Let’s Get Lyrical #2

The Family Law are back, magnificent together, wonderful apart, and they did not let the burd down.  Let’s Get Lyrical continues all month, with lots of events and other people’s stories on the website.

What are the songs and lyrics that move you the most?  For Mrs Law, it’s the wonderful Patsy Cline and The Heart You Break May Be Your Own

“I was too young when I heard this to think about lyrics. It’s about watching my mum and her pal sing this, and being aware even at such a young age that this was unusual, this mattered to them.

I had this image of mum and Mrs Davidson in our living room. And I had remembered it spot on. I know, because recently I found a photo.

Mrs D is sitting on the seat, my mum on the arm. They have their arms outstretched as if they’re doing a wee Glasgow wummin duet version of Mammie. They’ve had their hair done. A couple of sherries on the wee table, and enough fag ends in the ashtray, balanced precariously on the side of the chair with my mum, to make you feel quite sick.

I remember when we had wee nights it was always one singer one song. But when Patsy Cline came on it was duet time. And sometimes if Mrs McDonald was there, she’d join in too..and nobody bothered.

It was understood any woman was allowed to join in with Patsy.

This memory of my mum singing this song is important to me because it is a happy memory, and we didn’t have many happy memories. My mum is smiling in the photo, I remember being excited as she sang, she was laughing and happy.

She wasn’t a laughing, happy woman. Ours wasn’t a happy home really. Not much in the way of cuddles or I love yous. There were no wee singalongs with the kids. No. My mum had a hard hard life and never had the luxury of time for a sing song to make it better.

As I got older I thought about it all. She had no time for herself, very few nice things, yet when she had those wee nights the hair was done, the make-up on, she wore the nice clothes. She must have had dreams which didn’t include living up a close in Easterhouse with 5 kids.

And I reckon Patsy was the nearest my mum got to being able to express her disappointment in how life turned out.

Many men in my dad’s boat turned to alcohol. But the women..they were made of stronger stuff. They dealt with the misery, fed the weans, made sure the homework was done, stopped ironing and cleaning just before bedtime.

And what did they dream of….perhaps old lovers who’d broken their hearts and would come back begging. More likely they dreamed about the next generation and said sod this for a game of soldiers, let’s educate them. And they coped with the misery on those wee nights…giving it laldy to Patsy.

A few years before she died, I let my mum listen to a new Country take on hardship for women. She loved the Dixie Chicks…I could just see her and Mrs D singing Goodbye Earl.”

Is there a dry eye left in the house?  I should hope not…

And what about Mr Law?  I can imagine the agonies suffered being made to pick just one song!  But he’s given us a corker, it’s Winter Song by Alan Hull

“First heard in my youth, probably as a boy of no more than 12. I adore the acoustic guitar work on this but, this is supposed to be about lyrics!

Alan Hull will perhaps have many of you asking “Who?”, and it is to your shame that Sir James Alan Hull did not achieve the success and recognition he so richly deserved. Myth and legend (and maybe the truth) has it that Alan Hull wrote this and other wonderfully contemplative songs whilst working as a male nurse in an asylum in Newcastle.

A former member of Lindisfarne, Alan Hull’s songs have graced many a stage and hi fi (remember them?). It’s a kind of protest song which invites the listener to reflect and which serves to remind the more fortunate amongst us that there are others in our society not as well off or as comfortable as either we are, or they should be. It had a powerful effect on an impressionable young lad. Fabulous imagery that embraces the listener and leads them down a path of mystic snowdrops, caressing you with the fingers of the creeping cold.

Santa’s modern role is reflected as an astronaut! Jesus makes a guest appearance too as a defender of the wrong sorts who gets busted by the authorities of the day.

As I write this I am listening to the song again. I can say with all honesty that I’ve lost count of the times I’ve played Winter Song and yet I never tire of hearing it. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen. You don’t have to be 12 to be moved by the song, just think of the severe winter we’ve just experienced and ask yourself what it would be like without heat, shelter or food

The song can be found on Lindisfarne’s debut album “Nicely Out Of Tune” as well as on various Lindisfarne or Alan Hull compilations. Magnificent live, it always got the full attention of the audience and when I saw Lindisfarne at the Holy Grail of Newcastle City Hall in 1985 with spotlight shining on the statutory mirrorball I was almost tempted to get my lighter out then and there!”


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