Thursday, September 02, 2010

River Clyde - 6 Day Riot - lyric

River Clyde
The streets of the Gorbals run thick with the tales
Three ladies that hing have seen all that's to be
But the men folk still stride out tall and proud
To the gates of the yard and its whistling call
The riveters are meeting already
With news of the slimming and fears of the cuts
And the only possession I own of some value
Is the labour I am and the labour I love
Oh my pride lies washed up by the Quayside
Will there be one more ride down the River Clyde
Still each morning I walk from our room
To stand in line ticket and name
But friends are sent home now time and again
Left with ghosts and whispers and all they became
Threats and disputes ring from the wireless
And what of those men that take longer than most
As we gather together in crowds at John Brown's
We listen to Reid stood shoulder to shoulder
One more wave to old good friends
As they take their last ride down the River Clyde
Brothers be proud we are respected men
We will fight for our basic rights to work these yards again
Brothers be proud, brothers be proud
We will march heads held high through these yards again
The papers claim victory in our struggle
A triumph for Glasgow, a show of our strength
So why do I find myself on my way here
To tell you my dear the news we both dread

I don't know what I'll tell the kids
As I take my last ride down the River Clyde

Here I am drinking to forget
Here I am desperate to remember
Here I am in Brewers Fayre
Wondering how did I ever get here
How did I ever

This is particularly apposite as Trade Union leader Jimmy Reid, mentioned in the lyric, passed away on August 11, 2010.  Folie à Deux is a very fine album and this is one of the most impressive, and not least for its historical narrative, tracks on it.

To put that verse in perspective here is an image of 'shoulder to shoulder'...

Jimmy Reid addressing 'Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' workers in 1971.

Though industrial relations were generally poor in the UK at that time this episode was rather different.  The workers were not on strike at all; this was a work-in and a disciplined one too.  This is what he said and also what took place:

"We are not going to strike. We are not even having a sit-in strike. Nobody and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without our permission. And there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying [the consumption of alcohol] because the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity."

When it comes to narrative songs this is probably about as good as it gets in my recent experience.   In a faintly similar vein, both shipbuilding and protest, is 'Marshall Riley's Army' from the 1978 album 'Back and Fourth' by Lindisfarne. It concerns the Jarrow March (sometimes known at the Jarrow Crusade) in October 1936. If you want the lyric to that then just ask.

For more posts related to '6 Day Riot' see here:

Lyric for Folie à Deux, from the album of the same name:

Lyrics for all tracks on the album '6 Day Riot Have a Plan':

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