My new book Blood in the Cracks is set for publication later this week. As a taster for readers, this is the introduction:
Blood in the Cracks – Liner Notes
Early one morning the sun was shining and I was lying in bed, pining the death of Different Voices, lost souls, abandoned dreams, broken guitar strings and love’s mortality.
In the end, the world has been betrayed by the old and corrupted by the young.
The cancer of capitalism has destroyed all that once was good… the Gates of Eden closed a long time ago and as the cars roar and hookers score in the Empire Burlesque, it is the money men, the media barons and launderers who grin as the corporate knife goes in.
A screenplay to the evil scourge of ordinary people by the most arrogant, privileged and fascist governments our world has ever witnessed.
For more than 700 years, their arrogance has conquered peaceful countries, imposed Western values and Christianity upon those countries, murdered millions and taken millions more into slavery.
They have sown war and hatred all over the world… because war creates money and wealth underpins the corruption of the powerful.
For the past four years, Saudi Arabia has pursued a vicious bombing campaign in Yemen that has left thousands of innocent civilians dead.
Government figures show that in one six month period alone, the UK sold Saudi Arabia £1,066,216,510 worth of weapons, including bombs and air-to-air missiles.
That is just part of £4.6 billion of UK arms sales to Saudi since the war in Yemen began.
The UN says more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s war, including more than 5,000 civilians.
Many more have perished due to starvation, or a lack of access to healthcare and medical aid.
Meanwhile, back at home the young are corrupted for their souls…
They have been sleep-walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance; with TV totems, tanning studios, face lightening cosmetics, designer clothes labels, supermodels and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice have been jettisoned for a ‘winner takes all’ mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor.
It is underpinned by a malicious mainstream media who smear and pillory anyone who dares question the status quo or suggest alternatives.
The press barons and their big business buddies are terrified of those alternatives, because they threaten the capitalist inertia where the five richest families in the UK now own more wealth than the poorest 25% of the population.
Meanwhile, thousands of families survive on the breadline, make weekly use of food banks or starve due to draconian benefits sanctions.
Yet this is the First World… the land of cherished democracy and freedom.
As Pete Hamill wrote in 1974: “In the end, the plague touched us all. It was not confined to the Oran of Camus. No. It turned up again in America, breeding in-a-compost of greed and uselessness and murder, in those places where statesmen and generals stash the bodies of the forever young.
“The plague ran in the blood of men in sharkskin suits, who ran for President promising life, and delivering death. The infected young men machine-gunned babies in Asian ditches; they marshalled metal death through the mighty clouds, up above God’s green earth, released it in silent streams, and moved on, while the hospitals exploded and green fields were churned to mud.
“And here at home, something died. The bacillus moved among us, slaying that old America where the immigrants lit a million dreams in the shadows of the bridges… and through the fog of the plague, most art withered into journalism. Painters lift the easel to scrawl their innocence on walls and manifestos.
“Poor America. Tossed on a pilgrim tide… Land where the poets died.
“Except for Bob Dylan.”
The works of Robert Allen Zimmerman have bestowed the soundtrack to my life.
It is now 45 years since I first came to his music, his words of truthful vengeance and his vignettes of love and theft.
A lifetime’s inspiration.
One particular album, Blood on the Tracks, remains a lyrical and poetic touchstone.
My soul is forever wrapped within the songs of its entire 51 minutes and 42 seconds.
Overtly autobiographical, the LP is full of tales of a lover relating a series of unrelated events set in a mythical America. Like a series of impressionist paintings of life itself, the tales are both timeless and without geographical boundaries.
Over 10 iconic songs, Dylan alludes to heartache, deception, anger, poignant regret and loneliness.
It’s a world-weary, nostalgic and ultimately a poetic Bob Dylan; and that is what makes Blood on the Tracks so timeless.
And it is also what makes it the template for my own album of poems… the album you open here.
Welcome to Blood in the Cracks… no plagiarism, just inspiration and words.
These 10 poems are my life and my blood…