A Quiet Man
(The Ballad of John Hume)
Tommy Sands - ©Elm Grove Music

A few years ago my good neighbour and journalist friend Barry Turley remarked how it was that countless songs were written about fighters and and generals but very few about quiet people who negotiate peace. And it’s true. So many monuments have been laid and songs made in praise of those who led us into war yet so few in praise of those who have moved us towards Peace. In times of war it is the Peace maker who becomes the real rebel. This is a song about one such man.


Oh I was 17 and I was running wild
I was troubled and I was terrified
When I saw them lying dying at my feet
On that Sunday bloody Sunday street
And he was calling out for peace again
I said we've walked and we have talked and things don't ever change
Don't you know they know no language but the one
That's the language from the barrel of a gun

I have heard songs sung of highwaymen and holy men
Of heroes right or wrong who never lost a fight
But I sing my song for a man who never asked for one
A quiet man who saved my life

And he kept saying there's another way
Let’s spill our sweat and not our blood to make things change
Flying flags will never feed a hungry child
They will only raise the borders in our mind
And I was hearing but not listening when he said
Don't die for Ireland please live for it instead
For all I knew we had to do what must be done
Just one more push and this bloody war is won

And when my time it came for joining in that fight
I had prepared myself for dying on that night
Then someone shouted from the kitchen to the room
Look what's happening on the television news
He was weeping uncontrollably and wild
Like a giant standing crying like a child
And then suddenly I recognised those tears
They were mine that had been lost for all years

And there were tears that filled the rivers and the sea
There were tears that cried for justice and for peace
Crying no one needs to lose nor to give in
They were saying there's a way we all can win

Don't talk to terrorists I heard some people cry
He said I'll talk if it will save one single life
It's just an accident of birth where we are born
On the nearside or the far side of that wall

And I can see him now like it's just yesterday
And it brings be down the long and lonely days
You may not remember me I know it's true
But I remember you John Hume