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Nick Burbridge - McDermott's 2 Hours - neb i wrando
Nick Burbridge - McDermott's 2 Hours

If you read my last post, you know what I think of things like "National Poetry Month", but I'm hoping that the event will still be enough to get some of you to pay attention to this. After all, you've gotta' get your quota of poetry in before the end of the month or...else...

Trust me though, this is worth it. I just want to introduce you to my favorite poet and song writer, Nick Burbridge and his band McDermott's 2 Hours.

In case you don't want to check them all out, here are suggestions for different people or moods:

  • If you want beautiful but sad songs, try the 1st, 3rd and 4th songs, Stowaway, Snapshot and Refugees.
  • The 5th song, Black Sun (In Genoa), shows the more punkish and angry side.
  • In the vein of many traditional Irish songs, the 2nd song Harry Brewer takes sad subject matter and puts it with upbeat music to good effect.

I'm including copies of these songs (except for the one that's not released yet) along with the lyrics, but if you enjoy them or even just think that the band is worth supporting, then *please* buy one or more of the albums. Nick doesn't do this for the money, but I know that your support would be appreciated and would help to ensure that their string of fantastic albums continues.

Just in case some of you know the Levellers, if you didn't already know, "their" popular song Dirty Davey is actually a cover of a McDermott's 2 Hours song, and M2H has been a big influence on them. One or more of the Levellers' members actually play on three of the albums (Claws and Wings, World Turned Upside Down and Disorder), and those albums are released under the name McDermott's 2 Hours v Levellers.

Song 1: Stowaway

This is my favorite song from the upcoming album, which should be out in June. I'd like to let you hear it since even the demo I have is amazing, but I don't think I should redistribute it, especially since the album's not out yet. I believe it's about this girl, Kayleigh Steer, who died of leukemia two years ago this month, when she was just 11 years old. It will be on the album Goodbye To The Madhouse, expected to be out in June.


February evening,
your last day,
the heavy bonds that held you here
have all been cast away
No line into your vein now
no glass between your lips
as you lie licking grains of salt
pressed upon your fingertips

Stowaway, drift gently, but drift deep
All your walking's over now
This is where you sleep
Stowaway, drift gently, but drift far
Let this tide take all you were
away from all you are

You must use this craft now
to bear you through the cold
hidden with your treasures
in its creaking hold:
these objects you vivify,
lines you read or sing
talismans to testify
to travellers here you cannot bring

Stowaway, drift gently, but drift deep
All your walking's over now
This is where you sleep
Stowaway, drift gently, but drift far
Let this tide take all you were
away from all you are

And take this sheath of images
garnered year by year
that mark a quick life's changes
from safe hours to hours of fear
There is no trace of womanhood
no print of all you might have made
but the passage of a childhood
cut off now and stowed away

Stowaway, drift gently, but drift deep
All your walking's over now
This is where you sleep
Stowaway, drift gently, but drift far
Let this tide take all you were
away from all you are

So take this bright craft
into the dark tide
receding as the moments pass,
keepsakes by your side
And when you have landed
step into the risen sun
where the trail of all that's ended
meets the path of all that is begun

Song 2: Harry Brewer (mp3)

This is a combination of the stories of Nick's Irish grandfather (Harry Brewer) and his brother who fought for the British in World War I. This song is on the album World Turned Upside Down.

Harry Brewer

Where are you now, Harry Brewer?
You're lying in some dirty hole
With the sun beating down on the old battleground
May god give rest to your soul

It was in Kingstown in 1916
You enlisted to fight for the king
You all sailed away on a morning in May
And that was the last you were seen
For they threw you into battle
Like dogs on Salonika's shore
Where Ataturk's huns with their rattling guns
Made you march through the batteries' roar

There are officers safe in the barracks
And medics installed by the beds
While the poor fools of war get cut down by the score
And the blood flows from their heads
Still, they gave you a fine decoration
For serving the cause of their nation
And all that you cost was a wee silver cross
And your name on a stone by the station

But back home where your family were grieving
There were others out fighting for freedom
On the Post Office steps with their heads held erect
They went down for a cause they believed in
They'd not die for the few that accused them
They'd not fight for the crew that abused them
But they'd hold their ground for a land of their own
And nobody's going to refuse them

So here's to you now, Harry Brewer
I'm not saying you could have known better
There were thousands like you who sailed over the brew
And came back in a government letter
There are hundreds who'll beat on their drums
And hundreds who'll carry their guns
But if you must die at all, sure, it's better to fall
For rights you'll hand down to your sons

Song 3: Snapshot (mp3)

If there's a sadder song than Stowaway, this is it. It's about the cold detachment of war photography, and about 3 famous incidents in particular. You can find it on Claws and Wings, possibly my favorite album at the moment, although I love them all.


"The bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see
And all that he could see was the other side of the mountain..."

One more child caught between the lines

Morning in the paddy fields, she's working on her knees
When the sky turns black as the planes attack the village in the trees
So this is the fire of the righteous, melting skin from bone
Here she runs with outstretched arms, naked and alone

Bodies without dignity, faces with no name
Witnessed without pity, caught within a frame

Still noon in the mountains, a mother in her veil
Calls to her children at the sound of the shells
They climb into the cellar and shelter underground
Smothering together, this is how they're found

Evening on the ancient streets where rocks and slingshots fly
And soldiers and zealots fire bullets in reply
Trapped at the corner this young boy bleeds and cries
Holding his father who cannot stop him die

Do you see them die through this clear cold eye and mutter your distress?
When you close the page and turn away are they safely laid to rest?
Or in the night when you have to listen do they call and whisper
Reaching out to claim your hand and touch you through the distance?

One more child caught between the lines

Song 4: Refugees (mp3)

I don't know yet exacly who this song is about, if it was a specific event or group of people, but it is a beautiful song about, as the title suggests, refugees. Unfortunately the sound quality is a bit lower on this track since it's from their first album, The Enemy Within released way back in 1989. I hope that it will be remastered eventually. This is also the album that Dirty Davey comes from.


Let us come to confess what we've done
We've been looking for a place where we belong
Beckoned by the glimmer of the sun
And following an old and bitter song
But we trust in images of peace
Maybe only the fool can understand
Hoping for some moment of release
And building palaces of sand
Building palaces of sand

But the dark hangs thick round our eyes
We're children cast into the cold
Where teachers peddle empty lies
And our hunger is a passion to be sold
We lose our voices in the night
And the brush lies heavy in our hands
Hiding from the soldiers out to fight
And trapped in our palaces of sand
Trapped in palaces of sand

Ah but friend when there's nothing left to lose
In the last black hour before the dawn
The the seed takes root in the womb
And a life lies waiting to be born
The sun comes with a flush of rose
Lightening the contours of the land
Brightening the eyes that never close
And falling on palaces of sand
Falling on palaces of sand

So let the dead bury the dead
Let the soldiers flood the battlefield
Let those teachers go burrow through their heads
For ours is a dream that will not yield
We'll turn here in a dance of peace
Leading our children by the hand

Holding the moment of release
And building palaces of sand
Building palaces of sand

Song 5: Black Sun (In Genoa) (mp3)

Black Sun is about a young man named Carlo Giuliani who was shot in the face and run over twice by Italian police at an anti-globalisation march in Genoa in 2001. The march had gotten out of hand and I think he did bear some of the responsibility for what happened, but lethal force was unnecessary by all accounts I've seen. He didn't have to die that day. This song is from the latest released album, Disorder.

Black Sun (In Genoa)

Black sun in Genoa lying on the cobbled streets
Where a bright and ragged army of a hundred thousand meet
Marching side by side against the law of the obscene
Empire of the wallet and the rule of the machine
Carlo's down from his crumbling squat and swept into the tide
Of tattered flags and banners the Tute Bianche fly
Fired by what he half-believes and what he half-derides
It's not a battlefield where he should die
But you cut him down

Black sun in Genoa falling on the castle walls
Where the sleek heads of state parade from limousine to hall
Dealing face to face with honeyed words and cheating hands
A stake in every city and a share in every land
Carlo's in the Piazza Ducale where the riot police attack
And the Black Block turn to loot and fight
Driven on by stooges while the cameras track
Violence that gives violence the light
To cut him down

Black sun in Genoa falling on the battle-lines
Where the water-cannon fire and tear-gas chokes and blinds
Guns and batons, bricks and shields forge a hell where reason yields
And the light of darkness is defined
Carlo's in a side-street sacking an armoured van
Caught like an actor in the reels
When he's shot in the head and shot in the neck by a clenched and trembling hand
And as he bleeds he's crushed beneath the wheels
You cut him down

Black sun in Genoa falling on the bloodstained flowers
Lying on unforgiving stone
There's no prayer or silence in the halls of power
Through the night the orders for violence go on
But in the city of the heart the black sun sets
And a white moon of liberty cascades along the parapets
It's the light of conscience that redeems and regrets
An innocent young life destroyed - it will not forget
You cut him down

Tags: , , ,
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: Song of a Leveller - McDermott's 2 Hours v Levellers

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