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Songs: Born With The Century

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Born with the century he joined the armoury
Came under fire under-age on the Somme
Lost his virginity somewhere in Brittany
On his way home from first leave from the front

Married at twenty to a girl that he hardly knew
She bore him children but bored him to death
Divorce wasn't common then, she saw other men
He was no angel. The village was shocked

During the thirties he couldn't find work
He went with the Communists to fight in Spain
When he got back he found his wife had drowned
Entwined with a publican beneath a lake

In 1945 their eldest daughter died
Only two months before VE day
At the street parties he met his new partner
They had a daughter, they called her Isabelle May

It was like fatherhood for the first time
His life flew by
Suddenly she was a woman and he was sixty five
It was time to retire

In 1972 she moved into a squat
With some chap who did lights for The Who
He told his daughter he'd always support her
But his wife knew that he did not approve

So when he was eighty he took him to lunch
For a man to man chat in an old country pub
He asked him to grant him his daughter's hand
In marriage and he was really quite touched

He wasn't so pleased when they moved to Austalia
Postcards from grandchildren just weren't the same
During the miners' strike he joined the picket lines
"Bolshevik Grandad" said The Daily Mail

It was like feeling pain for the first time
When his wife died
Suddenly he was alone, feeling old and very tired
A man who never cried

During the last years of his life he Tried to get in touch with the children from his first marriage, but after years of neglect they did not want to know
Isabelle helped with the bills and he tried to get by but in the end they decided he'd have to be moved into a home

He spent his last days descending to death
In a chair by the wall in a room streaked with piss
And when he died his whole life flashed before his eyes
His last thought was "How did all that lead down to this?"

Fought in the First War and married too young
Fought for democracy and lost a wife
Lost a child, found a wife, found a meaning to life
Never saw all his grandchildren, died a radical
But in the end he was just some old man

Born with the century

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

This is one of my favourite songs that I've ever written. It was INSPIRED by some of the people we interviewed on a project i did about old people being discharged from hospital. You'd see them in the wards being treated like imbeciles and trussed up in paper nighties and drips, then when the interviewers went to see them at home they'd come back with amazing stories of all the things they'd done in their lives. It was also written about the thought of my own grandparents having a whole life before i was born, and finally as a sort of reposte to "Help The Aged" by Pulp, which i thought was rather a weak attempt at a huge subject.

It was first recorded on Home Taping Is Killing Music, and it was pretty obvious to me that it should be a single (not, however, to the record buying public), but with a BAND. Me and Rob and Tim thus recorded it in what became the first Validators sessions back in July 1998. It sounded ACE and Tim suggested we carry on and do a whole album... and so we spent the next year so doing.

It was released as a single but nobody really bought it, so we ended up putting it on Say It With Words too. Since then I've played it every now and again, but i tend to avoid it as it's five minutes long, and that's a large chunk of a set to invest in a single song! We haven't played it with The Validators since we went down to a single guitar, but hopefully one day it'll come back. I think this is the song I'd most like somebody else to cover!

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