England’s Bones

The moss that grows on England’s bones
Is dark and green and grows unseen
Cold hearts moulder in the earth
Beneath the oaks that they gave birth

So fill the breach with English dead
And fill your head with English dread
Give us today our daily bread
As Good King James himself once said

Unquiet dead in earthen tombs
Awaiting lies of Albion
Jerusalem was founded here
Back in 1984

So fill the breach with English dead
And fill your head with English dread
Give us today our daily bread
As Good King James himself once said

Tower blocks of beaten grey
Rise over all that they survey
And children play among the cars
Blessed are they beneath the stars

So fill the breach with English dead
And fill your head with English dreads
Give us today our daily bread
As Good King James himself once said 

Notes

I’ve been fascinated by drones – songs with basically one chord – for decades now. They were a bit of a staple of the quasi-psychedelic end of Madchester and Britpop, but really can trace their genesis in pop music back to… yes: it’s those men again, The Beatles. Drones are actually fairly typical of folk modes. Think of the bagpipes, and what you hearing is one continuous note (the drone) with an overlying melody. Anyway, this uses an Indian instrument and Hammond organ to create the drone, and is overlaid with various Moog noises and a backwards guitar part – all underpinned by a loose hip-hop style beat.

Lyrically, it’s about nationalism and how a country – any country – is built on bones: dead soldiers, myths and the rest. I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to graves and bones, so although this song is fairly scathing about the idea of nationalism, there is also a part of me that has a regard for the dead, regardless of the causes for which they fought: history is, after all, behind us.

There’s also a sneaking bit of antipathy towards the class system in there: King James never had to pray for his daily bread – unlike those who died in his/the country’s wars and whose descendants now live in cheerless, inhuman developments, paradoxically looking forward to the chance to be cannon fodder just to find a meaning in life.

 

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