Van der Graaf Generator - Refugees / The Boat of Millions of Years 7" (1970)

Re-up of the 3rd single of the band. The version is not the album one, shorter and with different arrangements. Don't have to add anything to the text I had written initially. This is a hell (heaven) of a song. Catch it here (I'm a little bit concern since M has removed one link yesterday, I hope they don't follow the bad example of rs and so many more).

This is one of the 5 most wonderful and moving songs from Peter Hammill (therefore in history). About 2 of his best friends (Mike and Susie) emigrating and leaving him alone, it becomes a song about all refugees over the planet. The melody, the lyrics, the voice, the arrangements, all makes this song an immortal standard. That it was not a massive hit à-la "Whiter Shade of Pale" (and it's much better) is a mystery (and a misery) to me. Surely that in 1970, people wanted roughier stuff (it was Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin that succeded). "Refugees" was extracted from The Least We Can Do... LP but this single version is different from the LP one. Moreover, there is a remix on the reissue of the album but I think the mix lacks the rudimentary charm of the original version. So I included both in the rar file. The B-side is a non-album track and a good one (but the band has never done a bad one). It could have been a track in the LP. It is too in both versions. The remix versions are in flac so you can appreciate all the sound quality of the CD (if you like that, I personally don't). If, for any reason, you never heard "Refugees", please do me the favour to taste its flavour  The cover sleeve, I've found it here. It was a long job to find a one that pleased me but this one surely does justice to the song.

Refugees (single version)
tilidom file storage

North was somewhere years ago and cold:Ice locked the people's hearts and made them old.South was birth to pleasant lands, but dry:I walked the waters' depths and played my mind.East was dawn, coming alive in the golden sun:the winds came, gently, several heads became one in the summertime, though august people sneered;we were at peace, and we cheered.We walked alone, sometimes hand in hand,between the thin lines marking sea and sand;smiling very peacefully,we began to notice that we could be free,and we moved together to the West.West is where all days will someday end;where the colours turn from grey to gold,and you can be with the friends.And light flakes the golden clouds above all;West is Mike and Susie,West is where I love.There we shall spend our final days of our lives;tell the same old stories: yeah well,at least we tried.Into the West, smiles on our faces, we'll go;oh, yes, and our apologies to those who'll never really know the way.We're refugees, walking away from the life that we've known and loved;nothing to do or say, nowhere to stay;now we are alone.We're refugees, carrying all we ownin brown bags, tied up with string;nothing to think, it doesn't mean a thing,but we'll be happy on our own.West is Mike and Susie;West is where I love,West is refugees' home.

Below, 2 testimonies from the band in this part of year 1970 (Nic Potter was still with thme on bass but he would leave shortly afterwards. These two videos have a great emotional power for me. I was a kid back there, but this was the kind of stuff that decided to the kind of music I would like to hear in my life.


mani said...

Susie refers to the actress, Susan Penhaligon, with whom Hammill had been a "close friend".

Klaus Radiolux said...

Actually, I've never realized the Refugees single CD version was a different mix from the original one. What a surprise ! I hope the rest of the Least We Can Do album wasn't remixed as well. Thanks +++

Pixylad said...

It is interesting how many people can narrow this track down to simply being "About" two of peter's Friends. If the first opening passage is not enough to explain the more mystic aspects, the later descriptions of the movement during the 60s (Hippies) should clear things up. Whatever do some wonder what H to He is about? I dare not to go looking :) I first heard this when i was 11 (About 1984) And have remained affectionate ever since.

Aldo Stanzani said...

I am sorry that the link is not downloading the files ;-(

dkelvin said...

The link works. Don't know why you can't dl the file. Try again. It's surely a problem with rs, not the link

jão da silva said...

I guess VdGG hit us all at different ages and stages of our lives (even Mr Jones's...)- actually this footage even did the rounds of my detached european country's TV back in 75-76 ( you know, that narrow, tiny strip of Atlantic land that many mistake with just another province of Spain). It is something that once watched is never forgotten - I must have been 13 or sth - and another evidence that Mancunium's Finest had something special going on with all them euroLatin countries - remember the massive VdGG madness in Italy. 45 years of splendour.