Black Tin Barns

by Shaun Belcher

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about

I and my then partner Ana from Zaragoza got on a train and moved to Edinburgh in August 1994.

It was a spur of the moment idea and we then lived there for two pretty gruelling years in which we lived in a very small three room flat at 62 Causewayside , off of The Meadows.


Edinburgh was a fantastic place to be but the work situation for a Spanish nanny and a penniless English artist less good. I was working as a temp in a share-dealing bank on Black Monday which I will never forget as people started crying as their mortgages doubled in an hour. In that financial climate we were at the bottom of the heap.

After two years I said enough and we moved back to Oxford but not before I had a pretty serious go at being a ‘serious’ singer-songwriter. I remember competing in a Edinburgh Songwriters event and of course had met many poets and contributed to the second Shore Poets anthology.

I had forgotten that I had actually recorded two ‘albums’ of songs as well whilst north of the border on a 4-track Fostex tape recorder until yesterday when I found them by chance.

In the mid 1980's a friend heard me sing 'Man with no name' another track on this tape. He said at the time that I was putting my poetry to music and I ignored him..looking back he was spot on the same themes emerge time and again. Perhaps this is my best poetry..I certainly think this works..whatever it.......

Inspired by Seamus Heaney and James Simmons.. Guy Clark and John Prine ......

is..

Planned to be released as number 5 in a horseshoe tapes release schedule I am finally going to do just that 21 years later! Listening to the tapes they sound better than I remembered and I had actually filled out the sound through multi-tracking more than I expected. A few of the tracks went on to form the ‘Suit of Nettles’ art release in 2008 and also appear sung by a variety of artists on the Moon Over The Downs charity tribute cd to Trailer Star from 2003.

All alternate versions and collaborations available to listen to on my songwriting blog here :

www.trailerstar.co.uk/songwriter/

The release will be physically available as a set of two cds or a c90 cassette double and accompanying digital download. I hope to have cassettes ready by end of February along with the still to be completed Chalk Pit Rattle which will be re-recorded





Coming Soon release date May 1st 2017

Press Release:

‘RIVER GHOSTS & BLACK TIN BARNS’- Songs 1995 & 1996 Horseshoe Tape (HS 005 dbl.)

My ‘Edinburgh Suite’ recorded on an already ailing Fostex in a tiny third-floor flat near the Meadows. Scotland was a weird mix of the fantastic (Hamish Henderson/ Sorley Maclean, Norman MacCaig / Boys of the Lough) and the not so fantastic ( Bank temp. jobs). Hats off to the Edinburgh Songwriters and The Shore Poets for keeping my head above the water. I like these songs -my most ‘Steve Earle’ period. Also Edinburgh Central Library had the best collection of folk/country/blues I’ve ever seen -some of that rubbed off too.

credits

released February 1, 2017

Shaun Belcher guitar/vocal

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Shaun Belcher Nottingham, UK

Nottingham, England performing songwriter,poet, designer and practicing fine artist.

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Track Name: My Little Town
MY LITTLE TOWN

There’s a road runs straight through my little town
Half way down it there’s a picture house
Now they’ve turned it into a bingo hall
They don’t show films any more

And the road runs straight through my little town
The road runs straight through my little town

There’s a railway line in my little town
All the kids do is talk of getting out
Stand on the platforms on a Saturday
With the lights of the city shining far away

The pubs are empty until the Saturday night
Half past eleven you’re guaranteed a fight
What else can those poor boys do
But get blind drunk and act the fool

And the road runs straight through my little town

Through my little town

Far away
Track Name: The Ballad of the Orange Tree
BALLAD OF THE ORANGE TREE

Born in England’s low chalk hills
Where the river slides through the willows
I never knew how tangled grew the tree
Of my mother’s family history

Then one day the photograph emerged
My great-great-grandmother by the kerb
Of a backstreet somewhere in Reading
Her Irish features bold and striking

All I’d heard was rumour and hint
Of how they’d fled Ulster, her Catholic
Outcast for marrying a Protestant man
Who wore the dreaded Imperial tan

Sent to Raniket, my Great-nan’s birthplace
The army connection didn’t break
Three generations since have wed the gun
One of them was wounded at Arnhem

And now with great sadness I see
My cousin proud to be in the British Army
Luckily he's never been made to serve
On streets where she could never return

Nothing of her past now remains
Each Irish connection was sliced away
Our family grew on in a different place
Like an orange tree in a wooden crate

Staring at the photo here back home
My mother's every action seems to show
More and more of those hidden roots
As if a hybrid had produced old fruit

Four generations on here I stand
A false map of Ireland in my hand
Every time I try to trace back my tracks
Hurt and shame come hurtling back

Scraping back the soil in a barren field
I find a rusty gun stamped in with the heel
A family sown with King’s Shilling seed
But rooted in Thames Valley green

Then I read the Ballad of Ranger Best
And feel friendly fire burn at my chest
How can I avoid peeling back the skin
To taste what this bitter tree roots in

Bury the gun under the orange tree.
Track Name: These Three Rooms
These Three Rooms

These three rooms are worn and badly lit
Decorated with paint inches thick
And behind curtains where the dust sits
The frames never made to fit

Stay with me through the night
Stay with me until the morning light
And you will see these three rooms shine

The carpets are dull and tenant-stained
Maybe they were brighter in better days
Now the lino slides across the floor
And the bathroom paper’s peeling off the wall

Forgive me all the poverty I bring
This cheap box, this bed and sink
Hold fast now like these plants that cling
To our windowsill as they twist and jink

Trust me when I say things will improve
That these are not our destined views
As these three plants outgrow this room
So this small flat will be outgrown too
Track Name: Man With No Name
Man With No Name

You kick at the tyre of the tractor
That hasn’t moved since the snow last came down
You pull at the chain-link fence blow a dandelion over the sow
And wonder whose hand on your arm could lead you now

Well it’s the middle of summer and clouds cover the sun, you feel cold
You run for shelter, find your father with a halter and he’s staring at the ground

Oh why can’t I tell you why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

In a dark pantry a dog panting
tired from running under this August sun
On the kitchen table a dripping pheasant
shot down by a farmer’s gun
And you sat in your armchair
reading news of a war that had hardly begun
Whilst all the berries your wife picked in summer
turn blood red in the cup

And you told me I could break down the fences put around me
And set my own pace

Oh why can’t I tell you why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

Well your stepfather fell in that kitchen
and the dog sat and waited there all day
Whilst the silent river rolled on and on and the clouds
blew over the hills and away
So father and son two years later we stand
in this graveyard in the rain
If I could show you the answer written in stone I would
If I knew it I wouldn’t have to say

I feel like a man with no name

Oh why can’t I tell you ,oh why can’t I say
I feel like a man with no name

In an unmarked grave
Track Name: The Devil's Address
The Devil's Address

I'm in heaven that's what the sign says
This bar's more like hell, everything painted red
Every once in a while a truck goes by headed north
Headlights shining across these fields of corn

If you want to find me
Post a letter to 'Happiness'
Mark it care of the devil's address

I started driftin' when I couldn't pay the rent
That mobile home was more like a shed
I spent every winter watching the rain
Turn that gravel path into a lake

Now I'm fine and dandy but I'm all alone
Just me and the sparkle of the tarmac road
Thousand miles behind me, wife's in another man's bed
Thousand miles ahead before I'll ever rest
Track Name: Prodigal Son
PRODIGAL SON



I WAS DRIVING WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN

ROUND THE STREETS OF MY HOMETOWN

PAST THE GARAGE THAT BURNED DOWN LAST FALL

NOW IT’S JUST SOME BLACKENED WALLS


AN OLD MAN WAS SHOUTING AT ME

‘AIN’T SEEN YOU ROUND HERE SINCE ’73

MUST BE THE PRODIGAL SON’


I GOT MARRIED BACK IN ’69

WE HAD TWO KIDS BUT WE BARELY SURVIVED

THEN ONE DAY I ROLLED THAT OLD FARMER’S TRUCK

SEEMS LIKE I STARTED ON SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK


NOW I’M DRIVING WITH MY EYES TIGHT SHUT

‘COS I CAN’T BARE TO LOOK AT WHAT I LOVED

THERE’S A HOUSE ON THE CORNER OVER THERE

THAT’S WHERE SHE LIVES NOW, HELL I DON’T CARE
Track Name: Black Tin Barns
BLACK TIN BARNS

There's an old dirt track and a muddy stream

There's a wide open field that's surrounded by trees

There's an old tin barn that's falling down

That's where I rolled in my sweet baby's arms



Oh country tracks won't you take me back

To the farms and the black tin barns



Now all I can do is sit and stare

Across these fields at trees so bare

All around there's only sticks and stones

Cos' nothing been planted so nothing grows



When I was young how I used to dream

Of you girl in these fields of wheat

But now the wind's torn everything up

All that I am left is this handful of dust
Track Name: Where Two Rivers Meet (Mary's Dream)
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET

I WAS BORN WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET
I LEARNT TO PLOUGH AND I LEARNT TO REAP
THEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY
AND I LEARNT ALL THE WORDS THE RICH MEN NEED


OH MARY, OH MARY,
WILL YOU WAIT FOR ME
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET


WE LEFT THE PORT AT DEAD OF NIGHT
THE FULL MOON ON THE SAILS DID SHINE
WE PASSED THROUGH LANDS OF ICE AND SNOW
TWO DIED BELOW, THEIR BODIES FROZE


THEN I FOUND A PLACE IN AMERIKY AND CUT BACK THE TREES
AND A SNAKE IT BIT INTO ME
THEN I DREAMT I WAS DELIRIOUS
I DIDNT KNOW WHAT TIME OR YEAR IT WAS

AND I THOUGHT I SAW YOU IN YOUR WHITE GOWN
TRIPPING ACROSS THAT EMPTY GROUND
BUT IT WAS JUST THE WATER OF THE FLOOD
AS IT ROSE AROUND MY HOUSE

AND I WAS DEAD...

OH MARY WILL YOU WEEP FOR ME.
WHERE TWO RIVERS MEET.
Track Name: Room 22
ROOM 22

STANDING AT THE WINDOW LOOKING NORTH
THROUGH THE POWER-LINES AND THE RAIN AS IT FALLS
IT FEELS THE SAME AS THE DAY WE BOTH STAYED
IN THIS HOTEL ROOM ON THAT SUMMER'S DAY


SAME ROOM SAME VIEW STATION VIEW

ROOM 22


NOW THE HILLS ARE COVERED WITH SNOW
THERE'S JUST BARE TREES AND CROWS
I REMEMBER US WALKING AROUND THIS TOWN
WITH YOU UNTIL THE SUN WENT DOWN

IT'S THE SAME ROOM THE SAME VIEW

ROOM 22

THEN YOU GOT MARRIED SOMEWHERE DOWN THE LINE
MAYBE I'VE PASSED BY YOU ONCE OR TWICE
BUT TONIGHT ALL I HAVE IS THE MEMORY OF YOU
AS I STARE THROUGH THE POWER-LINES AT THE VIEW


IT'S THE SAME ROOM THE SAME VIEW

ROOM 22 WITHOUT YOU
Track Name: Road is a River
THE ROAD IS A RIVER

The road is a river and my windows are full of steam
That woman I remember walking across these muddy fields

The road is a river its taken us all away
Far from these fields of straw
These empty barns in the rain

The road is a river
Yes the road is a river
The road is a river and maybe one day it will bring her back my way
In a car of chrome and silver
It’ll slide through these fields of rain
And we’ll float away

The road is a river….
Track Name: The Factory
THE FACTORY


MEN ARE RIDING ACROSS THE WINTER FIELDS
BYCYCLE LIGHTS SPARKLING IN THEIR CHROME WHEELS
WORKING DUSK TO DAWN IN THE FACTORIES
WHOSE LIGHTS SHINE THROUGH THE TREES

OH CAN'T YOU SEE, CAN'T YOU SEE
THE FACTORY


NOW THOSE MEN THEY ONLY RIDE IN THEIR DREAMS
THE FACTORIES ARE GONE, ONLY FIELDS OF WEEDS
AND THOSE MEN HAVE GRANDSONS WITH COMPANY CARS
YOU CAN SEE THEM OUT RACING AROUND THE BYPASS

BUT TEN MILES OUT OF TOWN THERE'S A SCRAPYARD
WHERE FIFTY YEARS HARD LABOUR IS FALLING APART
IF YOU STARE INTO THE RUSTY CHROME YOU'LL SEE
THE GHOSTS OF MEN POLISHING HEADLIGHTS AND POURING LEAD

MEN ARE RIDING ACROSS THE WINTER FIELDS
BYCYCLE LIGHTS SPARKLING LIKE A CHAIN OF PEARLS
Track Name: My Father's Trees
MY FATHER'S TREES


WELL NOW I'M PUSHIN FORTY
AND ALL MY LUCK'S BEEN SPENT
I WISH THAT I COULD GO BACK
TO THE PLACES THAT I LEFT

I WISH THAT I COULD BE
I WISH THAT I COULD BE

SITTIN' UNDER MY FATHER'S TREES

PLANTED THEM IN '63
NOW THEY'RE SO BIG AND TALL
BUT THE ROAD HE PLANTED THEM BY
IT AIN'T A ROAD ANY MORE

NOW THERE'S A LINE OF CARAVANS
PARKED IN THE WAY
AND THERE'S A LITTLE KID SITTIN' IN THE SHADE
WISH I COULD BE JUST LIKE HIM...

JUST WATCHIN THE CLOUDS GO BY...