The Note that Lingers On

by Colum Sands

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The Donegall Road Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music The fields run right beside me all along the motorway ’Til a row of red brick houses draws a line that seems to say You've reached the city boundary and a choice you'll have to make At the roundabout where history turns upon which road you take. Chorus: On this sunny April morning, on this sunny April morning Sunny April morning on the Donegall Road. This road is old, this road is new, its history bitter sweet And some of that is painted on the walls along the street Battles won and battles lost, the entertainment scene Van the Man is coming soon King Billy has just been. Lecale, Benburb, Tavanagh, I pass them on the right There's a shop with mops and brushes to challenge every mite From Rockview street and Ebor to where Nubia meets Maldon A red haired girl brings milk and bread towards the morning sun. A man with time lights up his pipe takes pleasure in the chore Across the street a woman cleans the step before her door And Euterpe Street is musing, as a working man perspires He's digging up Pandora Street near a box of coloured wires. A guide dog with a tennis ball enjoys a bit of fun A blind man walks behind it, smiling at the sun, And Eureka there's the library, we'll return that book at last That stopped us all from seeing any further than the past. Near the hospital of heroes there's a tourist from Japan She puzzles round a burnt out bar, a camera in her hand And I'm thinking of the gift her distance brings to you and me She's focussing her lens on something that I cannot see. And here's tomorrow coming, children laughing hand in hand Their skins are different colours, may they help us understand If we're teaching culture here - it's a thing we often do It's time that we were learning to count higher up than two. The city centre lies ahead, my journey's near complete The rear view mirror's giving me a last look up the street But those faces stay before me to lighten history's load As they look towards tomorrow on the Donegall Road.
Song for Adam and Eve Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music Here's to the look that turned to a smile, Lingered a while to shorten the mile On the road that we took 'til we came to the stile That would lead us right out of the garden. And here's to the look that lingered that day And caused us to reach out and touch in that way, ’Til our lips said all that words couldn't say By the stile at the side of the garden. And here's to the touch that became an embrace That would quicken the heart of the whole human race, While the scent of the orchard and the sun on your face Crossed over the wall of the garden. For outside the garden the wild flowers grow, They're smiling in circles not standing in rows, Their colours unite and it's not just for show For love has no walls to its garden. And here's to the apple you picked from the bough, The juice on your fingers, I can still taste it now, Sweet Eve it would seem that our children know how We shared love by the side of the garden. And here's to the one who said live and let live, Made time for love, took time to forgive, Said always remember as long as you live Love has no walls to its garden. For outside the garden the wild flowers grow, They're smiling in circles not standing in rows, Their colours unite and it's not just for show For love has no walls to its garden.
Sweeney the Fiddler Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music I walked the length of Hill Street but no hill could I see, Time levels out the great and small in a game it plays with glee, But somewhere in the distance, I heard a fiddle call, And I thought about Frank Sweeney, the man who taught us all. Frank loved to play the fiddle, he knew that from the start, But the chemist’s shop he ran as well it nearly broke his heart, And when a tune came to his head, he’d take the fiddle down And customers above themselves were soon brought to the ground. Chorus "And of all the shops in Newry, did you have to come to mine? Can’t you see I’m playing the fiddle and I haven’t got the time For trying to read prescriptions, for ills you haven’t got, And time will cure you anyway, sure the dogs in the street know that!" His place was near the pawnshop where dreams are bought and sold, Frank traded in a different coin from the heart to the common cold, From bunions, corns and chilblains to the pimple on the crown, But the cure that Sweeney favoured most was to take the fiddle down. Magic bottles lined the shelves - the blue, the green, the brown, When sun came through the window the light would play around, And through the door the fiddlers came as word got round the town And the music flowed like medicine as the bows went up and down. Now plastic bottles line the shelves, the coloured glass is gone, The fiddler sleeps but memory keeps a tune that lingers on, And somewhere deep inside the heart it’s waiting for the call, Frank found a way to play his tune and so he taught us all.
Skipping History Lesson Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music Keep the kettle boiling you miss the rope you’re out-ee oh If you’d a been where I’d a been you wouldn’t a been put out-ee- oh The money’s getting scare, the people are out of work-ee-oh Ditsy, Datsy ,you miss the rope you’re out-re oh! Mine - Mine - It’s mine - No, it’s mine - It’s mine - No it’s mine - I had it first - I saw it first - God says it’s mine - God says it’s mine - Mammy he hit me - Daddy says to hit him back -
I’m going to get a stick - I’ll find a better one- I’ll buy a bigger one - I’ll buy a sharper one - Money to made in this - Money to made in that - I’ll sell you a knife - I’ll sell you a sword - I’ll sell you a gun - I’ll sell you a bomb - I’ll sell you a mine - Mine - Mine - It’s mine - It’s mine - It’s mine - No, it’s mine - No It’s mine - It’s mine - Mine - No it’s mine… Keep the kettle boiling you miss the rope you’re out-ee oh If you’d a been where I’d a been you wouldn’t a been put out-ee- oh.
The Child Who Asks You Why Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music I am the child with troubled eyes you'll see me when the deed is done,
I am the child who asks you why from the picture on page one.
I am the child who questions if the world must be this way,
I am the child who wants to know what you will do today. Did you see my tears amidst the jeers on my first day at school,
Or how I clutched my mother's arm when the neighbours brought the news
Did you hear me asking for your help to keep hunger's pangs away,
When I held out my paper cup on the streets of your town today? Did you see me in the shadows of ancient Greece and Rome
And across the years where men of war made rubble of my home?
It makes no difference where or when, New York or Afghanistan,
While force remains the language, I'll never understand. 
I am the child who's old too soon yet hope lives near my door
For growing up can be a way of growing young once more.
And love will stoop to conquer minds and weapons fierce and wild
When people learn to see again with the wonder of a child.
Talking to the Wall Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music We will start at the beginning when he led them to the tree, “Eat from anyone at all - except that one there,” says he, Was it on the first of April, what was on his mind at all? Sure you might as well be talking to the wall. Chorus You might as well be talking to the wall, In one ear and out the other, you may shout or yell or bawl, But you might as well be talking to the wall. A dog marks out his kingdom with one leg up to the wall, Now evolution squirms for human brains are just as small, Spraying colours on the kerbstones, hanging flags that always fall, Sure you might as well be talking to the wall. Super powers play God, drive crisis to the brink, Sell weapons to both sides, then stand back, condemn the stink. But ask them to condemn the greed that drives them one and all, You might as well be talking to the wall. If you can’t improve on silence, then do not speak at all, But everybody’s talking, hear that lonesome mobile call, “Is that you?"- “This is me!”- “Can you hear me?”- “Not at all!” Sure you might as well be talking to the wall.
Politician’s Song Words & Music : Mickey MacConnell © Elm Grove Music well, for twenty frantic fruitless years I worked in Dublin Town Reporting for newspapers, I was busy writing down All the words of politicians in my endless quest for truth T’was at such a wasted exercise I squandered all my youth. That’s the cause of my misfortune, as I’ll explain to you For I find myself now talking like politicians do And if anyone should ask me “Do I take sugar in my tae”? I grasp them firmly by the hand and this is what I say. (chorus) Well I’m very glad you asked me that for at this point in time In the circumstances that prevail there is in the pipeline Infrastructural implications interfaced with lines of thought Which lead to grassroots viabilities which at this point I’d rather not Enunciate in ambiguities but rather seek to find Negotiated compromises which are the bottom line For full and frank discussions which could serve to integrate With basic fundamental principles to which we all relate Not in doctrinaire philosophy which any fool can see In inescapable hypothesis confronting you and me So in the interests of the common good so you need never fear For I have the matter well in hand and I’m glad I made things clear. Now as you can imagine this has greatly changed my life And example was the fateful day on which I wed my wife All went well until the moment the priest asked me with a smile “Do you take this woman for your wife?” and swiftly I replied. (chorus) Now I’m lying on my deathbed and I’m filled with mortal dread For I know that very shortly I will certainly be dead And when Saint Peter asks me if I'd like to come on in I’m sure to face damnation for I know I’ll say to him. (chorus)
The Wake Song Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music I was talking in my sleep about a wake, I’m sorry for your trouble now, says I, I awoke and thought of all the things we say At the place where people come to laugh and cry Chorus Ah he went very sudden in the end, But it’s good to see him looking like himself, Sure he never done nobody no harm, Except poor crayther to himself. Does anybody know what age he was? He was rightly up in years, said Miss McGrath If he’d lived another fortnight I would say He’d have lasted two weeks longer than me da. That would leave him round the ninety mark, says I Says oul McCabe, that’s not so oul at all Sure I’m coming up on 95 myself, I wonder what came over him at all. chorus Now far be it from me to be a judge, But I know that I am talking among friends, If you ask me what it was that done the harm, He was trying to burn the candle at both ends. Ah I didn’t like the cut of him last week, Not looking like himself at all, I fear. Still I’m glad to see he’s mended well since then, Sure I haven’t seen him look so good in years. chorus Ken from Kent is feeling far from home He’s sitting here not knowing what to think, When someone comes and whispers in his ear - The corpse’s brother’s wondering what you’ll drink? I suppose it’s time that I was heading on, Make room for these one’s standing in the hall, Sure as somebody was saying up above, A little while will have to do us all. chorus
The Note That Lingers On Words & Music : Colum Sands © Elm Grove Music I saw you by the river that goes flowing on forever, The blossoms from the apple tree were falling for your charms, I looked at you, you looked at me, but both of us could plainly see That the river stood between us and the slightest chance of harm. I was walking down the road that leads from August to September, When I saw you picking berries with their colours on your hand, Like the swallows on the rooftop you were making plans for winter, When I came a little closer, like the swallows you were gone. Chorus But do you know or don't you, that I'll be thinking of you That I feel you right beside me in the singing of a song, And we'll sing it where the road goes round the corner to remember That the magic of the music's in the note that lingers on. There was ice upon the river and the city seemed to shiver Til I saw you in the market place that keeps the winter warm, You were selling herbs and spices and a drink of human kindness And a candle for the winter that the darkness might be gone Chorus When the ice begins to splinter and the spring is coaxing winter Into taking off his ragged coat as days are turning warm, With the seasons I'll remember that as June said to December, Love and life is letting go as much as holding on.


released June 1, 2003


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Colum Sands Newry, UK

Colum Sands is a universal storyteller who draws on a long Irish tradition of poetic musicality to weave songs for the world.
Drawing on countless performances, Sands uses humour and shrewd observation to celebrate what unites rather than what separates. His latest album “Song Bridge” includes many of the songs written for his extensive environmental campaigning over the past two years.
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