Oblivious

by Mick Blake

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about

This collection of ten songs was written over 5 years, and recorded by Ray Duffy in the Glen’s Centre, Manorhamilton, County Leitrim.

The songs are mainly inspired by events in post-celtic tiger Ireland. I have always tried to get a message across in every song I write – I take the approach that if some-one chooses to give up a few minutes to listen to your work, give them something to think about. I immerse myself in the subject matter of a song once the inital idea occurs to me – because of this, many of the songs took several months to write, often with an elusive word or phrase eventually falling into place when I least expect it.

When I began writing these songs, I had no idea that the rough recordings and accompanying videos thrown together in my spare bedroom would meet with such a response, with several million views on social media. Having finally gotten around to getting them recorded and mastered professionally, and I’m delighted with the result.

Particular thanks to Ray Duffy for his invaluable contribution over the past eight months - this project would not have been possible without his expertise and patience.

Special thanks to Christy Moore for his encouragement and guidance, to Frank Doherty for showing me all the chords and introducing me to all the great song writers back in Letterkenny all those years ago, to Charlie McGettigan for all his advice and to Enda Stenson for starting the ball rolling.

Mick Blake
Leitrim Village
February 2017

Dedicated to Matthew, Mia and Milo, and to Mary - thanks for thirty great years. xx

credits

released March 17, 2017

Arrangements, vocals, harmonies, piano, guitar, midi strings and horns, bass, concertina, accordian - Mick Blake

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about

Mick Blake Leitrim Village, Ireland

Mick Blake is a singer/songwriter, originally from Letterkenny, now living in Leitrim. His songs have a strong social message. Christy Moore included "Oblviious" on his 2016 album "Lily".

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Track Name: Oblivious
Oblivious

What does it take to make you angry?
Where is the line that can't be crossed?
Sold out, taken in, yet blindly
You do it all again
Fuel that gravy train
Oblivious, oblivious

You stay in your tribe and you stand by your man
Then he's whipped into line for some great masterplan
Stuck in a spiral, still fighting an old civil war
The men and the women of 1916
Risked their lives for a national dream
A century later what was it all for?

Hear their voices down the decades calling out to you
"All that we dreamed of and died for
Squandered by scoundrels and fools"
And this is the best we can?

What does it take to make you angry?
Where is the spark that lights your flame?
Sold out, taken in, yet blindly
You do it all again
Fuel that gravy train
Oblivious, oblivious

And when they give all that you treasure away for a pittance
And banish your children to toil on a rich foreign shore
When they prey on the weak, bow to the ones who have plenty
They know that you'll follow as blindly as you did before

Imagine a nation where people are free
Not slaves to some gombeen man economy
Sold into bondage one ill-fated September night,
Where smooth talking sleeveens don't spin and pretend
Their promises not just a means to an end
And justice just isn't what's legal, it's also what's right

But the King of Islandeady echoes the cries of the clown
Heaps pain on the sick and the needy
To soften the Ice-maiden's frown
And we take it all lying down

What does it take to make you angry?
Where is the call that wakes you up?
Sold out, taken in, yet blindly
You do it all again
Fuel that gravy train
Oblivious, oblivious
Oblivious, oblivious
Track Name: Catch Cries
Catch Cries

One hundred years have been and gone
Since you penned your protest song
And once again, it's all gone wrong
Nothings really changed

We still send up those shivering prayers
In the hope that someone cares
The greasy tills have been stripped bare
And no-one is to blame

The fisherman is silenced, his widom worn down
And we are still won over by the catch cries of the clown

Paying debts that we don't owe
Others reap where once we sowed
Helpless as our children go
Compassion dead and gone

What need you being come to sense
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the ha'pence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer
Until you've dried the marrow to the bone?

In a hundred years or so
When we've paid back what they owe
Maybe then, we'll learn to know
The catch cries of the clown
The catch cries of the clown
Track Name: The Rich Man's Feast
The Rich Man's Feast

It's said that Queen Victoria was as round as she was tall
And when it came to banqueting, she could outeat them all
She'd trawl through seven courses in thirty minutes straight
And ask about the Irish once she'd licked the seventh plate
She told the royal treasury to send two thousand pounds
To show her starving subjects that their Queen's love knew no bounds
A few crumbs from her table, and her conscience was appeased
When the poor man's famine was the rich man's feast

A Sultan Lord of Turkey, he heard of Ireland's plight
Took pity on the Irish, and to the Queen did write
"Your Majesty I'd like to send ten thousand pounds to feed
your subjects in Hibernia in their time of need"
But the Christian Queen could not be bettered by a Muslim Moor
So she told him that he could not send a greater sum thatn her
To save the royal blushes, his charity decreased
When the poor man's famine was the rich man's feast

Across the wild Atlantic, a noble people dwell,
And in the name of "progress" suffered their own hell
Driven from their homeland by ruthless profiteers
The Chocktaw died in thousands all along the trail of tears
On hearing of the starving isle across the ocean wide
They gathered every cent they had and sent it on the tide
For they had known a hunger like their brothers to the East
When the rich man's famine was the poor man's feast

Now blight is often quoted as the root of Ireland's woes
But enough to feed this country two times over left these shores
The army guarded ports from Donegal to Bantry Bay
So British ships could safely carry Irish food away
The good Queen's chief economist, Lord Nassau, couldn't hide
His bitter disappointment when just one million died
The blood of the Irish kept the wheels of commerce greased
When the poor man's famine was the rich man's feast

A century has come and gone, still we never learn
That decency is cast aside where profits are concerned
Its not with food but water that they try to beat us down,
Gone is Queen Victoria, King Denis wears the crown
And under some delusion that the markets just might care
Our government play middle men to gambling billionaires
While the rich avoid their taxes and the working man is fleeced
Then the poor man's famine's still the rich man's feast

And what we allow continues, as history repeats
And the poor man's famine's still the rich man's feast....
Track Name: Heaven
Heaven

And when I get to Heaven, I'll dance amongst the stars
And dust from magic moonbeams will cover up my scars
And when I get to heaven, I'll see who really cares
I'll log on Jesus' facebook and count the likes and shares

I'll look down on my service, and watch the teardrops fall
And listen as the preacher says, there was no need to this at all
And then my guardian angel will soothe and comfort me
When I get to heaven, that's how it's gonna be

But if you're looking for a sign, maybe this is it
If you're looking for a sign, maybe this is it
This is it, this is it....

But what is there's no heaven, and everything is black
And even if I wanted to, well there's just no going back
And what if there's no heaven, and living is the key
And all these tribulations are sent to strengthen me

And those who persecute me, a week or two from now
Will whisper of that poor strange kid
Who would have done it anyhow
And there's no gaurdian angel to meet me at the gate
Well if there is a heaven maybe heaven can wait

But if you're looking for a sign, maybe this is it
If you're looking for a sign, maybe this is it
This is it, this is it, this is it......
Track Name: The Giveaway
The Giveaway

We'd like to apologise from this land green and fair
For bringing on this worldwide recession
It wasn't our intention, we just partied on
And now we've gone and made a bad impression
So to governments and corporations, we'd like to make small donation
Just to heal this economic rift
And so that we might amends, and please our European friends
We'll give you our whole nation as a gift....

Would you like a piece of our country to do with as you please?
Pillage it and plunder it,
Shatter all that's under it
Shake up some benzyne
Well some people say we oughta stop you poisoning the water
But those people don't have a say
So if you'd like a piece of our country, we're just givin' it away

Would you like a stretch of our ocean - you got nothin' to lose
Forget about those hippy types,
Just bury those high pressure pipes
Anywhere you choose
Don't worry if the locals get a little vocal,
we'll send in the boys in blue
So if you'd like a stretch of our ocean, just take it, it's there for you

How about a few of our children?
We can't afford to feed them no more
We'll educate them and flouridate them and send them to your shore
Well you might think the nation would protest this deportation
But there's nothing they can do
So if you'd like a few of our children, just take them, they're all for you

Would you like a slice of our heaven?
You could fly your warplanes there
Drop in for a snack on your way to Iraq
To get around neutrality, we'll call it hospitality
We don't really want to know what's happened in Guantanemo
That's none of our affair
So if you'd like a slice of our heaven, you can fly your war planes there

How about a little "investment"?
Come on and take a punt or two.
Even if you lose, we'll tax the fools, and pay it all back to you
Well you might think the nation would reject this subjugation
But there's nothing they can do.

So if you'd like a piece of our country
If you want a stretch of our ocean
A few of our children
A slice of our heaven
Our whole damn nation?
Just take it – we'll give it away to you......
Track Name: Purple Ribbons
Purple Ribbons

Purple ribbons, six years old
Lilac jumper for the cold,
Full of love and life that bright March day
Dry stone wall on wet soft land
Taytos clutched in tiny hand
Follows as her uncle leads the way

Boots too big to keep the pace
She turns to travel back
And disappears without a trace along that mountain track
Now hundreds searched and thousands prayed
But soon all hope began to fade
And questions lie unanswered to this day
It's forty years since Mary went away

Now some say in Saint Mary's Church
A broken man does kneel to pray
But still his troubled mind can find no rest
He mumbles a confiteor, and something inside starts to stir
The guilt becomes much harder to suppress

Maybe it's a memory of that March afternoon
A vision of a little girl who left this world too soon
Now in the twilight of his years
Perhaps it's God, not man, he fears
It's too late to repent come judgement day
If no-one knows why Mary went away

Now on that hill in Cashelard
A cottage crumbles in the yard
A victim of neglect just like the truth
the bitter winds of Donegal whistle 'round those gable walls
A soft lament for Mary's stolen youth

And those of you who dare not spake of what befell that child
How can you in truth forsake that infant meek and mild
For lips were sealed and blind eyes turned
And any hope of justice spurned
To shield the one who stilled her childish play
For someone knows why Mary went away
Track Name: Sean MacDiarmada (The Pride of Corranmore)
Sean MacDiarmada (The Pride of Corranmore)

In the town of Kiltyclogher a monument does stand
To a proud and noble Leitrim man who lived and died for Ireland
He organised an army and he rose against the crown
So Irish men and women would no more be beaten down
And driven by desire to rekindle freedom's flame,
He signed a proclamation that rejected England's claim
To Ireland and her people, her destiny restored
The man was Sean MacDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore

Now on the shores of Lough McNean, there stood a mansion grand
And the landlords that did dwell there were amongst the cruelest in the land
Nine and thirty families Lord Tottenham did rout
Then later Colonel Adamson 100 more cast out
The pain of those evictions young McDermott saw at first hand
And there and then the rebel vowed to one day make a stand
"I'll rid the Irish nation of their likes for evermore"
The pledge of Sean MacDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore

So he planned a Revolution
Preached the fiery gospel of the free
Promised an end to persecution
Til the time was right to strike for liberty

Then one Easter Monday morning, he realised his plan
When poets stood with playwrights, and rose up with the working man
To fight the forces of King George, to set the nation free
Though he knew deep in his heart it could not end in victory
But through the glorious madness of a rising doomed to fail
He hoped his deeds would resurrect the Spirit of the Gael
For six long days they battled til they could take no more
"Enough" said Sean McDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore

On General Maxwell's orders, they took him from his cell
And he hobbled to the prison yard where thirteen of his comrades fell
Then they placed the blindfold on those eyes of cobalt blue
He stood there to attention for his dream would now come true
And when those Sherwood Foresters took aim on that grey dawn
Their bullets would ensure the rebels' legacy lived on
His thoughts returned to Leitrim and McNean's lonely shore
Then they martyred Sean MacDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore

And just as he had intended
His death brought life to the cause
Soon years of tyranny ended
New Irish ways and Irish laws

In the town of Kiltyclogher a monument still stands
To honour you, Mac Diarmada, who lived and died for Ireland
But has your selfless sacrifice turned out to be in vain
For the Ireland that you died for is in bondage once again
And those who climb on stages to commend your noble deeds
Have crucified your people through austerity and greed
The Bailiffs have returned again, evictions by the score,
Where are you, Sean MacDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore
And will your likes be seen again on McNean's plundered shore?
We need you, Sean McDiarmada, the pride of Corranmore
Track Name: Another Child, Another War
Another Child Another War

In Amsterdam in 44, behind a secret attic door,
She takes the diary from the drawer to mark another day
For two years now, as darkness falls, safe within these attic walls
She finds it harder to recall when life was not this way

She scribbles down her hopes and dreams, all that she will be,
When the war is over and her family is free
But then one sunny August day, they came to steal her life away
in Amsterdam, in 44, another child another war

A different time, a different land, she clings on to her mother's hand,
And rushes to find refuge through the turmoil and the tears
For two weeks now, as rockets fly, no Iron Dome to guard her sky
She looks on as her little world slowly disappears

And in a place of learning she seeks solace for a while
Her brother hums a lullaby, her sobs break into smiles
But sometime in the dead of night, they took her in a blaze of light
In Palestine just like before, another child another war

Now in some corner of the sky, perhaps those girls sit side by side
And look down on the mayhem, wondering will they ever learn
For when an infant's life is lost, in siege or war or holocaust
The Rubicon has just been crossed, the bridge has just been burned

And those who try to justify will tell us it makes sense
How dropping bombs on children is an act of self defence
For Fatherland or Promised land, on orders on those in command
Who tell us we don't understand, another child another war
Track Name: Mr Tepper
Mr Tepper

A weekend retreat in the Hamptons. Long Island,
is every young stockbrokers dream
They buy and they sell and they yell til they get what they want
So when Mr Tepper was browsing some brochures
He chanced on a mansion supreme
At 44 million, it was really a steal

But when Mr Tepper looked out at the sea
a sand dune obstructed his view,
So he tore down the mansion, built one twice as big
All paid for by me and by you
The view from my mansion, it's not so appealing
Some skeleton houses, a washed away road
But the government says Mr Tepper must get what he's owed

They closed down the school in the next village over
To pay Mr Tepper his dues
The government said it wouldn't be nice to refuse
And with all that money, the great Mr Tepper
He built a fine school of his own
Where young people go in the hope they'll be great just like him

They learn abnout hedge funds and bond yields and stuff
Things I don't understand
They learn how to never say I have enough
Just grab all you can with both hands.

In that little school in the next village over
They children asked why when the doors were all closed
And the government said Mr Tepper must get what he's owed

Well now and again, the fine Mr Tepper turns up on Bloomberg TV
He'll talk of the Stealers, he might even sing you a song
Where other bond holders might show some respect
A glimmer of guilt for a million lives wrecked
Not Mr Tepper, he'll brag and he'll boast all day long

Of great credit stories, of playing the game,
Of annexing countries with ease
How he and his army just won't be crammed down
How people are brought to their knees

So when you look out at your fine ocean view
Beyond the horizon we're thinking of you
Cos the government says Mr Tepper must get what he's due......
Track Name: Leitrim (a brief history)
Leitrim (a brief history)

At Carrick-on-Shannon 1845
The landlords of Leitrim in droves did arrive
They all to a man were invited to go
To the Cora Droma Rúisc Agricultural Show
The streets were bedecked with farm produce galore
And fashions the likes of which weren't seen before
There were traders from Sligo displaying their wares
A band from Drumsna played enlivening airs

When the show it had ended, the gentry repaired
To Churches' hotel where a menu was served
Of pedigree beef, fine lamb and fish
They feasted on every concieveable dish
The head of the table, Lord Leitrim, stood up and said
Gentlemen, let us now raise a cup
To our Lord Lieutenant, Victoria our Queen,
The finest monarch that Ireland has seen

A farmer from Mohill rose from his chair
And begged the indulgence of everyone there
It falls upon me, sir, I regret to say
To temper with caution this glorious day
There's news of a curse that is borne on the breeze
A newly discovered potato disease
There are tubours in Flanders, black in the ground,
But there other sources of food can be found

I fear that this blackness is coming our way
Alternative sustenance without delay
must be found if our tenants are going to survive
For it's on the potato alone that they thrive

Lord Leitrim laughed, put down his beer
Regarded the good Farmer Smyth with a sneer
This talk of blight and of shortage of food
Doesn't do my appetite any good
And so Farmer Smyth we beseech you and pray
Do not sully and darken this wonderful day
With your message of doom, your pessimist frown
We demand sir at once you desist and sit down

For potatoes are plentiful and disease free
And potatoes are perfect nutritionally
To feed all out peasants and keep them content
To pay us our somewhat exorbitant rent

Carrick-on-Shannon 2005,
The town had expanded and businesses thrived
We were the landlords, a new King was crowned
A tiger whose unrestrained greed knew no bounds
A few brave dissenters said "people, take care,
There's a blight on our finances, please be aware,
That it's all built on nothing, why such demand
For houses of clay on foundations of stand"

Our valiant leader rose up and said
Begrudgers like you would be better off dead
We'll be the first boom to never go bust
No reason to change, there's no need to adjust
For Captain Fitzpatrick and Corporal Drumm
Will march all our destinies into the sun
And loose regulation will set our boys free
To do what they like to our economy

Languishing here in my ghostly estate
The tiger is gone now the wolf's at the gate
A ghost of that farmer from black '45
Still haunts the highways with told-you-so cries
Still we don't listen, we don't want to hear
that the good times will end, that the swill disappears
And all the pig-troughing's no more in the offing
Til it's too late

Now Lord Leitrim is gone and his tenants are free
There's a NAMA hotel where his home used to be
And a new type of landlord lays claim to our land
Speaking a language I don't understand.............