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The Minstrel

From the Album The Minstrel

A minstrel steps into the hall
To see his king and queen
Sire, there is something I must say
The words no longer find their place
Nor music fill my ears
Looks like my age has finally won the day

Respectfully I bid your leave
Although my heart is sad
But before I walk this last lonely mile
I need to know that with my songs
Your spirits I have moved
For if they have my life has been worthwhile

Do you like the songs I’ve sung to you
Do you like the times that we’ve been through
Do you like my music, do you like to sing along
Yes we like the songs that you have sung
And we like the friends that we’ve become
We like your music and the words of your songs

Thank you for those words so kind
But I still feel some concern
For what has been the purpose of my songs
The cruelties of this world remain
And though my words may warm the soul
They’ve not put right a single wrong
And a tired king makes softly his reply

You’ve sung to us of love and pain
Of sorrow and of joy
And we’re touched that with us your soul you’ve shared
It’s true your songs won’t change the world
If only that they could
But they make our pain much easier to bear

A minstrel and a king unite in a tearful farewell
And for the rest of time, the world unites
Under the minstrel spell


When returning to music in 1989, I found myself writing in an acoustic style, so it seemed natural to see if I could make a name in folk clubs. I knew it meant small audiences and very little money, but I would be able to play my own songs with just me and a guitar, and that was all I wanted.
I put together a nice little set and was delighted when this song came to me, as it would make a perfect finale to a concert. The minstrel (me) asks the king (the audience) is it right that I make a living in the arts when there are so many people in essential services that struggle to make ends meet? The king replies “Your words won’t change the world, but they make our pain much easier to bear,” which leads to the final chorus that is sung by the audience.

“Yes we like the songs that you have sung
And we like the friends that we’ve become
We like your music
And the words of your songs.”

People love to sing along in folk clubs so it would have made a magical finale once the audience got to know the song. It was the perfect plan, but in the immortal words of the great Blackadder, “It was bollocks.”
No one wanted to book an unknown singer-songwriter in folk clubs unless they were prepared to make a name for themselves by travelling around the country several times, competing with local amateurs for a ten-minute floor spot.