Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Gerry O'Beirne: Song Lyrics

Western Highway

I am a driver on a western highway
From the mountains to the sea
And there’s a song on the western highway
That’s saying I will be free

The sky is fading to the colour of the valley
Dust of angels and dust of dreams
Your city lights will shine until tomorrow
And I will not be here

But your light is brighter than anything I’ve ever seen
And I hear your voice on every station
Singing out of your dream
Here I am on the road again
The song began and in the end
I was standing by
I was standing by the sea

And by the roadside the trees are shimmering
Black and silver in the cold night air
And under the moon a new song singing
Saying I will meet you there

And your light is brighter than anything I’ve ever seen
And I hear your voice on every station
Singing out of your dream
Here I am on the road again
The song began and in the end
I was standing by
I was standing by the sea

The Holy Ground

About a man who goes to Mexico from Ireland and gets involved in the War of Independence there. It always feels like a very personal song despite the historical context. I played the "elephant" guitar on this one, and a 12 string guitar solo midway through the song. I was delighted to have Davie Paton playing bass. Davie used to be the bass player/singer/writer with the pop band Pilot. I remember seeing them on "Top Of The Pops" many years ago. He's a great player and a great guy. It's been recorded by Andy Irvine and Mary Black among others.

I was born on the holy ground
a running boy in fields of clover
living in the grandeur of my father's land

By the side of the swirling sea
I spent the days of childish wonder
and the rocks i held in my young hands
I never felt them slip away

Well the sun shone bright upon the waves
and the wind blew high as i was leaving
and i sailed so far away
looking for adventure

But i would not stay where the city streets
proclaimed so loudly man's endeavour
though music is a pretty thing
in fine company

And the wilderness took my breath away
under a sun that never falters
A man has to find his way
where no-one ever goes

It was in the south where my new home lay
with a dark eyed girl and wild horses
with hummingbirds and roses there
in old Mexico

There the winds of change they blew so far
of liberty and revolution
and it seemed that each man heard in his breast
the drumming of a nation

Oh on the field where the guns did play
i fell there with many another
where the sage brush grows and the desert wind is blowing free

I was born on the holy ground
a running boy in fields of clover
living in the grandeur of my fathers land

Half Moon Bay

The first time I saw you
Down by the blue ocean
You were talking like a fighter
Independently
And hanging on to a dream
That's what I remember
But the wildness in you I can't explain

And one day on the street
Comes a beautiful stranger
From such a casual thing
A great change has come
And if he could have loved you more
Still there'd be no reason
To go down that road where love's in vain

Now I think I know your heart
When love carried you away
I heard you returned to Half Moon Bay
To half Moon Bay

And it's a cold cold night
You can almost hear the sea wind blow
As though on a radio
A lonesome sound
And he wonders where you are tonight
And what are you thinking
You're lost when he repeats your name

And you turn on the headlights
As the raging moon rises
You go deeper and deeper
In the familiar dark
And as the fog is creeping in
Down in the valley
You're high on a hill
You're still going home

And now i think I know your heart
when love carried you away
I heard you returned
To Half Moon Bay
To Half Moon Bay
To Half Moon Bay

Black Water

wheels rushing in the pouring rain

as your thoughts turn their pages

you're on your way in the darkness

oh my love

And there's no going back

and there's no going back

for the prodigal daughter

oh out of black water

 

and the river runs with the first falling fall of your hair

how cold it flows with all of the fallen leaves and waving grass

our hearts fall too when we think of it but you're still here

this is why we sing, sing the songs of ages

they pulled you up to be born again

oh out of black water

 

and you're alone in the back

when you wake to the rain on the roof

and then everything changes

oh my love

 

new sun new moon new sun new shivery moon with its new shadow

you walk the road the crusty road barefoot over the hill

unafraid to the open door wearing your river things

 

sing of the river child

sing of the river lover

in a fine dress of leaves and grass

oh lady black water

1874

Beautiful light beautiful glow down in the city whoa music is high music is low she stepped so lightly on the floor Day come by day go it's 1874 and time is running like a river yellow an old moon rose her colours dry in my room at night the sun has warmed her in the garden she talks and talks as the band stands by she will dance till the pale winter morning day come by day go it's 1874 and time is running like a river yellow an old moon rose garden of fire sea of delight is a day in the countryside she's moving her eyes out of the canvas sky and running away from paradise day come by day go it's 1874 and time is running like a river yellow an old moon rose

Song of an Actor

The ghost of a theatre light

A tangled ribbon of moon

Still shining in an empty room

This is my only alibi

 

Did I stay too long at the fair

An old man turned to say

In the shadows by the bay

That rough magic calling in the air

 

Don't ever go away

I'll be lonely as the turning sun

Until the lights come up on everyone

 

The lights go down

And I go on

On my own

Feather and Bone

And I need you now

To Give me your voice

So we can go on dreaming

 

When the world was younger

There was no song we couldn't sing

in the music of everything

Fandango and flambeau

 

So goodbye my old sweethearts

Bells are ringing in the city below

We will walk into the wings

Soft as rain on winter snow

 

Don't ever go away

I'll be lonely as the turning sun

Until the lights come up

On everyone

Long Beating Wing

Well here I am today
In a kind of lost tomorrow
I've got no inspiration in this town
I was trying to watch the screen
For any sign of movement
Or to let someone know if it went down
And to listen for your long beating wing

I'm not thinking about a train
Or any way of leaving
As I write down these few simple lines
Our conversation fell so short of being revealing
But your night cry said everything
And the rhythm of your long beating wing

You came down from the sky
When i was dreaming
And you danced boldly around the room
You changed all my music with your drums and desire
Now all I hear sound and boom
Is the Rhythm of your long beating wing

The Shades Of Gloria

I am going to the country
going down that verdant lane
with nothing but a whistle in my hand
and a pocket full of rain
can you hear that distant sound
coming down the West Clare Railway
running with the shades of gloria

The wind is full of memories
that murmur and sigh
hills lie in the foaming grass of Clare
under the cold moon's eye
but you should come and see them now
when they are on fire
and running with the shades of gloria

And the waves roll at the headland
when the tide is rising there
and here there is stardust falling
down on the hills of Clare
I knew them when I was hungry
and I knew them when I scared
and running with the shades of gloria

And I am going to the country
where Miko in his prime
weaves a thread of melody
in his own sweet time
you can hear him sing and whistle
any time you care
to go running with the shades of gloria

I am going to the country
going down that verdant lane
with nothing but a whistle in my hand
and a pocket full of rain
can you hear that distant sound
coming down the West Clare Railway
running with the shades of gloria

The Lights of San Francisco

The Lights of San Francisco
Shone on the city floor
Joe worked on in the city
Till the dawn came around once more

He came from Galway
Came over recently
And Lucy from the USA
Smiled at his naivetee

In the rocky places of his heart
No-one had ever seen
Lucy picking cockles
And Lucy planting seeds

Came the marching bands of July
And their silver shadows flew
Oh two by two red and blue
Drifting through the summer evening

He said “ All my troubles
Never wander very far
I like to hear music
But I like it on a blue guitar

And there is no end to the money
A guy wants to hold in his hand
The sky hung with airplanes
And no peace upon the land

And the folks on television
That lie with every breath
And insult you with visions
Of cheap life and cheaper death

And there is no home for me now
But I’ll go on loving you
Until there is no more music
And the guitar is no longer blue”.

Sekou Camara

Sekou Camara is a man
from the Guinea shore
in 1996 he was jailed
with torture and terror
a prisoner
where torture is routine

Now justice has spoken
and is sending him home today
saying it's a comparatively mild regime
he was freed by bribery and false papers
and he came to Ireland a refugee

If he has a past
and no tomorrow
what good are we at all
good at all

From a political party
so he was tortured
and his parents were too
he was entitled to stay here
and avoid persecution
He came to Ireland a refugee

In The Land Of The Patagarang

In the land of the patagarang the murkies are dreaming
in the land of the patagarang they don't know who you are
in the land of the patagarang the murkies are dreaming
in the land of the patagarang as we sail into the bay

I'm going with my peculiar to a place of infinite space
with the mollies and punks and fluters, buzz gloaks and starglazers
they'll turn you into a creature if you're not strong
a man with marsupial features on the horizon
for impersonating an Egyptian you to the land to the land of the patagarang patagarang patagarang patagarang

In the land of the patagarang the crow flies backwards
in the land of the patagarang the stars are upside down
god-botherers pray repentance, politicals and yobs
goodbye to independence, welcome to the mob

They'll turn you into a creature if you're not strong
a man with marsupial features on the horizon
for impersonating an Egyptian you go to the land to the land
of the patagarang patagarang patagarang patagarang

Di dippy do dippy dippy do do di dippy do dippy dippy day
di dippy do dippy dippy di do di dippy do dippy dippy day
I'm going with my peculiar to a place of infinite space
with the mollies and punks and fluters, buzz gloaks and starglazers

They'll turn you into a creature if you're not strong
a man with marsupial features on the horizon
for impersonating an Egyptian you go to the land to the land of the patagarang patagarang patagarang patagarang

In the land of the patagarang the murkies are dreaming
in the land of the patagarang the stars are upside down
patagarang patagarang patagarang patagarang

The Burning Ground of Glenrowan

. I was moved to write this on reading the stirring Jerilderie Letters, but I also wanted it to be somewhat impressionistic, drawing on the flavour of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly paintings and also using some of the imagery found in the paintings of Lin Onus, hence the "stingray" motif. Much is made of Ned's Irish background and inheritance but he was surely just as much a product of the unique energies of Australia. The song also gets its atmosphere from an unusual guitar tuning - BABEAE. Having said that I've recast it into normal tuning.  Dear sir I wish to acquaint you With occurrences present and past Once upon a time in Australia Oh Stingray A man in armour Rides today Down to the burning ground of Glenrowan Come what may Across the Murray water That flows away Far from the cruel dust of Glenrowan He comes with eyes of iron On a bright bay mare A red storm under Orion Oh Stingray A vengeful son of Erin Rides today Down to the burning ground of Glenrowan He cannot be saved under a new moon rising After the heat wave On the cruel bloody dust of Glenrowan You Irish farmers of Victoria And New South Wales Deep in your bones you know unfairness (instrumental) He comes shrouded in the morning With a gun through the mist and smoke The widow's son Mr. Edward Kelly Oh Stingray There is no surrender Though he falls anyway Down on the burning ground of glenrowan and thirsts like a flame For the Murray water That flows away Far from the cruel dust of Glenrowan

Silver Line Sarah

She walks a silver line sarah
A silver line in the coldest winter
Waiting for summer to come

And she tears the night apart
The night apart like a puzzle
And there is no answer here

So she writes upon the page Sarah
Writes upon the page in the pale morning
A song that nobody hears

And she plays Shenandoah
Plays Shenandoah on the piano
All her chords tumbling down

Sarah the world is calling you
As it sails away
Over the golden ocean
To another day

She walks a silver line Sarah
A silver line in the coldest winter
Waiting for summer to come

Darkness Now

We're living in the darkness now
Oh no so far from the light we have known
You and I never satisfied for long

And we're playing in a game of chance
Please darling just one more hand
In my heart I know we can start again

We'll catch a plane
Me and you
And turn our heads into the blue to the blue

And we hunger for a better day
Oh no if only the words that we say
Could take us back take us back home

We'll catch a plane
Me and you
And turn our heads into the blue
To the blue

The Days of Joe O'Dowd

I came on the train from Dublin
I had to get away
And play some music with the man there
On Ballisodare bay
With the boys and girls from the art school
Dancing so late into the night
And their clothes in the western wind blowing
They were an artistic sight
Outside of Annie's kitchen
The flames lit up the crowd
We did the real midsummer madness
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd

All his life he sold insurance
A gentle salesman he
In the cold cold garrison town
The clumsiness of the bourgeoisie
In the fifties and the sixties
They didn't want to know
But when the music came into fashion
That was all right with Joe
He was playing on the fiddle
With the crazy concertina man
And everybody was dancing, dancing
And jumping jumping on the sand

Oh I remember, the fire lit up the bay
Midsummer night and day
Oh and I remember
While they slept in Sligo town he played

I was far across the ocean
When I heard that he was dead
I was thinking about him lying down
On his hospital bed
And the boys and girls from the art school
They all moved away
But they miss the midsummer madness
On Ballisodare bay

It's quiet on the water
And grey with cloud
And in the houses you hear the music
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd
Oh, didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd
Didn't we in the days of Joe O'Dowd

Down in Galveston

The pavements cracked in Houston as the summer sun beat down
The gulf winds blew across the coast as we drove into Galveston

Down in Galveston
moon shining in the night
On sweet water


where love shone like the rising moon upon the silver sand
you reach out like a pilgrim and it runs right through your hand

Down in Galveston
your heart falls like the night
On sweet water

and are we here here by circumstance
In these dry days of yearning
I need you in the dead of night
I need you in the morning

Where are we going to go when all our travelling is done
Hard as the gulf winds blow hot as the unforgiving sun

Down in Galveston
your heart falls like the night
on sweet water

The County Fair Dance (also known as The Country Fair Dance)

At the county fair dance we was havin romance
eatin and drinkin and dancin
well a heated exchange is not unusual or strange
but soon those ugly looks turn to ugly actions

She was pretty you might say leastways we all thought so anyway
though she'd never sent an army to war or certain slaughter
But those flashin black eyes made two young men rise
and inflict the sudden surprise of death on each other

There was Porcupine Paul, he was a man feared by all
He had drunk away all his money and all his reason
And Fearsome Fred Ford, he was restless and he was bored
He was tired of waitin for the huntin season

And on the floor lay Panama Pearl, she was Fearsome Fred's girl
But she didn't mind bein dragged under the table
When Fred broke it up, the man he found on the top
was Paul doin all that he was able

(solo - in my version a slide guitar verse of Streets of Laredo)

Well Fred said "Now you lookee here, you best steer yer hands off that there brassiere
'Cause we're goin to have us some shootin'"
Then he's hitchin his pants and he's adoptin his machochismic stance
and the crowd start to yellin and rootin

Well Paul knew that he was beat if he ever got to his feet
So he fired from the horizontal position
Fred was hit, the dust was bit, but with an exhibition of true grit
He drew his gun and accomplished his mission

Well Pearl adjusted her lace, an expression of grief and horror on her face
She said "it sure is grief and horror that I'm feelin"
And everybody was aghast at what had come to past
and the card players looked up and stopped their dealin

The Isle of Malachy

I am high upon a mountain
When morning comes around it
Where I was all with my love
Birds fly upon the way

There horses go a riding
Messengers bring tidings
And every day they sail away
Like the sun beneath the sea

Search where no ships are sailing
No sound of hearts breaking
Or down in deepest Africa
No one will find him there

But down the sands of evening
In days of my love leaving
You will hear the dance rise all around
The Isle of Malachy


Now waves of stars are breaking
They lie on shores of evening
They burn at my eyes dreaming
Of a fire to melt the sea

I will say a prayer forever
I will go with light and thunder
And tell each soul and stranger
The tale and history

Search where no ships are sailing
No sound of hearts breaking
Or down in deepest Africa
No one will find him there

But down the sands of evening
In days of my love leaving
You will see the fire rise all around
The Isle of Malachy

Patrick Was A Wonderful Hero

Patrick was a wonderful hero
in the land where man ruled by bicycle
until he met with Sad Deirdre
oh how he loved her buttery recesses
oh how he sinned, but not against her
you'd never be up to them old saints

Strokestown

Now I'm down on the heather and there's water in my shoes
to river and back lane i run from you
you took me to the steeple you fall on the ground
your ribbon ribbon light my way home you lead me on
Strokestown sitting on your four streets, your sun beat down
I'm down living in a four street town

And I'm passing the turnpike on my way home from school
oh when we are far away now what will we do
will we sleep at night when moon is out
or on our horses ride like rainclouds

Strokestown sitting on your four streets, your sun beat down
I'm down living in a four street town

Upstairs my piano play going up and down the scale
downstairs they're putting on airs
and i play for you oh I play for you

Now I'm leaving by the back door, the fruit falls where it's sowed
horseman to the manor and me to the road
Strokestown sitting on your four streets, your sun beat down
I'm down living in a four street town

Angel Angel

Angel on the telephone
angel on the telephone
say she's going to be a rolling stone
she's out making trouble in the town
out making trouble in the town
loves that trouble where it can be found

How long have I been waiting, hours I spend
Footsteps on the street and never reach the end

Angel angel glory glory
like a flower opening slowly
like a rainbow all over me
angel angel glory glory

Angel where you been so long
angel where you been so long
when you gonna bring your trouble home

You reach out for something wild
reach out for something wild
I used to think no love could ease my mind

How long have I been waiting, hours I spend
Footsteps on the street and never reach the end

Angel angel glory glory
like a flower opening slowly
like a rainbow all over me
angel angel glory glory

The attic Song

Nancy she comes from Chicago to LA and home from work
she drinks the wine and never minds about the menu
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
chicken and salad's fine
oh fettucine is all right
Nancy

John he is a music man he gets home late but don't negate
the guys so wise he improvise on the piano
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
bach and chopin what a thrill
oh albinoni is all right
Johnny

Polly's such a pretty gal the valley is the place you know
she never goes to buy her clothes down at the factory
yeah yeah yeah yeah
Rush is on the stereo
oh totally, whatever
Polly

Then there is Jeannine who is so elegant and talented
she loves to play with tennis balls it's so noisy
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
sometimes she never says a word
oh but her dreams her dreams are fine
Neenie

Mikey is a little man with big ideas and lots of charm
he tries to do his diry talking at the table
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
one day he'll be a real big man
oh micheal take your time
mikey

fudgie he has got neurosis got no class got halitosis
insect bites all down his nose it makes him nervous
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
he'd like to live inside the house
oh and pee on the carpet and it would be all right
fudgie

spot the cat the masochist is always first to get realy pissed
if you don't walk all over him he thinks it weird
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
behind those eyes there lurks a spy
oh paranoia is all right
spotnik

Laurie is away at school she's got a new canadian man
loves in a van we understand he is a film major
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
wax drips on the apartment floor
oh california is all right
laurie

i live on the attic floor i don't know what i'm doing here
but i'd just like to say hello and it's been....... real
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah