Shaun Belcher Songwriter

The Serious Mr B-Side to Trailer Star

Category: cassette tape (page 1 of 2)

Robert, Grant and me: My Go-Betweens obsession – Floor of Wood

I always liked The Go-Betweens right from the get-go…and so did my friend Pete Astor from the Loft, the Weather Prophets. In fact the first time I saw them we went together to what was then called The Rock Garden in London’s Covent Garden before it became fancy dan town. They were supporting The Laughing Clowns who were also great.

As you can see from pics below I started collecting everything they did. Recently a neighbour went to Australia and pointed me at the Right Here: Go-Betweens appreciation society on facebook.

This prompted me to revisit a 1993 recording which summed up my devotion then and now.

The songs turned into poetry and the budding songwriter became old and grey but I think this amongst my best songs and certainly the most poignant.

It describes my visit to a now derelict farm cottage near Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire. My childhood home when my father a farm labourer. Everything in the lyrics is true.

It originally was released as a cassette tape here the original description and cover…

‘LAST FARMER OF RATTLEDOWN ROW’ – 1993 Horseshoe Tape (HS 003)

The story behind the songs…

The Big Time! Moved back to London -got my Fostex working overtime ( well three out of four channels anyway) and made the tape that would ensure I’d go down as the Berkshire Hank Williams! Ended up playing some pretty ridiculous gigs with a drunken bunch of HIGH PRIESTS which gained some attention and a debut 7″(click name to see full story).

Thought I was Tom Waits/ Raymond Carver and the ghost of Old Hank Williams until I sent out the tapes to all and sundry and received just two replies from a head honcho at EMI believe it or not who said the words were good -the music and singing not -and someone at Roundtower Records who was too polite to tell me I wasn’t the next Tom Russell but who sent me some of Tom’s discs anyway (for guidance?) so that made me feel a lot better.

Guess what …I still think 26 years later that I’m the Berkshire ghost of Hank Williams…too late to stop now……………..and there’s a bloke down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis…no really he’s the spitting image……

Track ‘City of stars’ renamed ‘Big City Nights’ on re-release CD

 

Listen to LAST FARMER OF RATTLEDOWN ROW here now on Bandcamp

https://trailerstar.bandcamp.com/album/last-farmer-of-rattledown-row

My heart is buried under a floor of wood…..here the song Floor of Wood lyrics and track on Soundcloud

FLOOR OF WOOD

 

This house was built of planks ten years after the war

I spent my childhood days watching the wind blowing the straw

As the sixties twisted away and the motorways came

I would stand at the window playing with toy cars in the rain

 

This time I’m really leaving these green fields for good

But I’ll leave my heart under this floor of wood

 

Slate roof is full of holes, the walls are covered in rambling rose

Nothing lives here now but the ghosts

I push a broken door against broken plaster and ash

And watch the wind blow through windows all smashed

 

This time I’m leaving these green fields for good

But I’ll leave my heart underneath this floor of wood

 

Since I was a boy England has drifted from fields to city

All these cornfields been turned to golf courses or light industry

Plaster crumbles and dusts my shoes just like chalk

I walk away, scratches on my arm, I try to close the door.

 

This time I’m leaving these green fields for good

But I’ll leave my heart buried under this floor of wood

 

© shaun belcher – horseshoe songs 1993

 

Revamped Studio and new song

New Year, new studio..well the old Trailer Barn Studio given a dust off and a new track recorded on the trusty old TOA recorder.

 

                     

 

http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/toa-mr8t/2186

 

 

For People My Age

PEOPLE MY AGE

PEOPLE MY AGE WORRY ABOUT THINGS
WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER, THE PRICE OF STRING
PEOPLE MY AGE KNOW THE DAYS ARE SHORT
KNOW THE ROAD LEFT IS DARK AND COLD

PEOPLE MY AGE – PEOPLE MY AGE – PEOPLE MY AGE

PEOPLE MY AGE KNOW HOW TO MAKE DO AND MEND
THERE SO MUCH PUNISHMENT THEY TAKE
PEOPLE MY AGE ARE HEADED TO THE SUN
WORRIED ABOUT THEIR PENSION AND THEIR MORTGAGES

PEOPLE MY AGE HAD A THOUSAND DREAMS
A THOUSAND THINGS THEY MEANT TO DO AND SEE
PEOPLE MY AGE KNOW IT AINT EASY
AS EASY AS IT SEEMS

PEOPLE MY AGE THINK THEYRE FOREVER YOUNG
PEOPLE MY AGE SOME ARE DEAD AND GONE
PEOPLE MY AGE THINK THEY WILL LIVE FOREVER
PEOPLE MY AGE SING AND DANCE AS ONE

PEOPLE MY AGE ARE RISING LIKE LIONS FROM SLUMBER

 

Kimberley Jam 2017

Preparations under way for my annual gig. This year I am playing at the new Tynemill Pub The Cricketers Rest on the Mayhem Bill with Frankie Vacuum and Paul Carbuncle…..earlier I at the Miner’s Return Micropub..looking forward to it.

As my planned release of Trailer’s Latest ‘Chalk Pit Rattle’ been undermined by events I will be taking some very rare Suit of Nettles along as product instead.

As my desktop above shows I also sketching out my next project which I hope will be a CD/tape and graphic novel work based around my more sensitive songwriting rather than Trailer’s raucous ribaldry…

So expect sensitive at Miner’s Rest..i.e. me and my arsey alter-ego (safely deceased since 2001) at the Cricketers on the Barmy Bill.

See you there…

Shaun Belcher the Songwriter and his alter-ego playing Kimberley Jam. Belcher at Miner’s rest 7-8pm playing through the lost classic ‘Suit of Nettles’ and then Trailer’s ‘Chalk Pit Rattle’ set at Mayhem at the Cricketers 8.30-9pm…

My Father’s Trees – the story behind the song

There is a stretch of road below Wittenham Clumps in what now Oxfordshire (originally Berkshire and I consider myself a Berkshire Kid) where my father planted a row of poplars and other trees for a farmer in the early 1960s. As we’d drive past them going to builder’s jobs years later he always mentioned them. Stuck in a cold Edinburgh this is a fond remembrance of those trees. As far as I know the disused road (cut off by a bypass) and the trees still there….

I wrote this in 1996 aged 37 bemoaning being nearly 40….now as I approach 60 I don’t know what I was worried about.

The caravans comment is a connection to family history. My great grandmother was born into the Lee gypsy family and indeed it present on both sides of the family…..a rovin I will go 🙂

 

Influences? Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer.

 

MY FATHER’S TREES

WELL NOW I’M PUSHIN FORTY
AND ALL MY LUCK’S BEEN SPENT
I WISH THAT I COULD GO BACK
TO THE PLACES THAT I LEFT

I WISH THAT I COULD BE
I WISH THAT I COULD BE

SITTIN’ UNDER MY FATHER’S TREES

PLANTED THEM IN ’63
NOW THEY’RE SO BIG AND TALL
BUT THE ROAD HE PLANTED THEM BY
IT AIN’T A ROAD ANY MORE

NOW THERE’S A LINE OF CARAVANS
PARKED IN THE WAY
AND THERE’S A LITTLE KID SITTIN’ IN THE SHADE
WISH I COULD BE JUST LIKE HIM…

JUST WATCHIN THE CLOUDS GO BY…
from Black Tin Barns, releases February 1, 2017

The Factory – the story behind the song

In the 1940s men would regularly bicycle from Didcot and local villages to the Oxford car plants.
This is my song about their early morning rides in convoy which especially grueling in mid winter.

THE FACTORY

MEN ARE RIDING ACROSS THE WINTER FIELDS
BYCYCLE LIGHTS SPARKLING IN THEIR CHROME WHEELS
WORKING DUSK TO DAWN IN THE FACTORIES
WHOSE LIGHTS SHINE THROUGH THE TREES

OH CAN’T YOU SEE, CAN’T YOU SEE
THE FACTORY

NOW THOSE MEN THEY ONLY RIDE IN THEIR DREAMS
THE FACTORIES ARE GONE, ONLY FIELDS OF WEEDS
AND THOSE MEN HAVE GRANDSONS WITH COMPANY CARS
YOU CAN SEE THEM OUT RACING AROUND THE BYPASS

BUT TEN MILES OUT OF TOWN THERE’S A SCRAPYARD
WHERE FIFTY YEARS HARD LABOUR IS FALLING APART
IF YOU STARE INTO THE RUSTY CHROME YOU’LL SEE
THE GHOSTS OF MEN POLISHING HEADLIGHTS AND POURING LEAD

MEN ARE RIDING ACROSS THE WINTER FIELDS
BYCYCLE LIGHTS SPARKLING LIKE A CHAIN OF PEARLS

 

 

from Black Tin Barns & River Ghosts, releases February 1, 2017

Road is a River – Story behind the song

Strange one this.

I have lyrics for all the other songs but not this one.

Maybe a one off recording.

Fairly minimal and quite sad.

The road is a river and my windows are full of steam….

Thames Valley blues again….song about home from Scotland.

THE ROAD IS A RIVER

The road is a river and my windows are full of steam
That woman I remember walking across these muddy fields

The road is a river its taken us all away
Far from these fields of straw
These empty barns in the rain

The road is a river
Yes the road is a river
The road is a river and maybe one day it will bring her back my way
In a car of chrome and silver
It’ll slide through these fields of rain
And we’ll float away

The road is a river….

from Black Tin Barns & River Ghosts, releases February 1, 2017

Room 22 – The story behind the song

 

My homage to a unjustly neglected band The Vulgar Boatmen who I discovered in the early 1990s.

They also drew on Velvet Underground but with an academic (lead singer a film tutor later) twist.

Check out their stuff at link below.

www.furious.com/perfect/vulgarboatmen.html

I always see the old Dragon Hotel as the location ..

A GWR Railway Hotel sadly demolished to make way for the usual crap in the 1990s…

Now the council planning a ‘Gateway’ on the site utter crap…money talks..the new Reading anybody?

ROOM 22

STANDING AT THE WINDOW LOOKING NORTH
THROUGH THE POWER-LINES AND THE RAIN AS IT FALLS
IT FEELS THE SAME AS THE DAY WE BOTH STAYED
IN THIS HOTEL ROOM ON THAT SUMMER’S DAY

SAME ROOM SAME VIEW STATION VIEW

ROOM 22

NOW THE HILLS ARE COVERED WITH SNOW
THERE’S JUST BARE TREES AND CROWS
I REMEMBER US WALKING AROUND THIS TOWN
WITH YOU UNTIL THE SUN WENT DOWN

IT’S THE SAME ROOM THE SAME VIEW

ROOM 22

THEN YOU GOT MARRIED SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE
MAYBE I’VE PASSED BY YOU ONCE OR TWICE
BUT TONIGHT ALL I HAVE IS THE MEMORY OF YOU
AS I STARE THROUGH THE POWER-LINES AT THE VIEW

IT’S THE SAME ROOM THE SAME VIEW

ROOM 22 WITHOUT YOU

Where Two Rivers Meet (Mary’s Dream) – The story behind the song

 

Whilst living in Edinburgh I attended the first year of a evening course in Scottish Cultural Studies.
Tutors included Murdo Mac Donald and Cairns Craig and I met Robert Alan Jamieson and Hamish Henderson.
It was fantastic. As part of it I wrote an essay on a lesser known Scottish poet William Neil and researched this song
through studying a ballad from Kirkudbright called ‘Mary’s Dream’.

This is my reinterpretation of the romantic story attached to the writing of the song ‘Mary’s Dream’. The full story too long for here so please read the extra material here:

www.kirkcudbright.co/historyarticle.asp?ID=122&p=7&g=4

The last verse is based on ‘New Eden’ in Dickens ‘American Notes’.

There is a natural vantage point in Dumfries known as John Lowe’s seat at the point where ‘Two rivers meet’.

lyrics

WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET

I WAS BORN WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET
I LEARNT TO PLOUGH AND I LEARNT TO REAP
THEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY
AND I LEARNT ALL THE WORDS THE RICH MEN NEED

OH MARY, OH MARY,
WILL YOU WAIT FOR ME
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET

WE LEFT THE PORT AT DEAD OF NIGHT
THE FULL MOON ON THE SAILS DID SHINE
WE PASSED THROUGH LANDS OF ICE AND SNOW
TWO DIED BELOW, THEIR BODIES FROZE

THEN I FOUND A PLACE IN AMERIKY AND CUT BACK THE TREES
AND A SNAKE IT BIT INTO ME
THEN I DREAMT I WAS DELIRIOUS
I DIDNT KNOW WHAT TIME OR YEAR IT WAS

AND I THOUGHT I SAW YOU IN YOUR WHITE GOWN
TRIPPING ACROSS THAT EMPTY GROUND
BUT IT WAS JUST THE WATER OF THE FLOOD
AS IT ROSE AROUND MY HOUSE

AND I WAS DEAD…

OH MARY WILL YOU WEEP FOR ME.
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET.

 

 

Black Tin Barns – the story behind the song

As a child they were all around but as developers moved in they faded away..the last ones behind my grandfather’s house now being turned into an Eco Museum for Trees!

Musically I was listening to the Louvin Brothers and although I didn’t hear Gillian Welch and David Rawlings until years later (their first disc was released  in April 1996) there might have been something in the air 🙂

BLACK TIN BARNS

There’s an old dirt track and a muddy stream

There’s a wide open field that’s surrounded by trees

There’s an old tin barn that’s falling down

That’s where I rolled in my sweet baby’s arms

 

Oh country tracks won’t you take me back

To the farms and the black tin barns

 

Now all I can do is sit and stare

Across these fields at trees so bare

All around there’s only sticks and stones

Cos’ nothing been planted so nothing grows

 

When I was young I used to dream

Of you girl in these fields of wheat

But now the wind’s torn everything up

All that I am left is this handful of dust

from Black Tin Barns & River Ghosts, releases February 1, 2017

I also found my first copy of No Depression magazine ( the Whiskeytown cover see below) in 1997 when I back in Oxfordshire….with my barns..
nodepression.com/archive-cover/issue-10-july-aug-1997

 

 

Prodigal Son – the story behind the song

 

Another play with classic americana themes. Here the black-sheep boy returning home. Based on people I knew in Didcot very loosely. Some added harmonica and guitar. One of the strange influences here was Chris Cacavas of Green on Red and later solo fame. Not very well known but well worth seeking out. Same generation as Steve Wynn and Peter Case who also heroes. Oh and a LOT of Bruce Springsteen…I worshipped Nebraska…still do.

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