Gary Miller Songs

"As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him"
Green Man Review, USA

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Newsletter June 2019

Posted on 9 June, 2019 at 10:00

Hi Everyone,


I hope you’re all good. Here we are in June already (you can tell it’s summer here in the UK – it's raining). Firstly, I’d like to apologise for my recent uselessness in keeping you updated with what’s going on. There’s been so much happening that it’s been difficult to find the time to write any of it down (bear with me, you may want to get yourself a cuppa or something a bit stronger if that’s more your thing). Anyway, here goes...



First up –


Upcoming Gigs




I’ve got a few coming up, both solo and with my Whisky Priests compadre Mick Tyas, with more to be added. I’ll be working alongside some great artists, Including Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds, Justin Currie, Stefan Cush, Joe Solo and Hayley McKay to name a few.


You can find the full details here.


It feels good to be getting out and about playing live again, after a year or so of twists and turns that have prevented me going out solo until now.



Helen’s Blog




My incredible partner and project collaborator Helen has recently established a new Blog series on her official website, which not only gives an insight into our lives together but is, in my own humble and admittedly biased opinion, a great read to boot, for example…


Mick and I played a really nice gig recently, alongside our friends Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds, who were in the area touring their new album. Handily, Helen’s saved me a job and written a blog post about it, which you can check out here (along with her other recent and equally fascinating Blog posts), just click on the post for Wednesday 8th May: here.



Whisky Priests




Before I get on to my solo stuff, a quick Whisky Priests update.


Since the ‘Bloody Well Back Reunion Tour’ towards the end of last year, I have been interviewed for an upcoming article in RnR Magazine about the history of the Whisky Priests, as well as my own solo career. This is expected to be published in the next (76th) issue.


Previously, although the ‘Bloody Well Everything! (The Complete Works 1985-2000)’ limited edition 189-track 12-disc CD Box Set was never intended for widespread review purposes, being a unique collector’s item specially produced for the Reunion Tour, it did receive a handful of reviews, including:


A 5-star review by Ian Croft in RnR describing it as: “An exceptional body of work from a great band that has been much missed”,


A wonderful 10/10 review by Kev Rowland which you can read in full on the House of Prog Radio website here:


'Bloody Well Everything! (The Complete Works 1985-2000)' - 10/10 review by Kev Rowland on House of Prog Radio website


   


Copies of the Box Set are still available through the Whisky Priests Bandcamp Page at the reduced price of £19.99 and including a FREE Tour Shirt (M, L or XL sizes) and FREE immediate download (with 3 bonus tracks!) here.


In the meantime, it’s been decided that the Whisky Priests will not tour throughout 2019 due to each individual band members’ other commitments and various personal circumstances (unless some amazing offers of gigs unexpectedly happen to come in for later in the year). It just isn’t feasible at the moment, for example…




Accordion-player Ralf has been busy completing his solo album AND getting married to, honeymooning and setting up house with his lovely wife Wilma. Helen has just completed the CD cover artwork for Ralf’s album, entitled ‘Alles Tot Im Bauernhimmel’ (‘Everybody’s Dead in Peasant’s Heaven’ ) is putting the finishing touches to the pages of the inner booklet. It’s all looking and sounding great. More news on this soon.


Fiddle-player Nick has also been working on his solo album, to which both Mick and myself have contributed. Fair play to Nick, as it’s all being done to raise money for the mental health charity MIND, so anyone buying a copy will be getting what will hopefully be a great album of songs as well as contributing to a very worthy cause. Helen is also due to work on the design and layout of this too. Again, more news on this soon.


So, as you can see, a number of exciting Whisky Priests-related things are in the works from other band members.


2020, however, marks the band’s 35th anniversary, so we are going to be looking into possible ways to celebrate this landmark year.


Meanwhille, I’ve been busy refocussing on all my own non-Whisky Priests projects in collaboration with Helen…



‘Northern Grit (The Good, The Bad and The Greedy)’




In March this year, Helen answered a call out for artists on Facebook and was lucky enough to be the first artist chosen to exhibit their work for a month at the fantastic People’s Bookshop in Durham city centre.


The exhibition was entitled 'Northern Grit – The Good, the Bad and the Greedy'. It comprised six illustrations, each depicting a North East of England character or personality who had shown sheer determination in their lives. I loved the idea of this and was really inspired by the chosen subjects and their lives. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to write a load of songs.




We held a launch event at the Bookshop, where I performed my new creations as well as some existing songs, which had initially inspired Helen with some of the illustrations. Three of the songs had been written in the three days leading up to the event, so they were completely fresh and I was very excited to be able to perform what I honestly believe are three of the strongest songs in my entire catalogue, namely, ‘It Will Be All Right’, ‘Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton’ and ‘I Can and I Will’.




It was great to perform live again, for the first time since the Whisky Priests Reunion Tour. It had been too long. I’m now keen to get out and about on a much more regular basis with solo gigs, so any potential agents, promoters, venues, festivals or house gig organisers, who might be interested, please get in touch.




Helen was thrilled that her portrait of socialist leader Peter Lee was purchased by the Bookshop. He now watches wisely over the political and literary goings on from pride of place on the chimney breast.


You can find out a bit more about the ‘Northern Grit’ project here.



‘Mad Martins’




While were we discussing the planning stages of the exhibition with Graham Grundy, who is part of the ‘Leftfield at the People’s Bookshop’ co-operative and booker at ‘Down by The River Promotions’, the subject of ‘Mad Martins’ cropped up.


Graham suggested that I present a live performance of Mad Martins at Durham Book Festival in October this year. I was over the moon.


I’ve been desperate to perform the songs live with a full band for ages. Plans are now underway, but there’s a LOAD to do, as I want it to be as good as possible. The venue’s booked, an amazing 7-piece band line-up has been sorted, visuals are in development courtesy of Helen who has already started coming up with some superb illustrations and designs, it’s all happening! This is going to be a very special and unique event but spaces will be limited…


See ‘Mad Martins’ at: The City Theatre, Durham City on Saturday 5th October 2019.


Further details including times, ticket link(s), etc., coming soon.


In the meantime, you can find out more about ‘Mad Martins here.



'The Butcher Baronet'




Random as it may sound, I’ve gone and written an opera. Yep, a folk-rock opera. Called ‘The Butcher Baronet’, it tells the story of North East mystery man Sir John Duck – “Durham's Dick Whittington”. It’s a great legend and story about this historically elusive character and his rise to fame and fortune from nothing. I’ve written enough material for a 2-hour performance and double CD, whilst Helen has come up with some wonderful illustrations, with more on the way. Mick has also written a couple of songs.


In an accidentally and fortuitously connected project, Mick, Helen and I are also involved in a documentary about Sir John that’s currently in production by Durham Film Maker Paul Stainthorpe’s company Lone Pine Pictures. Lone Pine’s 2018 film ‘The Little Count’ about another Durham character, Count Jozef Boruwlaski, featured Whisky Priests song ‘Ballad of the Little Count’ as its theme song and is up for Best Documentary award at Romford Film Festival.


Mick and I will be recording a couple of original songs from the folk-rock opera for use as incidental soundtrack/intro/outro music. We will also be a making a cheeky musical cameo appearance in the film, which should be amusing, when filming starts in the coming weeks. Mick’s got his heated beard rollers at the ready and I’ve ironed my best cravat.


Find out more about the background to this project here.



‘One Gary Miller’


Now things just get weird. Also, in connection with Lone Pine Pictures, something very bizarre is taking place (these guys are nuts!). I’m having a documentary made about me. I know, mad, isn’t it? It gets madder!


Entitled ‘One Gary Miller’, the film is actually about TWO Gary Millers. Me, and my namesake Gary Miller. Let’s call him ‘Other Gary’.


Other Gary is a former British Kickboxing Champion.


Other Gary is over 6ft tall and built like a brick shithouse.


(You can see the similarities already can’t you?!)


Other Gary’s birthday is 12 days before mine, in the same year.


Other Gary is also an identical twin.


Other Gary is also from Durham.


Through pure chance, Paul from Lone Pine knows both of us, and was blown away by the similarities in our lives and personalities. It was a film asking to be made. I’m really excited and privileged to be part of this, though I am hoping that Paul doesn’t follow through with Helen’s ‘great’ suggestion of us doing a kick boxer/folk song writer ‘job swap’. You can go off people. I’ll keep you posted on this. It’ll be a laugh, but informative and interesting too.


There’s a chance for anyone that knows me to get involved too. Paul is looking for people connected with me to interview for the film, such as family members, ex-school mates, ex- and current band mates and others I have shared experience of life ‘on the road’ with such as roadies or sound engineers, connections I have in the music industry e.g. magazine editors and music reviewers, music agents and promoters I have worked with, ‘fans’ or supporters of my music and songwriting, ex-work mates and other colleagues. Literally, anyone from any walk of life who has connected with me in any way at all! He’s looking for anecdotes, stories, memories, photos etc. Please let me know if you’d fancy taking part and I’ll put you in touch with Paul. The more people that get involved, the merrier, and the broader-focussed the documentary will be.



'The Basement Sessions'


Over the last 6 months, I’ve been building up a backlog of around 50 unreleased songs and I’m desperate to get at least some of them ‘out there’. Inspired by Helen’s Blog efforts, I’ve therefore decided to create my own regular sub-series of Blogs entitled ‘The Basement Sessions’. The idea is that each individual Basement Session Blog will feature a video clip of yours truly ensconced in the basement of Whippet Records HQ (basically Helen’s and my house in Ferryhill, County Durham) performing a new or recent song with lyrics and a brief explanation about said song. I had in fact recently been recording and uploading a few video clips of new songs recorded in a different room of the house, so this is kind of a continuation of that but as a more ‘official’ series. The songs will generally be a bit rough and ready, as they’ll be spontaneous, off the cuff and freshly written without any recourse to rehearsing or refining them – what you see is what you get! But maybe that will be part of their ‘charm’ (who knows?!).


Here’s some links to the ones I’ve done so far over the last few days:


The Basement Sessions Track 1 – ‘Elementary (Turn, Turn Again)’


The Basement Sessions Track 2 – ‘Journey’



Pledge Music




After all that exciting and good news, there are of course some downers, just to balance things out. The main one being the whole Pledge Music debacle. Without going into too much detail of the business side of the affair, as I’m sure many of you will be aware of the situation, our Pledge Music crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Whisky Priests Reunion Tour was, like so many others, fucked over.


After huge (for us) initial personal outlay (both work and financial) by Helen and I to create all of the merchandise and recordings for the pledgers to buy, we were really pleased with how the campaign went, smashing our target amount. Hooray. Full of beans, we merrily posted off all the CDs, Box Sets, T-Shirts, badges, you name it, all over the world.


Having fulfilled our part of the Pledge agreement, we waited for the funds’ release date, and for the money to be paid into the bank. Nothing happened, the date came and went. I emailed our campaign manager. Apparently, the money would be in our account soon. Alarm bells. We were depending on the money to fund ongoing projects that we had put on hiatus to invest all our energies and finances into the tour.


Having had enough, after more radio silence from Pledge, I contacted them again, repeatedly. Finally, their response went from ‘Oh, oops, sorry it’s been a bit delayed, it’ll be with you in blah blah days’, to ‘Sorry, we have stolen your money in order to mismanage our business. It’s all gone now, and we are up shit creek, we just didn’t dare tell you. You’ll never see that money and neither will any other Pledge users we owe, so toodle-pip and have a nice life’.


We were horrified and felt sick. Thank god, we had fulfilled all the pledges, so none of the faithful Whisky Priests fans lost out. We were in dire straits. I know many artists lost a hell of a lot more than we did, but to us, a proudly DIY operation, a few grand is a very big deal. Then there were the high hundreds of pounds (in fact, almost £1000) in postage we had paid out. Double whammy.


In short, the whole thing has left a very, very sour taste. Very depressing and a big kick in the guts. But it’s happened, and there’s not a lot we can do about it.



Onwards & Upwards


Having taken these last few months to re-group, lick our wounds and wonder how the hell to turn things around, we are slowly managing to get our head ’round things again. Helen and I are both committed to completing our unfinished projects, including ‘From Coalfield to Battlefield’, ‘The Butcher Baronet’ and ‘Northern Grit’, as well as moving forward with other projects we have in development (though that’s something for a future newsletter).


I’m in the process of researching a new crowdfunding campaign as well as other funding opportunities, to help us achieve these aims and staying positive about their future. Great things will happen! In the meantime, any purchases from my Merch Store would be massively appreciated, as this will go towards desperately needed funding towards future recordings and releases! Thanks!


Check out my Merch Store here.



Merchandise


On the subject of merchandise, I just want to let everyone know that I am now extremely low on stock of the following items, so this is a “last chance to buy” either of these, as they will not be repressed:





Gary Miller & Ferryhill Town Band ‘The Durham Light Infantry’ CD Single - Buy it here.





Whisky Priests ‘The First Few Drops’ CD - Buy it here.


      


[you can also order this as a 3-CD Bundle with the last 3 remaining Whisky Priests CDs in stock for only £9.99 Buy it here.]



Also, the following unbeatable special offers are still available:


         


Whisky Priests ‘Bloody Well Everything!’ The Complete Reunion Merchandise Set (12-disc CD Box Set, Tour T-Shirt in choice of sizes, Tote Bag, Enamel Badge, Standard Pin Badge, Postcard, Sticker – only £29.99 the lot!). Buy it here.



   


Whisky Priests ‘Bloody Well Everything!’ 12-disc CD Box Set plus FREE Tour T-Shirt in choice of sizes – only £19.99). Buy it here.



         


Gary Miller Collection (Mad Martins 3CD/Book, Fair Flowers CD, Reflections on War CD, DLI CD Single only £29.99 the lot!). Buy it here.


Plus, lots more here:


Bandcamp Music

Bandcamp Merch




Thanks so much for taking the time to read all of this. I’ll keep it shorter and sweeter next time now we are all caught up. There’ll be regular blog and social media updates, so keep an eye open for them.


Also, massive thanks as always for your continued support, I really can’t tell you how much it’s valued.


Take care,


Gary.

'The Basement Sessions' Track 2

Posted on 6 June, 2019 at 3:00

"Hot on the Heels" of Track 1 comes Track 2 of my series of 'Basement Sessions'.


This video clip of 'Journey' was recorded in the basement on Sunday (2nd June). It is a gentle little song that seemed to initially become lost during the mad flurry of songwriting I experienced at the beginning of the year. I somehow forgot all about it until I was going through my song lyrics folder several months later and unearthed it thinking, "how could I have overlooked this?" I don't think the song needs much explanation as I feel it speaks for itself.


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.



JOURNEY


The day is on it’s journey and you’ve been watching every clock

Waiting for something on the wind

That you’re missing all the things that really matter

Whilst punishing yourself for others sins


There’s a broken piece of you that seems close yet far away

It’s trying to crush the things that you hold dear

But it won’t mend, it’s gone, it’s history, it can’t hurt you any more

There’s a new dawn with a future bright and clear


So take courage, take hope, take this helping hand

And grab the piece of justice that you’re owed

There’s love inside and all around you

And a strength that you’ve still yet to show 


There’s a stray cat in the garden that’s being fed every day

It’s more familiar than the boy sat on the train

There’s a crowd upon the platform, there’s a car parked on a hill

And a figure dashing madly through the rain


So run hard and grab the moment that is given unto you

Like it counts for every second that you’ve known

There are questions to be asked there are drums still to be banged

And many parts to you that you’ve not shown


So take courage, take hope, take this helping hand

There’s a winding path that leads to who knows where

There’s love inside and all around you

And with every step you take it will be there



(Gary Miller)


© 2018 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS

'The Basement Sessions' Track 1

Posted on 4 June, 2019 at 3:15

Inspired by my partner Helen's amazing new Blog Series (check it out HERE), I have decided to present a regular series of my own blogs entitled 'The Basement Sessions'. For this, I will upload a video clip of myself performing a new (or relatively new) song from the basement of our house (Whippet Records HQ) in Ferryhill, County Durham, with lyrics and a little explanation about the song.


Here is the first entry, a song I recorded on Saturday entitled 'Elementary (Turn, Turn Again)'.


This song is part of my "Folk-Rock Opera" 'The Butcher Baronet' based on the legend of John Duck ("Durham's Dick Wittington"). It fits into the latter part of the sequence and describes John Duck reflecting on his good fortune by chatting about it to a second man/companion (e.g. in the street or in the pub) and passing on his advice to grab your chances when they come along.


It was written during a flurry of songwriting activity I had around December/January, when I came up with around 30 new songs (including many for the John Duck project) in the space of a few weeks.


Hope you like it...


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


ELEMENTARY (TURN, TURN AGAIN)


It’s elementary my dear sir

I saw a coin fly through the air

Down to earth it came to rest

And from that moment I was blessed


By landing over Wear water

It saved a calf from certain slaughter

For I took a gamble and I bought her

Saving me and the Butcher’s daughter


And as sure as I stand here with you

I swear I heard these words ring true

Turn again Duck, Lord Mayor of Durham

Turn again Duck, turn, turn again


There is a time and a place for all things

Turn, turn again

Take heed when your inner voice sings

And turn, turn again

Be prepared for whatever chance brings

And turn, turn again

Listen for the sound of luck’s beating wings

And turn, turn again


A flame caught on my failing luck

And a fire flared for bold John Duck

I rose to fortune and to Mayor

It’s elementary my dear sir


Yes, all the elements came right for me

Whether by design or naturally

But I made them work successfully

Whilst thanking all the stars that shine on me


For as sure as I stand here with you

I swear I heard these words ring true

Turn again Duck, Lord Mayor of Durham

Turn again Duck, turn, turn again


There is a time and a place for all things

Turn, turn again

Take heed when your inner voice sings

And turn, turn again

Be prepared for whatever chance brings

And turn, turn again

Listen for the sound of luck’s beating wings

And turn, turn again

 

Listen for the sound of luck’s beating wings

And turn, turn again

Turn, turn again



(Gary Miller)


© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS




Helen's illustration of John Duck © 2019

[Check out her portfolio HERE]


Further information on 'The Butcher Baronet' Folk-Rock Opera is available HERE.

Helen's Blog

Posted on 4 June, 2019 at 2:55

I'm loving that my partner Helen has started up a new Blog series on her new websiteHelen's blog, in my own humble, if somewhat biased (?!) opinion, not only gives a small insight into our lives together but is a great little read too!


Check it out - HERE.




Her amazing first three posts are: -


An overview of what was a lovely gig at The Ship Inn at Middlestone last month, featuring our good friends, the great Naomi Bedford and Paul Simmonds (Bedford And Simmonds), whose fantastic new album 'Singing It All Back Home - Appalachian Ballads of English and Scottish Origin' is receiving universal and major critical acclaim, widespread recognition as well as hitting the Top of various charts (and all rightly so as it is a true masterpiece), with my The Whisky Priests (official) colleague Mick Tyas and myself providing special guest support. You can read this particular story HERE.


A detailed description of some of the things the two of us got up to at 'Whippet Lodge' a couple of weekends ago. You can read this particular story HERE.


An account of our trip into Durham on Saturday to attend a gig in support of a really special charity - RT Projects. You can read this particular story HERE.

Mad Martins to be performed at 2019 Durham Book Festival

Posted on 20 May, 2019 at 2:30

I am delighted to announce that a special performance of Mad Martins has been commissioned for the 2019 Durham Book Festival.


A 2-hour show will take place at the City Theatre, Fowlers Yard, Back Silver Street, Durham DH1 3RA.


Tickets are priced at £10/£8 concessions.


I look forward to bringing you further details of this very exciting event, including ticketing links, etc., soon.



'Unlocked Gate'

Posted on 16 April, 2019 at 23:30

Another home video clip of a recent song. Here I am performing 'Unlocked Gate' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019.


'Unlocked Gate' is written in honour of Joseph Skipsey, "The Pitman Poet of Percy Main".


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by my partner Helen (Winkin Bitsy Illustration) - see below. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project.



UNLOCKED GATE


The trapper-lad from Percy Main

With an inward eye and an outward flame

And a restless soul no books could tame

Rose up from the ground


And he burst forth like an outcast flower

Seizing on his lucky hour

His poetry poured like an endless shower

All nature to expound


Straight from the heart, to the heart

His words more keen than a piercing dart

Of weeping mothers torn apart

Like he was one-way bound


And as the big pit-wheel kept turning

Through his years of toil and learning

He found that he was earning

Freedom from his fate


But by the coal-fires burning

He found his stomach churning

For in his mind he kept returning

Back through life’s unlocked gate


In the dusty books upon the shelves

At the Lit and Phil where a deep mind delves

Into the corners of ourselves

Where no voice can be heard


He buried his head and he set his mask

And struggled to rise up to the task

To advise the borrowers who came to ask

Upon the written word


He returned to the mines until another chance came

But a porter’s work was not the same

So another bridge burned but who could blame

This flightless, restless bird


As the wheels of life kept turning

Through the chances he kept spurning

His heart was ever-yearning

To be back where he might belong


For he’d grown more discerning

On all matters concerning

What keeps the pages turning

Through the circle of life’s song


“I have gazed upon the wonders of mountains and lakes

Marvelled at the design of stars and snowflakes

Delighted in wandering by farms and by streams

Scrambled up hills where sunlight streams


I’ve pondered the mysteries of a life beyond

To many questions I felt the need to respond

I’ve been vocal in social circles but then

Retreated into solitude with my books and my pen”


Onwards now to Shakespeare’s abode

But this humble man bore a heavy load

All the patronage and the favours owed

For a life that did not suit


A poet’s paradise for sure

But for the bores he had to endure

Even the garden held no allure

For one who could not take root


He listened to his inner harp

His gifted mind was shrewd and sharp

His instinct led past cliff and scarp

Not for him the easy route


The carriage wheels kept turning

Towards the home fires burning

And for all his years of learning

He found he had no fear


For the chances he was spurning

Nor the bridges he was burning

The circle had ceased turning

And he was finally happy here



(Gary Miller)


© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS


'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey'

Posted on 16 April, 2019 at 23:20

Another home video clip of a recent song. Here I am performing 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019.


'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey' is written in honour of Joseph Skipsey, "The Pitman Poet of Percy Main".


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by my partner Helen (Winkin Bitsy Illustration) - see below. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project.



A DREAM OF JOSEPH SKIPSEY


A thick mist cleared and a dream took flight,

A viking ship sailed into the night;

Waterfalls roared down hills of pine,

As I held the prow in the starlight’s shine.


With Joseph Skipsey by my side,

I felt his awe as his eyes grew wide.

And when he turned his face with magnetic force

I recognised a true child of the north.


In a voice reared in the Northumbrian twang,

He opened his heart through the songs he sang.

I listened well as his stories rang,

To the sound of toil 'neath the pit wheel’s clang.


His simple songs spoke straight and true,

Of the collier lad and the strife he knew;

Of love and loss and laughter too,

With great pathos to see him through.


As he watched the wee birds flying by,

I saw a tear escape his eye;

This sensitive soul with poetical mind,

In a solid body of the labouring kind.


Then he spoke of happy childhood days,

When he was wrapped in nature’s ways:

From this Rustic Bard lilting words did flow,

Of the robin, the finch and the mighty crow.


His simple songs from nature grew,

To praise the glory and wondrous hue

Of the Thistle and the Nettle, many flowers too;

Butterflies, moths and the morning dew.


With his thirst for knowledge driving him on,

Likewise his fondness for music and song,

He would labour long hours in his room,

Just as he’d done in the darkling gloom.


The world was a mirror through which he gazed

With a seer’s skill into clearer days,

And when I awoke in the daylight’s glare,

I still felt his spirit standing there.


His simple songs spoke to me

And told me of a destiny,

Rich in hope and running free

Down untrod paths we rarely see.



(Gary Miller)


© 2017 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS


New Song - 'I Can and I Will'

Posted on 16 April, 2019 at 22:10

Another home video clip of a new song. Here I am performing 'I Can and I Will' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019.


'I Can and I Will' is written in honour of author Catherine Cookson from North East England.


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by my partner Helen (Winkin Bitsy Illustration) - see below. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project.



I CAN AND I WILL


There’s wind in the chimney there’s broth in the pan

I remember the days when Kate and me ran

“Let’s race the moon as fast as we can”

I said “I can and I will”


Counting the letters through the laughter and fights

Reading away in the fading light

Hoping I could make it all right

I said “I can and I will”


The word ‘impossible’ is the colour of black

I can and I will and I’ll never look back

Like a flame of gold I will burst down the track

Because I can and I will


Carrying the grey hen, carrying the shame

An illegitimate child bruised by self-blame

But I’ll rise above and take my name

I said ‘I can and I will’


Savings my pennies not taking the tram

It’s a long way to walk but who gives a damn

I’d rather walk than be an also-ran

Because I can and I will


The word ‘impossible’ is the colour of black

I can and I will and I’ll never look back

Like a flame of gold I will burst down the track

Because I can and I will


Four beautiful eggs failing to hatch

From such loss and such pain I could never detach

But I will banish depression off of my patch

Because I can and will


They fried my brain, they scrambled my mind

Leaving nothing but panic behind

But I will gain strength from what I can find

Because I can and I will


The word ‘impossible’ is the colour of black

I can and I will and I’ll never look back

Like a flame of gold I will burst down the track

Because I can and I will


Reading poetry and fairy tales

A prince will come to take me away

To make me a lady if I show him the way

I said ‘I can and I will’


I’ll put my experiences down on the page

And my characters will all inhabit a stage

Of love and loss and laughter and rage

Because I can and I will


The word ‘impossible’ is the colour of black

I can and I will and I’ll never look back

Like a flame of gold I will burst down the track

Because I can and I will


I can and I will



(Gary Miller)


© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS

New Song - 'Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton'

Posted on 16 April, 2019 at 21:50

Another home video clip of a new song. Here I am performing 'Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton' at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham on Sunday 7th April 2019.


'Ballad of Mary Ann Cotton' is written in the style of a 'murder ballad' about notorious serial killer Mary Ann Cotton from County Durham in the North East of England.


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The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by my partner Helen (Winkin Bitsy Illustration) - see below. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project.




BALLAD OF MARY ANN COTTON


There’s a man lying mangled in the shaft of a mine

Commonplace tragedy, ominous sign

There’s an 8-year-old daughter damaged through grief

On a tide from which she will find no relief


There’s something stirring on the grey North Sea

That blows an ill wind that seeps inwardly

Into the heart of one who has lost

And only she knows the depth of that cost


There’s a cunning, seductive manipulator of men

Weaving her webs again and again

A lying predator, behind a dark veil

A forked-tongued snake with a poisonous tail


There’s insurance money under the bed

There’s a grave in which another husband lies dead

There’s an angel of death another child in its arms

While a temptress continues to peddle her charms


There’s a tide of suspicion rolling around

There are bodies exhumed from under the ground

Bairns and husbands disturbed from their rest

As the spider is trapped and placed under arrest


There’s a baby suckling on a mother’s breast

In a crowded courtroom full of unrest

Doomed from birth to become stigmatised

The motherless child of a murderess despised


There’s letters being written from a cold prison cell

In deliberate strokes, self-pity to sell

In an petulant hand to apportion the blame

On anyone else who does not bear her name


There’s a Sunday school bell tolling the doom

Of one for whom it no longer has room

But has desperately placed her fate in God’s hands

But God has forsaken the ground where she stands


There are ministers praying as she bitterly weeps

As a claim of innocence she constantly keeps

There’s a press-gang waiting to write up their prose

Eager to pounce like a murder of crows


There’s a scaffold erected behind prison walls

There’s a long final walk as destiny calls

There’s an executioner with inhumane eyes

As he calculatingly assesses his prize


Black is the widow, black are her eyes

Black is the dress on the one doomed to die

Black is her hair and black is her heart

Black is the night to which she must now depart


There’s a black widow hanging from a fine thread

On its back an hour-glass of blood red

There’s a dark angel hanging from a short rope

Spinning and choking on a day without hope


There’s a vengeful God in the Heaven’s above

Meting out justice with anger and love

There are 21 new stars born to shine

While a red moon mourns a ruined blood-line


There’s a group of children skipping to rhymes

That tell the tale of her wicked crimes

While her restless dark spirit howls in Hell for release

From the sorrows from which she can never find peace



(Gary Miller)


© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS

New song - 'It Will Be All Right'

Posted on 16 April, 2019 at 21:35

I have recently been posting some video clips to YouTube of home videos I have made at at Whippet Records HQ, Ferryhill, Co. Durham of myself playing a number of new songs from one of my latest projects.


Here is the first one, a song called 'It Will Be All Right', written in honur of the great socialist leader Peter Lee, after whom the County Durham town of Peterlee is named...


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The song is accompanied by a fabulous illustration by my partner Helen (Winkin Bitsy Illustration) - see below. Together, they form part of one of their latest collaborative projects 'Northern Grit: The Good, The Bad and The Greedy', a travelling exhibition, recording and performance project.





IT WILL BE ALL RIGHT


The goatee-bearded giant

Over 6” tall and strong

Like Buffalo Bill was stepping out

From a book or from a song

Held out a knarled and knotted hand

As he stepped down from the train

And I handed him a newspaper

In the lashing Durham rain


As he looked at me through wise grey eyes

Great dignity shone there

From a regal countenance

Framed by locks of mossy hair

Then reaching into pockets deep

In a voice that held great range

His words came soft and slow

“That’s alright lad, keep the change”


He spread his branches far and wide

Like a mighty tree

That shelters its community

Beneath its canopy

And with a heart of oak

He planted all that he knew

And from his deep-set roots

Many precious acorns grew


I heard he’d been a brawler

Of wandering gypsy stock

An ill-educated drunkard

Built out of solid rock

Until he clawed his way up from the rough

Like an eagle taking flight

He said “Lads, it’s knowledge that we need”

Knowing it would be all right


His education came from

The University of Life

In the pits, the States, South Africa

He found that all workers’ strife

Was just the same the whole world 'round

And from gaining this insight

‘Long Pete’ resolved to serve his class

Saying, “It will be all right”


He gave all to serve his people

Asking nothing in return

It’s a very simple lesson

From which we all could learn

With an endless reservoir of strength

He laboured day and night

For the betterment of his people

Saying “it will be all right”


The last time that I saw him

His library was complete

And his back still fit the burden

Of each task he chose to meet

To this visionary scholar

I said “please don’t give up the fight”

“Don’t worry lad”, he replied

“It will be all right”


And though Peter Lee is gone

Others carry forth his flame

Fighting deprivation

In the town that bears his name

And I sense his spirit comforting

Throughout the darkening night

Each struggling soul without a voice

Saying “it will be all right”


He spread his great hands far and wide

Like a mighty tree

To shelter his community

Beneath his canopy

And with a heart of oak

He planted everything he knew

And from his deep-formed roots

Many precious acorns grew

But of all his worth and all his deeds

And for all his towering might

I still hear those simple words

“It will be all right”


And I know it will be all right


(Gary Miller)

 

© 2019 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS



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