The Common Land

by Kev Adams

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    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.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Common Land via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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about

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.

credits

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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about

Kev 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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Track Name: Worksong
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.
Track Name: Crazy For Canals
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.
Track Name: The Common Land
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
Track Name: Little By Little
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.
Track Name: What Do They Think We Are?
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.
Track Name: Bright Battalions
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 ...
Track Name: The Man On The Hill
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.
Track Name: Tom Worker's Song
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.
Track Name: The Permanent Way
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…
Track Name: Mayfly
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.
Track Name: It Was Your Idea
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.
Track Name: Settling In
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.
Track Name: Maidens of Moreton
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.