Roy Harper – The Unknown Soldier – Happy Birthday Roy!!

Today is Roy’s Birthday. Happy birthday Roy!!

He’s been an old soldier down through the years – always pushing barriers and taking on the establishment – that war-mongering, greed machine that runs the world.  It has cost him dearly in many ways but he has stayed true to his principles.

This was released in 1980, in the Post-punk era. It was on the last album of the Harvest/EMI run – the end of his contract (though he went back to them later). The music press, which Roy had always had an uneasy relationship with, slagged it off – one particular review sending Roy apoplectic (calling Old Faces old faeces). But then these were the ‘hip’ punk journalists who despised anything to do with music from before punk. Roy, to them, represented the ‘old guard’. He was never going to get a fair hearing.

The album contained three songs reworked from the aborted album Commercial Breaks and half the album was a collaboration with Dave Gilmour. While it lacked an epic song, in the style of most of his albums, it had a number of excellent songs and certainly didn’t deserve a slagging.

Roy licked his wounds and set off into the wilderness to set up his own label and do his own thing without compromise.

This track, the title track, is one of my favourites off that great album. Roy has been an old soldier (and a year older today!), fighting his wars for what he believes to be right (musically, poetically and philosophically) without compromise. There’s never any doubt where he stands – he’s against the establishment and the game they are playing.

Happy Birthday Old Soldier!! Keep fighting!!

Unknown Soldier

I am an old soldier
I’ve been in the wars
Backwards and forwards
Creeping on all fours

And I travel the pulses
Unseen and alone
Dogfights in the cosmos
Feeling the unknown

And I laugh in my sleep
Sitting in the gutter
Picking dog-ends from the deep

I am an old soldier
I see in your face
Times repeating
Uniforms in space

Looking forward to Doomsday
Telepathy wars
Dogma daydreams
Imaginary doors

And I laugh in my sleep
Sitting in the gutter
Picking dog-ends from the deep

But in the night a little boy is dreaming mysteries
And looking after laughter with his sister climbing trees
And somewhere there’s a button and a silent satellite
And a bastard who would press it and an everlasting night

I’d hunt him like a tiger and I’d tear him to a shred
There’s nowhere you can hide man
Me and the kids we’d feed you to the dead

And I cry in my sleep
For all the hungry children
And the unbelieving sheep

Have a great day!

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