The Unnoticed Shadow

Steve Earle: Galway Girl

I decided to rewrite some of my earlier blog posts. This one has a much more comprehensive introduction than the original.

Steve Earle is a man of many talents. He is a singer songwriter, musician, short story writer, actor, playwright and record producer.2012-new-orleans-jazz--heritage-festival-presented-by-shell---day-7

Born in Virginia in the USA in 1955 he was always a rebel. He ran away from home at fourteen to follow his idol, singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, around Texas. He eventually dropped out of school at sixteen and went to live with his Uncle in Atlanta.

He has had a very varied career including problems with drugs. He has been married seven time and lately has been an anti-war activist and campaigner against the death penalty.

I picked this track because it unblocked a poem I had wanted to write for years and couldn’t get right. To break the deadlock I decided to sit down and take notes as I listened to the track “Galway Girl” on a loop. The poem “Unnoticed Shadow” was the result and it also started the idea of using music as an inspiration for poetry which led to the blog.

I was brought up a Catholic in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is a little city with a big reputation in the far northern corner of England. 

Growing up, I would be taken by my Father on a Sunday Mornings to St Robert’s Church and Wednesday evenings I would go to the Youth Club in the church hall. The Catholic population of the West End of Newcastle was mainly of Irish extraction, as was my Grandmother.

In the youth club we would dance with the girls and sometimes, out of sight of the ever watchful eye of the parish priest, if we were lucky, we would have a stolen kiss. There was a look to these young girls with their dark hair, ivory skin and blue eyes.

Years later I would visit Ireland through work and later, after one of my daughter moved to Dublin, my wife and I would make regular visits to see her and our grandchildren.

Steve’s song reminded me how ideas and images are imprinted in our minds from an early age.

Galway Girl

 

I ain’t seen nothin’ like a Galway Girl” Steve Earle

 

Sunday morning St Robert’s Catholic Church 1960

She is thirteen and I am twelve and I am in love

Complete, undiscovered and unrequited love

Her crown of twisted black curls, her steel blue eyes

Have seduced me, stolen my heart and taken the strength from my bones

A glimpse of her knee socks makes my knees knock

The click of her heels is symphony on the stone slabs

The choir’s hymn a hallelujah to her beauty

She is an Angel

She is my salvation

She is out of my league

I am invisible as dust

 

I ask you friends what’s a fellow to do

because her hair was black and her eyes were blue

 

Sunday Morning O’Connell Street 2000

The airport coach drops me off by the Old Post Office

I blink in the sullen sunlight of a Irish morning

There she is, waiting for me on a Dublin Street

She’s sitting on a bench on St Stephen’s Green

She’s serving my pint in Slatery’s Bar

Her skin still pale as paper

Her dark blue eyes still drown me

Her Guinness Black braids entice me

I am seduced again, tumbling through time

The heady smell of incense mixed with her perfume

Light dancing through the stained glass windows

Fifty years ago I lost my heart to a Galway Girl

She is still out of my league

I am still an unnoticed shadow

 

I ask you friends what is a fellow to do

because her hair was black and her eyes were blue

Jeff Price

© Jeff Price July 2018

Reasons to be Grateful

Ian Dury and the Blockheads “Reasons to be cheerful”

I did it, Hurrah, 70 poems inspired by 70 songs by 70 different artists in 70 weeks. I have reached the end of my birthday blog. Although it isn’t my actual 70th birthday until 27th November it feels good to be here. Thank you to all the people who tuned in every week ian duryfrom all over the world. There were 2000 visitors mainly from the UK but a big contingent from USA and France and a special mention to a regular visitor from Trinidad and Tobago, a grand total of 36 countries altogether.

Thanks to those who sent me supportive messages and comments on the blog. I am not sure where I am going next but looking back at some of the early posts I would like to rewrite a few and when I have I will re-post them. Any suggestions for a new blog please email me jeffpricenewcastle@gmail.com or post a comment on the blog, the link is at the bottom of the page, I would love to hear from you. 

If you have enjoyed the music on the blog I have created a Spotify playlist click spotify  of all 70 tracks

I have made a Three Score and Ten YouTube channel with all the videos and you can watch them all at  youtube logo . Apologies if some of the videos start with adverts.

What have I learned from this journey? I started off simply intending to follow the brief I had set myself but it turned out to be something a little different. The songs took me on a journey into the past and long forgotten memories began to bubble up to the surface. In the end it became a sort of autobiography, I say, sort of, because I can not swear that every story was completely factual and every anecdote was just my memory and I am sure others will have their own versions. 

It reminded me how grateful I am for my life and the people I share it with, it reminded me how much fun was mixed in with the losses and the sadness that came with it.

I want to end on a joyful note and who better than the man who sums all this up, Ian Dury. He brought joy to the world despite his struggles with it, he had a wicked sense of humour and he is one of my heroes.

Ian’s songs (written in partnership with Chaz Jankel) were full of humour, hope and love of life. His death in March 2000 a sad loss to the world. It was hard to choose a track but I have always wanted my version of “Reasons to be Cheerful” So here goes and thank you for tuning in.

Goodbye…

Reasons to be Grateful

 

Indian curries, French Red Wine

All my daughters, Art Nouveau design

Northumberland seashore strolls

Match of the Day, Alan Shearer’s goals

 

Mo Mowlan, Tony Benn

Nelson Mandela, News at Ten

Trade Unions, Dennis Skinner

Poached Eggs, Sunday Dinner

 

Woodland walks, Wainwright’s Bitter

Rafa Benitez, Whatsapp, twitter

Double glazing, Voting rights

Saturday morning, Friday nights

 

Grandchildren’s constant chatter

Chip shop chips, fish in batter

Storm clouds, lightning Flashes

Curly hair, long eyelashes

 

Brothers, Sisters, Nephews Nieces

Bose Speakers, Backgammon pieces

Cardiac Surgeons skillful hands

Country Western, Rock and Roll Bands

 

Audiences who like my poems

Happy Valley, Sherlock Holmes

Fresh croissant,  Duck Confit

Summer Holidays, Duty Free

 

Spell checkers, Space age

Live Theatre, Northern Stage

Netflix, Iplayer, ITV Hub

Friday nights down the pub

 

Hi Fi, WiFi, lightweight laptops

Jeremy Corbyn, Friendly Bookshops

Ten by Ten, Poetry Vandals

Legal Aid, Political scandals

 

Lynda Price, Keats and Shelley

Taylor’s coffee, Late Night Telly

Foreign Travel, Bus Passes

Central Heating, NHS Glasses

 

Seventy Years is not that bad

I am grateful for all I’ve had

Dyslexia, my left brain

Given half a chance I’d do it again

 

© Jeff Price July 2018

 

 

Every day can’t be Sunday


Ry Cooder “Trouble you can’t fool me. “

Apologies if some of blog followers received a notification of this week’s blog earlier in the week rather than the normal Friday morning. This was due to a technical error (I pressed the wrong button when I was saving the post).

This track is from the fabulous album “Bop till you drop” one of my favourites and it’s hard to find a duff track on the whole album. He combines blues, country and even a 220px-Ry_Cooder_playingsprinkling of gospel in this track. The lyrics say to watch out for trouble coming and that  for a lot of people it can disrupt their lives but we have to press on and not let it stop us.  Look for the positive.

Well, you know, everyday can’t be Sunday …and you know one thing, behind every silver lining, there isn’t a dark cloud

Listening to this album always makes me feel positive. I love the way music can lift you in much the same way that poetry can. I have met many people over the last seventy years who are like that. They don’t look at the negatives in their lives but the positives. In a contradictory way they are also often the ones with the biggest burdens to bear. It might be because of their background (read Benjamin Zephaniah autobiography) or a disability that rather than hold them back has spurred them on.

One of the things I have learned from life is that every day can’t be Sunday and that on those days you just have to suck it up and get on with it but also steps backwards can often be just as important as steps forward. You learn more from failure than you do from success.

Every day can’t be Sunday

 

Weary to work, scraping the Sunday memories from your eyes

Another Monday morning of cold starts and crowded buses

Standing room only for the passengers who bury their faces in screens

Holding the world in the palm of their hands ignoring the world around them

 

There are shelves to stock, records to update and reports to file

There are boxes to deliver, screws to turn and lines to draw

There are streets to patrol, wounds to heal and children to teach

There are sods to turn, crops to pick and cattle to milk

 

Count even the smallest victory and keep the losses in perspective

In your blood are generations of survivors, honour their fortitude

Sweet sleep will come when a hard day has been put to bed

No saviour Friday without a treacherous Monday morning

 

©Jeff Price July 2018

 

 

Across the Pond

Alabama 3 “Woke up this morning”

This is what happens if you fuse Acid House and Country music, you get the Alabama 3. Strangely the band are not American but from the UK but this song made them famous as it was used as the theme tune for the TV series “The Sopranos”

Their Wiki page says “The band is notable for their fusion of styles, ironic lyrics, alabama 3intentionally humorous personae and outrageous live performances. Every member of the group has an alias, the band’s founding members adopting the personas Larry Love (Rob Spragg) and The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love (Jake Black).”

If you have not discovered this band then check them out.

Well, you woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun
Your mama always said you’d be the chosen one

In the 1970s I went shooting with the Father of a girl I was going out with. He was a farmer in Northumberland and I was trying to impress him. He liked to go duck shooting.  There was an area of his land that the ducks would fly into at dusk. He would hide behind a camouflaged fence and shoot a couple of them. He never shot more than two at a time (They were for the pot).

He told me that a couple of fields away someone had flooded some land to use as a commercial duck shoot and they would have ten or more guns blasting dozens of ducks out of the sky. He hated that. He said a hunter should never take more than he could eat. He flooded part of his land so the ducks had somewhere else to go but the ducks had to pay their rent.

It is easy to take a very binary view of hunting and this farmer taught me that things can often be more complicated than they appear. Although I fired a gun a few times at the ducks I never hit one and I decided that guns and hunting were not for me.

Across the Pond

 

Flight plan locked and destination in sight

It has been a long flight from Siberia

Five thousand kilometres as the duck flies

Crossing the Northern coast twenty minutes ago

Our destination and a much needed sleep beckons

 

The new moon reflects on the pond’s surface

Feet down and wings arched for landing

Suddenly a flash of light and a crack of thunder

We land in a cacophony of panic and noise

The pond scattered with blood stained feathers

 

In the silence that follows our fears evaporate

The water is soft beneath our bodies

The moon slips behind a cloud and darkness hides us

Gorging on midge larvae and pond weed

We offer a prayer for the two who did not make it

 

© Jeff Price July 2018