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Johnny Was

By poetry editor Godfrey Hardcore

Posted December 14, 2013
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This week's single of the month is 'Johnny Was' by Belfast punks Stiff Little Fingers.

Stiff Little Fingers,

Their message not aged.

Their music a mirror

O' the Troubles that raged

In howe'er you name it

And so choose to call

That land above Louth

And east o' Donegal.

And whate'er your colours,

Beliefs or your creed,

Listen to the lyrics

And pay special heed:

With a bomb blast in Belfast,

They're as fresh as when penned.

Take them to heart

And so comprehend

The scrawl on a wall

'Twixt the Lisburn and Falls:

"Stay free.

Stay punk.

Burn your flags."

Written by Rita Marley, Johnny Was first appeared on her husband Bob's 1976 album Rastaman Vibration.

It was then covered by Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) on thier 1979 début LP Inflammable Material, with the lyrics slightly altered to reflect the times and place in which the band lived.

It remains one of the greatest cover versions ever recorded.

To listen to the oringal, have a click of this.

We had hoped to embed the SLF album version but couldn't.

So, to make up for it, here's a couple more SLF anthems for you to savour, ponder and enjoy.

May there be peace in Northern Ireland, the Six Counties or howe'er you name it and so choose to call that land above Louth and east o' Donegal.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

The above videos were embedded, respectively, from the YouTube channels of fabiossh, TheTollundWoman and riparapa.

See also Gabrielle, posted 1/12/13.

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