Songwriting & Context Lecture 4: Location Song

To write this song I chose to use my hometown as inspiration. This choice was based purely on my familiarity with the area and its history. The song talks about a man, Mr Jones, who worked in the collieries during Cwmaman’s prosperous coal mining days in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He was greatly affected by Margaret Thatcher’s dissolution of Wales’ coal mining industry (an idea based on my grandfather’s own experiences), losing his dignity and livelihood. Now, all that remains of Mr Jones’ past occupation are rusted railway tracks and the workingman’s hall, in which he see’s fellow miners, still hanging on to their pride despite being rendered surplus to requirements so many years ago.

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This is a song about a village that never would have existed have it not been for the coal mining industry, and which lost its identity with the colliery closures. To this day, I don’t feel that Cwmaman has recovered from this loss. Of course, there is life there; vibrancy, art, family, but it isn’t the same. The sense of community is lost, and with it, the pride the village once had in its ‘Welsh Gold.’ I’ve chosen to phrase the song as if it were narrated by on onlooker, watching Mr Jones’ life as his situation changes; an AAA structure felt most appropriate here in terms of telling the story.

Lyrics

Verse 1

Mr Jones walks down the road

Past woodland streams and apple groves

To spend all day in the dark and cold

Digging for the village ‘gold’

It’s a simple life

In this little town of ours

It’s a simple life

In this little town of ours

 

Verse 2

Mr Jones lives day by day

He takes soup and bread in a plastic tray

The Iron Lady’s new regime

Has come to make this village clean

It’s a tough old life

In this little town of ours

It’s a tough old life

In this little town of ours

 

Verse 3

Mr Jones drinks at the bar

Still lost without the smoking tower

All that remains are rusted rails

A reminder of the town that failed

It’s a dead-end life

In this little town of ours

It’s a dead-end life

In this little town of ours

 

In truth, I struggled writing this. To capture the essence of a place in relatively few words is far more difficult than I anticipated it to be. I believe taking a new approach to this may be necessary. Perhaps viewing it more like poetry would be beneficial, I find that I’m too stuck in the prose-writing mindset which makes lyricism particularly tricky. As a first draft I suppose these lyrics are alright, the story is somewhat clear, but there is obviously room for improvement which I’m very much looking forward to making.

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