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Happy to be Here

The song:
"'Happy to be here' is a personal song about a night driving through Southern England".
- Source:
Justin Sullivan in an interview with Chimeo -

One of many songs that uses driving as subject matter or metaphor, like After Something, Headlights, 125 MPH, Orange Tree Roads, The Price, Stormclouds, Sunrise, Tales of the Road, Vagabonds, or Wipeout. And also a song that deals with one of Justin's favourite topics, the sea, like Big Blue, Marry the Sea, North Star, Ocean Rising, Southwest, Sun On Water, Twilight Home and Wipeout.

The thundering at the beginning seems to point back to Green and Grey. This song was recorded at the Sawmill studios in Cornwall, where Justin went back for the New Model Army film Between Dog and Wolf. It is likely that 'Happy' refers to that nostalgic trip.
- Source: Official NMA Board -

Men gone off to foreign wars:
During the First and Second World War many British soldiers departed at the sea ports at the southern coast.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Happy to be Here ]


The song:
This is about fear and pain in your childhood which you've carried around with you like the Hunchback of Notre Dame had to carry his hump. And now, you don't have to fight it - you just somehow have to accept it. It's always a part of you. You have to accept it and make the best of it. It's easier for musicians - it's easier for them to express terror and fear.
For the most part, I had a very happy childhood. But the childhood of most people I know was catastrophic. I've even said in concert that most songs aren't about me. It'd be pretty boring to be constantly singing songs about myself.
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview with German Nonkonform Magazine in July 1996 -

Another song about the weight we carry around from our past is Beginning.

One of many songs that uses driving as subject matter or metaphor, like After Something, Happy to be Here, 125 MPH, Orange Tree Roads, The Price, Stormclouds, Sunrise, Tales of the Road, Vagabonds, or Wipeout.

[ Back to Headlights ]

Here Comes the War

The song:
The song is about how people actually feel, it's tension. All New Model Army songs start off with a gut reaction, or gut response and emotion and then there is an interpretation of it. And it is important to remember that we don't actually sort of ... it is feeling first and the thought second. The song is about everybody, whether they live in Canada, Britain, Brazil, Zaire feels a sense of tension at the moment. We are leaving a period of relative stability in history and going into a period of rapid change and that is the way nature is. There are periods of rapid change. Change is usually accompanied by violence, it makes people nervous, people are resistant to change. However, you can't prevent it, you have to go with it.
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview with Toronto TV show The New Music in 1993; quoted in Chris Benn's Chinese Whispers - NMA FAQ -

Here Comes the War isn't just about war - there's always some war going on somewhere in the world. It's also about the latent tension in our world. After a war the world's always happier and the people feel re-born. 1945 was such a time, also in the 60s people looked optimistically to the future. That is charachteristic of our civilisation. But this optimism fades with time. Then something "big" happens and it's normally war. History consists of wars, famines and illnesses. And so on it all flows...it's a circle. After the next Big Bang - whatever that'll be - there'll be people who survive, who have to start everything over again and they'll say: "this time we'll do it better".
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview with German Nonkonform Magazine in July 1996 -

Is it just me, or is there a strong resemblance to William Butler Yeats's poem 'The Second Coming' (1921):

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

This poem presents Yeats's philosophy of history and personality as spiralling movement towards chaos and dissolution; i.e. there is a cyclic repetition of events, but all in all history is a process not of development but of decay. Justin expresses a similar idea in the interview with Nonkonform above ("And so on it all flows...it's a circle"). Yeats's distortion of biblical stories (to depict Jesus Christ as beast rather than as saviour) probably also appeals to Justin.

Other songs influenced by this poem might be Over the Wire ("Where do all the innocents go", "the dawn it will come like blood across the sky"), Wars of Purification ("history she dances in circles around us", "The dark days they are awaiting") and Whirlwind (the title itself, "They still believe that they can hold the reins / But then they've got no sense of history").

Lines 4-8 refer to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Ceremony of innocence:
Yeats views ritual as the basis of civilized living.

Spiritus Mundi:
The Spirit of the Universe, with which all individual souls are connected through the 'Great Memory', which Yeats held to be a universal subconscious in which the human race preserves its past memories.

Greek mythological figure Sphinx has a lion's body and girl's head. She (it?) lives in the desert and kills every passer-by who can't solve her riddle (which was everybody, until Oedipus came along).

The cradle of Jesus Christ, who was born in Bethlehem.

394,000 children:
According to an article on the development of the world's population, the number of children born every day is 219,000; that is 152 children per minute or 80,000,000 per year.
- German news magazine Spiegel (online edition; 11/07/2002) -

A wargame, in which two teams try to capture the other team's flag while protecting their own. At the same time they also try to eliminate opposing players by tagging them with a paintball expelled from a special airgun called a paintgun. A paintball is a round, thin-skinned gelatin capsule with colored liquid inside it. When a paintball tags a player, the thin gelatin skin splits open, and the liquid inside leaves a bright mark. A player who is marked is eliminated from the game.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

Age of reason:
The age of reason is a historical term - the age of explanation. The 17th and 18th centuries. The period in which the foundations for our modern civilisation were laid - just after the Reformation. Mankind has lifted itself above nature.
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview with German Nonkonform Magazine in July 1996 -

Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and man were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and the celebration of reason, the power by which man understands the universe and improves his own condition. The goals of rational man were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness. . . . The Enlightenment expired as the victim of its own excesses. The more rarefied the religion of the deists became, the less it offered those who sought solace or salvation. The celebration of abstract reason provoked contrary spirits to begin exploring the world of sensation and emotion in the cultural movement known as Romanticism. The Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution severely tested the belief that man could govern himself. The high optimism that marked much of Enlightenment thought, however, survived as one of the movement's most enduring legacies: the belief that human history is a record of general progress.
- Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica -
- Read more: Wikipedia entries for Age of Reason and Enlightenment -

Scrap metal over a rusting town:
Similar words appear in BD7.

It's hunger that feeds us, hunger that bleeds us:
This and several other lines first appeared in Wanting.

Give us liberty or give us death:
'Give me liberty or give me death' is a famous quotation from a speech made by Patrick Henry in 1775, in order to convince Virginia's legislative assembly to deliver troops to America's War of Independence from Great Britain (1775-1783).
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Here Comes the War | Back to The Attack]


The song:
Heroin was the fashionable drug of the time especially in the north where the unemployment of the early Thatcher years hit hardest. The song was written in response to a particularly creepy set of Bradford junkies and also the woman who tried to sell the stuff outside the post office where we cashed our giros. It created a howl of protest for its bile.
Source: B-Sides and Abandoned Tracks booklet -

Four score years:
Eighty years (a score is twenty), i.e. roughly a human life-span.

[ Back to Heroin ]


The song:
"When you are in the top of a high mountain or in the desert or by the sea and you can see for miles then everything is put in perspective and when you look inside yourself, everything is in perspective, when you look at human history everything is in perspective. It's when you are stuck in rooms and cities or in forests - I hate forests - when you kind of can't see distance then you get a bit in panic. You know, if you look at human history or the history of the Earth, it's very long and you know what today, for me as an individual it's 'this' important".
- Source: Justin Sullivan interview with Rock-Interviews.com -

The words the male voice speaks are from the bible: "Old things are passed away; behold all things become new"
- Source: The Bible. 2 Corinthians 5, 17 - Read more: King James Bible -

The image of birds finding and taking just what they need might refer to the bible: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them".
- Source: The Bible. Matthew, 6.26 -

The movers move, the shakers shake:
A mover and shaker is "a powerful person who initiates events and influences people".
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

But from high on the high hills it all looks like nothing:
The notion that "from high on the high hills" the actions of "movers, shakers and winners" look like nothing reminds me of the ideas expressed in
Afternoon Song.

A small street right in the centre of Bradford.

[ Back to High ]

Higher Wall

The song:
Other songs dealing with immigration are Another Imperial Day, Die Trying, Part the Waters, and Refugee.

Informal for photographs taken by the police of a person who has been charged with a crime or who is suspected of a crime.
- Source: Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary -

Tropical shrub cultivated in Africa, northern South America, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan; its leaves are the source of the drug cocaine. On the other hand this is of course also a reference to coca cola. As far as I know, the Coca Cola Company originally invented cola as medicine containing cocaine.

[ Back to Higher Wall ]

Highway Patrol Man

The song:
Justin repeatedly named Bruce Springsteen's album "Nebraska", that contains this song, as one of his favourite albums. As BD3,
Familiy, Family Life, Home, Inheritance, and Twilight Home the song deals with one of Justin's favourite topics. The song also inspired a movie, Indian Runner, written and directed by Sean Penn and starring David Morse, Viggo Mortensen and Patricia Arquette.
- Read more: Imdb -

The only place of that name seems to be in New Jersey, a constituent state of the United States of America, situated at the west coast, seperated from Ohio by the state of Pennsylvania.

Night of the Johnstown Flood:
Ballad based on a true event. Johnstown is a city in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. In 1889 there was a disastrous flood that killed 2,209 people and destroyed 1,600 homes.
- Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica -

A year during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) in which the American President Lyndon Johnson sent large numbers of combat troops to Vietnam, while in 1968, President Richard Nixon began to withdraw American troops.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

110 mph are nearly 180 km/h.

Constituent state in the north centre of the United States of America, at the Canadian border.

Constituent state of the United States of America to the southeast of Michigan.

[ Back to Highway Patrol Man ]


Pound of flesh:
In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Jew Shylock asks for a pound of flesh out of his debtor's body as security for a loan (implying that the debtor pays with his life).
- Source: Shakespeare, William, The Merchant of Venice. Act  I, scene 3 - Read more: Project Gutenberg -

[ Back to History ]


The Song:
Once again a song about family, like BD3, Dawn, Familiy, Family Life, Inheritance,
March in September, My People, No Mirror, No Shadow and Twilight Home.

Home is wherever they take you in:
Slight misquotation of the poem "The Death of the Hired Man" (1914) by the famous American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963):

Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. "Silas is back."
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. "Be kind," she said.
She took the market things from Warren's arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.
"When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I'll not have the fellow back," he said.
"I told him so last haying, didn't I?
'If he left then,' I said, 'that ended it.'
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there's no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
'He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won't have to beg and be beholden.'
'All right,' I say, 'I can't afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.'
'Someone else can.' 'Then someone else will have to.'
I shouldn't mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there's someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,--
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I'm done."
"Sh! not so loud: he'll hear you," Mary said.
"I want him to: he'll have to soon or late."
"He's worn out. He's asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe's I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too--
You needn't smile--I didn't recognise him--
I wasn't looking for him--and he's changed.
Wait till you see."
"Where did you say he'd been?"
"He didn't say. I dragged him to the house,
And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke.
I tried to make him talk about his travels.
Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off."
"What did he say? Did he say anything?"
"But little."
"Anything? Mary, confess
He said he'd come to ditch the meadow for me."
"But did he? I just want to know."
"Of course he did. What would you have him say?
Surely you wouldn't grudge the poor old man
Some humble way to save his self-respect.
He added, if you really care to know,
He meant to clear the upper pasture, too.
That sounds like something you have heard before?
Warren, I wish you could have heard the way
He jumbled everything. I stopped to look
Two or three times--he made me feel so queer--
To see if he was talking in his sleep.
He ran on Harold Wilson--you remember--
The boy you had in haying four years since.
He's finished school, and teaching in his college.
Silas declares you'll have to get him back.
He says they two will make a team for work:
Between them they will lay this farm as smooth!
The way he mixed that in with other things.
He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft
On education--you know how they fought
All through July under the blazing sun,
Silas up on the cart to build the load,
Harold along beside to pitch it on."
"Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot."
"Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream.
You wouldn't think they would. How some things linger!
Harold's young college boy's assurance piqued him.
After so many years he still keeps finding
Good arguments he sees he might have used.
I sympathise. I know just how it feels
To think of the right thing to say too late.
Harold's associated in his mind with Latin.
He asked me what I thought of Harold's saying
He studied Latin like the violin
Because he liked it--that an argument!
He said he couldn't make the boy believe
He could find water with a hazel prong--
Which showed how much good school had ever done him.
He wanted to go over that. But most of all
He thinks if he could have another chance
To teach him how to build a load of hay----"
"I know, that's Silas' one accomplishment.
He bundles every forkful in its place,
And tags and numbers it for future reference,
So he can find and easily dislodge it
In the unloading. Silas does that well.
He takes it out in bunches like big birds' nests.
You never see him standing on the hay
He's trying to lift, straining to lift himself."
"He thinks if he could teach him that, he'd be
Some good perhaps to someone in the world.
He hates to see a boy the fool of books.
Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,
And nothing to look backward to with pride,
And nothing to look forward to with hope,
So now and never any different."
Part of a moon was falling down the west,
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.
Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand
Among the harp-like morning-glory strings,
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves,
As if she played unheard the tenderness
That wrought on him beside her in the night.
"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time."
"Home," he mocked gently.
"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."
Warren leaned out and took a step or two,
Picked up a little stick, and brought it back
And broke it in his hand and tossed it by.
"Silas has better claim on us you think
Than on his brother? Thirteen little miles
As the road winds would bring him to his door.
Silas has walked that far no doubt to-day.
Why didn't he go there? His brother's rich,
A somebody--director in the bank."
"He never told us that."
"We know it though."
"I think his brother ought to help, of course.
I'll see to that if there is need. He ought of right
To take him in, and might be willing to--
He may be better than appearances.
But have some pity on Silas. Do you think
If he'd had any pride in claiming kin
Or anything he looked for from his brother,
He'd keep so still about him all this time?"
"I wonder what's between them."
"I can tell you.
Silas is what he is--we wouldn't mind him--
But just the kind that kinsfolk can't abide.
He never did a thing so very bad.
He don't know why he isn't quite as good
As anyone. He won't be made ashamed
To please his brother, worthless though he is."
"I can't think Si ever hurt anyone."
"No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay
And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back.
He wouldn't let me put him on the lounge.
You must go in and see what you can do.
I made the bed up for him there to-night.
You'll be surprised at him--how much he's broken.
His working days are done; I'm sure of it."
"I'd not be in a hurry to say that."
"I haven't been. Go, look, see for yourself.
But, Warren, please remember how it is:
He's come to help you ditch the meadow.
He has a plan. You mustn't laugh at him.
He may not speak of it, and then he may.
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud
Will hit or miss the moon."
It hit the moon.
Then there were three there, making a dim row,
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.
Warren returned--too soon, it seemed to her,
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.
"Warren," she questioned.
"Dead," was all he answered.
- Source: Project Gutenberg -

[ Back to Home | Back to Did You Make it Safe? ]


The song:
"The song is about how every generation invents its own apocalypse. Haven't we always done that? One line says 'For if we have to go, then it's all coming with us'. The difference between humans and animals is that we take ourselves so important and are so vain. We can't accept that we'll die - and everything else will just go on! But that's what will happen."
- Source: Justin Sullivan on Corso. My translation back from German -

According to the bible, the apocalypse is announced by four horsemen.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

A "fine parchment made originally from the skin of a calf"
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

[ Back to Horsemen ]

125 MPH

The song:
One of many songs that uses driving as subject matter or metaphor, like
After Something, Happy to be Here, Headlights, Orange Tree Roads, The Price, Stormclouds, Sunrise, Tales of the Road, Vagabonds, or Wipeout.

Roughly 200 km/h. If Justin closes his eyes for ten seconds at this speed, he drives 612 yds or 550 m. I do hope it was an empty motorway . . .

Dust to dust:
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" is often said at Christian funerals, because God created man out of dust and, once buried in dust, man will become dust again.
- Source: The Bible, Genesis 3, 19 -

[ Back to 125 MPH ]

The Hunt

The song:
The law is there to make the right decisions by using juries and so forth. Great, I support the law. However there are times when the law doesn't have any bloody teeth. Justice is not seen to be done. The most important thing about justice is not only that it is done but that it is seen to be done. Put it another way. Look at the Asians in the East End and Bradford. The police wouldn't help them. They got so sick with trouble in their areas that they organised their own street patrols, and good luck to them. It's a common theme right across America, right across Europe. Not many groups write about it because it's unhip. People don't believe that they're getting justice, that the law is fulfilling it's primary function - revenge. People put their trust in the law to carry out their revenge for them. If it fails to do that then the people carry out their own revenge. All 'The Hunt' does is tell a story and suggest how I feel. It's a taboo subject in the West, especially among young people who don't like the idea of authority, discipline or the law in any way. Sure it's a dodgy song but then a lot of emotions are dodgy. It's no use pretending you're a nice person who never gets nasty. What we do is express a whole lot of emotions. A lot of love songs and so forth, all the way to areas which are not so nice and which people don't want to talk about. I like violent emotions. Love and hate - there's a balance between the two. I think about what effect this [message] will have on other people. I don't believe it's going to make a lot of people go out and buy guns and start blowing each other away in the street. If I thought that, I wouldn't play it. I'm sure that's not the case. 100 per cent sure. So we play it. Other than that, what people get out of the song is up to them.
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview with Sounds on 16th May 1987 -

"[. . .] it does interest me to write from different angles, to write from the point of view of people I don't agree with, 'The Hunt' or 'My People, Right Or Wrong' are deeply politically suspect, but that's real. That's how people feel. It's worthy of a song."
- Source: Justin Sullivan interview with The Quietus -

Vengeance and Shot 18 treat a similar topic.

[ Back to The Hunt ]

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16/11/14; last update 17/06/17