Levi Stubbs’ Tears EP

1st June 1986
Billy Bragg
Polygram Canada (12”) POLSX 114
Number of discs: 1

plus Think Again/Walk Away Renee (version)/Between The Wars (live)/ I Don’t Need This Pressure, Ron/Scholarship Is The Enemy Of Romance

With the money from her accident
She bought herself a mobile home
So at least she could get some enjoyment
Out of being alone
No one could say that she was left up on the shelf
It’s you and me against the World kid she mumbled to herself

CHORUS:
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears run down his face

She ran away from home on her mother’s best coat
She was married before she was even entitled to vote
And her husband was one of those blokes
The sort that only laughs at his own jokes
The sort a war takes away
And when there wasn’t a war he left anyway

Norman Whitfield and Barratt Strong
Are here to make everything right that’s wrong
Holland and Holland and Lamont Dozier too
Are here to make it all okay with you

One dark night he came home from the sea
And put a hole in her body where no hole should be
It hurt her more to see him walking out the door
And though they stitched her back together they left her heart in pieces on the floor

When the world falls apart some things stay in place
She takes off the Four Tops tape and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears…

Do you think that the Russians want war?
These are the parents of children who died in the last one
Do you think that it’s possible knowing their past
That they’d ever considered repeating the past
When twenty million were slaughtered by NAZI invasion
They died fighting on our side you know
In a fight to defend human kind against NAZI terror and hatred
In the name of humanity bitter and torn
In the name of our children as yet to be born
Before we do that which can never be undone
I beg of you
Think, think again
And again and again and again and again
Do you think that the Russians want war?
These are the sons and the daughters of parents who died in the last one
Do you think that they want to go through that again?
The destruction, the bloodshed, the suffering and pain
In the second world war, out of every three dead, one was Russian
If we try with all of our power
Can we not find a way to peacefully settle our difference
In the name of humanity bitter and torn
In the name of our children as yet to be born
Before we do that which can never be undone
I beg of you
Think, think again
And again and again and again and again
Do you think that the Russians want war?
Will the voice of insanity lead you to total destruction?
Will you stumble to death as though you were blind?
Will you cause the destruction of all human kind?
Will you die because you don’t like their political system?
There will be no survivors you know
No one left to scream in the night and condemn our stupidity
In the name of humanity bitter and torn
In the name of our children as yet to be born
Before we do that which can never be undone
I beg of you
Think, think again
And again and again and again and again

She said it was just a figment of speech
And I said, “You mean figure?”
And she said, “No, figment”
Because she could never imagine it happening
But it did.

When we first met I played the shy boy
And when she spoke to me for the first time
My nose began to bleed
She guessed the rest

The next day we went on a bus ride to the ferry
And when nobody came to collect our fares
Well, I knew then this was something special
I couldn’t stop thinking about her
And every time I switched on the radio
There was somebody else singing a song about the two of us

It was just like being on a fast ride at the funfair
The sort you wanna get off because it’s scary
And then as soon as you’re off
You wanna get straight back on again

But our love is strange
And you have to take the crunchy with the smooth I s’pose
She began going out with Mr Potato Head
It was when I saw her in the car park
With his coat around her shoulders that I realised
I went home and thought about the two of them together
Until the bath water went cold around me

I thought about her eyes and the curve of her breasts
And about the point where their bodies met
I confronted her about it.
I said, “I’m the most illegible bachelor in town.”
And she said, “Yea, that’s why I can never understand
Any of those silly letters you send me.”

And then one day it happened
She cut ‘er hair and I stopped lovin’ ‘er

I was a miner
I was a docker
I was a railway man
Between the wars
I raised a family
In times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry
Between the wars

I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help the working man
And they brought prosperity down at the armoury
We’re arming for peace, me boys
Between the wars

I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man
Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we knew
Between the wars

Call up the craftsmen
Bring me the draftsmen
Build me a path from cradle to grave
And I’ll give my consent
To any government
That does not deny a man a living wage

Go find the young men never to fight again
Bring up the banners from the days gone by
Sweet moderation
Heart of this nation
Desert us not, we are
Between the wars

What was that bang? It was the next big thing
Exploding over our heads
And soon the next generation
Will emerge from behind the bike sheds
What are we going to offer them?
The exact same thing as before
But a different way to wear it
And the promise of a whole lot more

Oh, pity the pressures at the top,
The tantrums and the tears
And the sound of platinum cash tills
Ringing in their ears
Money maketh man a Tory
Don’t fire that assumption at me
I like toast as much as anyone
But not for breakfast, dinner, and tea

So don’t saddle me with your ideals
And spare me all your guilt
For a poet with all the answers
Has never yet been built

I see no shame in putting my name
To socialism’s cause
Nor seeking some more relevance
Than spotlight and applause
Neither in the name of conscience
Nor the name of charity
Money is put where mouths are
In the name of solidarity

We sing of freedom
And we speak of liberation
But such chances come
But once a generation
So I’ll ignore what I am sure
Were the best of your intentions
You are judged by your actions
And not by your pretensions

There is drudgery in social change
And glory for the few
And if you don’t tell me what not to say
I won’t tell you what not to do

Scholarship is the enemy of romance
Where does that leave me? Alone in the rain again
What happened to the weekend I planned with you?
We didn’t even get upstairs this time

I never missed that end-of-term kiss
But where did it go, miss? I don’t know, miss

Take me to the fair and hold me close as we fly
through the air
Then suddenly on Sunday, it all just melted away
And when it had gone, between patches of yellowing grass
I found a coin and lost what I was looking for

I never took the advice in that book
Oh you should look, sir, you might learn, sir,
You might learn, sir

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© Billy Bragg 2021