Thursday, 9 August 2012

Fisherman's Blues in the Pre-Dawn Glow of Thimphu Town

Had a great time at the weekend in Thimphu celebrating a birthday and the departure of another friend, playing all kinds of songs on the old guitar til the pre-dawn glow over the mountains sent us all reeling into our respective beds with prickly faces. Graceland, Call Me Al, I Need a Dollar, Time of My Life, Chocolate Jesus, Norwegian Wood, Tangled up in Blue... so many great songs to sing. So here's a track that came whistling through late on and I thought I'd share because it means a lot to me and it's rich with memories.  

Fisherman's Blues!

What a song, I love it. But I kinda felt compelled to add to it so I did ('when I'm far away -mmm mmm - I still hear you, you're my home'). The venerable Mr Scott seems to be singing about being off on his own adventures, revelling in beat freedom and the romance of the road, but then comes this line - 'light in my head, you in my arms', followed by the big old whoop-out of joy - which I always understood to be an expression of a longing to share the dream, balance the thrill of adventure with the intimacy of companionship. But I figured it could just as well be a longing for someone who simply isn't there, geographically, and you carry that person into the moment and share it at a distance. So I just threw those lines in and Hey Presto! I've soiled a great song. Forgive me.

Interesting time in Thimphu with all the Thimphu-based Chilups working for NGOs and GOs. It seems to me that anybody who is going to be involved in policy should do something like teaching first because Thimphu, like so many other capital cities, is simply not 'Bhutan'. If you visited Dublin, you'd have no idea what the real Ireland was like. If you visited London, you'd have no inkling of the North or the West, or even the South or the East. I'm not sure if as many applicants would come forward if the contract stipulated a year in the back of beyond getting used to how things work, before you get on with your raison d'etre, but it would certainly make a difference. At the very least, send them through the country for a month and have them stay in villages. 

Don't get me wrong - these were all very nice people. The 'ex-pats' you find in Bhutan are generally cut from a different cloth from those that you might find in, say, Bangkok; they tend to have found themselves  here for reasons that are far more laudable than the pursuit of an easy life of remnant colonial pleasures. But still - the pulse of the country does not have the same rhythm as that of the capital, and it seems to me that the last thing this country needs is capital-centric policy-making or too heavy an influence of western ideologies if they aren't sufficiently informed by and adapted to this country's very specific needs. Sot here we go. Odd weekend in this respect. Anyway, here's the tune...

I wish I was a Fisherman, tumblin on the seas
Far away from dry land and its bitter memories
Casting off my sweet lines with abandonment and love
no ceiling staring down on me, save the starry sky above

with light in my head, you in my arms

(when I'm far away, I still hear you - you're my home)

I wish was a brake man on a hurtling fevered train
rushing headlong into the heartlands like a cannon in the rain
with the beating of the sleepers and the burning of the coals
counting the towns passing by on a night that's full of soul

with light in my head, you in my arms

(when I'm far away, I still hear you - you're my home)

I know that I'll be loosened from bonds that hold me fast
and the chains that are all hung around me will fall away at last
when that fine and fateful day comes I will take thee in my hands
and I will ride on that train - I'll be that fisherman

with light in my head, you in my arms...

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