"Roots" - A protest song by Steve Knightley

In researching examples of anti-English racism I am reminded of the mild furore that was created by Steve Knightley's song "Roots" some years ago. The lyrics are below .... see what you think

I still have no idea what persuaded Knightley to appear on the Radio 2 Mike Harding show to explain the lyrics and (presumably) to allay the fears of (folkie?) New British whingers that they were NOT racist, anti-immigrant or anti-multiculturalist and that he (Knightley) is not actually a paid-up member of the BNP.

I know that Harding has strong pro-Irish ties, but since he was born, raised, lived and has worked in England all his life I still can't believe the stirring up of Anglophobia was his doing. I know at the time I was deeply offended that Knightley was obliged to do the interview.

Frankly, I would have been proud to write a protest song like that. I like the lyrics - they are ENTIRELY applicable to present-day England and most ordinary English people.

In my view (as an ethnic Englishman who now lives happily and accepted as a proud Anglo-Kiwi in multicultural New Zealand), the Brits who complained, commented or even raised an eyebrow are simply anti-English racists looking for an excuse to go English-bashing.

It is disgraceful, but typically New British, that it was so easy to bully and browbeat a well-known, respected English folk musician into feeling obliged to publicly defend his song, his ethnicity and culture. This not only abuses right to free speech, it is direct racial abuse as defined in the UK's own Race Relations Acts.

If the same song had been written about Scotland by a certain well known Scottish folk-musician it would NEVER have been challenged. If it had, I'm sure the response would have been "Fuck off".

On second thoughts, given the BBC's proclivity for lefty bigotry, self-righteousness and anti-Englishness I would not be surprised if it was that organization that forced the issue.

 

ROOTS by Steve Knightley

Now it’s been 25 years or more, I’ve roamed this land from shore to shore 

From Tyne to change or Severn to Thames, from moor to vale from peak to fen 

Played in the cafes & pubs and bars, I’ve stood in the street with my old guitar 

But I’d be richer than all the rest if I had a pound for each request 

For dueling banjos, American Pie, it’s enough to make you cry 

Rule Britannia or Swing Low are they the only songs we English know 

Seed, bud, flower, fruit, they’re never gonna grow without their roots 

Branch, stem, shoots, they need roots. 

 

After the speeches when the cake’s been cut, the disco’s over and the bar is shut 

At christening, birthday wedding or wake, what’ll we sing until the morning breaks 

When the Indians, Asians, Afro, Celts, it’s in their blood below the belt 

They’re playing and dancing all night long so what have they got right that we’ve got wrong? 

Seed, bud, flower, fruit, never gonna grow without their roots 

Branch, stem, shoot…………. we need roots. 

Refrain: 

Haul away boys let them go, out in the wind and the rain and snow 

We’ve lost more than we’ll ever know round the rocky shores of England. 

Now haul away boys let them go, out in the wind and the rain and snow 

We’ve lost more than we’ll ever know round the rocky shores of England. 

We need roots!!! We need roots. 

And a minister said his vision of hell is three folk singers in a pub near Wells, 

Well I’ve got a vision of urban sprawl, It’s pubs where no-one ever sings at all 

And everyone stares at a great big screen, overpaid soccer stars, prancing queens, 

Australian soap, American rap, estuary English, baseball caps. 

And we learn to be ashamed before we walk of the way we look and the way we talk 

Without our stories or our songs, how will we know where we’ve come from? 

I’ve lost St George in the Union Jack, It’s my flag too and I want it back 

Seed, bud, flower, fruit, never gonna grow without their roots 

Branch, stem, shoot ………….. we need roots.

 

 

 

© PhilDrane Music 2016