The songs you find here were written mostly between 1973 and 1984: when I was between marriages. Some of the songs are written from experience, and others are written from the experiences of friends. I do not think it is obvious which is which apart from the songs which should have a female voice.

A story: when my daughter Miranda moved with her mother to California she found herself different from her school-mates in that they all had manifest fathers. The first time I went to visit them, Miranda took me to school as a kind of Show and Tell. As always, I had my guitar with me on the trip, and Miranda insisted that I give a concert to her class. I did a few numbers with choruses that they could join in – innocent songs such as Puff the Magic Dragon [!] and then Miranda called out “Sing the farm song”. It turned out that she meant “Yesterday I grew another head”. So I sang it, and the kids seemed to love the idea of having two heads. And then I noticed the expressions on the faces of the two teachers standing at the back of the room. In conservative Newport Beach, this song was risqué even for adults. I don’t think the 6-year-olds really got the underlying message.

Guinevere heard my songs, of course, and after we were married, she complained that she did not have proper versions of them. So I determined to record them for her. My guitar playing, however, was a long way off the standard needed and I really needed to have a guitarist. I talked to a classical guitarist friend, Jad Azkoul, and this led to Roland Chadwick , an amazingly talented guitarist and composer who happened to be free and had a recording studio in his house. The songs were all written down, with music and my preferred chording. I would take a number and sketch it for Roland, in terms of tempo and interpretation, and he immediately got the point and we would get straight into it. Sometimes he suggested changes – extending the chorus in “It isn’t just another day”, for example. In one case he refused to play and record a song because it was ill-formed. This was actually a song I wrote in 24 hours to sing at a rally in the Friends House to protest against the Falklands War. I love the song though never managed to rewrite the music to satisfy Roland. Here are the lyrics [link]. Prophetic final line. Thatcher won, of course.

At the time of the Falklands war the government issued a list of phone numbers for relatives to use to get information about casualties.  I used these numbers in the song.

The Song of the Hotlines (short version)

Chorus:

These are the numbers they say you can call
Brothers and lovers, we count as they fall
In Falklands they fight without question or fear,
While the rest of us sit in our armchairs and cheer

0436 71 125
The number to tell me if Kev is alive
0752 treble 6 treble 6
How easily water and blood seem to mix

She tenderly weeps as she orders them in
The bravest, like her, only know how to win.
Harriers and `copters and Sheffield are lost
But the boost to our exports will make up the cost.

Look on the bright side, there’s something to gain
Our shipyards will soon all be open again.
Trying out missiles and aircraft and guns
What a pity we can’t sell our battle-worn sons.

(Repeat Chorus)

0305 … can’t remember it all
How many times have I managed to call
When they reply I feel suddenly weak
And put down the phone quite unable to speak.

Living and loving, there’s Paul and there’s Jack
Calling them heroes will not bring them back.
War has its options, now, which will it be
A corpse in a coffin or lost in the sea.

0383 412 191
Now that the fighting at last has begun.
0752 treble 6 treble 6
How easily water and blood seem to mix

These are the numbers they say you can call
Brothers and lovers, we count as they fall.
In Falklands they fight without question or fear.
I wonder who’ll win the election this year.

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