10 Comments

  1. Ha! Right back atcha Kilby, this time we in the States can’t see the video (or at least I can’t)…

  2. @ larK – That’s amusing! Then search for “Drill Ye Tarriers” by the Weavers. Then clip I linked to didn’t include a video anyway, just a Christmas themed placard.

  3. Inspired by a painting and UK history, as the lyrics hint and the following video discusses.

    One man drills a powder-hole the colour of a bruise
    One man sounds the bugle and another one lights the fuse
    Blow up! Pick and shovel it! Carry the earth away
    Brains and brawn with hammers drawn blasting through the day
    Rain is the cold
    Steam is the burn
    Speed is the way the world turns (round)

    Draughtsmen and surveyors work at pegging out the shaft
    Ten of us to breathe the dust, ten to do the graft
    Underneath the Pennine range the bodies lie in racks
    40 miles of steel and tile follow in their tracks
    Some men build a monument
    Some men build a tomb
    Some men move the world around
    To give them breathing room
    Some men carve a statue
    Of Isambard Brunel
    Some men carved a tunnel into hell
    Soon they’ll build a tunnel under England through to France
    Will it make the tide run quicker? Will the flow of trade advance?
    Underneath the ocean there is limestone, chalk and sand
    But coming up through virgin rock will be the human hand!

  4. Thank you narmitaj! I’ve long been a fan of The Men. We don’t see or hear much of them on this side of the pond. I love that their songs are often steeped in history. Sometimes it’s just the general mood, but other times actual events. I’ve learned about Turner’s painting because of seeing this song and I’ve also learned more about the emergence of railroads. My favourite of their songs, though is “The Colours”, which resulted in me learning about the Spithead and Nore mutinies.

    https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/behind-the-scenes/blog/nore-mutiny-royal-navy-richard-parker-leader-hanged

    I am a member of the council of a naval mutiny
    And no traitor to my conscience, having done my sworn duty
    These are my last words before the scaffold and I charge you all to hear
    How a wretched British sailor became a citizen mutineer
    Pressed into service to carry powder I was loyal to the crack of the whip
    It I starved on the streets of Bristol, I starved worse on a British ship

    Red is the colour of the new republic
    Blue is the colour of the sea
    White is the colour of my innocence
    Not surrender to your mercy

    I was woken from my misery by the words of Thomas Paine
    On my barren soil they fell like the sweetest drops of rain

    Red is the colour of the new republic
    Blue is the colour of the sea
    While is the colour of my innocence
    Not surrender to your mercy

    So in the spring of the year we took the fleet
    Every sail and cannon and compass sheet
    And we flew a Jacobean flag to give us heart
    While Pitt stood helpless we were waiting for Bonaparte

    Red is the colour of the new republic
    Blue is the colour of the sea
    White is the colour of my innocence
    Not surrender to your mercy

    All you soldiers, all you sailors, all you labourers of the land
    All you beggars, all you builders, all you come here to watch me hang
    And to the masters, we are the rabble, we are the ‘swinish multitude’
    But we can rearrange the colours of the red and the white and the blue

    Red is the colour of the new republic
    Blue is the colour of the sea
    White is the colour of my innocence
    Not surrender to your mercy

    Red is the colour of the new republic
    Blue is the colour of the sea
    White is the colour of my innocence
    Not surrender to your mercy

  5. Thanks for your comment SingaporeBill. Oddly, though I really liked this song (and like Turner) and listened a lot to the album it was on (Silver Town) 25+ years ago, I never really got into any of their other albums. I am sure I had Waiting for Bonaparte on cassette tape once (which “Colours” is on) but I can’t immediately spot it. Ah I see I have the Smugglers And Bounty Hunters Live CD from 2005 which has “Colours” on.

    The song mentions Bristol, which is only about 25 miles from me. Usually parked up in the Floating Harbour is a replica of the Matthew, the ship Cabot sailed to North America for the first time in 1497. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_(ship) Also, there is a large statue of Cabot sitting gazing towards “his old ship” from outside the Arnolfini (an art gallery and exhibition space).

  6. I haven’t listened to the Men They Couldn’t Hang for a long time. I first came upon them in the late ’80s or early ’90s through a college radio station.

    What do fans of the band call themselves?

  7. Grawlix: We call ourselves lucky. 🙂 A quick search found no cutsie nickname.

    narmitaj: Some of their older work is now available via streaming services if you are so inclined. Not, unfortunately, the albums recorded for Silvertone, so Silver Town, Domino, and Alive Alive-o are not on streaming services. Not any that I have access to, anyway. Night of a Thousand Candles, Waiting for Bonaparte, and How Green Is the Valley are, though, as is much (all?) of the stuff released after the band got back together. Including Smugglers and Bounty Hunters.

    That line about Bristol is nicely done, very evocative of the state of the narrator’s life and what Royal Navy life was like.

    Good old John Cabot. You couldn’t find a WASPier explorer. 🙂 He was a prominent part of my schooling here in Canada. Jacques Cartier and him, since, you know, French.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cabot

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