The Guilty & The Innocent

Andy White Buy Now
Year: 2017
Label: ALT Recordings

Info

SIDE ONE

  1. This is not a Television Show
  2. Age-old Story
  3. Very Fine People
  4. Promises Broken
  5. Mean Mofo

SIDE TWO

  1. Dignity
  2. Unheard
  3. Jeremy
  4. The Peace They Need
  5. The Guilty and the Innocent

If you order the LP you’ll get a high-quality download of the album plus two extra tracks which appear on both the CD, and the digital download version of the album.

“I’ve written a lot of political songs over the past few months. You know why. At first I thought I’d put together an album for the UK tour of some of my older political songs, along with these new ones.

I kept writing, and started recording. I sent ‘The Peace They Need’ to Tom Robinson, who played it on 6Music that night. I sent another to Peter Gabriel, who told me simply to keep going (the album also includes ‘Dignity’, which he posted on his Facebook page).

Because the songs are short and immediate, I felt they belonged on a two-sided album. As with my early records, twenty minutes per side became a creative constraint. Soon, the new songs bumped the older ones off the tracklist.

I’ve decided to release it on vinyl, as a limited edition. I’ll take it on tour this November. It’ll also be on my online Bandcamp page, so as people who’ve got the vinyl can download the digital files.

Then, when I thought I was finished, along came the title track. One of those songs which appears out of the fog and shines a light on all the others.

Side One is The Guilty; Side Two, The Innocent, and the album is called The Guilty & The Innocent. It’s a powerful piece of work, undoubtedly influenced by putting together and touring my box set last year.

The Guilty & the Innocent is one half of a double album based on the two themes of Love and Politics. But the time for these songs to be heard is now. In these times, we all have to do what we can—and this is what I can do.

There are songs about Trump, Jeremy, Grenfell, Manchester, refugees, Belfast. Trump again. The unheard.

It rocks like a Neil Young album, the lead track sounds to me like Blondie (although perhaps only to me). Lots of it is solo acoustic, the way I tour.”

Andy White, September 2017

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Andy’s notes on the songs:

THIS IS NOT A TELEVISION SHOW

“The dry-cleaning bill of the Emperor shows
This is not a television show…”

“Scaramuccia (literally “little skirmisher”), is a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell’arte. Usually attired in black Spanish dress and burlesquing a don, he was often beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice.”

Scaramucci, Grenfell Tower, Brexit, North Korea, the refugee crisis. This song starts with a missile being loaded onto a launcher and ends with it firing.

In movies, fathers share words of guidance and worldly wisdom to their children as the soundtrack swells. OK, where should I start?

“I never told you things would be this tough
I never told you these things when you were growing up
I showed you some things
I hope I showed you enough to know
This is not a television show”

AGE-OLD STORY

“From the system we need these answers, that is why we are here”.

The anger in the young woman’s voice at a demonstration in front of the Kensington and Chelsea Council offices was palpable. Justified rage amidst a crowd of people surging toward the (locked) doors.

The system is broken. Sympathy and empathy are all very well, but it’s gone too far to fix with words. A truck on a bridge is a weapon, safety guidelines are ignored as just so much red tape. One hundred die from a fire in a fridge.

“Nothing to see here” is the establishment view. “Move up, move out, move on”.

This song is played on an old Gibson through a tremolo, over which are layered low strings (Tony Dupé’s cello and my double bass) and echoes from a distant piano.

And that young woman, repeating herself until society listens.

VERY FINE PEOPLE

“You also had people that were very fine people on both sides”, is how Donald Trump described it.

One side being white supremacists with swastikas and guns carrying burning torches, chanting anti-semitic slogans. The other, demonstrators protesting against this right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017.

Balance, in this case, is about as useful as in a climate change debate. As The Mooch so wisely observed, the fish rots from the head down. In this case, the body stinks as bad as the head. Before too long the racists will be singing ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’.

A keyboard plays S.O.S. in Morse code while electric guitars scream and Tony Floyd on drums plays ‘Billie Jean’. But mainly,

“All you blame on someone else
Why can’t you accept yourself”

PROMISES BROKEN

Written about one Australian Prime Minister, it could equally apply to the one who replaced him. Or the present UK one.

Breaking promises with an anti-immigration anti-environment pro-big business agenda. Cutting foreign aid, education, health, social services and intent on taking apart the national broadcasting stations. Promoting the use of brown coal, removing allowances for the unemployed, buying fighter jets no one wanted, replacing social workers in schools with chaplains, raising charges to see the doctor, de-regulating colleges to put higher education out of the reach of the less well-off, reintroducing Dames and Knights into the honours system.

The list is endless and the right wing agenda relentless.

Sebastian played drums and Steve Lucas from Melbourne punk band X played electric and sang backing vocals.

MEAN MOFO

This song was written about a previous American President. I heard Henry Rollins reminiscing earlier this year that he was nostalgic for the days of George W. Bush. I updated it this year in honour of the current Commander-In-Chief.

Russia will get him in the end, and a Russian spy opens the proceedings, “Tovarischi (comrades), welcome. Sit down at the table. Put your phones down. This is voina i mir (war and peace).” He’s not happy about the tweeting. “Da da da” in Russian means “yes, yes, yes”.

As noted, the climate change jury is not out. It came in a long time ago and the verdict is self-evident.

An electronic tambura which I got from India lays down an element of eternal peace throughout.

I guess this song should have a language warning. The “male Russian bride”? You know who that is.

DIGNITY

Jesus was a Middle-Eastern refugee whose parents were Middle-Eastern refugees.

Article One of the United Nations Universal Declarations of Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Australia’s “Stop The Boats” refugee policy is akin to putting severed heads on stakes outside the city walls to ward off would-be arrivals. Thousands languish in concentration camps on remote islands, far from the continent with the smallest population density on the planet.

“Come on now
let them on our shore
bring the boats
I want more and more”

UNHEARD

I had the title in my head for ages before I wrote this song. Didn’t know how it would sing (not every great title is a great chorus). The unheard are finding their voice through whatever means they can. Look out.

In Belfast last July, took a taxi ride downtown. We were stopped by the police as marchers from the Orange Lodge moved slowly past, celebrating the so-called “Little Twelfth”. A bedraggled bunch of old men who never knew any better and young men who don’t want to know anything better. An antediluvian underprivileged upbringing is a terrible thing.

Later on, after an evening of manic chattering in an outside bar under steel-grey summer skies, drove past a bonfire and on up the Lower Newtownards Road. Through piles of litter, broken chairs and plastic bags. The detritus of sectarian ignorance. Next day on the news a “spokesman” upheld the people’s right to build a bonfire right beside a block of flats and a library.

This is the way it is, right now, in the valley of frozen opportunity.

JEREMY

Need I say more? Every so often in politics, someone comes along with everyday charisma, ease in talking to the electorate, and a sense of social justice.

Casual and committed, it’s easy to bring these people down with superficial arguments and scare-tactics.

If you’re not from the UK, Tranmere Rovers’ football ground was where the crowd started the Jeremy Corbyn ‘Five Nation Army’ chant. And I’d like to point out that he has been criticized for the heinous offence of keeping a pen in his shirt pocket. Hey, he might actually be accustomed to writing longhand.

O that we should grow old so gracefully.

“If he don’t win
He’ll be back again
Jeremy
He’s so reckless and free”

THE PEACE THEY NEED

22 people were killed, 10 of them under 20, and 250 injured, on 22 May, 2017, by a suicide bomber in Manchester Arena.

I wrote this song the following night as pictures of the teenagers, taken from their Facebook profiles, started to appear one-by-one in the media.

An outrageous and unjustifiable atrocity, it brought me back to the dark times of Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.

“You can’t give back the time you took
you do not understand at all”

THE GUILTY AND THE INNOCENT

This song appeared out of nowhere, the final one to be written and recorded. I knew the album was called The Guilty & The Innocent. Side One, The Guilty; Side Two, The Innocent. However, these concepts are non-exclusive and not necessarily judgemental. There was still something which could not be left unsaid.

With this thought hanging in the air, and an open-tuning (which I used on ‘Broken Hearted’ from Kiss The Big Stone) this song appeared. The first version with four verses, the second with ten. There’s an incremental power from the length of folk songs. Usually, each verse ends with the title. Here, the refrain is where it starts.

The process of writing, and the song itself, reminded me of ‘The Big Rain’ from Rave On or ‘James Joyce’s Grave’ from Out There. You have to spend months writing some songs, in order to be able to write others quickly. And if you go swimming in the stream of consciousness you have to be prepared to dry yourself off and edit like crazy.

As Leonard Cohen said, “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often”. I think this is one of them.

When I’d finished I didn’t know what it all meant, but I knew that every line was true. Religion, history, art, love and politics.This is what is important to me, and to all of us. There is no melody, yet every line has its own melody.

I recorded it a hundred times, every one of the recordings different, and this is my favourite. Some day I’ll release the first one which I played in the kitchen the night I wrote it and knew something special was happening.

As with all of the album, you can agree or disagree with it. That’s what content is all about. But whatever you think, please remember,

“The guilty and the innocent
Are the same as you and me.”

Andy White, September 2017.