Sunday, 17 March 2013

Bombers Moon

Mike Harding is one of the UK's best known folk singers. He has written several outstanding songs in the English and Irish tradition and has been a successful stand-up comedian. Despite this I first came across Mike as the composer of the Dangermouse theme tune and as author of a book on the walking in the Yorkshire Dales.

I wanted to share his song 'Bombers Moon' because I think it carries a powerful anti-war message. Music is a powerful medium through which to tell a story; I think it is important that songwriters and musicians can relate to significant themes and there is perhaps none more momentous then "Young men dying for a politician's lies".

Mike perhaps feels this more keenly then others, as his father was killed on a bombing mission 4 weeks before he was born. The song does not really focus on the whys and wherefores of the war; no blame is cast on any side. Instead the song, in the folk tradition, focuses on the human story. The people dieing on both sides, the wife left behind. The story is of the bombing missions in WW2 but the message is universal. It is the ordinary man in the street, the common man, that is sent out to die in wars.

I really like the song; I doubt it would get in many peoples top 5 anti-war songs but I like the simplicity of it. I think Mike Harding is an underrated song-writer.

Bombers Moon (Harding, Mike)

'44 in Bomber County
Young men waiting for the night,
In the hedgerows birds are singing,
Singing in the falling light. ~
And the captain says,
'Tonight there'll be a bomber's moon,
We'll be there and back underneath a bomber's moon.
A thousand bombers over the northern sea
Heading out, out for Germany.'

Chalky White stands at the dartboard,
Curly Thompson writes to his wife,
Nobby Clarke and Jumbo Johnson
Are playing cards and smoking pipes;
And over the hangers rises a bomber's moon,
Full and clear rising, as the engines croon
And the planes they taxi out on to runway five
And sail off out into the silvery night.

Sandy Campbell checks his oil gauge,
The Belgian coast is coming soon;
Curly Thompson lifts his sextant,
Lines up on a bomber's moon
And waves are shining there beneath the bomber's moon.
The Lancasters flying high beneath the bomber's moon
Coming in along the Belgian coast
A thousand silver-shrouded ghosts.

Flak flies up around the city,
Jumbo Johnson banks the plane,
Goes in low and drops his payload,
Turns to join the pack again.
And people are dying there beneath the bomber's moon,
The city's a raging hell beneath the bomber's moon,
And the planes head out towards the northern sea:
Young men coming home from victory.
Over Belgium came the fighters,
Flying high against the night;
Curly Thompson saw them coming,
Closing in before he died.
And the young men shot them down beneath the bomber's moon,
Shot them down in flames beneath the bomber's moon;
Young men sending young men to their graves
Saw them down into the North Sea waves.

Now it's '84 in Bomber County
Mrs White dusts the picture and she cries:
Chalky White in uniform
Looking as he did the day he died.
And for God's sake no more bomber's moons,
No more young men going out to die too soon,
Old men sending young men out to die,
Young men dying for a politician's lies.

For God's sake no more bomber's moons,
No more young men going out to die too soon,
Old men sending young men out to kill.
If we don't stop them then they never will.

No more no more bombers’ moons
No more no more bomber's moons.

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