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Songs: The Symbol Of Our Nation

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<a href="http://mjhibbett.bandcamp.com/track/the-symbol-of-our-nation">The Symbol Of Our Nation by MJ Hibbett &amp; The Validators</a>
This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library

The Scottish and the Welsh now have their own assemblies
While the English are left wondering "Exactly who are we?"
It's a question that needs answering before the Battle's lost
And the forces of the Right bedeck themselves in George's Cross
We need to reassert an idea that can create a nation
That's united out of choice and not by pigmentation
A symbol of inclusion from which nobody is barred
Something we can point at and say "That is who we are."

So let the symbol of our nation be a pub
Because it symbolises the things in life that are English and are good
Irrespective of your faith, sexual preference or race
Let the symbol of our nation be a pub

Yes, the nature of our island is not unlike a pub
It's crowded and it's noisy, and bits keep dropping off
The regulars don't change much, though the landlords come and go
And the decor was quite fashionable a hundred years ago
Music, thought and football pour from every table-town
There's a thousand ancient rules and yet not one is written down
We like to make out that we are parochial and shy
But a look along the menu tells you that's a bloody lie

So let the symbol of our nation be a pub
Because it symbolises the things in life that are English and are good
Irrespective of your faith, sexual preference or race
Let the symbol of our nation be a pub

And it might appear to strangers that the welcome's not too warm
But respect given for free is not worth anything at all
And if you've got an idea or just like to have a laugh
Then it won't be very long before you're sitting at the bar
And there'll always be some old sod who is mumbling in his pint
About the other pubs around here which he's never been inside
We'll all laugh politely though we wish he'd bugger off
So we can enjoy a place which we will not admit we love

So let the symbol of our nation be a pub
It symbolises the things in life that are English and are good
Irrespective of your faith, sexual preference or race
Let the symbol of our nation be a pub

This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library
This Is Not A Library


Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

This one really did take FOREVER to write - it'd been in my head for YEARS, and I'd had a chorus and the first verse hanging around for months. On the 24th July 2000 I sat myself down and FORCED myself to finish it off, writing the last two verses all in one go - I must say, I LOVE doing that. It's nice, obviously, when a song just drops out of the sky, or when it only takes a bit of nudging to get into place, but there's something very satisfying, sort of CRAFTSMAN-like really, about settling down of an evening and WORKING through some rhymes.

The inspiration for the subject matter came from seeing Billy Bragg performing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on December 16th 1999 (I looked it up) when he was promoting his "Preaching To The Converted" album. After a pretty grim set with The Blokes he came back on for an hour long encore on his own (and thus reminded us WHY we liked him in the first place and why any right thinking person LOATHES his Womad Direction). Much of that hour was spent talking about EnglishNess and it fair set my mind a-RUMBLING - although I do AGREE that there's a desperate need to reclaim EnglishNess as an IDEA and something to be proud of, I really DON'T think Tom Paine is the cuddliest symbol we've got.

I don't think I was the only one to think this either. I played a gig with Chris T-T and he a) did "English Earth", which is on a Similar Theme and b) seemed a BIT TOO PLEASED when I compared his set to "Billy Bragg before he went shit". AHA!

Anyway, yes, over the next few months I got to thinking about how The LOCAL PUB is a much better model for Our Nation, as well as being a model we could all enjoy investigating. It's not a perfect place, it could probably do with some changes and could definitely be more welcoming to strangers, but it always has plans to get better and we all love it really, especially when pissed.

The MUSIC to this has had a Lengthy and Torturous history. Initially the chorus had a complicated chord structure not unlike "Wings Of Fire" on "Say It With Words", and was designed to have a HYMNAL quality to it. I tried this out at a gig in London, and it seemed to go OK (a few people singled it out as their favourite song even) but the DISDAIN of The Mighty Rhythmn Section persuaded me to change it i.e. Tim said there was no way he was doing any more "Bloody Bohemian Rhapsody". I even tried to get them to play the old version a few times, but they were Distinctly Unimpressed.

Simultaneously I'd thought of a sort of DRONEY tune on the keyboard, and needed some lyrics to go with it so, in the GREEN, CARING way I like to go about songwriting, I SHACKLED it to these suddenly AVAILABLE lyrics. It was all based in C anyway (Mmmm, MUSICIANLY!) so I thought it might be easy enough, and I was RIGHT - The Mighty Rhythmn Section got their hands on it, the Delicate Keyboard Tune was ABANDONED, the ROCK Jacket was put ON, and off we went!

At last I understood why so many bands do that Stereolab Rip-Off DRONE sound: It's an utter UTTER piece of piss to play! The Lots Of Choruses At The End developed NATURALLY between me and Emma (I think that was at her first practice too, Well Done Mrs Pattison!) and Tom got OverExcited when we recorded him playing with all the EFFECTS ON, and that was pretty much that! Easy!

The reason it starts straight in as it does, rather than having the lengthy intro that everyone else wanted it to have is because at the time I thought it was going to be the first song on the album. Sorry, The Validators!


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