Savage Pilgrims

by Matt Hill

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Stone and bone I'm made from flagstone, grindstone, knucklebone, thighbone, capstone, kerbstone, tailbone, whalebone, cobblestone, milestone, backbone, jawbone, crossbones, headstone, wishbone, tombstone I'm built from stone and bone Theres no monuments on these bone dry fields to commemorate those buried here Just wretched poor on wretched poor a hundred thousand souls The prostitute, the destitute those cast aside by institute From the borough slum to the boiler rooms they've all been shovelled here In the name of progress the city cries you may dance upon my stones tonight But feed my slots with coins that shine you're all just bones to me And I'm built from stone and bone. Here comes London's forgotten dead crawling from the flower beds Withered and sucked to a dusk dry husk by the roots of ancient trees Then Landed gentry in wigs and gowns they run but then they're hunted down And hung upon their apron strings all laid compass square Pilgrim Fathers fill their plates on tables made from fractured slates As they feast upon the greying graves of a hundred thousand souls Then the earth below them starts to shake as the spectral form of William Blake Storms into the Stock Exchange and fire fills the sky
SAVE YOUR PITY He’ll be here soon I can feel his breath on my neck But I don’t fear his call I don’t fear anything at all You think I’m weak and I'm frail but I can still set my sails Though my body has aged in my mind the seas still rage And you men of God seem so sure you’ve got it right But aren't you gamblers just like me? placing bets and chasing dreams. Where were you in the war? Out in the company of widows while I was burying their dead on a battlefield painted red So save your pity for yourselves cry those tears for someone else Place your sympathies aside for I have lived And I have never done goodbyes I always crept out with the tides For I have lived a sailor's life and now I'm done. And the day I die will be the same as any other day I’ll close my eyes and think what tomorrow might bring They're here by my bed I can hear a prayer being said I turn my sails to the wind and I’ll be gone
I'm the ghost of the Pueblo adrift and alone Sickly white skin hung on Mescaline bone A savage pilgrim a long way from home conjuring cobbles and coal I'm an outcast, an exile, a pervert, a spy hated by many with all that implies nothing to give but the words that I write I wander these deserts alone CHORUS Struggling to breathe, clinging to life Coughing up coal dust as black as your eyes Growing grey as an Erewash sky Torn and wrenched apart from the country of my heart Was like my pen was possessed I don't know what I wrote Something about how a family might cope As the presence of progress brings an absence of hope You've a nerve to be calling me filthy obscene You colliery owners will never scrub clean You've no airs and graces when you're mining the seam That's when we're all the same That's when we're all the same CHORUS
With my face pressed hard on a sandbag as the trench starts filling with mud Bullets are flying, grown men are crying I sense that these odds are not good So I find myself reminiscing about the first time I sailed to New York You see I wasn't always a soldier but I've been a fighter from the day I could walk I was whistling 'the leaving of Liverpool' as the Pier Head disappeared With the roar of the crowd and my true love's tears stinging in my ears I soon found myself mid-Atlantic in a storm that had blown up from hell As the wind cut my cheek I whispered a prayer and someone rang a bell And the harder it blows the more I know it will not knock me down So I turn my face to the ocean and stare the bastard down A thousand miles up in the distance, someone's pasting a bill to a wall It says “Battling Billy will box here in Philly” so come watch the Englishman fall That first night I fought in Manhattan this Frenchman was giving me hell As his glove cut my cheek, I whispered a prayer, and someone rang a bell But the harder his blows the more I know he will not knock me down So I turn and face my opponent and stare the bastard down This century’s younger than I am, but already she's taken much more I'm stuck in France sparring with chance but this time I'm fighting a war I wish I was back on the fairgrounds but wishes won't rid me this hell Barbed wire cuts my cheek, I whisper a prayer, and someone rings a bell And the harder the blows the more I know they will not knock me down So I turn my face to the bullets and stare the bastards down
Johnny Cash picked up the phone in his Tennessee home and dialled a number he’d been given At the end of the line was a man about to die with no time for the priest but a need to be forgiven Gary Gilmore said “Hello, I was hoping you might phone. I guess by now you’ve heard about my crimes. I killed two Mormon men, for no reason I can give. Just like the man you shot in Reno, just to watch him die.” He said I need someone to sing me back home Someone who understands the pain of being alone A plaintive cry to cut right to my bones Warden get me Johnny Cash on the phone Then he spoke about his mother and a picture on the cover of a record they always played Don’t take your guns to town – well I guess I let her down went off the rails and I could not be saved And they sang ‘I walk the Line’ Tears welled in Gary’s eyes All his crimes could be confessed This was Gary Gilmore’s last request Will you sing one for Nicole? She’s my heart she’s my soul She’s the reason I’ve chosen to die On every word she ever spoke I will hang until I choke Then saddle up with the Riders in the sky
Well the sky was ripe and fit to burst When it heard the summer lift its curse And it felt the forest’s dying thirst So the clouds let forth their bounty And underneath where that storm emerged Stood a man who knew he was not the first To watch his life go from bad to worse Then back from bad to better There are silver falls in a clear blue sky And gold lies in the rivers So if love should rise on the winter tide May she choose to take you with her May she choose to take you with her From an Eastern sky came a wiley crow Who knew the price of the lightening show He'd buy it high and he'd sell it low But he could never catch the thunder There are treasures in this beaten earth That are both a blessing and a curse But you'll never know what each is worth If all you do is count your money Because a mystery that lies unresolved Is so full of wonder, full of soul But one whose tale's been clipped and told Has no mystery left to offer
Chains 03:15
When your gains have all been ill gotten When your crimes get easily forgotten When your empire was made from cotton Then your fortune's made from chains Wherever men have built their nations you'll find prisons and plantations you'll find walls and segregation And you'll always find some chains Chains Chains Chains You're only as free as they want you to be and all your life's in chains It's signed in ink that never fades It's a balance that can't be weighed It's a debt that can never be repaid And these are your chains Chorus From the statues of the ancients, to the temples of the sun And the pyramids of the Nile - inspire legends, myths and songs That tell how Gods and Giants hauled these stones across the plains But those tales are told by liars it was all built by chains When this world finally goes under In a blaze of flood and thunder Nothing left but mud and wonder And piles of rusted chains
Four corners 03:23
Four Corners AKA damnation, ruination, education and salvation (Spoken) If you ever go down Radford there's a crossroads near the old Players works There used to be a pub, a pawnbrokers, a school and a church And our Nana used to say at those four destinations Lay Damnation, Ruination, Education or Salvation Each corner would lead you to a different fate but the choice? Well that was yours to take Down the cellar, close to hell Amongst the barrels, demons dwell There they wait, to claim your soul If you're soaked in the ale or down in the coal hole If that's the choice you make – your damnation awaits Above the doorway , three balls of bait That lure the debtor to his fate He's got no backbone got no spine Just hungry children and desperate eyes If that's the choice you make – your ruination awaits Here on the crossroads we live and work By the boozer and the broker, the schoolhouse and the church One on each corner, for every occasion Damnation, Ruination, Education and Salvation Which corner seals your fate? Well that's the choice you've got to make I'm a working man yet I burn with shame When I leave my cross where others write their name Don't be mistaken, I'm no fool I make sure my children go to school And that's the choice I make their education awaits On these four corners we live and die There's only one way to get out alive Through blood and fire you'll find the truth In the holy army of William Booth If that's the choice you make – your salvation awaits
Bendigo 04:29
You never heard of Bendigo? You should've seen him peel Half of him was whalebone, half of him was steel, Fightin' weight eleven ten, five foot nine in height, Always ready to oblige if you want a fight. well he became a Methodist—he said he felt the call, And he'd stomp the country preachin' you can bet he filled the hall, And if you'd seen him in the pulpit, bleatin' like a lamb, You'd never know it was Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham. His hat was like a funeral, and he wore a waiter's coat, With a hallelujah collar and a choker round his throat, And his friends would laugh and say in jest that Bendigo was right, Tekin' on the devil, there's no bogger else to fight. But the devil he was waitin', and in the final bout, He hit him hard below his guard and knocked poor Bendy out. Now I'll tell you how it happened. He was preachin' down in Brum, He was billed just like a circus, you should've seen the people come, The chapel it was crowded, and in the front row, Were half a dozen bruisers with a grudge for Bendigo. There was Jack Platt of Bradford, Solly Jones of Perry Bar, And Connor from the Bull Ring and Franklin Bagatah Jack Bull the fightin gunsmith, Joe Murphy from the Mews, And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, the Champion of the Jews. Soon he heard them goading him "Hey, Bendy! Let us know" "How much do they pay you for this trumped up Glory show?" "Come on Ben, you left the ring, it was mighty sly of you Cause we all know the truth was the ring was leavin' you." It was like the devil himself had spoken, this was the final bout, He hit him hard below his guard and knocked poor Bendy out. break - Then Bendigo said, "Lord, since I left my sinful ways, You know it is to you me duck I've given up my days, But now, dear Lord"—and here he laid his Bible on the shelf— "I'll tek, with your permission, just five minutes for myself." Then he vaulted from the pulpit like a tiger from a den, And they say it was a lovely sight to see him floor those men Right and left, left and right, straight and true and hard, Till the Ebenezer Chapel looked like a knacker's yard. Platt was lyin' on his back and looking at his toes, Solly Jones of Perry Bar was feelin' for his nose, And Connor from the Bull Ring? It was all that he could do To look around and find his teeth that lay around the pew. Jack Bull the fightin' gunsmith was in a peaceful sleep, Joe Murphy lay across him, all tied up in a heap, Five of them was lying in a tangle on the floor, And Iky Moss, the bettin' boss, had sprinted for the door. You see Bendigo was waitin', this was the final bout, Bendigo hit him hard and low and knocked the devil out. And that's the way that Bendy ran his mission in the slum, And preached the Holy Gospel to the fightin' men of Brum, 'Cause when it came to fightin for the Lord there was no stoppin him He's bare knuckle Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham. Adapted from the poem 'Bendy's Sermon' by Arthur Conan Doyle 1909
Chorus Stand tall before the wagon circle me three times Tell me everything that you've ever done wrong Tell me every time you've crossed the line Never knew about my mother, never knew my father Never knew my righteous from my wrong But I knew what a pistol could do and the doors I'd get through If I held it high up to the sky Chorus Forgive me Father as you stand there in your holy robes for the things you made me do and the vow I made that one fine day I would bring my vengeance down on you Chorus Now you can't outrun your shadow so look me in the eye I've taken all your sin and everything you did and I've put it in a bullet and it's heading for your eyes
Hope fortune finds her smile Hope good luck stays in style I hope that hope prevails Cause if there's one thing that I know When you search high and low Love will find her way Then you can roll me out in the middle of the night Bury me down on the boundary line As they're falling on their swords In the Commons and the Lords I hope that sense prevails Cause if there's one thing that I know For all the lies they tell Truth will find her way Then you can roll me out in the middle of the night Bury me down on the boundary line Shine a light where a light don't shine and roll me out in the middle of the night When we storm the Palace gates Tear down the flags of hate Then justice will prevail Cause if there's one thing that I know Come the ringing of the bell We'll hear that choir sing


Perhaps his best. The album unfolds in this quietly spectacular way. It feels timeless, deeply atmospheric. Thoroughly recommended.
Americana UK 9/10

A richly rewarding collection of spellbinding story songs with inventive inspired production that truly brings them to life
Hi-Fi Plus

One of my albums of the year so far
Adam Wilson's Quiet Revolution

Really special. Can’t recommend it highly enough
Rocking Magpie

A beautiful recording and thoroughly enjoyable
Penny Black Music

Mesmerising tales
Rock n Reel

A rare example of Anglo/American sensibilities merging like honey
Northern Sky 4/5

Brimful of excellent songs. He’s a singular talent.
Blabber n Smoke

On this release Hill presents his songs as eleven short stories told by different narrators. It merges fact and fiction, weaving threads of people and places across centuries and continents. This is Americana rooted in British history and in Hill’s own upbringing in a working class culture obsessed with America. Not surprising then, that several of the songs here, trace lines between the UK and the USA like 'The Exile of DH Lawrence’ with its nods to spaghetti western. Hill was born and raised in the same town as DH Lawrence and his Nottinghamshire roots loom large elsewhere on this album ('Four Corners' and ‘Bendigo’)

Hill and his producer/collaborator Sam Lench recorded the album in an attic studio above The Kings Arms - a 19th century pub in Salford, where George Orwell used to drink. Performances were captured live with vintage microphones onto analogue tape, with sparse overdubs keeping it brittle and hushed, so the listener feels they are sat next to the storyteller.

This is Matt Hill’s vision of a British Americana which takes the real life storytelling of country music but sets it firmly within his own experiences and roots, and in doing so he has created a beautifully authentic piece of work.


released July 6, 2020

Matt Hill Vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, bass guitar, banjo and percussion
Sam Lench Electric guitar, mandolin, cello, percussion, vocals and organ
Kirsty McGee Vocals, musical saw and flutes
Michael Doward Double Bass and vocals
James Youngjohns Electric guitars

All songs written by Matt Hill
except 'Bendigo' written by Matt Hill with words adapted from the poem 'Bendy's Sermon' by Arthur Conan Doyle 1912.

Production Sam Lench and Matt Hill
Pre-Production Kirsty Mcgee
Engineer/Mixing Sam Lench
Recorded at the Kings Arms, Salford, UK
Mastered by Russ Hepworth-Sawyer at Mottosound
Artwork Jacob Kirk
Photography Nicola Davison-Reed


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Matt Hill UK

QLR (Quiet Loner Records) is home to Matt Hill a storytelling singer-songwriter and community based artist who offers a British take on folk and Americana.

‘Possibly the most important record of the year’ MAVERICK 5/5
‘An anthem for resistance’ AMERICANA UK 10/10
‘Delicate songwriting. Bleakly beautiful.’ UNCUT (4 stars)
‘Works of wonder’ R2 4/5
An absolute gem' MORNING STAR (Album of the year)
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