Blind Joe Death had been transfigured
We’d hung the hangman’s daughter high
In the rolling paper silence
We thought in step like passers by
From Cyfartha to Siddharta to King Arthur’s Saintly Knights
We’d bring the warring tribes together
And set a broken world to rights

But hoping that Frodo got to Mordor
No longer seemed appropriate
As Chinese printed ‘Gotha Programmes’
took the place of opiates

From your backside to the Bogside
For Upper Clyde and Soledad
We carried bed sheet dyed red banners
And poured in every hope that we had

Jerusalem is shattered
Evacuate the towers
There’s a hurricane approaching
The weatherman’s predicting showers

Jerusalem is shattered
Evacuate the towers
There’s a hurricane approaching
The weatherman’s predicting showers

If … Allende is Angola
And a taste of victory
Getting even, getting closer
With Franco down and Lisbon free
From the first cut, to the last round
We met and argued, marched and planned
Oh who would guess we’d soon be fewer
When everywhere was garage land

Oh, you can’t get a pin between the splinters
With the broad church on its knees
In these cold and bleak mid-winters
The south is blue and the rest can freeze
From the Medway to the west way
Easy money they recite
There’s some would share
But all’s divided
Where 'The Sun' would cast no light

Jerusalem is shattered
Evacuate the towers
There’s a hurricane approaching
The weather mans predicting showers

Jerusalem is shattered
Evacuate the towers
Theirs a hurricane approaching
The weatherman predict showers

Oh, chain the Raindogs to the gatepost
Drag your urchin kids inside
Press the play, turn up the volume
Hope the good Lord will provide
From the Taybridge, to the Tamar
The blame is hers, the fault is ours

At least
Hurricane approaching, the weatherman predicted showers

At least
A hurricane approaching, the weatherman predicted showers

Song Description

Basically it’s a song about Mike’s (and the new left in general) development and defeat.

It starts in the late sixties with a lot of hippy references. ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’ for instance is the title of an album by arch-hippy (and brilliant) group ‘The Incredible String Band’. ‘Siddhartha’ is the title of a book by Hermann Hesse, a great favourite of hippies and New Agers. It was a time of great ‘idealism’ – some of it quite mad – but definitely a great time. Mike was one of those young long-haired hippies and I would have been if I could have got my hair to grow downwards instead of outwards. We thought we could change the world into a ‘nicer’ place – put a ‘warring world to right’.

I can’t recall much of the next two verses but I suppose it talks about the 70’s, becoming more hardline socialists, the class struggle, the idea of overthrowing capitalism etc.

Then came Thatcher. The point here is that when Thatcher became Prime Minister, no one took it very seriously. We just thought she was another Tory who we could easily resist. In fact she destroyed so much of what we thought was indestructible in the working-class movement. In particular, she took on the Miners’ Union – the union that had beaten back so many right-wing governments in the past – and she won. In fact she set in motion a dynamic that would mean the disappearance of the union and the industry in general.

So why ‘The Weatherman’? Well because of the under-estimation and complacency of the left-wing movement in relation to Thatcher. You see, in October 1987 at the end of a weather report on the BBC, the weatherman (Michael Fish) said that he’d just received a phone call from a woman in Cornwall, who was worried about the possibility of a hurricane hitting the UK. Very arrogantly, the weatherman told her not to worry, that there was no way a hurricane was coming and that she could sleep soundly that night. No worries.

Well that night the strongest hurricane for centuries smashed into the UK. There were floods, trees were uprooted (one third of all trees in the famous Kew Gardens), roofs torn off, windows smashed (mine was in London) – maybe even some deaths though I don’t
remember clearly.

So that gave Mike the idea. ‘There’s a hurricane approaching, the weatherman predicted showers.’…….’A political hurricane is approaching (Thatcher), the weatherman (the left) predicted an easy time.’

(Song description above by Steve Skaith from A Little Latin Quarter)

Mike Jones on some of the lyrical references:

Blind Joe Death had been transfigured:
‘The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death’ is an album by John Fahey on Takoma Records. I first heard it on John Peel’s Perfumed Garden show on Radio London. JP as a pirate DJ played the most amazing music – in 1967, The Doors, Love, Mothers of Invention, Incredible String Band, Capt. Beefheart, Country Joe and the Fish to name but a few. So, for me, these references are directly personal ones – ones that go back to my ‘formation’ as someone who thought the world could be changed/was changing/he could help change it.

In the rolling paper of silence
People smoking dope, too stoned to speak!

We thought in step like passers by
Just that weird stoned experience of ‘shared thoughts’ (implicitly shared goals) – and a continuation of the silent self-absorption late at night, hearing a couple of lovers pass by at the exact same pace, maybe some heels clicking on the pavement…

From Cyfartha to Siddharta to King Arthur’s Saintly Knights
Cyfartha in Merthyr, home of the original ironworks, basically – from the working class/from unglamorous industry. Just the contrast between grim/humble surroundings and great and noble dreams.

As Chinese-printed ‘Gotha Programmes’
When we were student lefties we bought all the Marx/Engels/Lenin pamphlets and books, mostly in Soviet or Chinese editions, all very cheap because they were looking for converts!

If Allende is Angola

It seemed that there were to be breakthroughs but not in the heart of capitalism – which is what the student/worker actions promised in France and Italy in the late-60’s.

With Franco down and Lisbon free
Death of Franco, end of Portugese fascism

From the first cut, to the last round
I don’t think its ‘cut’ but I can’t remember, the ‘last round’ – because we’d ALWAYS end up in the pub!!

We met and argued, marched and planned
Oh who would guess we’d soon be fewer
When everywhere was garage land
Oddly in 1977 – year of the first Clash album, the left began to lose its way/lose the gains made internationally

Oh, you can’t get a pin between the splinters
Far left splinters – what really WAS the difference between the 54 different revolutionary groups in the UK c.1980??

With the broad church on its knees
Labour Party always described as a ‘broad church to differentiate it from the sects/sectarianism of the Far Left

In these cold and bleak mid-winters
The south is blue and the rest can freeze
The Conservative victory of ’79 was almost a diagonal line travelling from The Wash to Bristol

From the Medway to the west way
Easy money they recite
Rise of Thatcherite Yuppies

Where ‘The Sun’ would cast no light
‘The Sun’ newspaper, absolute mouthpiece of a far-right government

Oh, chain the Raindogs to the gatepost
Tom Waits ‘Raindogs’ a great album in 1985 – I was counting off the years in terms of the music I was listening to.

Drag your urchin kids inside
Some of my friends had started having kids, a big change for the close knit world of tiny Marxist groups.

From the Taybridge to the Tamar
Basically throughout the length of the country.

Versions

  • AStudio Version (4:19)
  • BStudio Version (5:06)
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