Half Open Doorways Album (1994)

Half Open Doors Album Cover

When my family moved to Petersfield in Hampshire, I became a regular at Chichester Folk Club. During this time (1987 to 1994), I recorded 16 songs, which made up the album Half Open Doorways. This was pre CD and therefore in the form of a cassette tape. In various guises all sixteen songs are below with links to lyrics etc. The recording quality on the original tracks is not brilliant. Many of them are first takes. Some of the tracks are on the Acoustic Guitar Community website. I do draw in this pool from time to time.

Acknowledgement is made for the help and support received from Chichester Folk Club at that time (in particular Kerry Manning and Marilyn Campbell).

Tracks

I remember writing these words shortly after the family moved to Worminghall (near Oxford). The words leapt from the pages of a school history book and ideas for the tune unfurled after listening to somebody playing at Long Wittenham Folk Club. I generally play this in Drop D with the capo on 3rd fret. There is a version on youtube: Florence Nightingale, and the version on the player immediately below is by my friend Pam Dentith, who helped me to get going again. The version which is on Bare Bones can be heard on Soundcloud.

 

Florence Nightingale

We went to fight the Russians to hold the dogs at bay,

Keep them to the border in the hope that’s where they’d stay.

French and English fighting men, were brought from far and near,

To keep the Turkish empire whole, we battled in Crimea.

And we weren’t dressed for the winter, of Russia at its worst.

Many owe their lives today to the Nightingale who nursed.

We got the call from India, that’s where we had been,

Working for our country and Victoria the queen.

With victory at Alma, Sebastapol saw spine,

In highland men who stood as one, to form a thin red line.

And we weren’t dressed for the winter, of Russia at its worst.

Many owe their lives today, to the Nightingale who nursed.

Nightingale, Nightingale,

Many owe their lives today, to the Nightingale who nursed.

The fumbling bungling officers, did not know what to do.

They took them out of mothballs, where they’d been since Waterloo.

It was frostbite and cholera, that took a toll on life,

Killed more men than the Russians ever did, with bayonet and knife.

And we weren’t dressed for the winter, of Russia at its worst.

Many owe their lives today, to the Nightingale who nursed.

Nightingale, Nightingale,

Many owe their lives today, to the Nightingale who nursed.

Paul J Openshaw (1986 ish) 

Chords:

D                                                              G               Em          A

We went to fight the Russians to hold the dogs at bay,

D                                                           G                    Em                A

Keep them to the border in the hope that’s where they’d stay.

Bm                                 G               D                 Em                     G            A

French and English fighting men, were brought from far and near,

D                                                                          G             A   D

To keep the Turkish empire whole, we battled in Crimea.

                  Em                          G            A                 Em       G        A

And we weren’t dressed for the winter, of Russia at its worst.

D                                                                  G             A             D

Many owe their lives today to the Nightingale who nursed.

THEN THE CHORUS BIT AFTER SECOND AND THIRD VERSES

D                      G   Em  A

Nightingale, Nightingale,

Bm                          G       D                      Em         A               D

Many owe their lives today to the Nightingale who nursed.

I rewrote this song a few years ago. It started out in a religious vein, and it was called “Just To Know”. Expressing things in a slightly different way produced the words “It’s the knowledge of your presence”. The strength of that opening line took the song in a new direction, and the rest of the words flowed from there.

 

Lyrics

It’s the knowledge of your presence and the way you stand so resolute,

As time and torment truly take their toll.

It’s the zeal in your eyes, and your warm and glowing radiance,

As we strive towards a common distant goal.

It’s so hard to comprehend the way our friendship grew,

But there will always be a place in my life for you.

It’s your disregard for failure and the way you see the future,

And the prospect of the paths, which lie ahead.

You win my admiration, for your grim determination,

And the way you stayed when others would have fled.

It’s so hard to comprehend the way our friendship grew,

But there will always be a place in my life for you.

What good does it do just to sit here and sigh,

With a tear in my mind and a cloud in my eye?

Now all I can wish you is all that is fine,

And I’ll always remember that once you were mine.

I have often been unable to express these random thoughts

And how inadequate is the medium of word.

As the clouds of doubt roll over and the daylight starts to fade,

Events could not have otherwise occurred.

It’s so hard to comprehend the way our friendship grew,

But there will always be a place in my life for you.

Paul J Openshaw (1990 ish)

This song is in actual fact, a prayer. The man in the song is probably out in the middle of an empty field, shouting the words up at the sky, in the hope that someone is listening. The initial recording was played on banjo in the key of C.

 

Lyrics

You, whose might no man can measure,

Whose worth is more than earthly treasure,

You who sits in regal splendour,

Creator of such awesome grandeur.

Who am I to question you?

I am but one of more than just a few.

Should you deign to cast an eye on me,

Take pity on the mortal in the atheist you see.

I stand before your throne and shake,

Your voice of thunder makes the earth quake,

The sky, the mountains and the birds,

And many other works too beautiful for words.

Who am I to question you?

I am but one of more than just a few.

Should you deign to cast an eye on me,

Take pity on the mortal in the atheist you see.

Then by whisper in your still small voice,

You say, all is calm rejoice,

And know within that all is well,

Although outside is little less than living hell.

Who am I to question you?

I am but one of more than just a few.

Should you deign to cast an eye on me,

Take pity on the mortal in the atheist you see.

These things give me cause to wonder,

It seems no less than boob and blunder,

That man should possess such power,

To make creation cringe and cower.

Who am I to question you?

I am but one of more than just a few.

Should you deign to cast an eye on me,

Take pity on the mortal in the atheist you see.

Paul J Openshaw (1990 ish)

Having moved up to Lanarkshire from Lancashire at the age of seven, I found myself going to a Scottish primary school (Stepps). It was here that I was initiated in Scottish history and that is probably the background to this song. This also was the first time I encountered the word sassenach.

Lyrics

Your homes and your holdings were cleared by decree.

To harvest seaweed, you were moved to the sea.

Cheviot sheep came to people the hills.

Northumberland farmers with shepherding skills.

Nova Scotia.

Your factors drove tenants from houses and land.

Your church gave its blessings to those in command.

Your ministers watched as their parish homes burned.

The cries and the anguish went unheeded and spurned.

Nova Scotia.

Some families moved off to far away places.

To build up their homesteads in wide open spaces,

With freedom to choose, to live as they would,

And to work for the future as best as they could.

Nova Scotia.

Sometimes it seems there’s a chip on your shoulder.

Feelings are bitter while embers still smoulder.

Will you ever again trust a man from the south,

Or believe in the words from a sassenach mouth?

Nova Scotia.

Paul J Openshaw (1980 something probably)

I recall walking down a street in Aberdeen having struggled through a diploma in Farm Business Organisation and Management at the age of 29. The song was buzzing around in my head. Around that time the song sort of dropped into place.

 

Lyrics

Climb every hill, which you can see before your eyes.

Always look towards a coming day.

Take care when showers fall or people get you down.

Be careful with the words you choose to say.

We’ll get there together. We’ll get there together.

All I ask is that you take the hand, which reaches out to yours.

Don’t be afraid of finding who you are and what you’re doing.

Don’t lose the lamp you light in youth.

Be wary though of wicked seeds, which strangers try to sow in you.

Be wary of a stranger to the truth.

We’ll get there together. We’ll get there together.

All I ask is that you take the hand, which reach out to yours.

There’s nothing you need fear and there’s nothing you can do.

Always realise you’re not alone.

As you walk the mountains take your time, so that the mountains in your mind

Will never turn you into stone.

We’ll get there together. We’ll get there together.

All I ask is that you take the hand, which reaches out to yours.

Paul J Openshaw (1982 ish)

Life has ups and downs. It is uncanny, but the atmosphere has a bearing. Perhaps that is why the sad syndrome is so significant at particular times of year. I am not sure I could write a song like this at the moment. That probably pleases me. You can listen to the song on Soundcloud.

If You Should Take Your Love From Me

I watched the clouds with soulful eye.

They seemed to gather fast.

Lightning struck with almighty crack.

Saplings bent to the blast.

How sad and lonely I would be,

If you should take your love from me,

If you should take your love from me.

Rolling thunder long and hard,

With foundation shaking roar,

And biting wind with piercing might,

Chilling to the core.

How sad and lonely I would be,

If you should take your love from me,

If you should take your love from me.

Hard the track beneath the tread.

Slow the heart to mend.

Freezing rain cuts to the bone,

To break what will not bend.

I watched the clouds with soulful eye.

They seemed to gather fast.

Lightning struck with almighty crack.

Saplings bent to the blast.

How sad and lonely I would be,

If you should take your love from me,

If you should take your love from me.

Paul J Openshaw (1992 ish)

This sad song probably dates back to late 70s/early 80s, life in a tied cottage and making do and mending. Lighting open fires and Rayburn stoves and eating rabbit pie. It is played on a little zither banjo. 

 

Lyrics

The willow hangs her boughs and her leaves fall to earth.

She stands looking naked as on the day of her birth.

Her branches fall, bring a tear to my eye.

Of all the trees I know, it’s the willow makes me cry.

The patterns of her form as the moon sheds her light,

As her long arms reflect all the shades of the night,

In the sallow of her skin as the shadows gently creep.

Of all the trees I know, it’s the willow makes me weep.

Middle eight

It’s all a part of learning wo we are and what we’re doing,

What we’re saying what we’re seeing. There is no time for sorrow.

The ashes from today light the fires of tomorrow.

The willow hangs her boughs and her leaves fall to earth.

She stands looking naked as on the day of her birth.

Her branches fall, bring a tear to my eye.

Of all the trees I know, it’s the willow makes me cry.

Paul J Openshaw (1980 something)

This song was written against a background of failing to live up to perceived expectations. A head says one thing but a heart says something else. When you are growing up and looking for a niche, that cannot be a healthy place for anyone. 

I remember a row of brick arches somewhere near Central Station in Glasgow. It was a gathering place for “men of the road”. I think that is the image which gave me the idea of half open doorways, although my sister says it reminds her of the bedroom doors in our house. We used to live beside a very busy road and there was a street lamp just outside the front windows. Glasgow was very much a part of those formative years. 

I think the last verse pulls things through into a positive place. 

Lyrics

I cannot deny that you kept me alive, 

Nurtured existence and helped me survive,

But now I see clearly the hurt and the strain

And some of the reasons for feeling such pain,

As the light from a street lamp casts a shadowy eye,

Over half open doorways where the downtrodden lie,

It sets me to thinking of things which you’ve done,

To provide for the life of your son.

I never went hungry, I had my fair share.

When I needed a shoulder, your shoulder was there,

But how bitter the feelings which welled up inside,

Twisted emotions and life form denied,

As the light from a street lamp casts a shadowy eye,

Over half open doorways where the downtrodden lie,

It sets me to thinking of things which you’ve done,

To provide for the life of your son.

I lived as expected your favour to seek,

And the words which you wanted to hear I would speak,

But thinking things over I’ve made up my mind,

The second hand faith I’ve left behind,

As the light from a street lamp casts a shadowy eye,

Over half open doorways where the downtrodden lie,

It sets me to thinking of things which you’ve done,

To provide for the life of your son.

Don’t slip away quickly, there’s still much to learn,

May sadness not touch you, in the old age you earn,

May you ever strive boldly for all that is true,

And as you watched over me, so I’ll watch over you,

As the light from a street lamp casts a shadowy eye,

Over half open doorways, where the downtrodden lie,

It sets me to thinking of things which you’ve done,

To provide for the life of your son.

Paul J Openshaw (1990 ish)

This song was written after listening to a band playing irish music in a pub at Buriton, which is a village near Petersfield in Hampshire. The atmosphere in the pub was very “up for it”. Click on Soundcloud to listen to the track.

 

A Kiss From The Darling Good Ale

From a straight or a handle, that’s the lanlord’s request,

As he pulls you a pint of his very best.

She’ll sit on the bar, so cool and exciting.

She’ll tease you and tempt, so dark and exciting.

If you don’t sit down, she’ll soon pull you over.

A kiss from the darling good ale.

From a bottle or a keg, from the froth to the dreg,

She’ll make your head spin as she weakens your leg.

She’ll help you forget all your worry and woe.

She’ll ease away pain, help you let yourself go.

If you don’t sit down, she’ll soon pull you over.

A kiss from the darling good ale.

Sometimes I’ve seen her with a grip and a hold,

An arrogant mistress, severe and cold.

She can hit you and hurt you and tear you apart.

Plunder your senses and break your heart.

If you don’t sit down, she’ll soon pull you over.

A kiss from the darling good ale.

So don’t treat her lightly, be careful and wise,

For she is no lady with sparkling eyes.

As she loosens your clothing and lulls you to sleep,

All that you give her, she’ll want to keep.

If you don’t sit down, she’ll soon pull you over.

A kiss from the darling good ale.

Paul J Openshaw (1987 ish)

This song was written for my daughter when she was in her early teens. At that time, I used to introduce the song as being for teenage daughters everywhere, but for one in particular. These days I usually dedicate the song to anyone who has recently experienced failure or rejection. It is very much a part of my current set list. If you click on the red writing, you can listen to the song on Soundcloud.

Striving To Be Someone

There’s time for you, don’t worry, somethings don’t come easy.

There will always be a space for those, who seem a little crazy.

Somehow you’ll be thankful, that you didn’t give up trying,

Though sometimes you end up laughing, sometimes you end up crying.

Though you might not like it, there’s little you can do,

Striving to be someone when there’s no one quite like you.

Don’t let the stress and tensions weigh down upon your thinking.

Don’t let each situation drift to outwith your control.

When your temper’s stormy blast casts a shadow on your mind,

Don’t lose the precious moments, which you’ve striven hard to find.

Though you might not like it, there’s little you can do,

Striving to be someone when there’s no one quite like you.

May you know a sense of balance as you form your own opinions.

Try to see things clearly as you make your own ideas.

May life for you be rich but may you never be a miser,

As you grow a little older may you grow a little wiser.

Though you might not like it, there’s little you can do,

Striving to be someone when there’s no one quite like you.

May you always sleep soundly with a free and easy conscience,

So you’ll always have strength enough to move towards the future,

In the full and certain knowledge, you can well and ably cope.

In whatever way you choose to live, may you always live in hope.

Though you might not like it, there’s little you can do,

Striving to be someone when there’s no one quite like you.

Paul J Openshaw (1990 ish)

I remember singing at a church coffee bar in West Scotland but not really feeling at ease with what was expected from me. Afterwards I drove back to the farm where I was living (near to Kilmarnock) and wrote this song. It is played in open G.

Lyrics

I don’t need to hear you talking.

It’s written on your face.

The way you look right through me,

Tells me I’m out of place.

I should be in some other time,

And you tell me that I’m wasting rhyme.

Really I’m just looking for your unspoken word,

Your unspoken word.

I don’t think I’ll hear it.

Your mind’s on other things.

You don’t have the time of day,

To shed your angel’s wings.

I should be in some other time,

And you tell me that I’m wasting rhyme.

Really I’m just looking for your unspoken word,

Your unspoken word.

Now it’s time to turn my back.

It’s time to move along.

You seem to feel so ill at ease,

And I want to write a song.

I should be in some other time,

And you tell me that I’m wasting rhyme.

Really I’m just looking for your unspoken word,

Your unspoken word.

Paul J Openshaw (1975 ish)

The inspiration for this song was twofold. It paints a picture of a bloke with whom I used to work. His sole topic of conversation was guns. He did join the army and in actual fact got as far as playing triangle in the army band. For the purposes of the song, the triangle became a tambourine! The second aspect centres around what became known as the Hungerford massacre. What could unhinge a man’s mind to the extent that he would want do such a thing? 

On this track the guitar is tuned to open G and double tracked. 

Lyrics

I used to play with action man when I was a boy of four,

Camouflage and khaki were the only colours I wore.

I’ve always been an innocent and some would say a green,

It’s never been a choice of mine, it’s just the way it’s been.

Chorus

I wanted to be a soldier, I joined up at seventeen,

I wanted to drive a tank but they gave me a tambourine.

I never saw the enemy, I never went to war,

Killing tunes in the army band’s the only death I saw.

Books on guns, I’ve read them all. I’ve read the magazines.

The movies with the soldiers are the only ones I’ve seen.

I gather the memorabilia and it doesn’t gather dust.

I keep it clean and polished so it doesn’t turn to rust.

I’ve never been aggressive, I bottle it up inside.

When I was a private I can honestly say I tried.

I stood up to attention and I did what I was told,

But the officer’s attention was a thing I couldn’t hold.

With my bush hat and my paraboots, the trooper in me thrives.

I’ll show them I’m a soldier if the chance to fight arrives.

I’ll show them I’m a soldier and I’ll show them I’m a man,

And if it means another war, I’ll start one if I can.

Paul J Openshaw (1987)

This song is played in open G. 

Up to October 2013 (time of writing), it has not been played for a long time. Having read through the words as I typed them out below I am quite happy with what I wrote! I may well dust it off in the near future.

Lyrics

You give me all you have to give. There is no cause to doubt you.

We share our lives in many ways, there is no life without you.

When the wind begins to shake the windows in the pane.

I hold on to the thought that you’ll be near me once again.

Your eyes look so peaceful when the cold wind starts to blow.

The beauty of your smile keeps my heart from sinking low.

When the wind begins to shake the window in the pane.

I hold on to the thought that you’ll be near me once again.

So much ever changes in an ever changing plan.

You give me all you have to give. I give you all I can.

When the wind begins to shake the window in the pane.

I hold on to the thought that you’ll be near me once again.

Paul J Openshaw (1979 ish)

I made a conscious decision to embrace a working life. In my early years, having left school, I clearly recall not wanting to work behind a desk. I wrote this song not long after leaving the Scottish Borders and a beautiful place not too far away from the Cheviot Hill. It expresses the desire to return, but life has never really seemed to be that simple. 

BORDERLAND

You give to me no quarter as you sign away my life.

I don’t believe you care for who I am.

To truth you are no stranger as you twist her with your knife.

I don’t believe you care or give a damn.

Chorus

Don’t wait for me at the end of the day.

I won’t be there to meet your demand.

You won’t hold me now with your lies and deceit.

I’m going back to the borderland.

Am I just an empty face behind the window of your eyes?

Am I just an empty face and nothing more?

Are you trying to look through me from behind your thin disguise?

I’ll never knock again upon your door.

If you’re ever on the streets, with a twist life sometimes takes,

Maybe you’ll walk the roads I’ve walked along.

When you’re down and on your knees, you’ll find perspectives change

The way you look at right and wrong.

Paul J Openshaw (must have started this in 1970 something)

I do not like plucking pheasants. It is one of those jobs! If you have done it once, and that bit of information slips out, however inadvertently, people seem to come from far and wide clutching their dead birds in the hope that you can do something with them. I must have written the song during a pensive moment and perhaps trying to justify not doing it ever again. 

 

Lyrics

I thought of the gun, which brought you to rest,

As I pulled the feathers from your breast.

I gazed on your head once glorious and fine,

As I felt the shivers run down my spine.

Chorus

It seems somewhat hard to me.

If only man had the eyes to see,

The mindless destruction, which brings him such joy,

And the beauty in things, which he seeks to destroy.

I fingered your wind so bloody and dry,

As I stretched out the wing, which would never fly.

Your once proud legs now limp and lame,

And the structure of your fragile frame.

Your feathers bathed in autumn light,

Could there ever be a more glorious sight?

Your rainbow colours touched by the sun,

A mere target for the sporting gun?

I thought of the smatter, the crack and the smite,

Which ended the panic of your driven flight,

As the beaters moved with stick and with dog,

To flush you out from behind your log.

Paul J Openshaw (1980 something)

This was a first venture into alternative tuning. It is a simple little song. I wrote it during a time when I was working in a large grass drying plant. It was at this time that I experienced being “on call” through the night. That is probably where the broken night reference comes from.

Lyrics

Day breaks on a broken night.

I need you now ‘though I have no right.

I don’t need candle light,

To say you’re mine.

I give you all I own.

All I possess is yours alone.

Melt down this heart of stone,

And say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

Melt down this heart of stone,

And say you’re mine.

We share such tenderness.

You fill this life with hopefulness.

In every sweet caress,

Say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

In every sweet caress,

Say you’re mine.

I say these things while we’re alive.

Today we live in hope and strive,

For all that must yet arrive,

Say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

Say you’re mine.

For all that must yet arrive,

Say you’re mine.

Paul J Openshaw (longer ago than I care to remember)

 

© Copyright 2020 Paul Openshaw.