The Men Who Marched Away: Songs of the Great War

by GreenMatthews

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credits

released September 15, 2014

Sophie Matthews - voice, flute, English border bagpipes, soprano saxophone

Chris Green - voice, guitar, mandocello, piano accordion, piano, bass, drums

with special guests:

Richard Heacock (Fat Cat Strings) - violin, viola, cello

Paul James - soprano sax on "Home Lad Home"

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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Track Name: The Men Who Marched Away
We do not sing of heroes
For such is not our task
We sing of men like you and I
Who went as they were asked
To fight and die in millions
On land and air and sea
We sing of new worlds which they built
That most would never see

We sing of those they left behind
Of children and of wives
We sing of change and turmoil brought
By warfare to their lives
We sing of how in battle's midst
Their menfolk grinned and joked
We sing the songs that kept them strong
And lent them life and hope.

Through song these soldiers chronicled
Their years of strife and fray
Through song they were recruited
To song they marched away
And now through song we tell to you
The story of those days
Of wives and children left behind
And men who marched away.
Track Name: Fall In
'What will you lack, sonny, what will you lack,
When the girls line up the street
Shouting their love to the lads to come back
From the foe they rushed to beat?
Will you let out a strangled cheer to the sky
And grin till your cheeks turn red?
But what will you lack when your best mate goes by
With a girl who cuts you dead?

Where will you look, sonny, where will you look,
When your children yet to be
Clamour to learn of the part you took
In the War that kept men free?
Will you say it was naught to you if France
Stood up to her foe or bunked?
But where will you look when they give the glance
That tells you they know you funked?

How will you fare, sonny, how will you fare
In the far-off winter night,
When you sit by the fire in your old man's chair
And your neighbours talk of the fight?
Will you slink away, as it were from a blow,
Your old head all shamed and bent?
Or say - I was not with the first ones to go,
But I went, thank God, I went?

Why do they call, sonny, why do they call
For men who are brave and strong?
Is it nothing to you if your country should fall,
And Right is smashed by Wrong?
Is it football still and the picture show,
The pub and the betting odds,
When your brothers all stand to the tyrant's blow,
And England's call is God's!'
Track Name: I'll Make A Man Of You
The Army and the Navy need attention,
The outlook isn't healthy you'll admit,
But I've got a perfect dream of a new recruiting scheme,
Which I think is absolutely it.
If only other girls would do as I do
I believe that we could manage it alone,
For I turn all suitors from me but the sailor and the Tommy,
I've an army and a navy of my own.

On Sunday I walk out with a Soldier,
On Monday I'm taken by a Tar,
On Tuesday I'm out with a baby Boy Scout,
On Wednesday a Hussar;
On Thursday a gang oot wi' a Scottie,
On Friday, the Captain of the crew;
But on Saturday I'm willing, if you'll only take the shilling,
To make a man of any one of you.

I teach the tenderfoot to face the powder,
That gives an added lustre to my skin,
And I show the raw recruit how to give a chaste salute,
So when I'm presenting arms he's falling in.
It makes you almost proud to be a woman.
When you make a strapping soldier of a kid.
And he says 'You put me through it and I didn't want to do it
But you went and made me love you so I did.'

On Sunday I walk out with a Soldier,
On Monday I'm taken by a Tar,
On Tuesday I'm out with a baby Boy Scout,
On Wednesday a Hussar;
On Thursday a gang oot wi' a Scottie,
On Friday, the Captain of the crew;
But on Saturday I'm willing, if you'll only take the shilling,
To make a man of any one of you.

But I don't want to join the Army
I don't want to go to war
I'd rather stay at home around the streets to roam
And live off the earnings of a high-class lady
I don't a bayonet in my belly
I don't want my bollocks shot away
I'd rather stay in England
(But on Saturday I'm willing)
Jolly, jolly England
(If you'll take the shilling)
And fornicate my bleeding life away
Track Name: Half Past Eleven Square
There's a town I know in Flanders, and there's not much else to say
But it's pretty much like most towns when the war has passed its way
There's tumbled shops and houses and brickbats everywhere
And a place that British soldiers call Half-Past Eleven Square

There's an old town clock stuck up there that's forgotten how to chime
With its frozen fingers always pointing to the same old time
And the world it keeps on turning, but it makes no difference there
For it's never any later in Half-Past Eleven Square

There's a stench of mustard gas now where the people lived before,
Who it used to tell the time to when there wasn't any war
But the whizzbangs burst by daytime and at night the starshells glare
So who cares what the time is in Half-Past Eleven Square?

You could walk for half-a-day there and there's not a soul to meet
In the empty smashed-up houses and the empty sandbagged street
They've packed their baggage long since and they've gone for change of air
'Cos you can bet that it's no health resort – Half-Past Eleven Square

And it only wakes up sometimes when the armies come and go
With the transports and the wounded and the big guns crawling slow
But let them come or let them go, the old clock doesn't care
If it's Fritz or Tommy marching through Half Past Eleven Square

But it's waiting, yes it's waiting 'til the world goes on once more
And the folk come back to live there as they used to live before
And open wide the broken door and climb the shattered stair
And move along its fingers in Half Past Eleven Square

Yes, it's waiting, waiting, waiting, just the same as you and me
For the same world only better then the old one used to be
And I've got a crazy notion that I wish I could be there
When twelve o'clock is striking in Half Past Eleven Square
Track Name: Private Green
I was working down the pit like all the other lads
I had a family to feed
"Your country needs you, fellows" That's what all the posters said
The boss said he'd keep my job free
For the first time since Napoleon all of Europe was aflame
In that summer of '14
So I took the shilling and next day I'm on a boat to France
"Go fight the Germans, Private Green"

"It'll all be done by Christmas" - that's what everybody said
"Jerry can't hold out for long".
But all those early hopes soon vanished in a hail of lead
Jerry proved us bloody wrong
We held him back at Wypers, but lost thousands of our lads
In that autumn of '15
And in the midst of all the smoke, the blood, the sweat, the fear
You'd find Private Soldier Green

And it's "What did you do Daddy back in the Great War?
Did you have a rare old time?
Do you look back on your memories with a smile?
Or do you curse the day you signed your life away
Upon the dotted line?"

I had a bunch of mates who'd been in Flanders from the start
Billy, Albert, Jim and Ted
One day in '16 on the Somme they heard the whistles blow -
Seconds later they were dead.
The next year in that sea of mud that men call Passchendaele
We were shelled to smithereens
But through those years of fire and mud unbloodied and unbowed
Came Private Soldier Green

And it's "What did you do Daddy back in the Great War?
Did you have a rare old time?
Do you look back on your memories with a smile?
Or do you curse the day you signed your life away
Upon the dotted line?"

Finally the Hun saw sense and asked to sign the peace
The War at last was fought and done
So I went home to Blighty thinking all my cares had ceased
Now the Great War had been won
But the job I'd left behind was gone and I was like a stranger
To my wife and family
And all my mates are lying cold beneath some foreign field
So where does that leave Private Green?

And it's "What did you do Daddy back in the Great War?
Did you have a rare old time?
Do you look back on your memories with a smile?
Or do you curse the day you signed your life away
Upon the dotted line?"
Track Name: The Lads in Their Hundreds
The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There’s men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold,
The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there,
And there with the rest are the lads that will never be old.

There’s chaps from the town and the field and the till and the cart,
And many to count are the stalwart, and many the brave,
And many the handsome of face and the handsome of heart,
And few that will carry their looks or their truth to the grave.

I wish one could know them, I wish there were tokens to tell
The fortunate fellows that now you can never discern;
And then one could talk with them friendly and wish them farewell
And watch them depart on the way that they will not return.

But now you may stare as you like and there’s nothing to scan;
And brushing your elbow unguessed-at and not to be told
They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man,
The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.
Track Name: Home Lad Home
Behind a trench in Flanders the sun was dropping low,
With clank, and creak and jingle I heard the gun-teams go;
And something seemed to 'mind me, a-dreaming as I lay,
Of my own old Hampshire village at the quiet end of day.

Brown thatch and gardens blooming with lily and with rose,
And the cool shining river so pleasant where she flows,
White fields of oats and barley, and the elderflower like foam,
And the sky all gold with sunset, and the horses going home.

Home, lad, home, all among the corn and clover
Home, lad, home when the time for work is over
Oh there's rest for horse and man when the longest day is done
And they go home together at setting of the sun

Oh Captain, Prince and Blossom, I see them all so plain,
With tasseled ear-caps nodding along the leafy lane,
Somewhere a bird is calling, and the swallow's flying low,
And the lads sitting sideways, and singing as they go.

Home, lad, home, all among the corn and clover
Home, lad, home when the time for work is over
Oh there's rest for horse and man when the longest day is done
And they go home together at setting of the sun

Well gone is many a lad now, and many a horse gone too,
Off all those lads and horses in those old fields I knew;
There's Dick that died at Cuinchy and Prince beside the guns
On that red road to glory, a mile or two from Mons

Dead lads and shadowy horses — I see them just the same,
I see them and I know them, and name them each by name,
Going down to shining waters when all the West's a-glow,
And the lads sitting sideways and singing as they go.

Home, lad, home . . . with the sunlight on their faces
Home, lad, home . . . to those quiet happy places
There's rest for horse and man when the hardest fight is done,
And they go home together at setting of the sun
Track Name: The Old Battalion
If you want to find the General then I know where he is
I know where he is
I know where he is
If you want to find the General then I know where he is
I know where he is
He's miles and miles behind the line
I've seen him, I've seen him
Miles and miles behind the line
I've seen him, I've seen him
Miles and miles behind the line

If you want to find the old CO then I know where he is
I know where he is
I know where he is
If you want to find the old CO then I know where he is
I know where he is
He's down in the deep dugout
I've seen him, I've seen him
Down in the deep dugout
I've seen him, I've seen him
Down in the deep dugout

If you want to find the sergeant major I know where he is
I know where he is
I know where he is
If you want to find the sergeant major I know where he is
I know where he is
He's lying on the canteen floor
I've seen him, I've seen him
Lying on the canteen floor
I've seen him, I've seen him
Lying on the canteen floor

If you want to find the quartermaster I know where he is
I know where he is
I know where he is
If you want to find the quartermaster I know where he is
I know where he is
He's boozing on the privates' rum
I've seen him, I've seen him
Boozing on the privates' rum
I've seen him, I've seen him
Boozing on the privates' rum

And if you want to find the old battalion I know where they are
I know where they are
I know where they are
And if you want to find the old battalion I know where they are
I know where they are
They're hanging on the old barbed wire
I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em
Hanging on the old barbed wire
I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em
Hanging on the old barbed wire
Track Name: The Writing of 'Tipperary'
King Edward the Seventh, who some called The Peace Maker, died back in nineteen-and-ten,
He was buried at Windsor and in the procession rode the noblest and highest of men,
There were nine crowned kings and thirty proud princes, leaders of many's the land,
And old 'Kaiser Bill' rode next to King George, with his Field Marshall's baton in hand,
Crippen was caught that very same year, Haley's Comet flashed by,
And the first of the labour exchanges was opened, the year the old king died.

The Sidney Street siege brought in nineteen-eleven, when anarchy died in the flames,
In London, in June, King George and his queen played the coronation game,
"A place in the sun ", said The Kaiser in Hamburg, launching his new battleships,
King George made India, Ireland and Wales, places for right royal trips,
Titanic was launched on the day of The Derby, London's last horse bus was shelved,
The suffragettes marched demanding their rights, then in came nineteen twelve.

Jack Judge went down to West Bromwich town, to welcome a brand new year,
He went to a pub, to have a little sup, 'cause he liked his pint of beer,
When he'd had a drink he started to sing and he raised his voice on high,
My name's Jack Judge, I'll write you a song, from Oldbury town come I.

Now a Birmingham man was standing near and he heard what Jack did say,
"A pound to a penny", he says to Jack, "you can't write a song in a day",
Jack just laughed, sang another song and he says: "I'll take you on,
This afternoon I'll write you a song and I'll sing it 'fore the day is done".

Jack had another laugh, sang another song, drank another pint of beer,
Then he caught a train to Stalybridge where that night he was due to appear,
And the very first day of nineteen-twelve old Jack Judge won his bet,
And the song he made and he sang that day we never will forget.

In March nineteen-twelve brave Scott and his comrades died while the snow storm roared,
And later that year the good General Booth, finally laid down his sword,
There were riots in Ireland concerning home rule, Mrs. Pankhurst was in prison again,
And Wilbur Wright died, that first among fliers, as the Royal Flying Corps was named,
Titanic went down in the spring of that year, taking fifteen hundred lives,
And the Balkan states blazed from border to border, as death began sharpening his knives.

Of the nineteen-ten monarchs who mourned for King Edward, in nineteen-thirteen few
survived. Though some of them lived to a peaceful old age, assassins took many's the life,
Death came calmly to China and Sweden, but elsewhere the murderer's hand,
Struck The Pasha of Turkey, The King of the Greeks, while Spain survived death's plan.
The armies of Europe paraded and postured, the stock-pile of weapons increased,
At the Hague, as if in grim desperation, they opened The Palace of Peace.

In nineteen-fourteen, with more suffragettes marching, an Austrian archduke was slain,
In less than two months all Europe was marching and death was in business again,
Many's the young man, from many's the family, willingly gave his all,
They died in their millions for dubious victory, answering Kitchener's call.
But as they marched off to the trains and the troop ships, they sang as they hurried along,
And the words echoed back from the graveyards of Flanders, singing old Jack Judge's song...

It's a long way to Tipperary
It's a long way to go
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know
Goodbye Piccadilly
Farewell Leicester Square
It's a long, long way to Tipperary
But my heart's right there
Track Name: Lamplight
We planned to shake the world, you and I. 

Being young, and oh, so wise; 

Now in the shaded lamp's green light
I almost see your eyes 

Light with the old gay laughter;
We dreamed of an Empire in those days, 

Setting out upon laborious ways, 

And all you asked of fame 

Was crossed swords in the Army List; 

My Dear, against your name. 



We planned a great Empire, you and I, 

Bound only by the sea; 

Now in the quiet of a winter's night 

Your voice comes hushed to me 

Full of forgotten memories:

We dreamed of our future in those days, 

Setting out on undiscovered ways, 

And all I asked of fame 

A red cross on my breast, my dear, 

For the swords against your name. 



And we'll never shake the world together now
For you gave your life away; 

And I think my heart was broken by the war, 

Since on a summer day 

You took the road we never spoke of;
We dreamed of an Empire in those days; 

You set your feet upon the Western way 

And have no need of fame - 

There's a red cross on my breast, my Dear, 

And a torn cross by your name.