“The wind in the trees is sighing… And old England is dying”

Old England – The Waterboys (1985) FLAC Remaster HD 1080p Video

“Old England” was released on The Waterboys’ third studio album, This Is The Sea, in September of 1985. This is probably tied with the title track as my favorite song on the album….definitely top ten of all their songs!

This Is The Sea is the last of the band’s “Big Music” albums. Considered by critics to be the finest album of their early rock-oriented sound, described as “epic” and “a defining moment”, it was the first Waterboys album to enter the United Kingdom charts, peaking at number thirty-seven. Steve Wickham makes his Waterboys recording debut playing violin on ‘The Pan Within’ and subsequently joined the band, appearing on the video of “The Whole Of The Moon”. This Is the Sea is the last album with contributions from Karl Wallinger, who left the group to form his own band, World Party.

Mike Scott, the album’s principal songwriter and leader of The Waterboys, describes This Is the Sea as “the record on which I achieved all my youthful musical ambitions”, “the final, fully realised expression of the early Waterboys sound”, influenced by The Velvet Underground, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, and Steve Reich.

A remastered and expanded version was released in 2004. This Is the Sea contains the best-selling Waterboys single, the song “The Whole of the Moon”. The album cover is a photograph taken by Lynn Goldsmith.

“Old England” is a criticism of Thatcherism, blaming Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies for what Scott perceived to be an increase in desperation amongst the young and poor in the England of that time, and a rise in drug addiction, specifically to heroin. The refrain, “Old England is dying” is a quote from James Joyce, and the lines “You’re asking what makes me sigh now / What it is makes me shudder so” are from W.B. Yeats’ poem, “Mad as the Mist and Snow”. The Clash, one of the bands that had inspired Scott during his punk music phase, released “This Is England”, a song with a similar theme, as a single the same year. Scott and The Waterboys would move to Ireland the following year.

This is another video I started years ago and am finally getting around to finishing up. I always hoped to use some footage Terrance Davis’ brilliant, beautiful and poetic film of his youth in (and the historical transformation of) Liverpool, England. However, I never really liked the way it was looking for the video though, so I started doing what I did best back in the early days, lots of masks using clouds and assorted layers of historical images from England’s past, and skipped most of the footage I had from the film….but it was never quite finished and eventually I realized it was crap. So, for the last couple months I tried some things with it and finally found something that I though looked pretty nice….almost all the old stuff (Victoria, the man and the sunset early on are still in but don’t really fit the rest of the thing….I probably should have lost ’em!)….I really liked the effects I was able to get with the newer footage to match the look of the clips from the film. BTW…..if you haven’t seen “Of Time And The City” you really should watch it, this video contains only a few minutes of this masterpiece and there is so much more to see!

This is my sixth video for a track from The Waterboys…one of those bands that I really love making vids for! Hope you enjoy it….thanks for watching!
“The Stolen Child” https://youtu.be/mVSN9DMvl6I
“Church Not Made With Hands” https://youtu.be/WG0RgaLuiFk
“A Man Is In Love” https://youtu.be/RBua1cHwYtc
“The Return Of Jimi Hendrix” https://youtu.be/6wayfbGseYE
“Girl From The North Country” https://youtu.be/8bZNxLAXn0E

A man looks up on a yellow sky
And the rain turns to rust in his eye
Rumors of his health are lies
Old England is dying

His clothes are a dirty shade of blue
And his ancient shoes, worn through
He steals from me and he lies to you
Old England is dying

Still he sings an Empire’s song
Still he keeps his navy strong
And he sticks his flag where it all belongs
Old England is dying

You’re asking what makes me sigh now
What it is makes me shudder so
Well, I just freeze in the wind
And I’m numb from the pummeling of the snow

That falls from high in yellow skies
Where the well loved flag of England flies
Where the homes are warm and the mothers sigh
Where comedians laugh and babies cry

Where criminals are televised, politicians fraternized
Journalists are dignified and everyone is civilized
And children stare with heroin eyes, heroin eyes, heroin eyes
Old England, old England, old England is dying, dying

Evening has fallen, swans are singing
The last of Sunday’s bells is ringing
The wind in the trees is sighing
And old England is dying


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