music

‘Roses and Thorns’ – a song to the left

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written a political song (or a blog on here, for that matter). Considering I consider myself a political songwriter that’s says something – mainly about the fact that I’ve genuinely just been too depressed at the state of it all.
But I really had to vent, because I think what is going on in politics at the moment is genuinely scary.
We’re all being stripped of our European citizenship because of a campaign arguably based on misinformation. Right-wing populism is growing in the UK, and across the continent. We have a Prime Minister seemingly set on ripping up everything that was good about the EU in these negotiations – with scant claim to a mandate.
And yet the left is in total disarray. I’m a proud Green, but I’m also a pluralist, and I think it really matters for the whole left that Labour is in turmoil – i.e. that we don’t really have a functioning opposition.
And as someone who wants a progressive alliance, it scares me that Labour are 17 percentage points behind the Tories. It’s too easy to blame one side of the party or the other, or to scream simplistic, mono-causal assertions about what’s led to this, because we are where we are, and there is fault on both sides. It’s churlish and dogmatic to deny it.
While it’s easier said than done, the left as a whole needs to learn how to communicate, how to work together, how to reach out beyond those who already agree with us, and find a some kind of a path forward. We have to.
Because if we don’t get our arses in gear we’re handing a free reign to those who want to rip up all that we value about this country – from our NHS to our diversity, from our social safety net to our internationalism. The situation is too urgent for us to waste time navel-gazing, name-calling and pointing fingers.
So, I’ve vented. Here’s the song I had to get off my chest. I’ll write much more positive stuff I hope soon, but for now this is a plea to all those who consider themselves progressive to turn their guns away from each other and to focus on the real battles ahead.
*Exhales*

Roses and Thorns

Now is not the hour
To be battling inside
Both sides hunting witches
When the fight’s to stay alive
To keep the red heart beating
To stir the fire sleeping
Because there’s few of us already on our side
 
And in these new times
A hard rain is falling
In these new times
The day is far from dawning
And it don’t feel like
Something better’s calling
So think faster
Dream deeper
This could be the last chance
We’re gonna get
 
And now is not the hour
To be arguing who’s clean
You’re writing just for rallies
When the fight’s to be believed
By the ones for whom the red heart
Doesn’t beat for them
Oh there’s roses but there’s thorns here
You’ll have to start again
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New songs, albums and radio stuff, plus a big move…

Some updates on my acoustic singer-songwriter side of life. Because you asked*.

I’ve got some new songs (you can have ’em for free)

As usual, they’re home recordings, i.e. I’ve stuck my phone on a random surface and hoped it came out OK. Most of the time it vaguely works. I think…

1. A cover of Defiance Ohio‘s brilliant rallying cry against modern society:

2. An instrumental piece inspired by Cornwall and the summer:

A new ‘album’

I’ve stuck together a collection of my recent demos in a free compilation thing called Luddite Ballads. Which I might use as the title of my actual new EP thing coming out soon from Rack Mount Records. More on that in a mo.

Actual new album thing

The proper EP I’ve been recording over the past year (feels like forever!) is finally coming out soon on iTunes and Spotify and all that stuff, so I’ll have something official for once. Which will be great. Keep your eye out! Just being mastered etc. at the moment I think so I’ll wack it on the blog when it’s all done.

On t’ Radio

I did a BBC Introducing session the other week with Radio York, as part of their York and North Yorkshire Introducing programme to get up and coming artists heard. You can still listen to it here. I’m 43:30ish in so listen out.

I play three of my own tracks, two of my favourite artists (Bragg and Guthrie) and have a general chat/interview about life, politics and music. It was good fun. Hope you enjoy it too.

On me travels

And with that, I’m off to Belgium to live for six months, working as a (paid!) intern with the Green European Foundation, a think tank linked with the Greens in the European Parliament. It should be exciting and a nice chance to live abroad (despite my lack of French/Flemish). I’ll keep the blog going and will keep strumming. See you soon.

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* That may or may not be true.

New Songs and Stuff

Just a quick update on the musical side of life. Since publishing my last post here I’ve recorded three new songs – all covers, for a change. As usual, free to hear/download/pirate/destroy/share/generally defame.

The first I recorded for St Piran’s Day – the Cornish ‘national’ day – and the song is the Cornish anthem Trelawney (or Song of the Western Men). Gets the patriotic blood flowing. Not that I’m in to patriotism generally, but Cornwall is pretty great so I don’t really mind.

The next is a cover of Bob Dylan’s beautiful Song to Woody, an ode to Woody Guthrie, the early 19thC socialist folk hero of America. Hope I’ve done it justice. If not, well, soz.

Finally, another Guthrie-related tune, This Land is Your Land, written by the great man himself. I’ve tried to ‘angry’ it up a bit. The lyrics are brilliant, and still very relevent.

The new EP is coming along slowly and should be released with a launch gig over the next month or so, and I’ve got a gig lined up at the Sage in Gateshead on the 29th April, as well as a couple of other speculative gigs lined up. Everything’s up in the air with the end of my degree, but music is a nice distraction.

Anyway, that’s all, folks.

PS don’t forget to visit my SoundCloud page where all my stuff resides/goes to die – soundcloud.com/josiah-mortimer. I’m also, inevitably, on Facebook. Have a gander, and ‘like’ that shiz.

Latest Songs from Josiah Mortimer Acoustic

For the past few months I’ve been busy with uni work, writing, deciding what to do with my life after university, and recording my new EP with Rack Mount Records (a new little independent label based in York). I’ve continued to record from home though and have a few new tracks, two of them political and one of them just, you know, about life. (The new EP by the way may be coming in two parts over the next few months – keep your eyes peeled).

The latest is ‘The Ballad of a New Luddite’, a message to abandon the superficiality and technological-dependence of the modern age. I’m as guilty as the rest of us, but hopefully it still rings true.

Next is my first attempt at writing a vaguely amusing tune, called ‘No Laughing Matter’. The topic should be pretty obvious – namely the government’s outright privatisation agenda. Hope you like.

Finally, another call to arms – ‘Hell in a Handcart’. Rough recording, but you get the picture.

In terms of gigs, make sure to come to the launch party of Rack Mount Records on the 18th January. Should be a cracking night at Gibsons in York. I’ll also be holding a launch gig for my new EP when its out. Watch this space.

If you missed my last post about new songs, you can still view it here – wp.me/p1b7Z1-b3, and don’t forget to visit my SoundCloud page with all my stuff on to hear and download for free – soundcloud.com/josiah-mortimer. I’m also, inevitably, on Facebook. Have a gander/like.

Latest radical acoustic songs and news

Just a quick update on the musical side of my life. I’ll be in York recording a new political acoustic EP in October, and hope to use it as a springboard to expand my gigging and musical presence generally. It will probably go up online either for free or a small donation.

There’s a few gigs coming up in the next few months. My next gig will be the 99 Club in York on the 11th of October,  7:30pm at the St Lawrence Working Men’s Club, a fundraiser for striking miners in South Africa and their socialist alternative to the ANC (after the latter’s failure in the handling of the Marikana massacre). A very worthy cause. Hope you can make it if you’re around! The other gigs are still to be confirmed – make sure to keep updated by liking my music page on Facebook here.

I’m also hoping to start a band after becoming pretty bored of playing solo and realising it would be better to have other people involved – particularly after a violinist, double bassist and possibly a drummer/percussion player and cellist. Get in touch if you know anyone who might be interested!

I won’t go on for too long, apart from saying that there’s lots of new (mostly political) material, most of which has been home recorded and is free to hear and download below or on my SoundCloud site.

Please listen, enjoy and share widely!

Shut Them Down – a song of solidarity with the anti-fracking movement

Staring at Screens – my latest song, a rare non-political piece about spending too much time in front of a computer. An ode to the Facebook/Twitter generation…

Occupy the Radio – my first song on banjo! A call for (musical) revolution…

Darker Things Rise Up – a piece about the worrying rise of the far-right across Europe, as well as UKIP and the EDL in Britain

‘The Lady’s Not Returning’ – A Song on Thatcher

I’ve just recorded and uploaded my latest song, ‘The Lady’s Not Returning’, to my SoundCloud (it’s free to hear, download and share). The song is on Margaret Thatcher, the most divisive (and destructive) Prime Minister Britain has arguably ever seen, and comes of course around the time of her £10m publically-funded funeral. If you oppose what Thatcher stood for, have a listen and feel free to pass it around. There’s also a little YouTube video of it here.

Thatcher is gone, but her ideology is still with us – particularly with the current government’s vicious austerity programme which is ruining the lives of millions of people and failing to sort our economy. The Iron Lady’s ideas aren’t yet Rusting in Pieces…

Like all my stuff the song is on a Creative Commons license so you can basically do what you want with it. Hope you like.

I’ve just launched a new Facebook page for my music stuff – feel free to like it to keep up to date: www.facebook.com/josiahmortimeracoustic

You might also want to listen to two other new songs of mine – 99 Reasons (a tribute to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity this June), and A Movement and a Reason, dedicated to the student protests of 2010 against tuition fees and a call for a new student movement –

On a final note, I recently did an interview on my music with York Vision, a student newspaper at the University of York. Have a read for more info on my song-writing and what I’m up to musically. Exciting times! www.yorkvision.co.uk/scene/interview-with-josiah-mortimer/

‘Live and Overcome’ – An Acoustic Tribute to Chavez

I’ve just recorded and uploaded my latest song (written tonight!), ‘Live and Overcome’. It’s an acoustic tribute to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who tragically passed away on Tuesday. He was, and is, an inspiration to millions world-wide seeking an alternative to the destructive free-market capitalism which has landed us in all this mess.

You can listen and download it for free (along with all my other stuff) from soundcloud.com/josiah-mortimer. Feel free to share around – it’s all on a copy-left license (Creative Commons), so I won’t sue 🙂 You can listen to it below too, using Soundcloud’s fancy embedding stuff. Recorded rather quickly on my phone, but I hope it comes across OK.

If you’re around York, I’ll be playing on Saturday at York Social’s ‘The Gathering’, a night of radical acoustic music and poetry, at York’s only co-operative pub, the Golden Ball. It’s a great pub and it should be a fantastic night. It’s free (as far as I know!) and will start from about 8pm. See you there!

I’m also playing the University of York Amnesty International fundraiser ‘Jamnesty’ next Wednesday at Tramways Working Men’s Club from 8pm, billed as a night of decent local acoustic music, ‘because we give a folk’. Good stuff. Should raise a lot of money for a great (on the whole) organisation.

Anyway, hope you like the track. And maybe see you at a radical gig at some point in the future!