Run for Home
A Geordie who grew up, went to school and made his life in the raw, rough atmosphere of Newcastle.
In a couple of days from now, I will be en-route to the, postponed from last year, Lindisfarne 50th anniversary concert in Newcastle’s City Hall. A venue they have played many times and of which their Christmas Concerts live long in Reflection.
I’ve enjoyed their music for all those fifty years. Hence, it is good to see the increasing recognition of the song-writing talent of Alan Hull, the writer of many of Lindisfarne’s songs. I confess it was a misty-eyed watch of the recent BBC documentary on his life. Someone even gave him the sobriquet, ‘The Geordie Bob Dylan’.
Most people will have heard ‘Fog on the Tyne’ or maybe ‘Lady Eleanor’. But those who watched the documentary will now have insight into such beautiful songs as ‘Clear White Light’, ‘January Song’ and ‘I hate to see you cry’.
Lindisfarne appealed to this fourteen-year-old not just because I liked the music. I also valued that their songs had something to say, unlike many popular bands of the 1970s who were just saying something. Lindisfarne sang of council corruption, Government incompetence, struggles in Northern Ireland. as a young teenager, I sought my own political viewpoint, and Alan Hull’s writing influenced that.
It wasn’t all deep and meaningful stuff. I’ve already mentioned ‘Fog on the Tyne’, which, in truth, is a nonsense song. Although it is Joycean in its use of words.
Another appeal to me was that Lindisfarne were of the Northeast. A local band. Their accent was my accent. Their experience, my experience.
In those days it was customary practice to paint the flap of your school haversack (whatever happened to them?) with designs, names of groups or football team supported. I am no artist, but I carefully painted ‘Lindisfarne’ on mine. Of course, the colour scheme was black and white. The background was white, and the letters were in a black script akin to the ‘Nicely out of Tune’ cover. Lindisfarne’s first album from 1970.
I thought Sam Fender did a marvellous job presenting the Alan Hull documentary. Sam summed it up for me when he said that people see those from the Northeast as parodies on TV. “Daft drinkers with silly accents”. But as Sam goes on to say. While many of those outside of the Northeast do not recognise Alan Hull’s talent, it doesn’t matter. Those of the Northeast know he is one of the most significant songwriters this country has produced.
The Lindisfarne line-up I will see this coming Saturday is not the original line-up. Time and death have seen to that. Alan Hull died tragically young aged fifty in 1995. Lead Guitarist Simon Cowe passed away in 2015.
I could choose many of Lindisfarne’s back catalogue for my music this week. About every song has some meaning or triggers some recollection. The one I’ve chosen is something of an anthem. It’s featured in a live performance towards the end of the Alan Hull documentary. The camera picks up one young lad in the crowd giving the chorus his all. Sam Fender again spoke for many of us ex-pat Geordies when he highlighted that young man’s passion for his hometown and his home band.
And when it comes down to it, isn’t life a search for home ….