The Common Land

by Kevin Adams

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Thirteen of my own songs: seven written for various Living Archive theatre and radio productions, three for the Maids Moreton's Millennium Pageant, and three strays which wandered in.
    Released in 2002.

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Worksong 04:17
Worksong words & music: Kevin Adams You were there to work, you didn't dare stop The foreman's office overlooked the shop In his bowler hat and his starched collar shirt You never saw the foreman with his hands in the dirt And up at the top of the Golden Stair The Superintendent in his stuffed leather chair Just look busy if he ever walked through You didn't bother him and he never saw you But nothing stays the same- Now management skills is the name of the game And it's hands-on this, and first names that And goodbye to the foreman's bowler hat. The charge hand hammers out the piecework rates Does his best for his family, his best for his mates We could build anything in metal or wood But we cost too much for our own damn good. See that finish in the Royal Train? You won't see anything as good as that again Now the very same skills of the very same man Are patching up panels on an old brake van Nothing stays the same Measured time is the name of the game And the time study man puts his watch on me And piecework rates are history ‘You've a job for life,’ said your old man But he didn't reckon with the Beeching plan. Now we don't build new, we just repair- You start to think you could work elsewhere. Twenty years later it's the same again At the stroke of the minister's fountain pen, Market forces, political fads - Kicked out on the dole one thousand lads. Nothing stays the same- Economic theory, the name of the game And it's streamline this and lose more fat And it’s jobs for the boys for the bureaucrat. Nothing stays the same Privatisation, the name of the game But it’s still true as it was back then The strength of the works is the skill of the men. The strength of the works is the skill of the men. The heart of the works is the skill of the men.
Crazy For Canals Words & music: Kevin Adams God bless the Duke of Bridgewater who first had the idea And God bless Mister Brindley, the famous engineer. They built a navigation, they started something grand- Now waterways are fast appearing all across the land Come all you men of trade, Tell all your merchant pals- Be not afraid, your fortune’s made, We’re crazy for canals Your carter does the best he can when he’s out on the road, Your pack horse is an honest beast and totes a heavy load. But when it rains and all the lanes are axle-deep in clay Your boatman laughs and waves good-bye and carries upon his way The bold investor will be paid with great prosperity And every town and parish will be keen to join the spree. Survey the land, draw up your plan and set the navvies to- Embankments, docks and flights of locks will soon improve the view For twenty years the boats and butties travelled past our door Bringing trade to Moreton that we never have had before. But now the navigation is nothing but a drain The waterways have had their day and everything goes by train.
The Common Lands words & music: Kevin Adams There's a strip in the field, which is mine for to plough And grass on the common for my geese and my cow My old dad well he knew a thing or two ’Tis the custom of the manor there ain’t nothing they can do The Marquis of Buckingham and all his fancy crew (Aye ‘twas ever thus.) Between lawyers spouting Latin And landlords spreading lies The Common Land is disappearing Right before our eyes And the Common land will not be Common for long You tell me that progress is what it’s all about (Aye ‘twas ever thus…) And we’ll all get a share when the land is parcelled out (Aye me father said, ‘twas ever thus…) Blest are the meek and the men of lowly birth For the parson do say they’ll inherit all the earth But only when they’re dead for what it might be worth- (Aye ‘twas ever thus) Between lawyers etc. I want my share I would like to make a claim (Aye ‘twas ever thus…) But I can’t write it down; I can’t even write my name (Aye me father said, ‘twas ever thus…) They make the rules for to feather their own nests How this is fair well it’s anybody’s guess We started with little and we’ve ended up with less (Aye ‘twas ever thus…) Between lawyers spouting Latin And landlords spreading lies The Common Land is stolen from us Right before our eyes And the Common land will not be Common for long
Little by Little Words & music: Kevin Adams Little by little and day by day Step follows step as we go on our way My heart says we're gaining, my head says not so Little by little with nowhere to go. The children are wearing their second hand clothes They've known no different to these, I suppose They don't know how much we feel we’re to blame Little by little feeling more shame. There's plenty of ways to help a family pull through There's plenty of tricks and we've tried quite a few She takes in sewing and I turn my hand To any odd jobbing, nothing very grand. Times may get better or times may get worse If you go down fighting you won’t be the first One against many the self made man stands But he’s just like the others- another drowning man.
What Do They Think We Are? words & music: Kevin Adams We had to leave our native city, which is really such a shame We are up the creek, what’s more we’re all at sea Had to move out to the country, which is nothing like the same We’re confused by all these fields and farms and trees And the locals’ exhibition of unnatural suspicion Doesn’t cheer us up, what’s more it gets us down I check the mirror daily for me horns and tail so scaly And I wish that I was back in London Town. Can you blame us for moving out of London? Can you blame us for leaving it for dead? When you've been fire-bombed and shot at you begin to feel quite got at And you're wondering is it something that I said? We are townies, there is no point in denying We are townies and we're really proud of that We would go back there at the double if it weren't a pile of rubble If old Hitler 'adn't tried to knock it flat What do they think we are? What do they think we are? The pearly bloomin’ monarchy or dockers on an 'oliday A costermonger from the Mile End Road What do they think we are? What do they think we are? Are we just characters from Dickens all out looking for rich pickings What do they think we are? We can't help it if we were born in London We can't help it if we're not true country stock We've come from tenements in Stepney, a one room flat in Hackney, Or a prefab round the back of Millwall Dock We can't help it if our kids aint country bumpkins If their cockney vowels drive teacher up the wall His complete exasperation at their lack of haspiration As they find the letter haitch is hunpronouncable- We can't help it if we’re not exactly local We can't help it if you think we don't fit in The air up here’s less smoky and the houses aint so poky But novelty is wearing rather thin. We extend the hand of friendship to our neighbours We say "good day", and " 'ow are you?" for all we're worth Seems like friendship's out of fashion, or perhaps it's on the ration, Maybe they haven't heard about it this far north.
Bright Battalions Words & music: Kevin Adams So far away, those days of light When the boys were all marched off to fight Lines of volunteers in bright battalions Marching into gathering night. Heads held high and full of pride We were assured that God was on our side Death lay waiting for the bright battalions Death was not to be denied.. They shall not grow old As we that are left grow old They shall not grow old. Khaki drill and field grey See them spread before the guns’ array Lines on line of targets, doomed battalions Fritz and Tommy had to pay. There's a look I recognise When I see it in a soldier's eyes You were there among the doomed battalions You saw death with no disguise.... Now it's done and I survive Why should I be spared and left alive I am not numbered with the bright battalions My call up failed to arrive The paper poppies tumble down A single bugle lets the last post sound Age shall not weary the bright battalions In memory only they are found ...
The Man On The Hill words & music: Kevin Adams The track through the long grass, The flint and the chalk path Are the ways of the Man on the Hill. Flock of sheep grazing Ears of corn waving, And the earth works defend him there still. Who is the man on the hill? Do we look up to him still? Who sees the view from the hill? For mile upon mile from the hill. Though valleys defy him The wind and the sky lift him high With the larks on the hill. Horn flint and leather Will serve him for ever No need to come down from the hill. Between the stone portals And into the darkness They carried the man on the hill. Laid him down there With his hound and his spear And he hunts in that other world still. White lines on the greensward As drawn on a blackboard Stands naked, the man on the hill. The four winds blow through him The snowfall lies over him. Clothing the man on the hill.
Tom Worker’s Song Words & music: Kevin Adams I went over to Wolverton Works With a reputation as a lad who never shirks I was pleased as Punch when they offered me a place Couldn't wait to see the look on Mother's face. If I had my way I'd be working on the land But the next best thing is working with me hands. No vacancies for chippies or in the foundry, So apprentice electrician I will be. Five in the morning, standing in the rain. Blast that Billy if the tram is late again. Half past twelve we stop and have a break I find the hours very hard to take. There's a meal each day in a basket from me mam She sends it over with Billy on the tram. For a lad of fourteen it's a long hard slog Each night I come home tired as a dog A few years on, a simple life I’ve made Earning money and I’m settled in my trade. But in the world outside there’s trouble in the air And the working man must fight for what is fair. Now the gates are locked, and the Union says strike Teach the bosses not to do just what they like The miners lead, we can’t stand and watch them fail- Why did we fight the Somme and Passchendaele? Nine short days, ended in defeat Do you think the bosses will just leave us on the street? Will they have me back, are they taking on men? Can it ever be the same again? Someone said that the railway lads have heard That their jobs are safe the bosses gave their word Well fine for them but it doesn't ease my fears- There's plenty more been kicked out on their ears. Now a young man starts to feel so old My threadbare jacket doesn't keep me from the cold I've a wife and a child depending on me What the future holds I can't begin to see.
The Permanent Way Words & music: Kevin Adams Granite for ballast and sleepers of pine Cut through the country in a very straight line. Depart and arrive the very same day On the London to Birmingham Railway On the permanent way On the permanent way On the permanent way You get from London to Birmingham the very same day. Train coming out of Linslade tunnel White smoke streaming from the funnel Pistons pump and drive wheels hum Folks in Fenny surely hear us coming On the permanent way.... Slow goods up and a fast mail down Rattling the windows through Wolverton Town Never mind the cinders never mind the smoke Wolverton people are railway folk On the permanent way… Steam train coming, powerful sound Dark the sky and shake the ground. If you live to a hundred and three It's the fastest thing you'll ever see. On the permanent way…
Mayfly 05:12
Mayfly Words & music: Kevin Adams Here for one day In the sunshine in May Nothing to do but dance. Hours pass by And like the mayfly, This is your only chance.
It Was Your Idea Words & music: Kevin Adams We only want you for your story Your fifteen minutes fame and glory We can get you on TV You'll command a healthy fee. Waiting for the agent's call Got the taste now want it all Want to feature in Hello! Set the nation's heart aglow. Dish the dirt and make a killing Someone else's blood you're spilling Take the money run for cover Nation laughs at your ex-lover Pen is mightier than the sword Just how much can they afford? Cheque book open, lots of noughts See you in the libel courts. As for all the rest of you Join the end of every queue Have your money ready please Get the t-shirt, get the book Get the lifestyle get the look Get the box set 12 CDs Public figure, private face Has no earthly hiding place Tell you everything she said Tell you what he's like in bed Paparazzi oh so bold Think the nation should be told Buy the latest colour spread See what someone looks like dead. You’ll have everything you wish When you buy this special dish You won't leave the house for days Channel hopping from a chair On line shopping, see you there Here the sheep may safely graze Planet spins and sets a deadline Every day must have its headline Big block letters, simple fonts This is what the public wants. Tell you what to buy you bought it Tell you what to think, you thought it, Then we whispered in your ear Told you it was your idea.
Settling In 03:55
Settling In words& musi: Kevin Adams Step out of the front door to a world that's strange and new Everything's so different up here Brickwork chimneys are the only landmarks in my view And on a foggy morning even they will disappear I never use the bus because I don't know where it stops Lost before I've travelled half a mile Consolation is awaiting if I find the shops 'Cos everybody talks to me and greets me with a smile Across the garden fences Neighbourhood life commences We're settling in, We're settling in. Look out of the back door at a garden yet to grow Don’t know where to start or what to do We never had a garden when we lived in furnished rooms And horticulture was a confined to afternoons at Kew Someone sold me lots of pretty coloured packs of seed Soon we shall have flowers everywhere I couldn't tell an orchid from a common garden weed So anything that grows here will look beautiful and rare Across the garden fences Neighbourhood life commences We're settling in, We're settling in. Didn't bring too much with us from our old two room flat We can't afford much, we just do without. And if we need a helping hand we only have to ask Friends and neighbours doing favours turn and turn about There's plenty here from London that we knew before the war We're all becoming new town pioneers Our wagon train has crossed the plain, we’ve reached that promised land Won't belong before it seems we've all been here for years. Across the garden fences Neighbourhood life commences We're settling in, We're settling in.
Maidens of Moreton Words & music: Kevin Adams To young Thomas Pever Brave knight so ‘tis said Margaret Loring was Given to wed This couple were married Within the year She bore him two daughters Of whom you shall hear Margaret’s two daughters Both gentle and kind In service to others Fulfilment did find As nuns in a convent The rule they obeyed To Moreton returning And each one a maid Maidens of Moreton, So tender and pure The hungry you feed And the sick you do cure The village shall know you By all your good deeds Maidens of Moreton Attend to our needs Bells in the Church Hear their song on the air Ring through the village And call us to prayer Remember the sisters Enshrined in a name For this village called Moreton Maids Moreton became.


Across these North Buckinghamshire fields…

the plough was drawn up and down for centuries...
the landowners drew lines, fenced and hedged off the enclosures…
the navvies built the Grand Junction Canal…
and forty years later the London & Birmingham Railway…
the planners spread a railway town…
a post war ‘New Town’…
and a vast new city…
and ordinary people have lived their lives.


released June 23, 2002

Kev plays: 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar, electric gtr, fiddle, viola, mandolin, octave mandolin, harmonica, piano, organ, programming.


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Kevin Adams Milton Keynes, UK

Blending traditional folk music with a love of other genres- classical, jazz, folk-rock, prog-rock, pop… music, music, music…

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