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'Raise Your Banners'

Political Song Writing Competition


03 May 2012

 

A winner is announced: James Bar Bowen

 

Event: Raise Your Banners Festival: Political songwriting competition

Date: Thursday 5th November 2009

Venue: The Topic Folk Club, Rebecca Street, Bradford

 

On Thursday 5th November 2009, James Bar Bowen won the Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song songwriting competition. The festival, which has been held every two years since the mid-1990s, took place this year in Bradford, and the songwriting competition was themed 'Living in Yorkshire in 2009.'

 

A strong field of entries was received for the competition and the final was held at the Topic Folk Club ('the oldest folk club in the world'). Four finalists performed their songs live at the club and the winning song, based primarily on lyrical content, was declared by a panel of judges.

 

The winner, Huddersfield-based James Bar Bowen, presented a song called 'Never Never Land', which he describes as 'a mix of Orwell's concept of doublethink, along with consumerism, product-branding, media manipulation and a dose of surrealism'. His observation that brands used to be things that owners and farmers seared into the skin of slaves and cattle, but that now they are labels that people aspire to marking themselves with caused a shocked intake of breath from the audience, and nicely set the tone for the song, with its clever observations and sometimes surprising one-liners.

 

The judges commended 'Never Never Land' for its musical originality and narrative coherence as well as complementing James Bar Bowen on his professional performance and presentation. They said it was very much a song for our times and matched the ethos of the Raise Your Banners festival in addressing complex political issues; the chair of the judges said he thought it was a song that deserved to be heard widely and sung by many and varied voices. Similarly, it was extremely well received by the folk club audience, its insistent skabeat, catchy tune and resolving chorus providing an elegant backdrop to a powerful and complex lyric (see attached).

 

The winning prize was an opportunity to perform the song on the main stage of the festival during a concert on the Saturday (7th November) featuring folk luminaries Leon Rosselson, Roy Bailey, Frankie Armstrong, Sandra Kerr, Martin Carthy and Janet Russell, as well as contributions by a number of community and socialist choirs. At this event, the song was extremely well received by the packed audience of 600. It is hoped that the recognition of this new political songwriting talent will be picked up elsewhere in the media and beyond.

 

If you would like to know more about this exciting singer-songwriter, or any other related information, please go to:

http://www.myspace.com/jamesbarbowen

Or email Jacqueline Rose at brightredmarker@hotmail.com

http://www.raiseyourbanners.org/

http://www.topic-folk-club.org.uk/

 

Never Never Land - James Bar Bowen

Down here on Airstrip One at the Ministry of Fun

They're having practicals in ignorance and fear

Double-edged with double glazing, doublethink is just amazing

And we're convinced that it can't happen here

In Never Never Land life is never never bland

Repayments are deferred 'til next year

With designer clothes and branding we relinquish understanding

And refuseniks hardly merit a sneer

 

Chorus

Now correct me if I've misunderstood

But when I came here somebody told me that she thought that I would

And I should have kept my mouth shut but I'm not sure that I could

 

Cryptic confabulation and naked reification

Makes for markets of unfettered fun

Common sense has been suspended, common decency's been upended

Or so they say in your soar-away Sun

Manufactured consent makes it look like we're content

We're aspiring to trophies and bling

Allegations and alligators and dissenting disseminators

Say we'd rather have a cabbage than a king

 

Chorus

Now correct me if I've misunderstood

But when I came here somebody told me that she thought that I would

And I should have kept my mouth shut but I'm not sure that I could

 

Have you heard they're having witch trials like something off the X-Files

Apportion chips with mushy praise and with blame

Now your flavour needs enhancing, tasty diners are busy dancing

You''re seeking something that'll spice up your game

Willing workers in a sweatshop and that's not real blood, that's just ketchup

We're proud to sport the slave-owner's brand

Sportswear that seems unsporting and high-grade Charlie for them that's snorting

A normal day here in Never Never Land

 

Chorus

Now correct me if I've misunderstood

But when I came here somebody told me that she thought that I would

And I should have kept my mouth shut but I'm not sure that I could

 

Alternative Chorus

Now correct me if I've missed something good

But when I came here somebody told me that she thought that I would

And I should have kept my mouth shut but I'm not sure that I could

 






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