Shirley (Greetings To The New Brunette)

Five track promo sampler from Reaching To The Converted.
Shirley/Sulk/Walk Away Renee/She’s Leaving Home/I Don’t Need This Pressure Ron

Shirley,
it’s quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
Shirley,
you’re my reason to get out of bed before noon
Shirley,
you know when we sat out on the fire escape talking
Shirley,
what did you say about running before we were walking

Sometimes when we’re as close as this
It’s like we’re in a dream
How can you lie there and think of England
When you don’t even know who’s in the team

Shirley,
your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
Shirley,
we are joined in the ideological cuddle

I’m celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven’t noticed yet
I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet

Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how I love those evening classes

Shirley,
you really know how to make a young man angry
Shirley,
can we get through the night without mentioning family

The people from your church agree
It’s not much of a career
Trying the handles of parked cars
Whoops, there goes another year
Whoops, there goes another pint of beer

Here we are in our summer years
Living on icecream and chocolate kisses
Would the leaves fall from the trees
If I was your old man and you were my missus

Shirley,
give my greetings to the new brunette

If you hate me, why don’t you go?
And if you love me, why don’t you let me know?
But you just won’t give me an inch, so
You just sulk

Why do I want to hide whenever you show up?
You know your moods just make me want to throw up
Why don’t you just bloody well grow up?
You just sulk

All of the time
Why don’t you pick me up or throw me a line?
All over the place
Why don’t you tell me what you think?
Come on and tell me to my face

If you love me, why don’t you show it?
If you hate me, why don’t you let me know it?
Why don’t you just pick up something and throw it?
You just sulk

If you want to bend my arm
Well you could do it with a little more charm
But you just couldn’t bear to do me any harm
So you just sulk

And you tell me that you want to quit
And then you treat me like a piece of shit
And when I ask you, what’s that got to do with it?
You just sulk

All of the time
Why don’t you pick me up or throw me a line?
All over the place
Why don’t you tell me what you think?
Come on and tell me to my face

If you love me, why don’t you show it?
If you hate me, why don’t you let me know it?
Why don’t you just pick up something and throw it?
You just sulk

Sulk, sulk

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
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 fun fair
The sort you want to get off because its scary
And then as soon as you’re off you want get straight back on again

But all love is strange
And you have to learn to take the crunchy with the smooth I suppose

She began going out with Mr. Potato Head
It was when I saw her in he car park
With his coat around her shoulders that I realized

I went home and thought about the two of them together
Until the bathwater 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, “Yeah. That’s why I can never understand any of those silly letters you send me.”
And then one day it happened
She cut her hair and I stopped loving her

Wednesday morning at five o’clock
As the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hoped would say more
She goes downstairs to the kitchen
Clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the back door key
Stepping outside she is free

She
(We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving
(Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home
(We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for
(Bye bye)
So many years

Father snores as his wife gets into her dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs

She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy our baby’s gone
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly?
How could she do this to me?

She
(We never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving
(Never a thought for ourselves)
Home
(We struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home after living alone for
(Bye bye)
So many years
Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from the motor trade

She
(What did we do that was wrong?)
Is having
(We didn’t know it was wrong)
Fun
(Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy)
Something inside that was always denied for
(Bye bye)
So many years

She’s leaving home
(Bye bye)

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 ’em?
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
Or 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’s 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

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© Billy Bragg 2021