I remember discussing poetry with a soldier friend in a bar in Germany when we were probably aged 20. We wouldn’t have been drunk because we could not afford more than a couple of small beers but it was good to get out of the barracks and live a little.
I had recited a poem I’d recently written and he stated that he had never tried to write any poetry, and doubted if he had a poetic bone in his body. He probably did not put it quite so eloquently! However, I responded, saying that we were all poets, whereupon I encouraged him to come up with a verse.
The video I’ve chosen is a recording of two very good friends who have known each other from way back and are very comfortable together. They first got together in January 1967 when The Jeff Beck Group was formed and went on to help set up The Faces in 1969. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood are plainly great mates. They are happy to be together and they enjoy playing music together.
Rod Stewart has stated that his goal in life is to play ‘Mandolin Wind’ and make it sound like the record. I think this, despite using the banjo in place of the mandolin for parts of the song, is a pretty good effort!
When the rain came, I thought you’d leave ‘Cause I knew how much you loved the sun But you chose to stay, stay and keep me warm Through the darkest nights, I’ve ever known If the mandolin wind, couldn’t change a thing Then I know I love ya Oh the snow fell, without a break Buffalo died, in the frozen fields you know Through the coldest winter, in almost fourteen years I couldn’t believe you kept your smile Now I can rest assured, knowing that we’ve seen the worst And I know I love ya Oh I never was good, with romantic words So the next few lines, come really hard Don’t have much, but what I’ve got is yours Except of course, my steel guitar Ha, ’cause I know you don’t play But I’ll teach you one day Because I love ya
I recall the night, we knelt and prayed Noticing, your face was thin and pale I found it hard, to hide my tears I felt ashamed, I felt I’d let you down No mandolin wind, couldn’t change a thing Couldn’t change a thing, no no Ooh-hoo-hoo
Lada-dada, la-da, lada-dada Lada-dada, da-n-dada
The coldest winter, in almost fourteen years Could never, never change your mind, yeah Ooh-hoo-ooh And I love ya Yes indeed, and I love ya And I love ya Lordy I love ya Ooh-hoo And I love ya Lord, I love ya
Chris decided long ago that he could no longer endure the Ceremony of Remembrance parades and services. It was too much for him. He knew that he would break down and weep copious tears, sobbing at all of the memories that he could not set aside. He could never forget!
Instead, each year, he went on his normal morning walk and found a quiet spot, apart from all human presence, and there he would remember his friends, and his enemies. Not all had died young, not all had died in battle. Some had not died, at least not straight away.
He remembered two young men. They had all just returned to camp after manoeuvres and were told they could not go home until all the vehicles had been cleaned and put away. One young man was newly married with a two week old baby. He persuaded his friend to take him home in his car. It wouldn’t take long, and they could be back before anybody noticed they were missing. The car was sporty, high powered, and had a roll bar fitted. The young driver entered a bend far too fast, lost control, and rolled the car. It hit a tree. The roll bar saved the life of the driver but decapitated the young father.
He remembered two young Corporals, erecting an aerial mast on top of a vehicle in Germany, right underneath a very high voltage cable. One walked away with very serious burns, the other had horrendous burns and lost a leg and large portions of muscle mass. Chris had the job of taking inventory of the burned vehicle and its contents and then visiting the worst injured once he left hospital to tell him that he no longer had a job but there was good news, his promotion to Sergeant had come through!
He remembered a young man who shot himself in the chest but survived, only to shoot himself in the head once he was back at work.
He remembered running for his life, literally, when it seemed that everyone wanted him dead, when all around him were falling, screaming, dying. He would not forget!
He stood as usual, at 11am, at attention, alone. He remembered. How could he do anything else?
After two minutes of silence, of remembering, of trying to forget, he saluted, fell, and joined his comrades!