The Hills of Arran

by John Meed

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1.
My feet are tired and the road is long The snows have come, and your tracks are gone And night is falling and I am on my own Wait for me in Ardrossan When will I see the hills of Arran? Did I lose my way crossing over the bridge? Drawn to the rocks below while you walked straight ahead? Like Tess I stumble where angels tread Wait for me in Ardrossan When will I see the hills of Arran? From the harbour station do the boats leave still? And will spring return to the Arran Hills? Wait for me in Ardrossan When will I see the hills of Arran?
2.
Andalucia 04:19
Just one more glance One final sigh before I turn the corner Your olive groves stretch out before me, Andalucia Your shimmering towers Your trembling fountains and your quiet courtyards I turn my back on all the memories, Andalucia For seven centuries We shared a land, we share our learning We kept the flame of tolerance burning, Andalucia Now in the distance I see the riders of the inquisition I see the soldiers of superstition. Andalucia Against the guns, against ignorance I brought you gardens Against the burning summer sun I brought you fountains I slip away now No more for me the mesquita in Cordoba No more the palaces of the Alhambra, Andalucia You will not see me You will not read about me in your schoolbook history But you will hear me sighing in the segurya, Andalucia
3.
You say such things to me, you tell me you can see How it all might end but not how it might begin You say such crazy things as you strap on feathered wings And you fly so high where the air is cold and thin When it all comes down to this Do you find yourself chasing shadows? The morning sky is red, burning bridges in your head And you find yourself back down on earth again If it were up to me I would gladly set you free But we all must face our freedom from within When it all comes down to this Do you find yourself chasing shadows? Hanging from a thread, clinging to the ledge Like a dog without paws, rebel without a cause Chasing shadows
4.
One late November morning I woke up sneezing The boiler wasn't working and the house was freezing The plumber came and deep into its entrails he did delve He said, 'I'll have to fit a replacement valve For over seven years it has been opening and closing Opening and closing, and now it's getting old And if you do not replace it the fluid will stop flowing And the winter nights ahead they will be cold. The winter nights ahead they will be cold.' I went to see the doctor, I'd been getting out of breath He talked about his budget while he listened to my chest He said 'The years with your aortic valve may well have been your best But you'll need a replacement for the rest For fifty-seven years it has been opening and closing Opening and closing, and now it's fading fast And if you do not replace it the fluid will stop flowing And the winter nights ahead will be your last. The winter nights ahead will be your last.' And the booklet that he gave me read like a torture manual It told me to go easy on the drugs and on the alcohol And smoking was a pleasure to forget And as for sex, well I shouldn’t count on it So I went down to the pub to drink a final pint of lager I lit a fat cigar and I chatted to the barmaid But the publican was tearful as the beer flowed through the taps She said, 'They're going to knock us down to build another block of flats For ninety-seven years we have been opening and closing Opening and closing, but now I’m calling time For no replacement valve will keep the fluid flowing And the winter nights ahead they will be dry. And you’ll have to go to Tesco’s for another pint.'
5.
I signed for country and king And a railwayman’s I could bring And I buried my brothers and half of my friends Who answered the Cambridge calling When it ended I married Marie Louise And lived with her over the sea We raised our children and I found work Tending the graves of the fallen From Dunkirk, to Ypres, to Peronne Albert and Bapaume in the Somme I spend my day, matching the names to white crosses The nightmare of war soon returned As an alien I was interned Marie Louise walked halfway to Paris to see me And oh how we longed for the peace My children they hid where they stood And our neighbours did all that could And a French baker’s over is safer inside Than the ones they would build in the east From Dunkirk, to Ypres, to Peronne Albert and Bapaume in the Somme I spend my day, matching the names to white crosses We moved home to Cambridge in 1961 I was tired and my days were almost done You can dream of a world without graveyards or war But others my work will continue for generations more From Dunkirk, to Ypres, to Peronne Albert and Bapaume in the Somme I spend my day, matching the names to white crosses
6.
Remember me? 02:54
I look back on those days at school To me you were always somebody special I would call you on your parent’s number We talked for hours but it went no further Years went by and I got married Had two children, and my life was happy But from time to time I’d think of how Things could have been different, and would you now Remember me? I looked on Google, I found your website You were making music so I bought myself a ticket I went to see you, I put on my finest clothes I waited for you at the end of the show And I said: ‘Remember me?’ The years that passed, how they changed us You didn’t even remember what my name was But you spoke kindly of the choices we make You said life is just a series of turnings we take I went home with you still in my ears I made my way through the silicon years Until one day I put on my radio I heard a song I thought I ought to know For you sang: ‘Remember me?’
7.
I spent the evening with beautiful people Beautiful people who hide in the day Beautiful people with charm like honey Liquid voices that soothed me to stay Beautiful people who late in the evening Asked me to fetch my guitar and to sing Cherish the moment, that’s what they tell you You never know what tomorrow will bring Gone from the heathland the snow of December Green the lakeside in the twilight of May Change the seasons, change the colours Change the words of the songs that I play When the sun is low in the heavens Sometimes the light can play tricks with your eyes I fell in love with the beautiful people You may think it a small sacrifice But each sacrifice leaves a mark Regardless of whether it’s right or it’s wrong And the hardest part is knowing your different Knowing that somehow you just don’t belong If you go down to the beautiful people Beautiful people who hide in the day Give my love to the beautiful people Please explain that I just couldn’t stay I could not bear to leave blood on their satin I could not bear to leave tears in their eyes Through a gate in the secret garden I left without saying good bye
8.
And when you struggle through the muddle living every day And when you fumble your words in public, don’t know what to say When you stumble, when you crumble, when you tumble down Then you wonder if all the trouble, is it worth carrying on? When all that you say is lost in the haze And drifts off so crazily When all that you touch turns to ashes and rust Will you put your trust in me? Live a little, laugh a little, share a little sun Give a lot, expect a lot from everyone The world is full of those who pull the wool over your eyes You must resist, you must insist, never compromise When all that you say is lost in the haze And drifts off so crazily When all that you touch turns to ashes and rust Will you put your trust in me? Seize every opportunity that you find Seize every minute and then leave it behind Gone are the days when your parents could mind What you do with your quality time
9.
Santa Maria 03:09
The breath of the sea, the salt from the bay The courtyard flowers, hidden away The blue, white and black of a stork-filled sky The scent of orange blossom Always takes me back to Santa Maria The wind in your hair high on terrace roof The wine of Jerez, so rich and so smooth The touch of your hands, the dawn in your eyes The scent of orange blossom Always takes me back to Santa Maria Although the road may be weary and long Although my heart may drown in deep song Although a veil may cover my eyes The scent of orange blossom Always takes me back to Santa Maria
10.
We wake up every day when the clock rings We plan to do and say so many great things But have we done them, come the evening? We are all just muddling through Heading down the road, hoping it’s the right direction We are all just muddling through Anyone who says they’re not – they’re pretending Hope eternal springs, endless plans abound Ambition offers us wings, but leaves us on the ground Windmills are for tilting, but they still go round and round We are all just muddling through Heading down the road, hoping it’s the right direction We are all just muddling through Anyone who says they’re not – they’re pretending And when they tell you to get yourself together Why don’t you ask them why nothing lasts forever
11.
I walk along the edges of this ice-bound land Mapping all the features on the way With Caribou for company in ice huts cut by hand I watched the arctic winter turn to day My only friends the people of this place and time Who share with me the secrets that they know Though their colour may be different from mine They helped me find the heroes of the floes And the news that I could bring you, you did not want to hear The truth can be the hardest to disguise The heroes of the ice packs were human after all The evidence was written in the ice And if you had listened, then you would have heard That I did not doubt their courage or their woes But because I wear the native dress, because I take their word You say I slander the heroes of the floes. So take good care before you venture on the ice Whether for glory or for gain The summer sun may melt the passageways The winter snows can close them all again All the adulation, all the acolytes All the icicles on which we pose All the splendour of these northern lights Could not save the heroes of the floes
12.

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The Hills of Arran is John Meed's sixth album, released in December 2015.

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released November 5, 2015

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