Sea Glass

by Jon Horne

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02:23
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01:12
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02:29
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credits

released February 8, 2018

JH (male vocal with guitar acc.)

Tracks 1-5 recorded by Mike Gill at Distillers pub in London's trendy Hammersmith. The rest recorded at home in Whitby's trendy Ruswarp.

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Jon Horne Whitby, UK

Keepin' it largely fictional in the pubs and Pavilions of Whitby since 2004. Vocal, guitar, noisy songs with stories and tunes.

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Track Name: If The Russians Had Won
If the Russians had won the cold war
There’d be peace throughout the land
There would be no austerity
Just a glorious five year plan
All the bankers would be miners
And profits/prophets would be banned
If the Russians had won

Friday night in the union hall
You might cast a glance at me
I might be looking your way
There’s just a chance our eyes would meet
And the red flag would fly above us
There’d be the sound of marching feet
If the Russians had won

We’d gather in the market square
Men and women, girls and boys
From speakers tied to lamp posts
We’d hear the leader’s voice
Telling of great victories
And we’d all damned well rejoice
If the Russians had won

If the Russians had won the cold war
I’d have asked you to marry me
We’d honeymoon in a cold grey room
In a hotel by the sea
And one day I’d tell our children
About the way it used to be
Before the Russians won
If the Russians had won
Track Name: Lance Armstrong
Ask me how I’m feeling
I’m freewheeling
Where I come from, we don’t know how to lose
Call it a seventh sense
measured in dollars and cents
If you don’t like it, read the name on the soles of my shoes

The gun goes off in my head
It’s the sound I dread
The leader or the led? All eyes are on me
Time to go out in style
To ride one last trial
Ninety seven miles to the Champs Elysées

Hurt lasts a minute, a day, a year of pain
Losing lasts until you win again

Who can ever know
What makes a good man throw
Everything aside for the sake of winning?
Still the darkness grows
Through my skin and bones
I’m a man more sinned against than sinning

What’s turning these wheels
Blood sweat and steel
A heart that cannot feel itself pumping
It’s nothing if not real,
The pedal and the wheel
Ask me how I feel, I feel nothing

Cover yourself in glory and it’s never enough
When you’ve made the money, you can do it for love
Track Name: Jack London (1913-1964)
The spindle goes around
A linen sheet hangs down from the wall
He opens his mouth
But doesn't make a sound at all
Focus on the challenger, cut to the crowd
Back to the ring, microphone drops down
Touch of the gloves, stand face-to-face
The picture wavers, stalls and shakes
He waves his fist at us, and walks away

Her cigarette burns down
She waits outside the chapel in the rain
It's taking too long
But she keeps them all waiting just the same
Stops to remember a day long gone by
She takes a deep breath, then steps inside
He's still in uniform, she's dressed in white
If you do something, then do it right
The war is over, now it's time to fight

The boys over here were too easy to beat
Too straight with the left, too slow with the feet
Knock them down and be sure to retreat
To a neutral corner

She thanks you for your time
And shuts the door behind you as you leave
You can worry all you like
But she's not the one who's crying, actually
Everyone's waiting to shake your hand
And talk about the time they saw your old man
Down the gym or at the Albert Hall
You know he wouldn't be impressed at all
He'd say: “You see one bloody fight, you've seen them all.”

The boys over here were too easy to beat
Too straight with the left, too slow with the feet
Knock them down and be sure to retreat
To a neutral corner
Track Name: Bones
Wednesday night in the Hare and Hounds
Upstairs, fifty chairs, entry two pounds
Janet on the door says there’s room for more
So get your arse inside and sit it down

Floor singers welcome if you sign the sheet
Get up onstage or else sing from your seat
Don’t be scared, Janet says, we’re all here
To sing and play, so get up on your feet

Here’s a farmer marching off to fight Napoleon
And a servant girl, big with the master’s wain
A rebel named McCann headed for Van Diemen’s Land
In three verses and a chorus, you can make them live again

Let their bones speak tonight
Let them whisper, let them cry
Sing their blues like you’ve walked in their shoes
Let their bones speak tonight

Ballads, Irish sentimentals, any style
Rock’n’roll, music hall, make us cry or smile
Sing one of your own if it makes you feel at home
We’ve not had a new Bob Dylan for a while

Janet used to sing the blues while Johnny played the slide
But now she just listens, ever since old Johnny died
Soon we'll all be gone, all that’s left will be the song
Sing it loud if you can’t sing it right

Here’s a cotton weaver and a cotton picker
A fishergirl and a coal miner’s wife
A lonely dockside whore, a dustbowl troubadour
A ploughboy, a cowboy, you can bring them back to life

Let their bones speak tonight
Let them whisper, let them cry
Sing their blues like you’ve walked in their shoes
Let their bones speak tonight
Track Name: Knock It Through
We’ve cleared out the bedrooms,
Piled the boxes in the boxroom,
Wiped the walls and ceilings, washed the curtains,
Let the light in on this gloom.

My girlfriend’s pitching in
In the bathroom and the kitchen.
Doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty,
She’s pretty too

Downstairs Mr Thomson
Of Tindall, White and Thomson
Is showing round a couple. I hear him say:
“You could knock this wall through”

We’ve left out some pictures
On the wall in the kitchen
Try to create an atmosphere
A world in black and white
All the men in suit and ties
That’s what they did around here

I remember Mr Thomson
I was friends with his youngest son
He used to play 'Desperado' by the Eagles
And smoke small cigars

It’s a small world we live in
We might as well give him
The chance to sell this old house
Before it falls apart

Take it from me
it’s a prime opportunity
To do what you want to do
If you knock it through

I can hear him whispering
To the couple in the kitchen
I’m imagining his next line
It’s a steal and it’s a bargain
They’ve dropped it twenty thousand
To let it go for that would be a crime
I pick up a picture
Of my mum and dad together
My girlfriend puts her hand on mine
I think I might propose to her
When this is all over
Give it just a bit more time

Downstairs Mr Thomson
Of Tindall, White and Thomson
Is banging on about hardstanding
And parking out the front

Carports and extensions
And a room for the children
It’s a pebbledashed box with a garden, Mr Thomson
And that’s what they want

Buy a bath made for two
Turn the loft into a bedroom
Do whatever you have to do
To make it new
You can knock it through
Track Name: Sea Glass
One day it will all be like this
Worn down, opalescent
Indistinct, collectable remains
Stone, shell, glass, china, brick
Rust and plastic
Nestling in sand, clay, coal
Preserved in coarse conglomerate

One piece, held up to the greying sky
Kidney-shaped, pink and smooth
Framed by small fingers, face proudly
Turned to the wind. Our girl
Keeps it safe
Wrapped in orange polythene
To be displayed or used, later lost

By things that are extruded hot
Will our civilisation be known
One in millions fossilised, the rest
Broken up and recycled
Except plastic
Sculpted by erosion, melted
Reformed by continental drift

Waves break on groynes, sending up spray
Blown ashore, it rains down
She squeals and scampers. Distracted
By piddock holes and green glass, I say
Don’t get cold
She pulls her hood up, it blows off
She slides on her knees in pebbles, laughs
And tongues a loose tooth
Track Name: Old Man Walk
It’s in the way the old man walks,
Stiff around the hip,
With a roll of the shoulder
Every other step,
And on lips that blew ten thousand nights
with an eight-piece band,
There’s half a smile that says:
“I’ll keep going, more or less
Until the hourglass runs out of sand.”

It’s in the whip of the wind
On a warm spring night.
It’s in the winning of the war
It’s in the one left to fight.
It's in jumping up on the back of a barrow,
playing Run Rabbit Run.
That way and this,
The conga lines twist.
Don’t stop until you see the sun

Snap of the fingers, click of the heels.
King of the swingers, Bold Grenadier.
Hip to Mingus, Monk and Miles.
It boils down to the blues,
It’s a feeling, not just a style.

It’s in the glance at the script,
It’s in the glasses on the head.
It’s in the chauffeur-driven car,
Pushed-together double bed.
It’s wondering if this is all
as stupid as it seems
Blue jokes and blue notes
For a crowd of old folks
… Let’s meet the teams.

Old man walk, old man walk.
Track Name: Friday (Sally Says)
Sally says: "Take a look on the shelf."
Sally says: "That’s where I’ll find myself
one day, if I keep up this ridiculous pace."
Josie rolls her eyes just a little,
checks herself in a compact mirror
says: "How could I possibly improve upon this face?"
Sally throws a blue down her neck,
picks up a red and says: "Ah, what the heck."
Rubs her eyes, says: "Where’d you
get these, Josie babe?"

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day."

They call Josephine the queen of France.
They call Sally 'Sally' because she can’t dance.
Meanwhile Billy Mac's not been seen outside for days.
Taxi tips them out on Broad Street.
A quick one now before the hotel beat.
"Something large, cold and white please," Sally says.
Then to the barman: "Don’t bother, son.
I may be cheap but I’m not as much fun
as I look, now give me a drink and wipe that grin off your face."

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day.
Anywhere else but here, you’d think it was Friday."

"I bet Billy Mac’s got a glass to the wall,"
Sally laughs as she falls into the hall.
Turns around to find Josie conspicuously missing
Out of mind and out of sight
She doesn’t need Josie or a man tonight
Blanket from the bedroom, bottle from the kitchen
Sun comes up over the rooftops
Shines in Sally’s eyes and it won’t stop
She shouts: "Hey Billy, put the kettle on, if you’re still listening."

And Billy Mac says:
"They never went out dressed like that in my day.
They never let them out looking like that in my day.
Anywhere else but here, you’d think it was Friday."
Track Name: The New St. Peter
I never was one for singers
Give me a big band any day
Clarinets and saxes stand
For the Moonlight Serenade
My dance card is looking empty
I've got two left feet anyway
The crowd has all gone quiet now
And here am I alone on the stage

I used to watch the river
I swam it once, you know
I used to dream I'd sail the seas
And feel the trade winds blow
I see you thought the same thing
We all do, I suppose
It's not a crime to daydream
But it's time I got on with the show

To all the new faces who made it tonight
Take your seats, don't wait by the door
The floor is sprung and the night's just begun
Here's a welcoming round of applause

Looks like your time is over
And I see that you're afraid
You think you know down in your soul
There's nothing left to be said
You never listened to me before
But I think it's time you did
And put away your worries now
Admissions have all been paid

The microphone crackles like kindling
The mirrorball dazzles my eyes
So it seems it's down to me
To close the show tonight
Maestro, strike up the rhythm
And someone dim the lights
I never was one for singers
But I'll sing for you tonight
Track Name: She Called Your Name
I look you in the eye
And I tell you it was fate
It should have been a kiss goodbye
But then came the raid
To twist the iron rails
When the bombs came down like hail
And a goodbye kiss could be forever

Sometimes it’s hard to keep it
At a kiss, you understand
She may be yours in the eyes of God
But me, I’m just a man
I’m guiltier than Cain
But I don’t wish it away
Even though you won’t forgive me, not ever

Tear up my photograph
Burn it, smash the frame
All I ask is, you take her back
Because when she woke up in the night
She called your name

It could have been a GI
You want to watch those refugees
Miners, Quakers, conchies
Anyone but me
But I won’t take her away
And whatever you might say
The loving that she craves
You can give her

I’ll drink this beer and go
Leave you with your pride
For your comrades who marched for home
And the ones who fought and died
And when November comes
You’ll march to the drum
I’ll just hang my head and wait for winter
Track Name: King Of Nothing Happening
He was just twenty-seven when he packed up his suitcase
Filled with fresh ironed cotton clothes
Kissed his mother, said goodbye to the old place
Kicked the mud off his heels, set off down the road

He drove for hours until he reached his destination
Found a bed in a room with a view
Found himself a wife who would last the duration
And a job ‘cause a man should have something to do

As the years passed, he became well respected
Moved to a house that was stone-built and sound
He stood for election and duly was elected
Swore an oath to God, the queen and the pound

In power he strove to protect England’s highways
Secure her borders from foreign ingress
When rarely he spoke he would say: “This is my way
Of serving my country. I have no regrets.

When the river’s coming over
He’s preparing for a drought.
When the sirens are all blaring
He says: “What’s all this about?”
He’s got his hand in your pocket
But won’t pull his finger out.
He’s the King of Nothing Happening
Of that there is no doubt.

When the time came to stand up for justice
And the people demanded their voices be heard
He smiled and he said: “I’m afraid that it just is
A sad situation, it’s the way of the world.”

One dark, stormy night he’ll be called up to glory
Heart attack or a stroke I suppose
We’ll thank the Lord it’s the end of this story
Where nothing happened - now let’s watch him go.

He’s the Earl of easy answers,
He’s the Count of ‘count me out’,
The Prince prevaricator,
The Baron of bailouts,
The Laird of laissez-faire,
The Doyen of ‘do nowt’.
He’s the King of Nothing Happening
Of that there is no doubt.
Track Name: David and Suzannah
Suzannah used to buzz in from London
All frizzed-up, boyfriend in tow
He would put a hand on the
Green wire fence, the other
On the rust new-brick
Presenting a casual barrier
That she could duck under
Grinning as of old
And stand next-to and behind him

Chin-on-shoulder, slap-arse intimate
Little sister still, adoring
He for a second holds the cards
Were he not so busy
Holding the fence
He should hold out a hand
Instead the new man
Does, like the many
Who came before. He shakes the hand

You must be Dave, boyfriend says
His head stays still but the gaze drops
David please, she responds
Sternly and not in fun
One day there will be one
She notes, that I won’t
Have to tell, but until then
Big-necked, slow
David is her litmus test for men

So it remained for years. Cotton-polyester
Under short flared skirts became
Briefly, jeans artfully slashed and
Ripped, bare knees displayed
Then just jeans and tops
Of pink or grey. Hair no longer
Sprayed and bouncing
As she walked, but tied back
Prettily, with glasses, brown then black

The boyfriends became a husband - who’d
Failed the David test, but still
They had a baby whom David loved
Just as he had Suzannah
Suzannah wouldn’t let him bath
The child or sit with her alone
Too vulnerable. Too what?
I mean too little, she said kindly
But firmly. I was big enough for you, he thought

When Dad was gone and Mum stayed in
Her room day after day and all night
When you cried and the only thing
I knew was to hold you tight
And give you milk like Mum said
Warm the bottle up and
Squirt it on your hand
If you can’t feel it then it’s warm
Now give it to her, Mum said, so I did

The former family home hunkers down in
The lee of full-grown poplars
Whose roots dig viciously
But which divert the east wind
Overhead, until you reach the
Top road, when it hits you
Straight off the sea
A smaller man might not
Keep his feet. Proudly he walks to work

In Deliveries, behind the supermarket’s
Waggon-sized green doors
The handtruck cowboy rides
A western plain of dust and lint
Through sagebrush of plastic
Sheeting unwinding from pallets
Of whisky and cigarettes
Bacon and beans
No, David wouldn’t get the joke

You make your own theatre when you’re
Pallet-pulling in the warehouse
The drivers are the stars back there
Breezing in, undoing liner buckles
Like slick lovers and pulling
Back curtains like magicians
Performing the grand reveal
They have the chat
And utilise it mercilessly

David agrees to make the tea. It’s a break
After all. The hierarchies
Of the shop floor go right over
His head. He has work while
Many don’t; he has a place
To be in daytime hours
And at night therefore,
An excuse for a drink
So why not make the tea? he thinks

The Linewalkers at the Odeon Friday night
First half Johnny Cash, then
Line-dancing till late. Stella on tap
And a shoot-out in the break
Fiona from the office goes for the
Dancing. Mum went once
Or twice. David irons a check shirt
And polishes his boots
It’s only Monday, but best be prepared

You can come if you like, David says to his sister.
No, I’ll pass thanks old chap
I’m not cut out to be a cowgirl, and
Littl’un here needs looking after
That’s all right, he replies, I like
The Johnny Cash half best
He sings Ring Of Fire as
He did when she as little
She joins in but only remembers the chorus

With accidental clarity he mutters, I
Taught you nothing that you know
The husband grins, whispers, out
Of the mouths of babes and fools
And one of those is suckling at your tit
She kisses the child
And hisses to the husband
This is not your house, it’s his
The husband sniffs and changes channel

Before the husband and the child, before the return
To town, to the house
These moments of mammalian idleness
On the settee would’ve seemed
More suited to a zoo. Normality
Was the lion’s den of an interview
The shout and hup-to of an
Open-plan panopticon, the fizzing
Caffeine energy of London in the nineties

Office-hopping - seven jobs in as many years,
Every move an advance
Getting in on the ground floor, putting
The work in, making the cash
And getting out with pride and
Reputation intact, contacts safely
Stored in Filofax and Mac
Home was distant, a guilty pang
A Saturday arrival, a Sunday lunch then go

Mum was watching David’s back, and
He watched hers in his own clumsy way
Morning tea, a paper in bed that he
Could barely read, but he knew
Enough to know it got her up
That and twenty Bensons - ten each
Suzannah watched the pair of them
Together and wondered
Why am I not like that?

Then she would see herself, a girl of
Five-foot-three from the sort of house
That had a green plastic fence next to
The wall, from the sort of family
That had a father who would
Leave a depressed wife and
Vulnerable son. She had
Left them too, of course
She would hear Dad’s contemptuous snort

The following outburst, the husband will
Later blame on hormones - something
Doubtless to do with birth and feeding
Which will make her skin crawl
Even more, at the thought that she
Married him. She says, me
And you between us are no better
Than my Dad. I’ve behaved
Like him, but worse than that, you think like him

The husband has nothing to gain by
Responding, but does anyway
He says, blokes marry their mothers
Girls marry their dads
It’s the way of the world
She covers herself and the baby
Then makes her way into
The kitchen where David
Is cooking spaghetti bolognese

She was slowing down when Mum died.
Her head was still full of
Lead times and deadlines
But she was losing the taste for
Champagne at seven, dinner
At eight, music blaring and
A new man whenever
One was going spare
She decided she was ready for a change

I heard you, David says, you don’t have
To fight over me. For you, she corrects
He could do with a woman, she thinks
But that would be just
The sort of thing the husband
Would be thinking - find
Some poor girl special enough
And they can move
Into a warden-sheltered flat for two

Whether or not he understands, she says
You’re not holding me back, brother
Me and this ’ere sproglet are taking
A couple of years, together
She knows she doesn’t sound
Like herself, but to hell with it
She can play this rôle as well
As she played ‘amoral
Metropolitan’. London isn’t going anywhere

In vain hope of making up lost ground
Husband stays at home with the child
Suzannah and David hit the Black
Swan together, as they did when
She was sixteen. Old faces
Eyebrows raised. She counts down
For him at the dartboard
He buys her dry white wine from
His own wages. Then home arm-in-arm, drunk

Turn the page. Tomorrow: David wheels
Truck and brews tea unappreciated
Suzannah touches the walls of this tiny
Town she once longed to escape
Christian mother-toddlers, swim-babes
And fit-play, girls from school
Aged by marriage, birth and all
Of the above. And what of love?
Don’t start, she laughs, as the wind blows off the sea

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