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At Glyde House Glydegate, Bradford W. Yorks, BD5 0BQ
Tel: 01274 271114

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TOPIC 60th ANNIVERSARY : SONG LYRICS

        2016 saw the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Topic folk club. For more on the history, see this site's History page. As part of the anniversary celebrations, a song non-competition was announced. "No rules, no prizes (apart from praise). Try out your "Topic Song" at a Singers' and Musicians' night, or collaborate and make a group effort. November 3rd is the club night when everyone who has written something will be able to perform their finished efforts and receive all and any praise due!"

     The performance was held on the 3rd November 2016, and below are the lyrics of all the songs involved. Songs are all the copyright of their writers.


The Topic Folk Club by Jeff Briggs
The Topic's 60 Years by Tony Charnock
The Topic Folk Club at Sixty by Sue Gaffney
Guy's Song for The Topic's 60th by Guy Killinbeck
Song for The Topic by Eddie Lawler
Farewell & Return (The Topic) by Rob Martin
We Can All Do With a Bit of S&M by Rob Martin
Topic (Still Carries the Tune) by Henry Parker
60 Years by Zbig Szafranski
Autumn 1956 by John Waller



The Topic Folk Club

by Jeff Briggs


Sixty years have come and gone
And people still sing here
They come to share their stories and songs
And maybe have a beer
What has happened throughout that time
Even when we pay our subs
    Who cares, we just love to sing at the Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club
    The Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club

Handed down through generations
Along with stories told
Members stay so young at heart
While the Club grows old
Instruments of pleasure
Are played at a local pub

    Because we love to sing at The Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club
    The Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club

Singers and the song writers
Perform for us to fine
Even committee members join in
Selling raffles for some wine
Keep the tradition going
Keeping this place an active hub

    Because we love to sing at The Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club
    The Topic Club
    The Topic Folk Club


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The Topic's 60 Years
Ode to a Folk Club

by Tony Charnock

I can't write songs and I'm sometimes lost for words
But there's a story going round that I think should be heard
It's about a certain folk club, the oldest surviving one
That I'm going to tell you, so come, gather round
It's six decades ago this year that the first songs were sung
By Alex Eaton and his friends,
Here in Bradford,
And the Topic was begun

Since then, every week at the club there's been some kind of gig
Though it's small it's friendly, not too big
We've had famous names, unknown acts, some from across the globe,
Artists passing through our town while they're on the road
Duos, trios, even bands, and many a guitar picking fellah
Locals too and some talented young people: take, for example, Bella.
Singers nights, AGMs, nothing left to chance
And in days gone by, as Trevor will tell, there was a regular ceilidh dance.

Soon after the club was born things began to change
Different kinds of music and performers became the rage
There was skiffle, trad jazz, then the big one: rock and roll
Bill Haley, Elvis, Chuck and Buddy, they all took their toll.
For folkies and folk music these were the doldrum years
Not surprising really, with so many fingers stuck in ears
Youngsters wanted to twist and shout, the Beatles they were tops
Go down the local folk club? - Nah! - stay in, watch Top of the Pops.

But just as we were starting to fight for our survival
Along came a wondrous thing, they called it the "folk revival"
MacColl, the Seegers, Carthy et al, they all helped to save the scene
Just when it seemed that folkies would all become has beens
Fingers back in ears again, but only for a time
For a new breed was in the offing: Dylan was in his prime.
Singers writing their own songs now, their stories must be told
Old ways disappearing: albums, cassettes, now CD's to be sold.

The Topic hit the road, among West Yorkshire's rolling hills
Venues like some band's gig list adorn the T-shirts still
The Star, Eamon's Melborn, they're the most sorely missed
Others, too many to mention here, it's really quite a list
The Cock & Bottle, well it certainly had nice beer
But sadly the locals didn't really want a folk club there
The Irish Club in Rebecca Street, to be sure that was all right
Though sometimes you had to say a robust "No thanks" to the ladies of the night.

So here we are at Glyde House, here I hope we'll stay
It's a great room to perform in, you'll hear the artists say
There's Howard at the helm, so dapper, so polite
He helps things go smoothly, every Thursday night
Spare a thought for the committee too, going to all those meetings,
Accounts and bookings, will the guest turn up? and what about the seating ?
Nick Waller on the website, it runs just like a dream
All you want to know about the Topic, up there on the screen.

And while reminiscing in talk and song, as we are today
We recall with sadness so many we've lost along the way
Dave Robey, Mick Walker, and other unsung heroes
Dave's exact accounting, Mick's T-shirts - we've only just got rid of those.
Others too, too many to mention, in fact a lot
Always to be remembered, never to be forgot
So with a smile and a song , maybe a tear or two, we look back 60 years,
And raise our glasses to our club, saying "To the Topic - Cheers"


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The Topic Folk Club at Sixty

by Sue Gaffney


'Right then' said Rob, 'let's kick this thing off, we've got 60 years to live up to,
Take your seats now, we'll switch off the lights, I'll present the first floor spot to you.'

'That's me' answered John, 'I'll sing you a song, cerebral, historic and long
An Al Stewart cover, or one of my own, if we've got enough time I'll do both.'

On came the guest, they gave it their best, the audience glued to their seats,
The applause was so keen, turned into a cheer, saw Joe sneaking in with his beer.

Interval time, that feeling sublime, of a raffle ticket swapped for some wine,
Or maybe the chocolates, you'd best pass them round, generosity rules here we've found.

Parish notices now, who's on next time, and who's playing elsewhere and when,
Latecomers arrive, Nick and guitar, too late for a floor spot, so off to the bar.

Tony's up next, along with Rahel- music's divine, but she's giving him hell
What's he done this time? That we won't know - nor if she means it, we never can tell.

Back to the guest, they're looking perplexed - do all folk clubs run like this?
No-one knows really, and nor do we care, we've outlasted them all to be fair.

It's been done like this, since nineteen fifty-six, if it's not broke there's no need to fix it,
But it's not all easy, a committee to run, behind the scenes, upstairs at the pub,

where we fight and we argue, and parry and du-el, for the sake of the Topic's survival.
And if something's not sound, well Trevor's around, he'll be the man to right it.

Rob's back up now, "we'll see you next week, it's always a pleasurable duty,
And you can be sure, for sixty years more, we'll never forget to boogie."


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Guy's Song for The Topic's 60th

by Guy Killingbeck


    When I started coming to the Topic, a regular feature was fireman Ian Gobi's fine rendition, often of either "Dido Bendigo" or of Dave Golulder's "January Man". Much later, in an idle moment thumbing through the Topic membership register, I noticed between its pages a press-cutting from the Telegraph and Argus, being a letter penned by my predecessor at the Door, Philomena Hingston, in 2002 in support of the firemen's strike, in which Ian took part. Straightaway I knew I'd found the material for my Topic at 60 song. The line "Poor November man sees fire" comes from "January Man", and the line "Striding in forever [after the fox]" comes from "Dido Bendigo".

     Philomena's letter told how firemen "fight fires from above, below and within"; how firemen "are the target for yobs throwing stones" ; and concluded "I reckon they deserve a pay rise". Shadrach, Mesach, Adednigo are the three prophets from the OT Book of Daniel who were delivered from the firey furnace ; Mervyn King is an ex-governor of the Bank of England.

    Having recently had occasion to call the fire brigade out at two in the morning when I spotted an arsonist's blaze outside my neighbour's home, and having seen how professionally the firemen extinguished that burning car, and moreover having suffered many years (and anticipating many more to come) in paying for the mistakes of our bankers, I know whose side I'm on in this song. I calculated that 60 years equates roughly to 3000 Topic nights.     

Tune: "Margaret Malone" by Turlough O'Carolan
(See www.oldmusicproject.com/occ/tunes.html number 098 - "Margaret Malone")  
  

  

When the world has gone to blazes
Is when foxy flame amazes.
Then, for firemen, it is time.
The very hounds of hell they know...
And Dido, Bendigo.  

    To the rescue, their ladders climbing,
    Rung by rung their ballads rhyming...
    Yes, three thousand Topic nights recall
    There's no song so strange but life caps all.  

"Poor November man sees fire"
One sings, but all inspire
And for firemen, whiz-bangs chime.
Fulgent as a flower show
Guy Fawkes' night sky's aglow  

    To the rescue, their ladders climbing,
    Rung by rung their ballads rhyming...
    Yes, three thousand Topic nights recall
    There's no song so strange but life caps all.  

Shadrach, Mesach, Adednigo
Trials of fire undergo
And for firemen, smoke and grime.
God knows, they're in earnest,
Those folk in that furnace...  

    To the rescue, their ladders climbing,
    Rung by rung their ballads rhyming...
    Yes, three thousand Topic nights recall
    There's no song so strange but life caps all.  

Hosing above, below, within
Infernoes, towers twin,
And for firemen, life is prime.
They're targets for stone-thowing
Hoodlums, evil sowing.  

    To the rescue, their ladders climbing,
    Rung by rung their ballads rhyming...
    Yes, three thousand Topic nights recall
    There's no song so strange but life caps all.  

So much more are they deserving
Than bankers (likes of Mervyn)
And for firemen, give a dime.
Bold, fearless in endeavour,
"Striding in forever"...  

    To the rescue, their ladders climbing,
    Rung by rung their ballads rhyming...
    Yes, three thousand Topic nights recall
    There's no song so strange but life caps all.  

When the world has gone to blazes
Is when foxy flame amazes.
Then, for firemen, it is time.
The very hounds of hell they know...
And Dido, Bendigo.  


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Song for The Topic

by Eddie Lawler

In the heart of Bradford you hear songs
Songs of bravery and boldness
Songs of praise and songs of protest
Of soldiers and of sailors
Famous victories and failures
In distant lands and in our own backyard
And mostly with a chorus
And always... from the heart

    The Topic is a Chorus Song
    To echo down the years to come
    For many happy birthdays
    Just as long as there is Thursday

Deep in the heart of Bradford you hear ballads
Tales of death and dereliction
Of love and resurrection
Full of fun and full of fear
Songs of peace and songs of war
Of King Billy, Barleycorn and Bonaparte
Mostly with a chorus
And always... from the heart

    The Topic is a Chorus Song
    To echo down the years to come
    For many happy birthdays
    Just as long as there is Thursday

In the very heart of Bradford there are folk
Who can always raise their voices
To accompanying noises
From things you pluck and things you blow
Drums you bang and strings you bow
Things to rattle and to ring
Concertinas, mandolins
Banjos ukuleles and guitars
And mostly with a chorus
And always... from the heart

    The Topic is a Chorus Song
    To echo down the years to come
    Keep ringing on when we're all gone
    For many many birthdays
    Just as long as there is Thursday



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Farewell & Return (The Topic)

by Rob Martin

Fare thee well to the Topic folk club, a thousand times adieu.
We are bound away from Glyde House and the songs we do adore.
We'll sing the country over and we'll return once more,
And still I live in hope to sing at the topic folk club once more.

    T'Oldest club you are
    You're the club that sings the best
    And still I live in hope to sing at the Topic folk club once more.
    T'Oldest club you are!

Now when we're out a-busking and t'Topic's far away
MP3s will I send to you with lyrics and come what may
I'll thumb my way to Bradford, and sing to the final encore,
And still I live in hope to sing at the Topic folk club once more.

    T'Oldest club you are
    You're the club that sings the best
    And still I live in hope to sing at the Topic folk club once more.
    T'Oldest club you are!

Oh now my guitar is breaking and going out of tune;
No money have we collected, and our clothes they are all tore.
The night is dark and dreary, we can scarcely see the moon,
But still I live in hope to sing at the Topic folk club once more.

    T'Oldest club you are
    You're the club that sings the best
    And still I live in hope to sing at the Topic folk club once more.
    T'Oldest club you are!

And now we've had our breakfast and are setting off once more
We're Bradford bound and soon we'll sing on the Topic folk club floor
We'll drink strong ale and porter and we'll make Glyde House roar,
And when our money is all spent we'll go a busking once more.


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We Can All Do with a Bit of S&M
A Topic song (tune of Holy Ground)


by Rob Martin

In nineteen hundred and fiftysix
In Laycock's rooms we came to exist
There's many a venue we have been in since
For the singing, the playing and the telling of tales

    We can all do with a bit of S&M,
    We do like to sing a song or two.
    We can be quiet for the guest,
    But joining in is what we do best.
    We are the Topic folk club,
    The oldest in the land

Lord Glyde, sings along in his house once more
To the music of fiddles and guitars and occasional piano
We keep to his high standards of health and morals
We spend all our money on beer and raffles

    We can all do with a bit of S&M,
    We do like to sing a song or two.
    We can be quiet for the guest,
    But joining in is what we do best.
    We are the Topic folk club,
    The oldest in the land

All good folk clubs must move along
Strictly acoustic is not always the best
With PA and loops and new fangled ideas
We will keep going whatever the fears

    We can all do with a bit of S&M,
    We do like to sing a song or two.
    We can be quiet for the guest,
    But joining in is what we do best.
    We are the Topic folk club,
    The oldest in the land


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Topic (Still Carries the Tune)

by Henry Parker

Yeah you've been around for sixty years
I've only known you for the one
But I've read up on your history
And I know the things you've done
Started out in '56
A place for learning songs
You've still got the politics
And you're still keeping on

    So MacColl might have had his old Ballad and Blues
    But it's the Topic that still carries the tune

So I wish that I could travel back
To your former time
Hear the Watersons in harmony or
Pete Seeger's rallying cry
Or maybe I would look around and
Find someone who knew
Whether Dylan came to BD1
And could he hold a tune

    So MacColl might have had his old Ballad and Blues
    But it's the Topic that still carries the tune

And it pains me when I hear of people Running Bradford down They don't know the character And the soul of this great town And all this time for 60 years A constant voice is heard At the Topic Folk Club Bradford The oldest like it in the world

    So MacColl might have had his old Ballad and Blues
    But it's the Topic that still carries the tune


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60 Years
A song celebrating the time the Topic Folk Club has existed

by Zbig Szafranski

The man he came from Robben Island
Made peace with the white man who damned
Broke 200 years of colonial rule
Destroyed apartheid which was so cruel

    60 years we sung about it
    60 years poets dreamt about it
    60 years lover cried about it
    60 years have been and gone
    60 years are never too long

The sound of war has often disturbed this place
And distorted the drunken face
Of Blair's eternal quest for glory
And six is nine and the night is stormy

    60 years we sung about it
    60 years poets dreamt about it
    60 years lover cried about it
    60 years have been and gone
    60 years are never too long

There was a time when the walls came tumbling down
We took a car and drove to the other side of Berlin Town
Waved to the guard at the corners of the gate
And left them to meet their fate

    60 years we sung about it
    60 years poets dreamt about it
    60 years lover cried about it
    60 years have been and gone
    60 years are never too long

I drove miners to work for 30 odd years
It was my life my aspiration and theirs
Till the Iron Lady sold the winches to the clowns
And left our towns and villages tumbling down

    60 years we sung about it
    60 years poets dreamt about it
    60 years lover cried about it
    60 years have been and gone
    60 years are never too long

There was a time when the music came knocking on Topics door
It didn't care if you were black or white, rich or poor
We took it on and liked to play it loud
And took us so far so far from the maddening crowd

    60 years we sung about it
    60 years poets dreamt about it
    60 years lover cried about it
    60 years have been and gone
    60 years are never too long


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Autumn 1956
The Topic Song

by John Waller

    The Topic first started in Autumn 1956, as a political (and social) as much as a musical enterprise. And there was much of political significance occurring around that time: the Hungarian revolt against Soviet occupation, the British invasion of Egypt over the Suez Canal, and the conclusion of the bus boycott in Alabama, with the US Supreme Court finally outlawing racial segregation on public transport. This was the time ...


    Europe divided with brutal repression
    Middle East savaged with naked aggression
    United States seething with racial oppression
    The sense of injustice so strong

    The world was embroiled in political foment
    Passions arising that long had lain dormant
    This was the time, this was the moment
    That the Topic first broke into song...

Magda's song, Parliament Square, Budapest, Hungary - 25th October 1956

Magda took her young daughter, to Parliament Square
Crowds from the city had gathered - Imre Nagy would speak there
Soviet tanks were guarding the building, the AVH stationed above
And a dangerous sense of excitement hung in the air

Time moved on past the hour: no speaker appeared
The crowd grew restless, a mixture of anger and fear
Nobody there knew for certain, who was it who fired the first shot?
Restlessness turned into panic, the crowd starts to run clear

Twenty minutes of mayhem; it didn't last long
Tank shells fired in bursts at the fast-fleeing throng
Bullets and screaming and smoke filled the air, escape; but which way was best?
Magda clung on to her daughter, felt the bullet enter her chest
The AVH firing from rooftops, whose side were they on?

When the firing was over, the streets were blood red
The tanks rolled quickly away, all survivors had fled
Corpses littered the pavements, the injured screamed out where they lay
Magda clung onto her daughter, watching her blood drain away
And army wagons appeared, to haul off the dead

A soldier demanded of Magda - give me that corpse
If you don't give it up to me now, I'll take it by force
But Magda clung on, immobile and mute, frozen by destiny's pain
So the soldiers threw both on the wagon, Magda along with the slain
And drove them away - never - to be seen or heard of again

    Europe divided with brutal repression
    Middle East savaged with British aggression
    United States seething with racial oppression
    The sense of injustice so strong

    The world was embroiled in political foment
    Passions arising that long had lain dormant
    This was the time, this was the moment
    That the Topic first broke into song...

Nailah Abdullah's song, The Compound, Suez Canal, Egypt - 29th October 1956

In the suburbs of Cairo we made our home
With our three daughters, and our only son
Putting our lives back together, once peace was made

We worked as translators for a British concern on the Suez canal
Life was not easy, but we survived with the company's aid

But then it all changed, old King Faroukh was deposed
A dashing young colonel called Nasser came to power
Rousing our nation, so long lethargic

He spoke of our Egypt, taking control of our assets: The Suez canal
And our son was conscripted into the army, and sent off to guard it

I don't pretend to follow the arguments, distinguish between truth and lies
But l can see gunboats moored off our coasts, British bombers that hurl through our skies
And I can hear gunfire, I can hear screaming: like every mother on earth
I do know the value of life - especially - the life to which I gave birth

We'd always respected the British, the sense of fair play
Freedom of speech and justice
And brought up our children to think the same way

So why have you come, invading our nation, taking from us all that we own?
Why have you come, boasting of Empire, to kill my only son
Why have you come, with your damned Empire, and killing my only son
I'll tell you: no Arab .... will ever trust Britain again

    Europe divided with brutal repression
    Middle East savaged with British aggression
    United States seething with racial oppression
    The sense of injustice so strong

    The world was embroiled in political foment
    Passions arising that long had lain dormant
    This was the time, this was the moment
    That the Topic first broke into song...

Claudette Colvin's song, Montgomery, Alabama & Washington DC, USA - 17th November 1956

One Tuesday last March, on the bus home from school
Full of learning 'bout rights and equality
I sat in the middle, behind the white seats
And another black girl sat beside me

The driver shouts "Hey! you'll have to get up
There's a white woman here who needs seating"
I shout - "It's my right to sit where I want!"
I'm tired of this constant demeaning

Policemen are called and I'm hauled off the bus
And charged with assault and disturbance
My family beg me, don't make any fuss
You'll only cause problems for all of us

Our black leaders tell me I'm not the right kind
I'm feisty and mouthy and trouble
And 15 and pregnant: they'll wait till they find
Someone worthy to front up our struggle

But it's me who today stands before our great court
It's me that ignited that first spark
It's me you should thank for reforming the laws
But everyone thanks Rosa Parks

It's a further nine months till they find the right type
Rosa Parks, all married and steady
She does just what I did: sat down for her rights
And this time our leaders are ready

We boycott the buses for almost a year
In the courtrooms we take up the cudgels
And now I am standing in Washington Square
In front of our nine Supreme judges

Yes it's Claudette who stands up before that great court
It's Claudette who ignited that first spark
It's Claudette you should thank for repeal of the laws - But everyone thanks Rosa Parks

    Europe divided with brutal repression
    Middle East savaged with British aggression
    United States seething with racial oppression
    The sense of injustice so strong

    The world was embroiled in political foment
    Passions arising that long had lain dormant
    This was the time, this was the moment
    That the Topic first broke into song...

Now sixty more years have passed on .....

And all the world's problems continue
We don't know what the future will bring
In the fight for peace, for justice and freedom
That's why we all gather and sing

Yes, all the world's struggles continue
We can shape what the future might bring
In the fight for peace, for justice and freedom
Long may we still gather and sing
Long may we still gather and sing ...


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