The Violence

by Darren Hayman

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about

‘The Violence’ a 20-song, double LP chronicling the 17th century Essex Witch Trials during the English Civil Wars.

Between 1644 and 1646, approximately 300 women were executed for witchcraft in the eastern counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The album deals with fear and isolation, the way we use our own terror in times of trouble to lash out at the weak. It’s about how societies persecute otherness and outsiders.

‘Impossible Times’ is about how every generation tends to think of itself as being at the nadir of history. The end of the world has been just around the corner for centuries. The British of 1645 had more reason to believe this than most.

The Violence is epic in both concept and sound. The landscape of the Dedham Vale is bought alive by beautiful intricate woodwind scores, trembling strings and destroyed church organs.

The Violence is an outstanding creative achievement, a truly unique and unprecedented album.

“It’s about how violence frightens us and how fear just leads to greater violence,” says Hayman.

The Violence is released on November the 5th 2012 by FortunaPOP!

credits

released 04 November 2012
The Violence: Sleeve Notes and Lyrics

1. The Violence
2. Impossible Times
3. How Long Have You Been Frightened For?
4. We Are Not Evil
5. The She-Cavaliers
6. Elizabeth Clarke
7. Vinegar Tom
8. Parliament Joan
9. The Word and the Word Alone
10 I Will Hide Away
11. When the King Enjoys His Own Again
12. Henrietta Maria
13. A Dogge Called Boye
14. Outsiders
15. Arthur Wilson’s Reverie
16. Rebecca West
17. Desire Lines
18. Kill the King
19. A Coffin for King Charles, a Crown for Cromwell and a Pit for the People
20. The Laughing Tree

A collection of songs inspired by incidents and characters from the English Civil War and the Essex Witch Trials of 1645.

Between 1644 and 1646, approximately 300 women were executed for witchcraft in the eastern counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The Violence

It's 1645 and Britain is at war with itself. The country is divided over religion and politics. The reckless King Charles has sought to challenge the power of Parliament and drawn dissent for his marriage to the Catholic, Henrietta Maria of France. Protestant Britain sees the King and his bride as ungodly and the Royalists see the Puritans and Parliamentarians as disloyal.

In troubled times, the frightened will see evil wherever they look. In the north of Essex, some saw it in the lonely old women on the edges of society.

The wood splits and gives you splinters, bark tears the tissue,
The bones crack, crumble and fracture, over and over again.
The veins burst and turn your skin, purple, blue and yellow,
And why don’t you cry, the breath out of your lungs?

When you’re scared,
When you’re bruised.
When you’re broken,
When you’re used up and spent.

Hide from the violence,
The knives on the hill.
Pretend that you’re dead,
Keep perfectly still.

The howl, the shriek, the teeth on the wind,
The peace behind the eyelids.
An unkindly god, an ungodly king,
Can you remember which side you were fighting?

When you’re scared,
When you’re bruised.
When you’re broken,
When you’re used up and spent.

Run from the violence,
The swords on the hill.
Pretend that you’re dead,
Keep perfectly still.

Are you hungry?
Are you tired?
Too much blood,
It gets in your eyes.

Hide from the violence,
The knives on the hill.
Pretend that you’re dead,
Keep perfectly still.

Impossible Times

Every generation tends to think of itself as being at the nadir of history. The end of the world has been just around the corner for centuries. The British of 1645 had more reason to believe this than most.

We are alive, through impossible times,
Cattle and swine, oh they mew and they whine,
Under filthy black skies.

The blood on the hedge and the trees,
The cuts on our palms and our knees.
The god and the devil, the gaps in between,
The grass that won’t grow in the cemetery.

The iron and wire, and the binds that don’t tie,
Babies and wives, get tossed from the cradles and cots where they lie,

The eyes that can’t see through the smoke,
The gibbet, the noose and the rope.
The witches that drown and the witches that float,
The tears that just endlessly flow, know.

How Long Have You Been Frightened For?

The beliefs and fears that led to the Witch Trials are taken from the Puritan idea that it is wrong to glorify or look upon God's image directly. Taken to its absolute extreme, only the blind were seen as truly pure, and ungodliness was perceived to be everywhere.

How long have you been frightened for?
You’ve been frightened for a long, long time,
Your eyes, can only idolize
Make a sacrifice; pretend you’re good and blind.

There’s no altar rail around this heart of mine,
No stained glass windows to block sunshine,
No effigies or idols, and no false signs,
To bind me to the ground, when the angels fly around.

How long, have you been fighting for?
Only to find that you’re fighting the wrong side,
I’ll find, I’ll find what’s hidden here,
I’ll find your darkest, hidden place and make it disappear.

There’s no altar rail around this heart of mine,
No stained glass windows to block sunshine,
No effigies or idols, no red wine,
To bind me to the ground, when the angels fly around.

We Are Not Evil

Evil never thinks of itself as such, and people can act cruelly when frightened. I assume that Matthew Hopkins, the self-named 'Witch Finder General' believed, on some level, that he was acting on God's instruction.

In early 1645, Hopkins pushed his ear to his window and overheard conversations between supposed witches. Elizabeth Clarke, a one-legged, 80-year-old widow, was the first to be accused and arrested.

Hopkins claimed that 3 days and nights of ‘watching’ led Elizabeth Clarke to ‘confess many things’; furthermore, that his interrogation witnessed the summoning of numerous hideous imps and demons. Clarke confessed to sleeping with the devil and also pointed the finger at other women in the parish, including Anne West and her daughter Rebecca. All of these women were single or widowed beggars and perceived to be a drain on their communities.

Hopkins began offering his services to other towns. For a fee, he would help rid these communities of their ‘witches’.

We are not evil, we are not unkind,
We are good and godly, watchers for the blind,
We can smell the devil, hiding in the small towns,
Toying with the idle, pushing dirt around.

We can hear the harpies, sleeping with the demons,
We can hear them howling across the Dedham Vale,
We fight them with fire, duck them under water,
Swing them from the scaffold, and hear them wail.

Someone’s got to guard you, watch you when you’re resting,
We will keep a vigil; protect you from the dark,
A dog with a cow’s head, a kitling and a polecat,
I saw them dance around town foaming at the jaw.

The She-Cavaliers

There does appear to be some evidence of women describing themselves as men in order to fight during the Civil War. King Charles proclaimed a ban against women wearing men’s clothes, although Queen Henrietta Maria was actively involved in the king’s campaigns and marched at the head of one of his armies. New boundaries were being drawn daily in these strange times.

Elizabeth Clarke

Pulling on someone’s ankles as they swung from the gallows was seen as an act of mercy although it was also thought that touching someone in the moment of death allowed their spirit to escape. It was often deemed important that the swinging bodies of witches should not be allowed to touch each other for this reason.

And the wind blows hard,
But the scaffold never falls,
We hold our dirty, ugly faces to the rain.
All the good wives sway,
They heckle so profane,
They bring out all their beautiful babies in the rain.
Who’s going to feed my dog?
Who’s going to pray the rain away?
Who’s going to pull on my ankles when I swing?
The one-legged lady’s crutch is sinking in the mud,
Don’t let our bodies touch, if we swing too much.
Let the rope be quick and fierce, let my neck snap fast, And if I fight too much, give me a little pull.

Who’s going to dig my grave?
Who’s going to wash the dirt away?
Who’s going to spend the winter days, singing?
Who’s going to feed my dog?
Who’s going to pray the rain away?
Who’s going to pull on my ankles when I’m swinging?
I’ve got no king, I’ve got no wedding ring,
I’ve got no hope, I’ve got no beautiful little baby of my own.

Vinegar Tom

One of Elizabeth Clarke's supposed imps was named by Hopkins as 'Vinegar Tom', a dog with a cow's head and horns.

The one-legged Clarke had to be helped up the steps to the gallows and I imagine Vinegar Tom as nothing more than her only true friend, a beloved dog. Just before her death, Elizabeth contemplates the frozen River Stour and their sweet, blissful escape.

Oh Vinegar Tom, does the dark, cold, night,
Make your dog bones, shake and rattle?

Oh Vinegar Tom, the water’s frozen over,
We could limp across the river, crawl away.

There’s no love or kin who can hold me here,
Just you, you pretty, wretched hound.

We could tumble down the banks, and skid between the boats,
And pray the ice will hold us.

When you get old, baby,
The black days disappear.
When you get old, baby,
You won’t be shaking with the fear.
Just close your eyes, baby,
And dream of life after the war.
I’m just old honey,
But I was young before.

There was a pox upon the children, a blight upon the land,
A curse upon the animals, No blood upon my hands.

We could tumble, we could fall,
And nobody would notice at all.

And all my friends have just upped and died,
Or turned away, or weren’t friends anyway.

Parliament Joan

Parliament Joan (real name Elizabeth Alkin) worked as a spy against the Royalists. Her husband was also a spy and was hung at Oxford. She discovered an ironmaster loyal to the king, who hid iron and wire (the materials for war) around the country.

The 17th Century saw the birth of the printing press and the English Civil War saw the birth of printed propaganda. Parliament Joan uncovered presses in the hands of her enemies but after the war became a printer of newsbooks herself.

Later in life Elizabeth became a nurse, but she always considered that Parliament owed her money for her work.

The blood on the trees, the sorrow and the debt,
The twitch and the snap, the rope around the neck,
They hung your sweetheart, he swung until the morning.

Hand on your heart, ear to the ground,
You’re a spy and a mole, an enemy of the crown,
And all this subterfuge, just makes the pain last longer.

Oh brave little soldier, don’t fight on your own,
Baby shield your eyes from the mortar.

Oh brave little soldier, don’t fight on your own,
All that hate weighs you down,
That spite will rip your heart out.

The paper and the ink, the velum and the press,
You closed the printers down, but the printers only printed,
Words that float around,
You can’t stop the people talking or thinking or doing.

Oh brave little soldier, don’t fight on your own,
Baby shield your eyes from the mortar.

Oh brave little soldier, don’t fight on your own,
All that hate weighs you down.

The words and the lies are fickle little allies,
Teasing the fabric apart,
Oh brave little soldier you won’t let it go,
And the hate weighs you down.
All that spite will rip your heart out.

You need a door you can close on the world,
But a door you don’t close all the time.

The Word and the Word Alone

The Puritans believed in debarring any attempt to bind God by making things in his image; the word and the word alone could be used to teach and teach alone.


I Will Hide Away

A bird tapping at a window was often seen as an omen of death. Where can you hide when you see evil everywhere?

I’m scared of the face,
I’m scared of the eyes,
I’m scared of the blackness,
And the wrinkles, and the lines.

I’m scared of the demons,
Trapped in the trees,
Ghouls in the branches,
Heathen and hungry thieves.

I will hide away,
I will hide away,
Behind the door, beneath the pillow,
I will hide away.

I’m scared of the questions,
And the marks upon my skin,
I’m scared of all this purity,
And the rattling of the wind.

I will hide away,
I will hide away,
Lift up the floorboards, board up the windows,
I will hide away.

It’s the bird at my window.
It’s the tapping on my pane,
It’s the holy and their laughter,
And what’s missing in their laughs.
If you’re with me, then you’re broken,
You’re abandoned, you’re lost

But I do love you,
If you do, love me too.

When the King Enjoys His Own Again

A Royalist tune from 1643

Henrietta Maria

King Charles and Henrietta Maria of France were married to help Anglo-French relations but by all accounts Charles eventually fell head over heels for his queen and vice versa. Charles built a lavish chapel for Henrietta Maria on the banks of the Thames, festooned with gilded angels and cherubs. The Puritans saw it as a sign of her certain ungodliness and of the king's weakness.

Henrietta Maria,
I built you a chapel on the Thames,
Filled it with seraphim and cherubim,
Suspended by ropes and pulleys,
That could be risen at your command,
To a ceiling painted with stars.

Henrietta Maria,
I loved you more than all the pretty girls of Spain,
Gave you a coterie of servants and maids,
Let you worship God in your own way,
Cut the British Isles in half so you could pray,
You’re three times prettier than your portrait.

Did anyone fall so slowly in love as you?
Did anyone fall so slowly in love as you?
Paint my face white, paint my heart blue,
Paint the fields red, they’re bloody for you,
Did anyone fall so slowly in love as you?

Henrietta Maria,
The Covenanters want my head upon a spike,
The Calvinists want your body on a pyre,
Four thousand Cavaliers dead at Marston Moor,
The puritans are sure to win the war,
There’s a boat for you at the shore.

A Dogge Called Boye

Prince Rupert fought for the king in the English Civil War and rode into battle with his white dog, Boye, beside him. The dog survived so many battles that he was believed to be a witch’s familiar. Boye died at the battle of Marston Moor.

Outsiders

There seems little doubt that some women confessed to being witches and believed themselves to be so. What is certainly true is that the accused were almost always poor, usually single and lived on the fringes of their communities. When people get frightened they lash out at the weak.

We are just outsiders,
Waiting at the boundary,
Begging at the doorway,
Asking for the love.

We do not remember,
A time before the violence,
Before the hearts went hungry,
Before they turned to stone.

If you were not frightened,
The water might run clearer,
You might see us hiding,
In the shallow streams.

We are not witches.

Arthur Wilson’s Reverie

Arthur Wilson was a steward of the Earl of Warwick. Although a Puritan and Parliamentarian, he was a vocal sceptic at the witch trials, and his written protests survive to this day. I imagine Arthur being a person who saw beauty where other saw ugliness and fear.

We took the wooden timbers,
From the bows of broken ships,
Built a place for prayer and worship,
But you strayed, You should have stayed, where you were safe.

When people call you names,
Long enough so you believe them,
Long enough so you give in,
Let yourself be, the evil that they see.

You were beautiful when I met you,
You were beautiful in jail,
You were beautiful in tatters,
You are still beautiful now,
You were beautiful when bloody,
And covered head to toe in dirt,
You were beautiful at the gallows,
More beautiful then I deserve.

Pretend that your flying,
Swing gently with the wind,
Let me tug upon your feet,
I’ll cut you down and wrap you in my best cotton sheets.


Rebecca West

Rebecca West has fallen through the gaps in history. She was one of the first to be accused of witchcraft and her confessions resulted in her friends and her own mother being hung. No record of what happened subsequently to Rebecca exists.

It has been speculated that her confessions may have been part of a plea bargain or that she might have been protected.

All through the night,
Across the empty sky,
By the candle light,
You sang so high, like a canary,
You sang like a canary,
Oh and I loved you,
More than most guys do.
Oh Rebecca you changed your tune,
Oh Rebecca what did you do?

You lied to save your skin,
You squealed like a little pig,
Ten different devils came knocking at your door,
And you, you dizzy whore you let them all in.
Oh Rebecca you’re covered in sin,
Oh and I loved you,
More than most guys do.
Oh Rebecca you changed your tune,
Oh what did you?

Oh you slipped through,
The gaps in the history book,
Oh Rebecca what happened to you?
I’ve looked all over for you.

You sent the witches to the gallows,
Your mother to the grave,
You told a lie so you could be saved,
But you can’t be saved,
No, no you can’t be saved.

Oh and I loved you,
More than most guys do
Oh Rebecca you changed your tune,
Oh what did you do?

Oh and I loved you,
More than most guys do
More than the gunsmith, the vintner, the fiddler, the chaplain
The clothier, the pedlar, the chandler, the king.

Oh and I first saw you,
In the town where the mistletoe grew,
Rebecca what happened to you?

I loved you, I loved you, I loved you,
Rebecca what happened to you?

Desire Lines

Queen Henrietta Maria escaped the war in a boat to The Netherlands. I imagine Rebecca West and her protector wishing for the same; a small boat that would wash upon friendly shores as England slowly destroyed itself.

When did you give up?
Oh you, when did you give up?
When did you give up?
Oh you, when did you give up?
Every morning there’s a reason to forget,
The sails on the boats on the river said,
When did you give up?
Oh you, when did you give up?

How did you slip through?
Oh you, how did you slip though?
How did you slip through?
Oh you, how did you slip though?
There were two strong arms to catch you,
There were two soft hands to stroke you,
When they saw the devil,
Teasing at the thread, of your filthy dress.

England’s rotting away,
Wasted, riddled with hate.

Watching the young getting old,
Trampling the tracks into roads.

Crumbling away with the stone,
Screaming into the shadows.

I want to set sail in a ramshackle boat,
And let the waves take hold.

They tasted darkness in your strawberry wine,
In your cheat bread,
They saw imps twisted in your tresses,
Nipping at your legs.
They drew you on a hurdle, put tar upon your heart,
The fear split the oldest (oak) tree apart,
What they saw in you,
I know it wasn’t true, I know it wasn’t true.

Follow the desire lines out to the coast,
When you were fighting, I loved you the most.

Kill the King

The English Civil War managed to divide families. Some swapped sides and back again. Brothers, sister, husbands and wives all found themselves ‘by the sword divided’. The execution of King Charles was an opportunity to rebuild bridges, for some at least.

Blood red rain,
Peacetime again,
You were my valentine,
Will you ever be, again sometime.

King who won’t grow old,
King up high on the scaffold,
We’re on tiptoes just to see,
An axe blade so sharp, a poor soul on his knees.

Cause everyone knows,
And everyone hollers,
We’re shaking the tree,
To see what will fall down at our feet.

The grass will grow through,
The bones in the field,
And I will love you again,
I’ll love you like before the war.

Sweetheart with sword,
Sweetheart at war,
I saw you bloody for the king,
You’re knees look so dirty, just where have you been?

Cause everyone knows,
We’re chasing the clouds away,
And all of your ungodly ways,
Are best left forgotten,
The sunlight will break right though,
And grow food for you.
And I will love you again,
I’ll love you like before the war.



A Coffin for King Charles, a Crown for Cromwell and a Pit for the People

A Royalist song from 1649.


The Laughing Tree

An untrue version of the story of Matthew Hopkins recounts that Hopkins himself was accused of being a witch and died as victim of his own justice. Not so, he died an early, though natural, death in 1647. He presumably died believing his soul would fly to heaven.

He was buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s church at Mistley Heath near Manningtree. It took me three visits before I found the broken, crumbled remains of St Mary's. A twisted tree grows though the rubble and appears to be laughing.

Nobody went to heaven, or hell. They just died.

Who's going to think of me, underneath the laughing tree?
With the roots round my feet and the dirt in my mouth,
There’s nothing here to laugh about.

What kind of god loves me, underneath the laughing tree?
What kind of god lets a small chapel rot?
Let's the rafters float out to sea?

Everything dies; everything sinks in the mud,
We prayed hard, there's no answer from God,
All that waste, all the hate, all the blood, all the faith,
And I just lie under the laughing tree.

And if I’d thought a little more, if I stopped and listened at the door,
If I opened up my heart and my tired, lazy eyes,
I might have wings, I might fly.

I want heaven, I want heaven now.
I want heaven, I want heaven now.
All that waste, all the hate, all the blood, all the faith,
I want heaven now.

The Long Parliament are:

Bill Botting
Dan Mayfield
David Sheppard
David Watkins
Hannah Botting
Helen Arney
Ian Button
Jenni Britton
Jennifer Botting
Michael Collins
Nathan Thomas
Rhodri Marsden
Robert Rotifer
Sarah Scutt
Steve Pretty
Valentine Leys

Recorded by:
Darren Hayman, Ian Button and Simon Trought

Recorded at:

Walthamstow, Shoreditch, Limehouse, Canterbury and the Isle of Eigg

Artwork by: Mike McMahon
Photography by: Grant Wilkinson and Darren Hayman

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Darren Hayman Walthamstow, UK

This is the official Bandcamp page for songwriter Darren Hayman, the Indie band Hefner, The French and other side projects.

This bandcamp page was compiled by Audio Antihero - www.audioantihero.bandcamp.com

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