The Margarita Collection

by Harvey Andrews

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about

A compilation of the best tracks from Margarita and PG.

The Margarita album was recorded in two days and was the first release on the Beeswing label I had set up with Jon Raven of Wolverhampton. The song itself is probably my most requested.

PG was the third album on the label and was produced with the help of Trevor Burton, ex-lead guitarist of ‘The Move’, who helped give me a sound I had never used before, but thoroughly enjoyed creating.

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Although if you count yourself any sort of self-respecting folkie and admirer of British singer-songwriters you’ll already have Harv’s Margarita and PG albums, this new compilation provides the best of both in one handy package, reissued here with a new annotated lyrics booklet in which he provides a thumbnail sketch of the song’s background.

They’re a mix of the poignant, the personal and the political, ranging as they do from Yesterdays Bread (an indictment of the way we neglect our old folk inspired by a story of a shop selling stale loaves to pensioners) and Cheeky Young Lad (a lament for society’s decline) to Long Ago, Far Away (a memoir of his first love) and Margarita, a moving tale of his aunt Annie who having gone blind was unaware that the photo of her fiancé, killed in the Great War, had faded in its frame.

Dear Miss Allyson is a gentle love song to a screen pin-up and one of three numbers about his own heroes, Songs That Harry Wrote being a nod of the inspiration hat to the late great Harry Chapin (Lot 204 a perfect example of the way Harvey emulates that storytelling style) while Please Don’t Get on the Plane refers to the crash that killed Buddy Holly. Which neatly brings mention of the bonus track, Harvey’s version of Buddy’s Learning the Game, originally released as a single back in 1973.

One day there’ll be a full career retrospective, but for now this is a highly replayable snapshot of part of it.

credits

released January 1, 1996

All tracks Harvey Andrews except
Track 3 Andrews / John Dunkerley

Tracks 1, 3, 8, 11, 13 are from Margarita
Tracks 2, 4-7, 10, 12 are from P.G.

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Track Name: Margarita
They're playing our song, Margarita,
Dance it this last time with me.
It won't be long, Margarita,
Soon I’ll be overseas.
Let me know that you'll care,
When I’ve gone over there,
They're playing our song, Margarita,
Dance it this last time with me.

Kiss me again, Margarita,
Give me a memory of you.
They say in France, Margarita,
One more push, we'll be through.
Yes I’ll write, but where from?
All they'll say is "The Somme"
So kiss me again, Margarita,
Give me a memory of you.

It's a new world, Margarita,
We'll build when it's through.
In that new world, Margarita,
We'll be wed, me and you.

My old great aunt, Margarita,
She'd been blind thirty years,
Would tell me of young Margarita,
Of her man and her tears,
She would say, "He was tall.
There's his picture on the wall."
My old great aunt Margarita,
She'd been blind thirty years.

She would ask "Is he smiling?"
I would stare at the frame.
But the sun was there, shining
Through her window again.
Where that sun always shone
He had faded and gone,
But she would ask "Is he smiling?"
I would say "He's the same."
Track Name: Bruges
Winter was colder than ever last year
Spring came so slowly, then summer was near
We hung up our overcoats when skies were clear
And read all our books about Bruges

And when we arrived there the sun was so high
The blue was the blue of a hot summer sky
And the books that we'd read hadn't told us a lie
And we fell in love with Bruges

Bruges in the summertime, stars in the night
Wine in the warm glow of soft candlelight
Bruges in the summertime feeling so right
Whispering sweet and low “lady, I love you” so
We will return when the memories fade
To the room in the town where the memories were made

There's bells in the towers, bands in the squares
Boats on canals and balloons at the fairs
Where we laughed away worries, kissed away cares
And sang out our song of Bruges

Cobbled street carriages, horsedrawn for two
Picnics and palaces, pictures to view
But nothing I see is as lovely as you
No, not all the beauty of Bruges

There's laughter and loving and living for now
Dreams that come true if you'll only allow
So I’ll make a promise, if you make a vow
To love me again in Bruges
Track Name: Dear Miss Allyson
Dear Miss Allyson
I'm writing this in hopes you're feeling well again
I'm sure you don't need someone else to tell again
How beautiful you are, a star
Outshining all the rest
Oh, dear Miss Allyson
You're undoubtedly the best

If you wore a string of pearls
As the music softly played
I'd forget the other girls
Sing a moonlight serenade

To dear Miss Allyson
I must have seen that film a hundred times, but then
I always seem to break up at the moment when
He found that special sound
He built around the clarinet
Oh dear Miss Allyson
They're dancing to it yet
Track Name: Cheeky Young Lad
Well, a cheeky young lad took the rise out of me
So I clipped his ear, I was twenty three
And I laughed when he ran
Said that he'd tell his dad
'Cause I’d done the same when I was a boy
When cheeking grown ups was a young lad’s joy
But you never let on that you'd gone and done anything bad

Then a cheeky young lad took the mick out of me
So I chased him off, I was thirty three
And I got close enough to see the tear in his eye
And I said if you talk like that once more
I'll tell your dad and you'll get what for
But I smiled to myself the next time the laddie walked by

Cheeky young lad, like I used to be
Cheeky young lad, oh why can't you see?
Cheeky young lad, one day you'll be just like me

Then a cheeky young lad stood and swore at me
So I swore right back, I was forty three
And I could give as good as I got any day of the year
But it made me boil and it made me rage
It made me feel every year my age
And when he stood his ground, well I tell you, then I found fear

Then a cheeky young lad came and jostled me
He just pushed right past, I was fifty three
And when I shouted "Hey!" he just walked away with a sneer
And I raised my fist but I felt afraid
Of the young lad's swagger and the world we'd made
And I wished it was like it had been just yesteryear

Because a cheeky young lad came and battered me
Took my money and ran and I’m sixty three
And I wish I was dead instead of being kept alive
Because a cheeky young lad is waiting for me
If ever I get to seventy three
And the next time I don't think I can survive
The cheeky young lad who's waiting for me to arrive
The cheeky young lad who's waiting for me to arrive
Track Name: PG
When he was a baby they said
He had a future, you could take it as read
Mom and Dad will do all that they can
So that when he's a man
He'll be always ahead
But when he was a boy growing tall
His father said "To hell with it all
If I stay I'll be old before time, son
I'm still in my prime, so
I'll give you a call"

But once he was a child full of grace
With a smile for the whole human race
Now his eyes only stare at the day
Till the sun goes away
To a happier place
Once he was a child full of fun
With a heart big enough for the sun
Now a freeze frame is all he can find
And it stays in his mind
And it shows what he's done

His mother did her best but she fell
First the bottle then the boozers as well
Uncle Joe and Uncle Jim brought presents for him
But he dreaded the sound of the bell
Till Uncle Mike brought the video round
And put it on just to drown out the sound
With tapes he could hire from a store
That had goodies galore in a room that he'd found

So the boy learned that love was a game
Women lose though they fight all the same
They get beaten again and again
They feel terror and pain
Then they carry the blame
And he learned to love cleavers and knives
Chainsaws and other men's wives
He learned to love blood on the floor
And he came to adore all the wasting of lives

When they came and took him away
His mother was out for the day
The girl was thirteen, he'd seen her before
And he thought she could star in his play
And it was just like the video said
She fought and she screamed and she bled
His pleasure was short, it was sweet
She was found on the street, where he'd left her for dead

But once he was a child full of grace
With a smile for the whole human race
Now his eyes only stare at the day
Till the sun goes away
To a happier place
Once he was a child full of fun
With a heart big enough for the sun
Now a freeze frame is all he can find
And it stays in his mind
And it shows what we’ve done
Track Name: Yesterday's Bread
Well, they've opened a shop at the end of our street
And me mom says "Our kid, it's a hard one to beat!
Us old 'uns are queuin' and dancin' our jigs
To buy yesterday's bread, they once fed to the pigs."

'Cause yesterday's gone
And yesterday's heroes
Are queuing for yesterday's bread

"It's only half price for the old staley loaves,
And I'm there in the queue with some right funny coves.
There's Harry the bagman who fought in Korea
And he spends what he saves, on a half pint of beer."

"There's Aggie next door, well she's eighty and three
And she's walked to the queue and she's chatting to me
She stands in her frame at the back of the line
Just like she used to do in 1929."

So I ate Mom's bread pudding and said "See you soon"
She said “Don't worry son, 'cause we're over the moon.
They're planning a new shop, to give us a treat,
Then the cats and the dogs won't get yesterday's meat."
Track Name: Songs That Harry Wrote
I was in a barroom just the other night
Tuning my old guitar
When two young girls stood in front of me
And one said "Hey Grandpa
You gotta plug in, you gotta synthesise
You gotta get outta those jeans
We came here for music tonight
And they hire us an old has-been.
And we want a dance machine!"

I was far too tired to be angry
I was too damn broke to be mad.
I said "Give me a try tonight ladies
I might not be too bad
You see, every song has a story,
If you listen you might just learn,
That life's for the living by everyone,
And youth is a flame you burn.
What you borrow, you must return.”

And I sang the songs that Harry wrote
I sang with all my soul
For Annie from America
And the singing made me whole
Yes, I sang for the Mister Tanners
For the waitresses with dreams
For the lost ones and the lonely
And for all that music means
There were songs before machines

And when the night was over
And the room began to clear
And the glasses clinked, and the spotlight blinked
And I reached for another beer,
I looked around for the young girls
But they must have left too soon
And I thought that trying to reach those kids
Is like trying to reach the moon
Flying a silver spoon

And I thought those days are over
And the songs must all be dead.
Am I the last one singing all the memories in my head?
I'd given them my best shots
And I'd hoped that they could see
That what the songs were saying is
You grow up fast and free
But you can't fight destiny

The clock was chiming midnight
When I walked out to my car
And standing there were the two young girls
So I put down my guitar
And the one reached up to kiss my cheek
And the other one held my hand
And they said "We thought you ought to know
It's like a new found land.
And now we understand."
Track Name: Long Ago, Far Away
Long ago, far away,
There's a place called yesterday.
And when I go, with what I know,
I wish, I wish, that I could stay.
So many things I thought were right
I see now in a different light.
So long ago, so far away,
In a place called yesterday.

You were here, you were now,
You were "yes!" and I was "how?"
You were teach and I was learn,
You were fire and I was burn.
Poems that I tried to write,
Hunger for you every night.
So long ago, so far away,
In a place called yesterday.

Long ago, far away,
Yesterday, yesterday.

Love was new, love was fine,
I held you close and I called you mine.
And when you moved you moved for me
And every move was ecstasy.
But when you moved for someone new,
I couldn't lose my love for you,
So long ago so far away
In a place called yesterday.

But time the healer always mends,
I'm sure you've heard from our old friends,
I've settled down and I'm doing well,
A house, a car, and things I sell.
But still I wonder, do you care,
For those few days we had to share?
So long ago, so far away,
In a place called yesterday.
Track Name: Please Don't Get on the Plane
Please don't get on the plane
It's cold and the snow's so thick in the air
Please don't get on the plane
See, the band's on the bus, and it's just over there.
And yes, I know that you're tired
So you hired it to fly on ahead of the gang.
But please don't get on the plane,
Take your time, like the words of the song you just sang.

Maria Elena's alone in New York,
She can't sleep well tonight.
And Jerry and Joe say the Crickets'll go
Back together all right.
And a boy in the UK is growing up ok
And singing your songs
But he's only 15, he's not seen very much
And he needs you along.

Big Bopper just roared out the claim that he scored
In the dance hall last night,
But Ritchie's too shy, he won't try,
Though he says that the next gig he might.
Now the pilot's on board and he just can't afford
Not to take on the job,
And you're thinking you've come a long way
Since the days of Buddy and Bob.

You're moving on out, you're beginning to roll,
But why can't you see
There's a boy in the snow, who's saying "Don't go,
Don't go and leave me."
And now he's shouting and screaming, past forty and dreaming
Of yesterday when.
And he wakes with a start and his heart's like a hammer,
And he's fifteen again.
Track Name: Pinball
I had the contract with me
I was opening for a star
I'd seen him on the concert stage
I'd watched him from afar
I hadn't heard much lately
Of anything he'd done
But he sang songs of rights and wrongs
Of those who'd lost or won

So it was in a run down night club
In a broken part of town,
I was on the long way up
He was on the long way down.
I saw him in a corner
Playing pinball, killing time
I asked him how he was
And with a smile he answered "fine"
With a smile he answered "fine"
Then he said…

"Sonny, it's the same old pinball
I played ten years ago
Now it's just like me, friend
The action's getting slow
I've been to the top friend
Mow I'm way down low
Still playing the same old pinball clubs
I played ten years ago."

Never meet your heroes
I've read that line somewhere
They're just like you and me
With all our hope and our despair
I said “It's never that bad
There's always one more day
There's always one more song to sing
One more tune to play."

He just looked me up and down
Then he slowly shook his head
He said "To stay alive, try 9 to 5
To earn your daily bread."
I said "You were my hero
You handed me this dream."
He turned away and pointed
To the battered old machine
That battered old machine
And he said…

He said "I made a lot of money
And I drank a lot of wine
I paid for all my pleasures
And I had a real good time
I never stayed in one place
Longer than a day
I gave them pearls and told the girls
I really couldn't stay.
But where's it gone to sonny?
It came and went so fast.
It's far too easy nowadays
To live back in the past.
But I'm still good for doing
What I've always done.
There hasn't been a house yet
I haven't fought and won.
I haven't fought and won."
Then he said…

"So now they're out there waiting
And they don't know who you are.
They don't care for your future
They'll just prop up the bar.
And you, you'll sing your heart out
And maybe some will hear
And maybe you'll come back
And play this place again next year.
So go on and do your set now, sonny
Before they get too drunk
And please, don't count them, sonny
These glasses that I've sunk.
I'll do my best, remember
I've never lost one yet
But sonny, some times lately
It's been an even bet,
It's been an even bet."
Then he said…

He's long gone and forgotten
His name you never knew
But what reminded me
Was when I turned and looked at you
Standing there so happy
With your new guitar and dreams
One question for you, sonny
Can you play these machines?

'Cause sonny it's the same old pinball
He played ten years ago
And now it's just like me friend
The action’s getting slow.
I've been to the top friend
Now I'm way down low,
Still playing the same old pinball clubs
I played ten years ago
Track Name: She Saw Him Smile
She saw him smile
He knows her face from somewhere in the past
Then the smile fades, for memories never last
She saw him smile.
She says hello
Buttons up his shirt and combs his hair
Although the man she's loved's no longer there
She says hello

Remembering when
They danced together in the darkened room
The blushing bride
The nervous, happy groom
Remembering then
Remembering when.

She holds his hand
Together they let time pass unrehearsed
For time has been and gone and done its worst
She holds his hand
She hums their song
Hm hm hm hm hm hm hm hm
La la la la la la la la
He hums along

And then she leaves
He smiles one more time and waves goodbye
The picture of her fading from his eye
And then she leaves
Track Name: Lot 204
I’ll tell you a story sir, if you'll buy me a beer
It might just raise a smile sir, or then again a tear
The boards they were my life sir, the stage it was my joy,
I saw Robey as a man and I watched Formby as a boy,
The boards they were my life sir, the stage it was my joy.

I was the finest stage hand The Empire ever had,
For me the good old days were good, for others, they were bad.
There's one that I remember, he would come round twice a year,
The Singing Knifegrinder, who'd trundle on his gear.
He'd sing his songs, and sharpen knives,
And come round twice a year.

He never got too far, you know, he never topped the bill,
He'd always get them listening, but he couldn't make the kill.
He'd always come in joking, it's an old one now, I know,
"I’m second billing to the printer of the poster this week, Joe."
And he'd smile and say "I’m sorry. It's an old one now I know."

He sang the same old songs in the same old style
Told the same old stories, they'd lasted him a while.
Although they never cheered him it was always said,
He gave a pleasant show, he always earned his bread.

Well, the war was nearly over, there was just the east to go.
The theatres were re-opening, presenting victory shows,
And who should come in smiling on the day that we rehearsed?
Why, The Singing Knifegrinder, I was glad to see him first.
So keen to go to work on the day that we rehearsed.

He told me he'd enlisted, though he was over age
He'd never told the army he was on the stage.
His singing could have saved him from what fate had in store
At Dunkirk he was left behind - a prisoner of war.

He opened up the second half as he had always done
I raised the safety curtain and I watched him trundle on,
The same old red bandana and the gleaming street machine,
It was just as though the intervening years had never been.
The same old red bandana and the gleaming street machine.

I wondered what he'd do if ever they encored
The band there in the pit had only four songs scored
He finished to a ripple and I rang the curtain down
Then I waited for the next turn, performing seal, and clown.

But then the ripple grew to genuine applause
The cast came from the dressing rooms asking for the cause
And standing in the wings as the people went to town
Were the dancer, the juggler, the acrobat, the clown,
They were standing in the wings as the people went to town.

For then the ripple grew into a steady roar
I stared at the knifegrinder, the one they cheered for
They stamped and they whistled, you should have seen his eyes.
My god! Can you imagine! The fright and the suprise?
We saw beneath his makeup, there were tears in his eyes.

I swear he stared straight through me at all the years he'd done,
At all the boards he'd trodden, the nights he'd never won.
He nodded for the curtain and I raised it once again
And I watched him trundle out there, the happiest of men.

But there was no spotlight shining for him there
He stood in the dark, I screamed "It isn't fair!"
For in the box above him, responding to the roar,
Stood old Winston Churchill, the hero of the war.
No, no, they hadn't told us, we didn't know he'd come.
I rang the curtain down, and I stood there feeling numb.

He walked towards the nightmare of memory ahead
He walked into the night and The Knifegrinder was dead
He pushed a pathway through us, he never made a scene
But when we closed down later, and I went out to clean
Standing in the wings was a knifegrinding machine.

Well the theatre's closing down sir, like all the music halls.
The strip shows and the bingo, they couldn't fill the stalls.
They plan to hold an auction next week when they close it down
I think that you should go sir, take a look around.


I thanked the old stage hand, and I went to the sale
I bought a few old hand bills when the bids began to fail
And then lot 204, it was a knifegrinding machine
And I knew I had to have it, even if the bids were keen,
That lot 204, it was a knifegrinding machine.

For sitting in the corner was a very tired old man,
And I had seem him straighten when first the sale began,
And I had seen him smile when the old machine came on,
And though I’d never heard him sing, I knew, he was the one.

He stood to leave the theatre when I had bid the last
I gently touched his arm as he shuffled past.
“There is no red bandana sir, you must have that at home,
But let me please return to you something that's your own.
Yes, take it sir, and sing again, as you make your way home.
Let me please return to you something that's your own."