Contemporary Songs

White Horse Song                                                                  (Aidan McGee)

 

The black-wool ram has a beady glare and so does the ram that’s white

Their minds conjoin in an unmarked field and bring on second sight

The world’s gone strange and freeform parallel to our human game

As the hill figures twitch beneath their chalk and concrete frame

 

The labourers foreshortened so to make the image right

So that those below the hill bore an illusion in their sight

Of splendid equine creatures carved out by the will of man

But spirit lurks beneath the surface in a fashion not to plan

 

So come all you four-hoofed wonders and dance on a stirrup-cup

Or thunder to King Alfred’s Tower and raise your own game up

You could cut the air with a Saxon shield or a turfed-up Blacknall knife

On the one night the white horses come to life

 

At the Iron Age hill fort, Westbury whispers ‘I am here!’

And relays and neighs communiqués so Devizes rises clear

He is the youngest colt but calls to Cherhill’s Georgian mare

She is lamb-like but walks on as tough as old horseshoes to wear

 

So come all you four-hoofed wonders and dance on a stirrup-cup

Or thunder to King Alfred’s Tower and raise your own game up

You could cut the air with a Saxon shield or a turfed-up Blacknall knife

On the one night the white horses come to life

 

Where Broadtown has eroded it re-scours itself alone

And then gallops on a nightwave ‘till unfettering work is done

For Hackpen is not hindered and rubs noses with Preshute

And above the Marlborough school a brand new learning curve takes root

 

So come all you four-hoofed wonders and dance on a stirrup-cup

Or thunder to King Alfred’s Tower and raise your own game up

You could cut the air with a Saxon shield or a turfed-up Blacknall knife

On the one night the white horses come to life

 

In tribute to who made it, Pewsey snorts to snuff out the fire

And jumps the farms to Alton Barnes where they canter on the high wire

Till the life-affirming tremor that envelopes each thing

From here to Oxon, hear the cry that Uffington is king!

 

And they gather by the long barrow by the circled stones

By the flintwall chapel of ease and by medieval bones

But lest we curse yourself for missing one sight to behold

We should see museum exhibits before we rue the loss of gold

 

So come all you four-hoofed wonders and dance on a stirrup-cup

Or thunder to King Alfred’s Tower and raise your own game up

You could cut the air with a Saxon shield or a turfed-up Blacknall knife

On the one night the white horses come to life

 

All words copyright Aidan McGee 2011

 

Wootton Bassett Home                                                        (Aidan McGee)

 

The captain’s at the air base and not really knowing why

A local journo corners him as Harrier meets sky,

Says: ‘Are you going back to Lashkar or is it anybody’s guess?’

Lord knows how the press got in but the captain he says yes

 

The captain is past forty and at a military crossroad

Some say he should do better some that he overbears his load

His men are mostly proud to serve him as for those who aren’t

There’s strategic human compromise and then there’s some who can’t

 

But when the Afghan comes close and the cry of mortar rings

The basic act of conflict is just one of several things

There’s families who don’t write and whole months off the pop

And a biro-scrawled out diary refrain fated not to stop and it goes

 

Wootton bore my childhood and my schoolhood and my son

Not from my younger marriage gone to pot but the second just begun

The past is in the present in my future final home

For I don’t need a golden temple or a house of Tuffeau stone

In my Wootton Bassett home…

 

The captain’s a realistic man and really ne’er denies

The procession for the young dead or the serving spouse who cries

Or the citizens with arguments that germinate at will

But all that misses his point which he’s holding onto still

 

The captain thinks of Christmases pre Maggie Blair and how

They showed The Goodies all the time then – why can’t they do it now?

If creature comforts come again on a living judgement day

This is the hero’s last campaign in a worldly weary way

 

Wootton bore my childhood and my schoolhood and my son

Not from my younger marriage gone to pot but the second just begun

The past is in the present in my future final home

For I don’t need a golden temple or a house of Tuffeau stone

In my Wootton Bassett home…

 

All words copyright Aidan McGee 2011

 

The Striker (Mick Channon Overture)                                (Aidan McGee)

 

He is born where churchyard meets the beast of Salisbury Plain

He lives in a council house they’re dukes in that domain

He will bale the hay age ten he is the chicken catcher

Full of jumping beans and laps up life but he’s a watcher

And he’ll play on cathedral marshland ‘till he comes to score

Oh yes he is the striker but then he is so much more

 

Thrown out on Saturday morning with some Orcheston orange pop

He runs with ponies twenty miles deaf to the order ‘stop’

His father’s from the cavalry his mother is strong-willed

His brother’s by the tractor…oh God…

He rolls on with sorrow but life’s vital to the core

Oh yes he is the striker but then he is so much more

 

He goes to watch the Saints play and then he’s one of them

Socks rolled down and sideburns creeping oer red-white shirt hem

When the hottest-ever summer comes they’re golden by the goal

They win the cup but all he wants is to see a new-born foal

His arm it windmills for pure joy not just because he scores

Oh yes he is the striker but then he is so much more

 

He swears ten to the dozen words of latent new opinions

Young horses rule this ruby-studded stable of dominions

Some list his sparring partners someone weighs his friends

But survivors bear their stiff joints and life torn away again

There’s countless county icons we recounted long before

And then there is the striker but he is so much more

 

All words copyright Aidan McGee 2011

Hungerford Wassail                                                              (Aidan McGee)

 

Wassail, wassail in the chalk-filled downs

And then bear onwards sighting towns

We come with gifts but wear no crowns

We’re no ordained gentry.

Slogans have we none in turn

Relayed on flag or banner

All is clear as the descants burn

And carol town and manor.

 

Wassail, wassail let the bass note ring

And hear the church’s Bath stone sing

It came downstream as a blessed thing

So bless canal boat bearers.

Men without profession rise!

Retool the blighted spanner

In destitution the maiden cries

And carols town and manor.

 

Wassail, wassail and the sound is soft

The frost is minted on the croft

The surgeon watches as he does oft

But now this time he’ll join them

By the inn sign John O’ Gaunt

Maps his land on the scanner

Then hands it o’er as voices haunt

And carol town and manor.

 

Wassail, wassail at the common’s end

The broken pill box we will tend

The surgeon’s patient is on the mend

The soldier’s war is over.

On the train a girl gives birth

No railway man to ban her

She fled the city for her home turf

And carols town and manor.

 

Wassail, wassail as you gaze on them

The babe and mother surrounded when

The pilot star from Bethlehem

Is hanging by the new ford. 

Beasts discarded, come and dance

By the grave of the Roman tanner

Horse, sow, sheep, cow to the trough advance

And carol town and manor.

 

All words copyright Aidan McGee 2011

 

Re'sume's & mp3 links:

Aidan is a prolific song writer and multi instrumentalist. He and his partner Ellie, have been most enthusiastic and regular attenders to this session throughout this year.

These four songs from Aidan were recorded at the Wormy Boards Studio on 02/04/11.

The songwords and re'sume's  were generously provided by Aidan for publication on this site, as were the Mp3s.

All works here remain copyright to Aidan.

White Horse Song

The white horse figures that adorn the hills of Wiltshire are in some ways the emblematic images of the county; it was going to be difficult not to write a tribute to them once the idea had taken root. My original idea was to write something far more slow and sentimental about someone missing their home county and thinking of the horses; then that thumping and addictive four-on-the-floor beat started weaving its way around me and I ended up with this instead. The horses come to life for one night only and hopefully take the song by the scruff of the neck in the process. Yes, Uffington is not in Wiltshire, but no inland county is an island, and motifs at least partially transcend counties in this song (ditto Hungerford Wassail). The flint wall chapel of ease, is Chisbury Chapel near Great Bedwyn; the long barrow could be either Wayland’s Smithy or West Kennet.

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/whitehorsesong.mp3

Wootton Bassett Home

In the last decade, the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett has become synonymous with the repatriation of dead soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Without giving too much away, the military captain in the song has vowed to serve his last mission abroad – the crucial point of the narrative is that he is originally from Wootton Bassett. He was born there; he intends to die there; he does not want to be covered in false glory in the process. As such, his perception of the town is not dominated by the headline-grabbing connotations of its name. The childhood that the captain is consciously (or otherwise) trying to reclaim is hopefully evoked by the image of the 1970-1982 hit TV show The Goodies - an insouciant and sometimes hilarious comedy-fest that would not pass the irony and coolness police today.

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/wootonhome.mp3

 

 

 

The Striker (Mick Channon Overture)

Folk culture and football still call out to each other even though the Premiership often seems intent on breaking the link. Imagine a footballer who could have ended up belting out tunes in singers’ clubs and drinking ale by the country yard instead. Well actually, you don’t need to imagine them – Mick Channon, man of the soil, man of rural Wiltshire and self-confessed horse nut fits the bill very well. Or at least I cannot beg to differ. Whilst researching for this song, I felt the man himself came across as an innate story-teller in his own right. I trust my tribute does him justice. Tragedy has crossed his life at least twice – the death of a sibling; the death of a close friend in a car crash that MC himself survived. It seemed important to broach the topic and not avoid it.

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/thestriker.mp3

 

Hungerford Wassail

The Nativity in updated format, and set in Hungerford, Berkshire. Music is at the core of  the Christmas experience and it only seemed right the wassailers, who start out in Wiltshire, should take the place of the three Magi – they lack gold, myrrh and frankincense, but their singing is so powerful they define the town and not vice versa. John O’ Gaunt returns from medieval times to the pub that bears his name. The buried Roman tanner is not historical fact but may yet shape up to be.

 

http://www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk/hungerfordwassail.mp3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Left Town', I particularly like this song, with it's sentiments of saying 'no' to work and money and just getting away from it all!!!

In the summer of 2009, I was away from home, working down in South Wales and started attending the Llantrisant Folk Club. It was there that I first heard this song (and many others) performed by James and his Band, on a very memorable evening..... This one is on his CD "House of Cards" (2009), which I bought at the gig.

 

I have, however added an extra verse (the last), as I really wanted this pair to arrive somewhere after their car trip, I just wanted them to get to the lake!

 

To listen just click the link:

http://greyhoundmusic.co.uk/lefttown.mp3

 

James Keelaghan was born in Canada, but of Irish descent, to find out more about him and hear more of his songs please visit his website:

http://www.keelaghan.com

or myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/jameskeelaghan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Lizzy's Birthday' was written to celebrate my big sister's 'significant 0', which is on the 20th of May 2009! After spending years living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Elizabeth recently returned to the UK and now lives in Wantage.

 

 

http://greyhoundmusic.co.uk/lizzysbirthday.mp3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Dinosaurs' was written by an old friend on mine, Marco Koppenhagen. Marco has been writting and performing  his own material for many more years that I have known him (I first met Marco  in 1985!) For more info on Marco, please see the Links page on this site.

The recording below is my own cover of this lovely song!

http://greyhoundmusic.co.uk/dinosaurs.mp3

 

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