The Songwriter - Chapter 13
It’s difficult to see beyond the horizon , or consider there are new horizons yet to come in a distant time far away . As I started to think about returning to Sydney I realised that home now was in sight above the clouds , across the horizon and the only thing left to do was to get my Australian Passport .
It was August 1990 and I had a room at the Limegrove Hotel in Victoria . The room was big enough for a me , a single bed and a TV . The English Summer was in full swing and life was good . I had already completed the application and paid the fee , so in a short time I would be leaving for Australia but there were still s few things I wanted to do before I left . I wanted to visit Linda again and look in her eyes . I wanted to see the girl I came half way around the world to marry only to have her say , it was the end of the line for me . I wanted to stand firm and let he know who I was and where I was going and at the same time bear no grudge or ill feeling towards her . I wanted her to know I had a life and a place to go which was not the end of a line but a new journey back to Australia .
I wanted to say a few words to the people of London in speakers corner i Hyde Park. I wanted go to Greenwich Village the place of GMT , Greenwich mean time.
I wanted to go to the theatre , to a good restaurant, to see a live show . I wanted to feel like a normal tourist in London and not feel like a vagabond of the street .
The began to see the streets of London through new eyes , the streets were crammed with American tourists ,Japanese film crews , European senior citizens with cameras around their necks, money to spend and plenty of time to kill .. I looked like one of these people , a tourist at the market in Covent Garden browsing through the colourful freaky acid house designed shirts and board shorts ,baseball bats , rainbow coloured summer wear , CD;s and DVD’s .
The pavements of Piccadilly were a long way from Tipperary and a sight for a busker like me . As I walked along Regrent Street a very well dressed Indian Man approached me and asked for some money to get a taxi because he had to get to the airport in a half hour . I looked at him and smiled and handed him a pound note . I felt relieved that it was him asking and not me . I met another man at Piccadilly Circus who was troubled because he needed to get back to his wife who he had just ran away from so he needed some cash to get there . Without the word of a lie there were so many people who wouldn’t know see truth of where they stood if it stared them straight in the face. Con artists and hawkers and all kinds of people trying to sell souvenirs or London bus trips for tourist tourists like me . I was a complete unknown like Bob Dylan said like a rolling stone , with no one and nothing to do but hang around London with time to smile and stare back at life .
So there I stood on my soapbox in Speakers Corners in Hyde Park with a head full of things to say to anybody who wanted to listen . I began with a question .
Are there any songwriters out there ? Then I continued ,
Poets have now become songwriters and music has been hijacked by professionalism and now songwriters have lost the ability to see which direction they should be going in translating their stories and images of life to the world . The music industry dictates to songwriters what they need to write for the marketplace. Radio stations are paid to play song recordings chosen by music publishers to make money .
There are millions of song writers out there who stand firm and will not be moved to write what other people want them to write . The stand firm on the principle of who they are as original songwriters . Could someone give me an Amen out there ?
When it comes to music and sings there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who write songs and make music and those who write contracts and make money . .
Today the world needs real people not plastic people . There are countless songs sung all around the world that cry out to be heard . Songwriters have a talent that doesn't just happen , it's a given thing and it demands dedication and courage to write the kind of songs that speak for many out there . Long may the songwriters of this world continue to bring us their original material into the world and shame on those tyrants who make it hard for songwriters to be heard .
I got off my soapbox and walked back through the park and bought a cider apple from the man who ran the fruit stall on the main road .
I felt good that had took a step out there to tell people how I felt about music and writing songs . Speakers corner was one of these venues in London where you could do that but you really have to believe in what you’re talking about and stand firm no matter what otherwise the hecklers will devour you there .
I looked at the nameless faces walking around the streets , the wild and dangerous and those with a childlike innocence about them on the sidewalks where they passed with smiles and frowns .
Back in my hotel room I looked at the hundreds of songs I had written during the last few years . It was amazing I still had them , they had survived through all of what I had been through , they were treasures to me and I needed to protect them . I started to make copies of them and then I sent them to my Mothers place in Sydney .
The idea of a new song called Lost Sons Of Erin came to me . The song was about men who left Ireland and had never returned . They could be anyone , a fisherman at sea , or a sailor , an emigrant or a runaway . They all had something in common they were lost to the land they were born . As I started to write the lyrics I had a phone call to tell me my passport was there and I could pick it up at Australia House in London .
After I picked up my passport I went to visit Pat in Lambeth again for the last time . I told him about Lind and asked him to come along with me when I was going to see her .
Both of us made our way to Dalston and I knocked on her door . When she opened the door she was very surprized to see me standing there with Pat . She invited us inside and I introduce my friend to her . She seemed lost and very alone . I felt a pity for her sitting there with sad stories of all the trouble she was in with her job and her financial problems .
I told her I was going back to Australia and just wanted to say goodbye . She said how she wanted to return there and that maybe we could meet . I smiled and thought to myself , that would not be possible .
I asked her if she wanted to come with me to see Greenwich one day and she said she would love to so set a time that suited her and said goodbye .
I left her flat and thanked him for all the things he had done for me . I gave him some money and wished him well .
That evening I booked myself a ticket to see a new play on at Her Majesties Theatre , It had just come from Broadway , the play was called Shadowlands . The title of the play struck me , it was as if it described the place where I had been for the last few years .
The following day I met Linda near Big Ben . I bought two return tickets on the boat to Greenwich . As we got on the boat , I looked at her standing there with the wind in her hair and she looked kind of lost . I wondered what ever would become of her and hoped that she would find happiness in her life . When we got to Greenwich we walked around and looked at the tall ships moored to the dock , anchored from another time for people to admire . Walking around Greenwich was like stepping back in time to the place when things were so much quieter and less complicated .
Linda and I had lunch and a drink before the return journey back .
I said goodbye and wished all the best then returned to my room in Victoria .
I loved just being me again and in control of things . I did some shopping and visited some very good steak restaurants in Victoria . I saw a few shows and met this very talented street artist who I paid to sketch a portrait of me for a keepsake and a memory of where I had been .
I visited my Aunts in Wellingborough and said goodbye to them all . They all asked me to remember them and I said I would .
I returned to London and visited St Pauls Cathedral and then I said some prayers in
Westminster Cathedral , the Catholic in London . From there I began to file away all my memories away into the background of my heart and soul for another day . It was almost as if it had all been a scene from a tangerine dream . In that land of shadows where I had seen sadness and felt the madness of a dog without a bone or a tambourine man without beat on the street lost and alone . But now the tide had turned and life looked much better . I felt an achievement inside the very depths of my being and I felt free . I discovered a new day . I could see a new horizon . I was walking away much wiser off for the experience .
The last night in London I finished writing , my new song Lost Sons Of Erin .
Lost Sons Of Erin by Paul McCann
See the cold cruel sea how she's taken from me ,
my sons, no more do I see,
the wild wind in their hair or rain on their face
too long they've been gone from this place .
Won't you come back to me,
to where you belong .
lost sons of Erin come home .
We will come , we are coming .
Lost sons of Erin come home.
Come back to me before the dawn of the day ,
when the mist it has gone and we’ll see,
the sun's on the bay ,
with the salty sea spray .
as the birds in the sky make their way
To a place of their own where they beLong
Long sons of Erin come home.
Lost sons of Erin come home .
We will come . We are coming.
Lost sons of Erin come home .
The song meant something special for me and I put it away with all the rest of the handwritten songs I had composed during my time on the streets . The bag of songs was bulging at the seams and I felt that they were a big part of my life . I placed my bag under the bed in the room until I would carry it on the place with me on the flight back to Australia .
I went and booked my ticket to Sydney then contacted my family and friend Joe in Sydney to let them know the details of my flight .
The day arrived for my flight to Sydney and I was now at last on my way home .
I sat in international departing area at Heathrow Airport and in a short matter of time I would be back in Australia Again .
As I waited with my carry on luggage for the moment to be told to board the flight for Sydney . I let my thoughts wander and saw images of me and my guitar here and there with a song to share and thought to myself, Yeah I came to town and played my songs for those who had time to listen . I hope maybe you will pass my way again somewhere sometime for I’ll be missing you an hoping you will be ok . Because its for you I came and you will always have a very special place in my heart and mind . You were for me like a sticking plaster on my blisters . A comfort for the pain .A sweetener for the bitter taste .I am so glad for the few who had a kind word of encouragement when I had no food to eat and no place to sleep as I stood there on a street of passers by . You were one of those blessed few who stopped to say hello I will never forget you .
Like a voice in the wilderness I went from pillar to post begging to be heard and with every word I shared as a songwriter I had a message for someone somewhere like you who had time to stop and lend an ear to hear or an open eye to see .
Mayne one day I will see you again standing there in front of me on a quiet street where old ghosts meet and I will sing again to you but for now I must go in another direction and its there where you cannot follow . Nothing can tie me down or hold me back . Its time for me to go .
Just like me my songs have a life of their own .
A moment in time when they choose to be known .
Life is a song and we must try to sing along . We need to learn the lyrics of what was and what is and what will be .
No encores please ,
I have to go. London I will not be back for a repeat performance .
Its time for me to leave on a jet plane .
I’ll be up up and away above the clouds .
No rest for the wicked even less for the good .
I was brought back to reality by as they announced it was time for all passengers to board the flight to Sydney Australia .
Now is the hour and all the times that were had been and gone and the times that were to come still had to be found but for now I just looked around at the people coming and coming in and out of London and remember the words John Lennon had once said , “ I hoped we passed the audition.”
End Of Chapter 13
Link to Chapter 14 .