Mudcat Café message #1550531 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55265   Message #1550531
Posted By: YorkshireYankee
26-Aug-05 - 04:28 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Soldier (Harvey Andrews)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Soldier (Harvey Andrews)
GUEST, Tír Chonaill: No, YY, I deliberately italicised the word 'obviously', only.

I understand... what I was trying to do was differentiate what you had said (from what I was saying) by putting it in italics. If I had finished my post properly (instead of prematurely submitting it), I'd have needed to further differentiate the word 'obviously' -- possibly by making it bold as well as italic, or something like that. (I'd been planning to write a little bit more, but when I found
I was suffering from premature epostulation ;-), I decided to leave it -- except for trying to explain the most confusing bits.)

I recognise the underlying sentiment.

If I can do that, I'm not really coming from 'one side' or the other.


Fair enough. But you strike me as intelligent enough to 'recognise the underlying sentiment' -- whether or not you're coming
from 'one side' or the other.

So, in reality the soldier didn't throw himself on the bomb.
And the children were already on the floor.
He (like the others in the room), turned his back on the bomb, and was killed by flying shrapnel.


In 1971 in Belfast a soldier called Sergeant Willis cleared a room of civilians because of a bomb. As he went
to close the door afterwards, the charge exploded, and he was killed. [...]


Yes, he turned his back on the bomb. On the other hand, it sounds like he cleared the room of civilians before doing so. I also assume that going to close the door was an action taken to try to help protect people/minimise the effects of the bomb.

It seems anyone could have been killed, which makes the whole thing more random than personal.

It seems to me the person closing the door would be more likely to be killed/injured than anyone else at that point (since
the room had been evacuated), but I consider that to be beside the point; you can tell a story from the point of view of
one person -- whether or not their death is random or not -- and that person's story is still 'personal' (by definition).

It's very simple to choose one's 'facts' when writing a song, especially when you have wide canvas to work on.

Yes, he could have chosen a different bombing victim to write about, but it seems reasonable to me to choose (for a/the song)
the point of view of the person whose job it was to try to protect the other people there -- and who ended up dead. That
doesn't mean he was trying to make the Irish look bad (which is what I think this discussion is about, although I could be wrong...).

GUEST, Tír Eoghain: If the song is that factually incorrect, it cannot really be based on any incident in particular, can it?

It becomes a hodge-podge of emotions based on what could have been, should have been, and wished that had been.

A work of fiction, in other words.


Yes... a work of fiction -- 'inspired by'/'based on'/'a fictionalised account of' a real event(s). I consider all three expressions to be
pretty much interchangeable. I've never seen/heard Harvey say the song is "factual" and I don't think he would be upset to have
his song called fictionalised and/or "a work of fiction" (although -- again -- it's possible I'm wrong).

Harvey Andrews, was so struck by the incident that he wrote the song to make the point that soldiers, too,
are human.


I guess I just don't see what's wrong with that. You can argue that he made it a bit melodramatic -- I wouldn't disagree. You can say that he is trying (and succeeding) to manipulate people's emotions -- and I'd agree with you there, too. But then again, what song, book, painting, movie doesn't try to manipulate our emotions? You could possibly criticise him for doing this in a blatant, clumsy way... which is a more subjective criticism.

IMO, what Harvey did that was worthwhile was to present a point of view that folks may not have been very aware of at that
point -- the PoV of an "average Joe" soldier who wasn't keen to be there in the first place, a pawn unhappily caught in a struggle
he didn't really identify with either 'side' of, getting criticised no matter what he did -- rather than the PoV of a Unionist, Republican, government official etc.

You could (and many have) write a song/story/etc from any of those other points of view. I feel what made it special -- and more interesting -- was telling it from the PoV of someone who did not want to be (and normally would not have been) involved...

I hope Harvey will eventually get around to answering this himself, but I'm pretty sure it won't happen for at least a week or two, because I believe he'll be off teaching a songwriting course from Sunday to Sunday, and may already be enroute.

Cheers -- YY