Gary Miller Songs

"As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him"
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'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".


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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.



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.


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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.



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


3 songs for Joseph Skipsey

Posted on 21 March, 2019 at 9:15

After stockpiling a load of new songs over the last few months (over 50 new songs recently registered with PRS), from various projects, I'm keen to get some of them 'out there'.


So here's the first batch (with more to come soon) - 3 original songs all written in honour of Joseph Skipsey, "The Pitman Poet of Percy Main" during a solo acoustic home demo recording session tonight (the second 2 are a bit rough and ready as they're particularly fresh and I'm still learning where I'm going with them - so they offer a chance to gain an insight into my development process): -


1. A Dream of Joseph Skipsey


2. Show Me


3. Unlocked Gate



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'Northern Grit: The Good The Bad & The Greedy'

Posted on 14 March, 2019 at 8:50

I'm looking forward to performing a few songs at the launch event for my partner Helen's upcoming exhibition 'Northern Grit: The Good The Bad & The Greedy' (North Eastern Deterimnation, both fair and foul) at the People's Bookshop in Durham City on Sunday 31st March 2019 (16:00-18:00h). The songs will directly compliment Helen's illustrations.

After that, the exhibition will run for a month throughout April 2019.

Entry is free to both the launch event and the exhibition as a whole...




'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey' illustration

Posted on 8 January, 2019 at 13:20

My official artist, illustrator and designer Helen Temperley's stunning new illustration to accompany what I consider to be one of the best of my many as-yet-unreleased songs 'A Dream of Joseph Skipsey'...



The Final Letter of Jimmy Durham

Posted on 2 May, 2018 at 5:25

The 4th single to be released from my latest project 'From Coalfield to Battlefield', in advance of the forthcoming album, is 'The Final Letter of Jimmy Durham'. It tells the true story of James Francis Durham.


Featuring an illustration by Helen Temperley, the single is initially available as a Digital Download for £0.99 from my Bandcamp Page here.



Euphonium & Cornet - New Single

Posted on 2 May, 2018 at 5:20

The 3rd single to be released from my latest project 'From Coalfield to Battlefield', in advance of the forthcoming album, is 'Euphonium & Cornet'. It tells the true story of my Great Uncles Joseph (Joe) and George Mains.


Featuring an illustration by Helen Temperley, the single is initially available as a Digital Download for £0.99 from my Bandcamp Page here.




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