roll classic, depending on your cultural leanings, this was written in response to a text from a friend, a nurse of 25 years experience, who, prompted by a line about the NHS in the song England Green & England Grey, texted about turning up for work to find her hospital had, as a result of cuts, declared a state of emergency. Even so, she still had 30 seriously ill respiratory patients to care for. So, she put on her headphones and turned to the power of music to shut out the chaos and allow her to get through the day, doing the job to which she had dedicated her life. Sometimes it’s the soul and not the body that needs healing.

The Lonesome Death of Michael Brown On August 9, 2014, Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer, fatally shot Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, after reportedly stealing cigarettes from a Missouri convenience store. Initial reports were that Brown was walking towards Wilson with his hands up. The shooting ignited already existing tensions in the city, sparking protests and civil unrest. Although a forensic investigation and a predominantly white jury subsequently rejected the hands up account, exonerating Wilson, the fact remains that Brown, unarmed, was shot at close range, the shooting generating fierce national debate about the state’s policy on the use of police force and the national relationship between law enforcement and African Americans.

For Sophie (This Beautiful Day)  Another song with a very specific background, Sophie Magdalena Scholl was, along with her brother, Hans, a German student at the University of Munich. The daughter of a liberal politician and ardent critic of the Nazi regime, in1942, she and Hans (who had once been a member of the Hitler Youth until becoming disillusioned with the Nazi Party policy) became active members of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group which distributed pamphlets calling for opposition to the Nazi regime, openly denouncing the mass murder of Jews. On February 18, 1943, she, Hans and their friend, Christoph Probst, were arrested while distributing the sixth of their leaflets at the university. Just four days later, on February 22, they were summarily found guilty and executed by guillotine within hours of the verdict.

Sophie’s last words were: “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

Following her death, the leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and, retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich, Millions of copies were dropped over Germany in mid-1943 as part of the Allies’ propaganda campaign. In 2003, the government of Bavaria unveiled a bust of Sophie in the Walhalla temple, a hall of fame honouring the great and good of German history. 

New Brighton Girl On the surface a simple love song, although the sentiments ring true and universal, in a world where cynicism, self-interest, despair and negativity can often seem to be the norm, it’s good to be reminded that love still makes it worth getting up in the morning and independent spirits refuse to be broken. Is it a metaphor of hope for England? That’s up to you.

Cicero If you’re going to borrow, borrow from the greats. Just ask Bob Dylan. Like A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall before it, this latter day protest song reworks the eleven comments on occupations and social status as pronounced in 43 BC by the titular Roman philosopher. You’ll likely find yourself or someone you know in one of the verses. Lawyers, doctors, politicians, bankers and the conscienceless rich might want to skip this one.

Refugee A former student of English Literature, Ahmad Al-Rashid is a Syrian Kurd refugee who, in 2013, fled Aleppo when the Arab Spring of Hope became the Arab Winter of Discontent. He joined the UN, working at refugee camps in Iraq before the increasingly volatile situation there forced him to flee again, documenting his journey to the UK on video camera, footage of which became part of the Liberty Human Rights Arts award-winning BBC2 documentary, Exodus. Today he works for grassroots organisations advocating for refugee rights. As such, Reg invited him to give a talk at one of his concerts, from which the song was born. This is his story. And that of every Ahmad Al-Rashid out there.

In Your Arms Sometimes it seems the rain will never stop, that the dawn will never come, sorrow will never end and the bells will remain forever silent. When, as Yeats put it, the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity. This is a reminder that tomorrow may be a long time, but the sun will shine again and love will hold you in its embrace.

Leavin’ Alabama A ‘what if ‘song. Dying within a year of one another, fiery hard drinking Welsh poet Dylan Thomas never met fiery hard drinking American country singer Hank Williams. But if they had it, wouldn’t it have been perfect to find them swapping their disappointments and disillusionments about women and the world over a bottle of cheap whisky in some godforsaken redneck bar.

In Dreams We all sail our own seas, we all walk our own roads. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we find those paths crossing, find ourselves under the same moon, the same star, and we choose to share the same path. We may be lovers, we may be friends, and we may just be keeping each other company. But we are the spark in each other’s heart. We are each other’s refuge. Each other’s refugee. It may, in an unconscious tip of the hat to Roy Orbison, be in our dreams, but if we never dare to dream then how can we hope to ever awake?

Phil Ochs & Elvis Eating Lunch In Morrisons Café As any musician will tell you, you see some bizarre things when you’re on tour. But they don’t get much stranger or more surreal than this. Having played a gig near Doncaster, before hitting the road the next day, Reg and Hank Wangford decided to grab a bite to eat at a local Morrison’s cafe. Sat at their table, Reg was bemused to see a guy walk in wearing an Elvis wig, wraparound dark glasses and a showbiz fur coat, no trousers, but Argyle socks and winkle picker shoes. “Look, Elvis is alive and having lunch in Morrisons Cafe’”, he joked as the guy took the table next to theirs. Then, a few moments later, in

walked another guy, who, with his long, straggly hair and a corduroy hat and suit straight out of 60s Greenwich Village, looked just like the late Phil Ochs and sat down at the same table. Phil Ochs and Elvis having lunch together in a Morrisons cafe! How could you not write a song about that!

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