Black Tin Barns

by Shaun Belcher

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1.
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
2.
3.
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.
4.
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
5.
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
6.
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
7.
Prodigal Son 02:28
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
8.
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
9.
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.
10.
Room 22 03:46
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
11.
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….
12.
The Factory 03:05
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
13.
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...

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 Dec 1st 2018

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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