shaun belcher songwriting

cierzo moon
songs 1999

1. HORSE'S HEAD
2. DUSTY TREES
3. RAIN CAME BACK
4. MUD OF '28
5. DONATI'S COMET
6. JOHN CLARE'S DREAM
7. THE DEVIL'S EYE
8. CALLING ME BACK
9. CLOUDY WATER
10. SHADOW OF THE BLACK BULL
11. CIERZO MOON
12. DESERT DUST

 

HORSE'S HEAD

I took a horse's head and I dropped it down in black water,
Let her come back to me just like those shiny eels oughta,
When she went away I had nothing to say,
She looked just like Medusa on a bad, bad day.

Goin' down round the bend x2
Horse head bend.

I came to her door with a broken heart,
She took me in and bathed the scars,
After too many nights of gin and whiskey,
I didn't know what was becoming of me.

Goin' down around the bend x2
Horse head bend.

Now I know that the road is dark,
And covered in rain before I start,
The hills are covered deep in snow,
There's nowhere to hide, nowhere to go.

Goin' down around the bend,
Horse head bend.


DUSTY TREES

Hail in the ditches, ice on the tyres,
We gotta find another road out of here,
This way there's nothing but weeds and briars,
We're tangled up in a past we cannot clear,

Can't see nothing but dusty trees,
All around me, nothing but dusty trees.

There's no new crop in the far field,
There's no more walking through the harvest sheaves,
Our river's dead, nothing left to give,
A sunken barge is breaking up in the reeds,

Above the oily reeds,nothing but dusty trees,
All around me nothing but dusty trees.

Blood on your finger, a hook in your heart,
When you leave here you'll never look back,
Beacause you've lost your compass, lost the path
And the maps you bought are falling apart.

When the sun goes down you can feel the dark,
Pouring down through these dusty trees.

 

RAIN CAME BACK

I lost my father last autumn,
Just as the river started to run,
There were leaves upon the water,
As we carried his body to the alter,

And the rain came back,
There was water in the muddy tracks,
And the rain came back.

Now the old barns are empty,
Wind's rattlin' through the trees,
I'm lookin' back at what might have been
Before things fell apart at the seams,

I'm diggin' a hole for the rotten apples,
The one's the frost turned black,
And I'm prayin' next year's crop
Can be brought in before the rains come back.

 

MUD OF '28

The rain of '28 it poured for a month or more,
It left a stain right here on the old barn door,
And the field you been walking on it used to be all stones,
But the mud of '28 has turned it all to corn.

And the rain never stopped, it never stopped,
Down it came Oh Lord, the mud of '28.

They found two dead calves stuck up in a tree,
And Mrs.Johnson's furniture out in the street.
No-one ever knew what happened to that bridge,
Or old Tom that fateful night as he was crossing it,

Down it came, it poured and poured and poured,
No-one could know how much water fell that day
and left the mud of'28, the mud of '28.

When I was a boy I would go down to the river,
And watch the coal barges creepin' through the willows,
But next mornin' in '28 they were no longer floatin'
They found one resting beside the general store's window.

 


DONATI'S COMET

William Turner of Oxford is on his horse,
riding between fields and old barn doors.
Fields that should be blacker than a widow's dress,
but tonight there's a comet burning in the west.
The frost is building on the thatched walls as
William Turner picks up his pen and draws.

The light that falls from Donati's Comet.

Well it's the 5th of October 1858
and the cattle are restless behind the wicker gates.
There's an owl swooping through the beech trees
as the comet light sparkles between the reeds.
William Turner is up on the Downs tethering his horse
and trying to map that comet's course
but as he shields his eyes a tear falls
as he realises he'll never catch it all.

The light that falls from Donati's Comet.

Next morning he's mixing gum and powder on a plate
and tracing that comet's tail with a dark stain.
Thinking of all that light that flooded his eyes
and how he'll never see its like again in his time.
Leaves are falling one by one into the Thames
and a stonemason hammers at a monument to the dead.
On his palette the blues and greens turn to black
and the chisel chips time into a dark sack.

Donati's Comet ( Comet 1858 VI )
Recorded by two English artists.
Samuel Palmer on Dartmoor and William Turner outside Oxford
of which two watercolour paintings exist.
Both depicted it around early October when it was most brilliant.
see. R.J.M. Olsen : Fire & Ice : A History of Comets in Art.

 

JOHN CLARE'S DREAM

I've been walking these fields since the sun came up,
Don't know who I am, I am not gonna give up,
Well the corn is ripe, and it's about to fall,
There's no need to fight anymore,

Walk with me, walk with me,
In John Clare's dream.

Sky so blue, trees so green,
I watch the fish jumpin' in a clear blue stream,
I've been walking these fields since the sun came up,
I don't know which way I'm going in this world I love,

The nitrates are drifting, the pesticide is leaking,
They're spraying from the air, I feel I am choking,
Somewhere deep in the sap, somewhere on these leaves,
I can hear you breathing hard, can hear you scream,

Our wells are poisoned, the roots are bare,
There's blood on the landing-stage, how did it get there?
The sleet is biting now through the old beech trees,
We don't know if wer'e headed down a one way street.

Walk with me to the edge of this stream
In John Clare's dream.
Walk with me to the edge of the world.


THE DEVIL'S EYE

Another witch been drowned on the ducking-stool
Last time she went under she screamed you're all bloody fools
As Pastor Thomas was preaching at the air
And screaming that the Devil himself better beware

He didn't know but he was staring into the Devil's eye

All that cold weekend the stars shone bright
The drunkards kept the landlord up all night
There were horses tethered by the village pond
That dragged at their halters all night long

Then at break of day they found Pastor Thomas
Stretched out stark naked on the King's highway
His mouth stuffed tight with a shiny black toad
And all around him hoof-prints in the snow

Now in the village there's two fresh graves side by side
For the Pastor's wife upped and died of fright
And in the churchyard's Yew a bird builds a nest
That crow's eye, like the devil's eye never rests..

 

CALLING ME BACK

I don't know why you called me back X2

The gutters were full of leaves, the trees brimming with frost
There was ice in the drains and we were both lost

Calling me back, you were calling me back

The trains kept going by so slow
From my window I watched the falling of the snow

You were calling me back

Now the neon cross is shining above the roofs
And I don't know what to do
It's another winter's day in London
And you seem too far away

Calling me back, calling me back
Those days are calling me back.

 

CLOUDY WATER

Mountain water coloured with mud
spills around uprooted logs
Yellow water full of bones and gravel
drags seawards through fields of stone
Collapsing walls held by roots and branches
finally topple in a spray of soil
and it all dances in cloudy water

From Fraga northwards the light slipped away
and the land soaked itself in cold rain
Roads sparkling with truck lights
as the thin desert soil gave way to a greener place
The woods grew thicker by the mile
derelict barns, ruined castles
hills of rock and cloudy water

Windscreen still pulsing with passing lights
small towns glistened and were gone into the night
A strip of bare wall, a lit bar still open
A garage forecourt blazing on the outskirts
As the night seeped back in
I tried to find my barings on a map
But drifted off to dream of England
As your brother followed his memory

and cloudy water splashed under our wheels.

 

SHADOW OF THE BLACK BULL

I'm listening to American Music
As the Ebro swollen with storm
Throws rocks and trees at the desert
as it scours a snake through Aragon

Throw a book in these waters
and it'll fall before dawn
before the sun rises above the mountains
and the black bull starts to get warm

I fell for you in the shadow of the black bull

Every road out takes you into dust
past a roadside motel, twenty trucks in a line
There are no signposts, no maps
just those black bulls turning to rust

 

CIERZO MOON

I run up the hill waiting for the shutter to fall
Waiting for the wind that dries blood to walls
I burn in the midday sun
Another Englishman lost between dogs and guns

As the shutters clatter and dogs bark all night long
And dust spits across the roofs
I chase the clouds crossing a Cierzo Moon

The men who fell here painted white walls red
splashing their high hopes across the town hall steps
As the shovels clanged in the gravel lined graves
and phrasebooks were curling with flames

Now the town hall is a ruined shell
echoing to the cathedral bells
and the fountains are dancing in the deserted square
as smoke rises from the house on the hill
and I chase the clouds crossing that Cierzo Moon.

 

DESERT DUST


Five years ago we slid across this bridge at dawn
after a long hot drive from Barcelona.
I kept waking up on the back seat to see factories
flaring orange against the black hills.

All I could taste was desert dust, desert dust.

I woke with that dust in my teeth, sweating
whilst you lay there perfectly cool and collected.
We carry our countries in our blood like a disease
that carries us back to the same place in our dreams.

Every winter we've swung back across the bridge
circling your past in the sparkle of christmas streets.
Words have crept into my mouth as I struggle on
tongue snagged against the bridge whilst you sail on words.

I stare at the back of another car doused with torrents of rain
as tail-lights burn in the wet roads and palm trees sway
I stare at the roads as summer's dust clogs the drains.
The dust, desert dust that will cover my grave

 



floodplain

songs 2000

1. UNAMERICAN WAY
2. I WALK DOWN BY THE RIVER
3. MILLENNIUM TOMBSTONE BLUES
4. NOVEMBER 5, 1914
5. SEAWEED IN THE PORCH
6. MY LIFEBOAT
7. NEVER CAUGHT UP WITH YOU
8. TRAILER TRASH STAR
9. BLED DRY
10. POISONED WATER
11. BLANKET OF GOLD
12. NOTHIN BUT TIME


UNAMERICAN WAY
for Dashiell Hammett

Did you hear the guns a rattling out on the Kentucky hills
As mud spattered up from your prison truck's wheels
Did you smile every day as you washed the days away
Imprisoned for having nothing to say?

Did you dream in an un-American way?
Of diamonds and furs and long limousines in the rain
Is that the un-American way?

Now the Campsfield* wire fences are rattling in the wind
And there are stranger's faces pressed against the panes
What did they dream they'd find beyond the ghost of empire
Were they dreaming of a world of American stars and bars

Did they dream in an un-American way

Now the holy walls are dripping with the blood of men
As guns crackle like whips above their heads
And that prison truck is busy carrying away those who're caught
Dreaming in an un-American way of diamond rings and furs

*Campsfield Immigration Camp, Oxford was closed recently

 

I WALK DOWN BY THE RIVER


When the words came tumbling out of your mouth today
Oh how I wished they would have floated away
But here I am alone beneath the gasworks wall
Carrying my broken heart in a cradle of straw

I walk down by the river and I cry, cry, cry.

Well it takes two to tango but only one to fall
Why didn't we see the writing on the wall
There were two many paper boats floating in the rain
Too many dreams that never would have been made

Look at my hands they're cut by your tears
Look at my eyes they're bloodshot with fear
Where did we go wrong, where did we collide
What made us ever think we'd ever survive?

I walk down by the river and I cry, cry, cry.

MILLENNIUM TOMBSTONE BLUES

Blacktop shiny, limousines steaming in the rain
On the way to the cemetery outside the city gates
Where the neon lights are few, the fences rust and split
Somewhere where there's black oil floodin' out a ditch

I took my heart and buried it
Deep down in the dirt
Under the blackthorn tree
Deep down in the dirt
Under the blackthorn tree.
Cos she wouldn't live her life with me

Gonna burn down a forest, gonna drink a sea
All 'cos she walked out on me

Sounds like a guitar scraped along a barbed wire fence
Sounds like a hoot owl screeching in the hedge
Spills feelings like a feather bed slit with a knife
Swaggers like 1969, then sways like a drunk in a fight

Where you going son with all that poetry
Where you going with that young mouth that bleeds
There's nothing here to help any of us break free
Don't you know we're all falling apart at the seams

The old kings are dead or too stoned to see
All this pain we're feeling as we fall to our knees
And if you walk away, walk away from me
They'll take this record and bury it with me

Gonna burn down a forest, gonna drink a sea
All 'cos she walked out on me

NOVEMBER 5 1914


Logs crackling in the College quarters
Misting the windows above the Martyr's graves
Out on the cold black downs the fires were burning
The men from the village dancing in a ring

The vicar pouring tea in his study
Rubbing leather-bound volumes with his tender hands
Whilst the poacher dropped a still warm lamb in his hall
Blood dripping on the bare dirt floor

November 5, 1914

The vicar writes his memoirs with a silver pen
Black ink curling like barbed wire across white parchment
But most of the men who danced around the flames
Are now buried in straight lines in a foreign place

The vicar's son led them all a merry dance
He danced through no-man's land until he fell down flat
The poacher two steps behind him shot him as he fell
Just as another shell blew them all to hell

A blood red cross on a pure white sheet
The poacher's wife aches for the man she never sees
And wonders what life might have been like
If they'd all carried on dancing like that night in 1914


November 5, 1914

SEAWEED IN THE PORCH


He'd spent a lifetime driving trucks
But it was a heart attack that finally pulled him up
One day everything had been just like normal
Next morning they found him slumped in the hall

And the seaweed in the porch
Said things were gonna end
He could feel it in his bones
Deep down in the blood

Well I'm still looking back at all the things I've lost
Me and my cousin stood under an apple tree covered in frost
Looking back at him with rotting apples all around our feet
Him standing there in the porch and holding that seaweed

And I promised him I'd keep it up
Come rain or shine, wet or fine
I'd keep it up

Well I never did show him anything that I could do
And my cousin's done better in life that's true
But I promised I'd repay a debt to him the day he died
For the places he had taken me, those four hour drives.

He was just a working-man who drove a truck
Nobody special, he gambled, he got drunk
But I never saw him again after that day he turned and walked
And left me with a promise and seaweed hanging in the porch


MY LIFEBOAT

Won't you be my lifeboat
Can't you see I'm all at sea
Everything was going so well
Then a hurricane hit me

Won't you please come rescue me
Be my lifeboat

Everything was plain sailing
True love wins in the end
Now I see the waters were all dark
Full of rocks everywhere I went

Now there's nobody else on this island
I throw rocks into the sea
And wait for your warm touch
And a heart that wraps itself around me

NEVER CAUGHT UP WITH YOU


See the fields, the fields are golden
See the sky, the sky is blue
I am walking, walking beside you
On a road with a mountain view

I never caught up with you
You were always one step ahead it's true
I never caught up with you

See the river, the river is shining
As it flows down to the sea
I was always one step behind you
Trying to catch you as you tried to go

See this house, this house is empty
See my heart its stopped and blue
Somewhere outside there's a world a turning
But here inside everything is worn through.


TRAILER TRASH STAR


I got more dreams than a Hollywood starlet
Running around my head leaving me exhausted
I'm sitting here staring at the hills
From this trailer rocking in the wind

And you are crying 'cos you can't stand
Any more of my stupid plans
And you call me
A trailer trash star

Well I been brought up in the back of beyond
Watching the grey clouds burst on our backs
This ain't no tinsel town, this ain't luxury
Just the sound of people who can hardly breathe

Trailer trash star

Now there's just me in this dusty caravan
Watching the moon creep across the downs
I watch the refinery flame flicker all night long
Burns like my dreams then it is gone

Trailer trash star

BLED DRY

Our hearts were always leaking
From the day we staggered through these doors
Like the engine on our old car
We were pouring love all over the floor

We never even saw it slip away
Until that night
We were both bled dry, bled dry

Well the night it all ended
We were going in circles, the tank empty
We ran out of gas in the middle of town
I tried to get us some more but there was none around

I gave you everything and more
But your heart had been broken twice before
Now I hold it here in my hand
That love we had, its bled dry, bled dry
Smaller than the tears we still cry

Bled dry, bled dry, bled dry


POISONED WATER

River leaking all over the road
Cant see the barns reflected in the water no
Ever since you been gone
The clouds been tearing themselves apart

Remember all the dreams we had
Baby theyre all poisoned water now
Theyre poisoned water.

I thought you would stay forever
But you had your eyes on brighter weather
Now the rivers are all flooded
Theres an empty space where your boat was tethered

How do two people start hurting each other
Until those words just start burning their skin
Its like love just cant help but leak away
And hate start contaminating everything we say

If I could walk with you now
Up and down through these empty fields
Id wash away all of your pain
But it cant wash away the stain

Of poisoned water
Poisoned water

 


BLANKET OF GOLD


I dreamt we were bringing the dogs back home
We were walking through fields of gold
And the river was shining and on the rise
I could see the morning star starting to shine

And you and I will sleep tonight
Under a blanket of gold

I dreamt I saw you at the window of my house
I wrapped you in my arms, told you how I felt
As we stood at the window, geese filled the sky
All headed south for winter, they flew out of sight

Now the dream is over and you are far away
These fields are black and covered in ice today
There's only a few rooks picking at the day
Now you've gone and taken that blanket of gold away

And I don't sleep under a blanket of gold today

 

NOTHING BUT TIME


You've given me the best time of my life
And you've taken me half way to paradise
So why is it I'm feeling so sad inside
Could it be because now

I've got nothing but time

You make me feel good inside
But now my clock just ain't working right
'Cos you are somewhere else tonight
And all I've got is nothing but time

If it wasn't for these fireworks tonight
Lighting up this cold dark sky
I'd think my heart had stopped beating
Because everything else is turning black inside

 

Shaun Belcher / Horseshoe Songs 1999 -2000.