You Can't Go Back to London

August 17, 2008 11:16 PM

A new song. A tale of love and addiction.

It's been a long time since I have been to London. 30 years, to be precise. I lived in Bath, England, for a year when I was 10, and my mother took me and my brothers on occasional weekend trips into London, where we stayed at bed and breakfasts and took in the sites. I have very strong memories of those weekends, and of England in general; I suspect because that year was so unusual for me, it has stayed with me in a way that much of the rest of my childhood in Minnesota hasn't. I found our old house in Swainswick on Google maps recently. It was strange to look down on it from above and recognize it anyway. There was the little church down the street that we occasionally visited. There was the school I went to, across the street from where I lived, and the house the school's headmistress lived in, right next to mine. There was the grave in the back with a stone lid carved with the figure of a supine knight, still clutching his sword.

I've been thinking about this, on and off, for a long time, because I would like to go back and visit, but haven't been able to afford to. I started writing this song inspired by that sense of longing for a place I knew when I was a boy. Then it turned into something else, the way songs do, especially when I write them. It sort of turned into a Neil Jordan film. And that's fine with me, as I like Neil Jordan's films.

He went down to London town
A train ticket cost 30 pounds
He saw the Thames he worked a job
He met some mates and had a mob
But you can't you can't you can't
Go back to London

It was a time a time he had
He was then a Hackney lad
He met a girl from Islington
She said he was her only one
But you can't you can't you can't
Go back to London

He liked to smoke and she liked pills
And they met a man from Stamford Hill
They met with him at St. Paul Bells
They bought from him and they did sell
But you can't you can't you can't
Go back to London

She would fight and she would scold
And she used more than they sold
There was debt and debt again
And they came for her and he let them
But you can't you can't you can't
Go back to London

She was found on Drury Lane
The needle was still in her vein
He hopped a train that was westward bound
A train ticket cost 30 pounds
But you can't you can't you can't
Go back to London

posted by Astro Zombie (1 comment total)

You're single-handedly making up for too many happy endings.

With the dollar sinking, no one wants to go back to London.
posted by AppleSeed at 4:31 AM on August 20, 2008

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