Music and poetry

It was the Daily Mail story
Teenager is arrested for burning poppy on Facebook page
that inspired this poem, about a young man called Linford House.

BURNING THE POPPY

I choked back my tears, as I pondered the rhyme
On 11/11, at just the right time,
In my home town square, where the wreaths had been laid
And the mayor wore his chain, and the Last Post was played.
“For their tomorrow we gave our today.”
Shall we squander such sorrow?  Throw tomorrow away?

A giddy young man set a poppy alight.
This brave new tomorrow, that’s his human right.
I cannot fathom this young man’s rage,
Which might have “gone viral”, left up on his page.
But was it sincere, the remembrance he tested?
Were we glad or appalled, when this lad was arrested?

“He has no respect!”, some of us cried,
As though we’d forgotten why others had died
Bent double like beggars, in trenches, in squalor.
It quite slipped our minds, the reason such valour
Had been demanded of their generation.
They gave their today, for the sake of our nation.

The bobbies today are much younger than I;
Less able than ever to understand why
My dad, who loved peace, played his part in a war,
Then taught his three sons what that war had been for.
An informer phoned in, said, “A poppy’s a-light!”.
The culprit?  Arrested!  To hell with his “right”!

I can’t figure the meaning, to tell you the truth,
Of burning the poppy, in the mind of the youth.
But I know what that image speaks of to me:
Of those who died, so that he could be free.
Though the money I gave, the legion can keep,
I must too burn my poppy, before I can sleep.

The man that I am, who almost cried,
As I wore my poppy, with sadness and pride,
Has found a new meaning to letting it burn
As I ask fellow countrymen, “When will we learn?”,
And hypocrisy mourns for those killed in just war,
But then sets on fire what they had died for.

With different meaning, his gesture I’ll copy
By putting a light to my own paper poppy;
Not from contempt for the glorious dead,
But out of respect; for, it has been said,
These heroes suffered their undeserved fate
Lest England became just another police state.

(c) copyright John Allman MMXII

Dedicated to my children, Lucy, Emily, Thomas, Kate and Noah.
Johnny Mac & Co at Royal British Legion, Liskeard, 27th June 2015 (with John Allman on keyboard):


LostBrother

These are the lyrics of a song I wrote over a year ago.  When I sing it, I set it to a slow country and western tune, similar to the one for the song D-I-V-O-R-C-E that was performed by Tammy Wynette.  (It was partly that song that gave me the idea for this one.)  It’s a song about a particular type of bereavement, and regret. The first chorus has alternative versions, for US and British audiences, respectively.

LOST BROTHER

My baby girl is three years old,
My eyes, her mummy’s hair.
She doesn’t know, must not be told
’bout her brother, who isn’t there.

Her mum and I, we often cry,
’bout the days we met, in school
And we were blessed with a baby boy,
Who’s daddy was a fool.

She’s brought us joy, but I have cried.
My heart has been so torn
Because our son, her brother, died
Before our girl was born.

First Chorus

EITHER                                                        USicon

He didn’t live long.
He’d done no wrong.
We thought he’d have to go.
Oh how I wish I’d never heard
Of folks called Wade and Roe.

OR                                                                     UKicon

He didn’t live long.
He’d done no wrong.
To us he didn’t seem real.
Oh how I wish he’d never been born …
… that MP, David Steel.

She’s brought us joy, but I feel pain,
For the brother she’ll never see.
I weep with shame that our son was slain.
Who killed him?  It was me.

I’d hold my son like I hold his sister
If I had my time again.
I wish we’d stopped that A B O
R T I O N.

foetus

Second chorus

He didn’t live long.
He’d done no wrong.
They tore him limb from limb.
No matter how many more children I have,
They’ll all remind me of him.

(c) copyright John Allman MMXI

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Here too, for good measure, the lyrics of a blues song I wrote about eleven years before I wrote Lost Brother.  Not a clichéd 12 bar blues, in this case.  Guitar chords for each 12/8 bar in C would be something like the following:

C C | E E Am Am | F#dim F#dim | C Am | D9 D9 |

G (instrumental) Ab7 | G [G+F+B’+Eb’+A” – a made-up sus-chord of my own, maybe properly called G7aug9?]

C C | E E | Am Am | F#dim F#dim

C Am | D7 G6 | C D9 | G Ab7 | G …

F6 F6 | F#dim F#dim | C6 C | Fmaj7 C | D D6 | D6 D | G G | Ab7 G |…

will_i_ever

Affectionate parody of Westboro Baptist Church’s own witty parodies of popular songs.

James Rhodes’ love song to Stephen Fry

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