Bragg 1984

Talking With The Taxman About Poetry


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

Sorry but no lyrics are available for this song.

I understand you needing
And wanting is no crime
But I can’t help feeling
That you and your mother are just wasting your time

Choosing Saturdays in Summer
I dare you to wear white
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right

I just don’t understand it
What makes our love a sin
How can it make that difference
If you and I are wearing that bloody, bloody ring

If I share my bed with you
Must I also share my life
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right

You just don’t understnd it
This tender trap we’re in
Those glossy catalogues of couples
Are cashing in on happiness again and again

So drag me to the altar
And I’ll make my sacrifice
Love is just a moment of giving
And marriage is when we admit our parents were right
And marriage is when we admit our parents were probably right

When one voice rules the nation
Just because they’re on top of the pile
Doesn’t mean their vision is the clearest
The voices of the people
Are falling on deaf ears
Our politicians all become careerists
They must declare their interests
But not their company cars
Is there more to a seat in parliament
Then sitting on your arse
And the best of all this bad bunch
Are shouting to be heard
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Outside the patient millions
Who put them into power
Expect a little more back for their taxes
Like school books, beds in hospitals
And peace in our bloody time
All they get is old men grinding axes
Who’ve built their private fortunes
On the things they can rely
The courts, the secret handshake
The Stock Exchange and the old school tie
For God and Queen and Country
All things they justify
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

God bless the civil service
The nations saving grace
While we expect democracy
They’re laughing in our face
And although our cries get louder
Their laughter gets louder still
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

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…

I can see the kitchen light
From the road where I park my bike
But it’s dark there as it often is these days
And the gloomy living room
Really needs a dust and a broom
But I can’t brush your memory away

Her father was an admiral
In someone else’s navy
And she had seen the World before I met her
She would wash and cook and clean
And all the other things between
And like a fool I just sat there and let her

CHORUS:
Now I can feed and wash and dress myself
And I can sleep without the light on
Honey, I’m a big boy now
I don’t know what she does With all the money that I sent her
She’s running round the town with the Young Pretender

I haven’t touched the garden
Since the day she walked away
From a love affair that bore only bitter fruit
She took everything she wanted
Which is why she left me here
With these pots and pans and my old wedding suit

A letter came one morning
That she would not let me see
And from that day I began to realise
That she would one day break
The home we tried to make
For sinners cannot live in paradise

There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hands of a worker
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don’t stand There is power in a Union

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers’ blood
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses’ way, sir

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a Union.

Help save the youth of America
Help save them from themselves
Help save the sun-tanned surfer boys
And the Californian girls

When the lights go out in the rest of the World
What do our cousins say
They’re playing in the sun and having fun, fun, fun
Till Daddy takes the gun away

From the Big Church to the Big River
And out to the Shining Sea
This is the Land of Opportunity
And there’s a Monkey Trial on TV

A nation with their freezers full
Are dancing in their seats
While outside another nation
Is sleeping in the streets

Don’t tell me the old, old story
Tell me the truth this time
Is the Man in the Mask or the Indian
An enemy or a friend of mine

Help save the youth of America
Help save the youth of the world
Help save the boys in uniform
Their mothers and their faithful girls

Listen to the voice of the soldier
Down in the killing zone
Talking about the cost of living
And the price of bringing him home

They’re already shipping the body bags
Down by the Rio Grande
But you can fight for democracy at home
And not in some foreign land

And the fate of the great United States
Is entwined in the fate of us all
And the incident at Tschernobyl proves
The world we live in is very small

On Monday I wished it was Tuesday night
So I could wish for the weekend to come
On Tuesday I wished that the night would pass
So I could call you on the phone
Now a man can spend a lot of time
Wondering what was on Jack Ruby’s mind
And time is all I have without you here

On Wednesday when you hung up
It was as much as I could do
To stop from wishing Thursday
Would pass so quickly too
They’re out there making history
In the Lenin Shipyards today
And here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel
Wishing the days away

There’s always room for one more soul
Down in the Human Zoo
I don’t want you to come here though
I want to come home to you
Somebody’s knocking at the door
Its later than I think
And its time to put on these stinking clothes
And get out there and stink

On Friday I wished there was something more
To be seen in the letters you send
On Saturday I wished it was Sunday
Oh will this torment ever end
Sometimes I get a notion to put a torch
To the tools of my trade
Here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel
Wishing the days away

The fear of a daughter can run high
In the mind of a father to be
For something is growing inside
But we don’t talk about it, do we

In the long empty passionless night
Many times to herself she had prayed
That the baby will love her much more
Than the big boy who stole her away

chorus:
And sometimes it takes a grown man a long time to learn
Just what it would take a child a night to learn

It pains her to learn that some things will never be right
If the baby is just someone else to take sides in a fight
Harsh words between bride and groom
The distance is greater each day
He smokes alone in the next room
And she knits her life away

A long time ago she saw visions on the stairs
And when she felt dizzy her mother was always there
The home help is no help at all I have not committed a crime
Angels gaze down from the wall
Is there a God, Is there a next time

A rainy afternoon
Spent in the warmest room
She lay before me and said
Yes it’s true that I have seen some naked men
As she made for the door
Leaving me on the floor
I wish I’d done biology
For an urge within me wanted to do it then

Chorus:
And here she comes again
And I’m sitting on my hands
And she sings to me that siren song
Here she comes again and I’m biting my lip
But it won’t be long

As Brother Barry said
As he married Marion
The wife has three great attributes
Intelligence, a Swiss army knife and charm
But that’s not enough sometimes
And she did speak her mind
And told them all that she believed
The only way to disarm is to disarm

I know people whose idea of fun
Is throwing stones in the river in the afternoon sun
Oh let me be as free as them
Don’t let her pass this way again
Though you cannot be blamed
But I’ve become inflamed
With thoughts of lust and thoughts of power
Thoughts of love and thoughts of Chairman Mao
We have such little time
At your place or mine
I can’t wait till we take our blood tests
Oh baby let’s take our blood tests now

Father mows the lawn and Mother peels the potatoes
Grandma lays the table alone
And adjusts a photograph of the unknown soldier
In this Holy of Holies, the Home
And from the TV an unwatched voice
Suggests the answer is to plant more trees
The scrawl on the wall says what about the workers
And the voice of the people says more salt please

Mother shakes her head and reads aloud from the newspaper
As Father puts another lock on the door
And reflects upon the violent times that we are living in
While chatting with the wife beater next door
If paradise to you is cheap beer and overtime
Home truths are easily missed
Something that every football fan knows
It only takes five fingers to form a fist

And when it rains here it rains so hard
But never hard enough to wash away the sorrow
I’ll trade my love today for a greater love tomorrow
The lonely child looks out and dreams of independence
From this family life sentence

Mother sees but does not read the peeling posters
And can’t believe that there’s a world to be won
But in the public schools and in the public houses
The Battle of Britain goes on
The constant promise of jam tomorrow
Is the New Breed’s litany and verse
If it takes another war to fill the churches of England
Then the world the meek inherit, what will it be worth

Mother fights the tears and Father, his sense of outrage
And attempts to justify the sacrifice
To pass their creed down to another generation
‘Anything for the quiet life’
In the Land of a Thousand Doses
Where nostalgia is the opium of the age
Our place in History is as
clock watchers, old timers, window shoppers

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© Billy Bragg 2019