The Library

The Library

A Listening Experiment


The Rules

Visitors are kindly reminded:
• Upon entrance to the ‘Library’ complete Silence will be Observed.
• Patrons may provide a yoga mat or similar upon which to sit or lie.
• Listeners may relax, close their eyes and entirely ignore performers.
• No Applause will be required between songs.
• Movement/dance though not encouraged is acceptable.
What is it?

An evening of Musical Entertainments:

with Performances by:

Sound artist Petri Huurinainen

vincent burke with faithful band

Rojhat gun

jonathan buckley

and Jawad Al-Nawab

The evenings entertainments will culminate in a performance of John Cages 4.33

followed by a Q and A and hot tea

Saturday evening, Jan. 27, 6-8pm at the Lido Pavilion
Arrive Promptly for Admission

‘The Library’ affords listeners the freedom not to talk, opening a space for genuine Listening.

‘The Library affords performers a space for presentations of uncompromised subtlety.

beneath the floor

Here’s a song I wrote a while ago



Click here for the Video: beneath the floor

I don’t want to say to much about what it’s all about – hopefully that’s clear enough and the lyrics are below.

The Arrangement was fun now I’ve got a new set-up I can bash harmony on and work pretty quickly.

Same thing with the Video which I did in one night smashing up

– Jan Švankmajer’s animation (1971)

zooming/cutting and re-ordering bits

it all fitted surprisingly well

so I let it out




first time you hit the ground

you fall and float without a sound

and it feels so good

you wanna shout out

it feels so good!

next time you want some more

you wanna get beneath the floor

and it feels so good

you wanna do it

it feels so good

no one talks about tomorrow

no one slaps your face with sorrow

no one tramples on your light and

no one talks about tomorrow

what you beg and who you borrow

no one cares about tomorrow

no one cares at all

next time you ask for more

you wanna shoot you wanna score

and it feels all right

and when you do it

it feels alright

next time you’re on the bed

you’ve got a puncture in your head

but you feel alright

you gotta do it to feel alright

no one talks about tomorrow

no one slaps your face with sorrow

no one tramples on your light and

you go to another place where

people move out into spaces

pyramids and broken water

fall out of the moon

no one talks about tomorrow

no one slaps your face with sorrow

no one tramples on your light and

no one told you about tomorrow

what you beg and who you borrow

no one walks into the mist and

disappears from view



Usually I inflict music on the world whether it’s actually wanted or not…

…Occasionally someone asks for some.  Which is interesting because I get sent off in a different direction musically.

Here for example is some music for a film on London Taxis.
I like to produce something that works as a whole piece of music, but I also need to hit certain moods; so here comes a jolly game!

See whether you can find these bits in the music

 (if you can’t one of us is rubbish).

Main Taxi Theme — Driving at Night — Going around in Circles — Build up of Traffic — Driving back home.

And why not watch some  DigitalWorks films here!

king of kings

I know – it’s been ages I’ve forgotten how this thing works.

Written a lot of songs though. This one may not be a masterpiece but it kicks along and delivers a bit of punch.

Jet lagged after Jamaica the tune jumped into my head. I think I’d heard someone on the radio and been reminded that you just can’t argue logic around religion. Faith means believing against all logic and the less sense it makes to believe the more faithful you are so well done!

If you pray your village won’t slide into the sea and then it does prayer still works, it just wasn’t the right thing to ask for.

Anyway in my jet lagged state I imagined the end of the song being a bigger and bigger chant of “praying to the kings kings” steamrollering over a yelping version of me. Maybe I should have done that, instead I did this!…

king of kings : video click to play!!

oh the video is kind of distracting from the meaning in places so the words are below; I did it quick and the kids liked it so here it is – hope I didn’t go too far (it’s not very subtle).

Look after yourselves atheists! and if you are religious don’t hurt anyone 😉


king of kings

all those people sitting in the dirt are

praying to the king of kings

all those people in the big fat church are

praying to the king of kings.

homophobic African preachers are

praying to the king of kings

paedophile catholics and PE teachers are

praying to the king of kings.

give up your religion

give up your god

it won’t improve your behaviour

but it could make you act a whole lot worse…

winston churchill and adolph hitler were

praying to the king of kings

donald trump and the ku klux klan are

praying to the king of kings

give up your religion

give up your faith

it justifies your behaviour

while screwing up the human race

muslims, christians, every side are

praying to the king of kings

so fire your gun with spiritual pride you’re all

praying to the king of kings

give up your religion

give up your god

it won’t improve your behaviour

but it could make you act a whole lot worse…

when your village slides to the sea you’ll still be

praying to the king of kings

it’s just one more trick to keep you down on your knees while you’re

praying to the king of kings

it’s just one more trick to keep you down on your knees while you’re

praying to the king of kings

praying to the king of kings…Pow!

Late on Saturday night 2 weeks ago I got this amazing e-mail:

“We would love to invite you to play our stage, which will be recorded for later broadcast across one or more of the following BBC Radio Networks including BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC 6 Music and the 36 BBC Introducing local shows across the UK. We will have numerous presenters join us across the weekend to introduce all the acts onto stage including BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris, Lopa Kothari from Radio 3’s World on 3, Max Reinhardt from Radio 3’s the Late Junction and more.
BBC Introducing supports new musicians at the BBC and we have stages across the major festivals in the UK. We would be delighted if Vincent Burke could perform at our BBC Introducing stage at Latitude Festival in July.

Date: Saturday 16th July
Time: 1800
Stage: BBC Introducing’s Lavish Lounge, In the Woods
Set length: 25 mins”



Ok so 2 weeks later it’s announced, I’ve got the set together and had a haircut, so nerves aside, I’m ready to go!



Here’s a link to the stage with some stuff about me if you click on it:-)

Thanks for the friends who came round last night for a set preview and said nice things.  I’ll let you know how it went and if you do know anyone who’s going would be great to see them there, let them know! :-)







‘this is us now’

I had a week off and wrote 2 songs – (this is one of them)

I got the melody one day packing up to go camping – it was pouring with rain but we’re English.  By the time we got to a field outside Cheddar it was fine.  Next morning  the sun came out hot, everything slowed down and  I did the words for the second Verse (which make sense of what I already had) eating cornflakes and sitting in the mouth of the  tent.

Verse 1 – when we met

Verse 2 – where we are now

I hope it catches life as a string of valuable moments.

For the film I searched the computer for put  old camera clips  –  there were more than I could use of the children and almost none of me and Carol (I must change that) but it started to fit well so I wanted to finish it and show it to Carol, Nathaniel and Laurie on my birthday.  Carol liked it because she was in it (and looking foxy).

The 100’s of still shots near the end were taken by our friend Chris Porter. We did them in the back garden while I span us round as quick as I could in a borrowed computer chair (I took out the shots where we fell off).

I’ve had the tune stuck in my head ever since hope you like it too.

suzanne vega -‘cracking’220px-SuzanneVegadebutalbum

That’s the link up there – this one goes back to Summer 1985; we thought we were being cool cooking up banana skins on a trangia ( I was quietly relieved it didn’t work) me,  James,  Alex, and Gutsy who had a tape-recorder and for some reason in the middle of the hot day put on a cassette of someone none of us had ever heard of – suzanne vega.  This was her first album and from the beginning of the first song to the end of the album she had us – no-one said a word.

It’s 1980’s New York, it’s female, it’s grown up relationships; basically I knew nothing about any of that, but like  the Woody Allen films I’d seen I kind of wanted to be in that world.

This is the first track from that album, delivered with simple conversational language, and stripped down (almost) to a guitar  a voice;  but sometimes when the song is strong enough that just gives it a sharper focus, like travelling straight into someone else mind.

It’s a one time thing
It just happens
A lot
Walk with me
And we will see
What we have got

My footsteps are ticking
Like water dripping from a tree
Walking a harline
And stepping very carefully

My heart is broken
It is worn out at the knees
Hearing muffled
Seeing blind
Soon it will hit the Deep Freeze

And something is cracking
I don’t know where
Ice on the sidewalk
Brittle braches
In the air

The sun
Is blinding
Dizzy golden, dancing green
Through the park in the afternoon
Wondering where the hell
I have been

there is at least one of mine which unconsciously probably owes her quite a lot it can happen to you  I think she might have sung it better than I managed.  I suppose this is one strand of what I’ve been trying to do in my own way ever since I heard her; write something so striking and clear that without a band or a big emotional delivery, I could grab even a tent of grubby fifteen year olds.

100 of my favourite songs: Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear


The problem with irony is nobody gets it; they get it in conversation, on TV,  but not in songs.


I know this from personal experience – there’s something about singing which everyone believes is personal, autobiographical and that can be great, but it’s not always what is happening, it can be interesting to pretend to be someone else, or to give yourself licence to say stuff you don’t believe to make a point.  A while ago I posted a song called  ‘Can I just Explain?’ for example, where I imagine I’m a man explaining his affair and partially blaming his wife. ‘You were acting like a stranger, turning your back in the dark’ etc. then I wonder why people are asking me if my marriage is OK 😉  Anyway believe it or not this blog isn’t about me…

‘Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear’


Despite being covered by the Muppets (whose version I love)  it’s actually a pretty bleak song. Simon Smith is poor  ‘I may go out tomorrow if I can borrow a coat to wear’  (wonder if Morrissy nicked that line for ‘This Charming Man’?)  What’s Simon doing?  Well he’s off to entertain rich people ‘well fed faces’  by poking a bear with a stick.  Yes, sorry Fonzie that’s how they used to make the bear ‘dance.’   So two layers of cruelty the laughing rich cruel to Simon, making  Simon cruel to the bear. ‘It’s just amazing how fair people can be.’

There’s probably another meaning too as Randy Neman was struggling himself to make entertainment pay ‘Who needs money , when you’re funny?’  Well the song is funny but I think better for the darkness underneath. I like it when an up-beat melody is undercut by a lyric, I suppose I’ve done it myself with a song like ‘he paid to have himself murdered’

Anyway, Now by the Muppets!



Randy Newman went on to write so many great songs and was often misunderstood.

In ‘Sail Away’ he breathtakingly plays a slave trader luring Africans on to his ship with the promise of a wonderful new land.

In ‘Political Science’ he seems confused as to why everyone hates America and suggests they blow the rest of the world up (except maybe Australia ‘don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo.’ )

Then there’s the hit ‘Short People’ which ridicules discrimination but which got him sued. I still have a relatively short friend who can’t stand him because of it.

One more? ‘You can leave your hat on’ seems to me it’s a song about a darkly manipulative man; but then it had the meaning sucked out of it by vocal vacuum cleaner Tom Jones and is now mostly danced to by strippers. Ho hum – Randy did his best! All good tunes!


Catch up soon (and sorry if you like Tom Jones).  Another song soon – stay in touch!




100 of my favourite songs: the Waters of March

As a songwriter of sorts I want to write a bit about some of my favourite songs – things I wish I’d written or made me want to write in the first place.

Some are clever, some are stupid, some are old some are new.  Either way they’re all brilliant in their own way.  The idea is this will hopefully make you want to listen again or that maybe you’ll discover something you’ll want to keep.

 Waters of March (Aguas de Marco) 

by  Antonio Carlos Jobim

listen here! –  waters of March

(This is Art Garfunkels version there’s another beautiful version by TOM JOBIM & ELIS REGINA  down at the bottom)


Art Garfunkel                                                            Antonio Carlos Jobim


To me it’s got everything you want – melodic, simple and profound.

My Brazilian friend Nando tells me it was originally about everything that floated downstream after a devastating Spring flood; which is surprising because being a bossa nova it sounds like a fairly laid-back disaster.

I first heard because my parents  used to pirate-record albums from Plymouth record library, fitting them onto a C90 cassette by taking out the duff songs.  This made the cut; it reminded me then of picture dictionaries  ‘A stick, a stone’ etc.  It feels like a listed celebration of the mundane ‘a truck load of bricks in the soft morning light’ , ‘the plan of the house, the body in bed’ beautiful clear images; to me a least as beautiful as a William Carlos William poem like ‘the red wheelbarrow.’  and all these images exist within the repeated refrain of nature ‘ and the riverbank talks of the waters of March…’  The continuation of life in and through all change.  it’s poetic but with bright simplicity.

I suppose the instrumentation on this version may feel a little dated but Art Garfunkels  wry monotone delivery fits, it’s observational not emotional and more beautiful for that.

To me it says the most important things are small things in your everyday life; notice them and enjoy them before you yourself have to drop out of their cycle. It winds up into a great resolution  ‘the end of the run …the end of all strain/ it’s the joy in your heart’

You know it’s all  a great minimalist poem,  here it is:

A stick, a stone,
It’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of a stump,
It’s a little alone

It’s a sliver of glass,
It is life, it’s the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It’s a trap, it’s a gun

The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush

The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all

It’s the wind blowing free,
It’s the end of the slope,
It’s a beam, it’s a void,
It’s a hunch, it’s a hope

And the river bank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the end of the strain,
The joy in your heart

The foot, the ground,
The flesh and the bone,
The beat of the road,
A slingshot’s stone

A fish, a flash,
A silvery glow,
A fight, a bet,
The range of a bow

The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay in the face,
It’s a loss, it’s a find

A spear, a spike,
A point, a nail,
A drip, a drop,
The end of the tale

A truckload of bricks
in the soft morning light,
The shot of a gun
in the dead of the night

A mile, a must,
A thrust, a bump,
It’s a girl, it’s a rhyme,
It’s a cold, it’s the mumps

The plan of the house,
The body in bed,
And the car that got stuck,
It’s the mud, it’s the mud

Afloat, adrift,
A flight, a wing,
A hawk, a quail,
The promise of spring

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the promise of life
It’s the joy in your heart

A stick, a stone,
It’s the end of the road
It’s the rest of a stump,
It’s a little alone

A snake, a stick,
It is John, it is Joe,
It’s a thorn in your hand
and a cut in your toe

A point, a grain,
A bee, a bite,
A blink, a buzzard,
A sudden stroke of night

A pin, a needle,
A sting, a pain,
A snail, a riddle,
A wasp, a stain

A pass in the mountains,
A horse and a mule,
In the distance the shelves
rode three shadows of blue

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the promise of life
in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone,
The end of the road,
The rest of a stump,
A lonesome road

A sliver of glass,
A life, the sun,
A knife, a death,
The end of the run

And the riverbank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the end of all strain,
It’s the joy in your heart.

Not bad for a popular song.


Next time though something more stupid – Promise!!

As promised  I I couldn’t ignore this version  it may be in Portuguese but  so fluid, and they’re just loving singing together – Watch it Watch it!!



Another Win!

Late Junction (Radio 3) played me again on Thursday!

Flattered as always to be on the undisputed best show on radio. That’s 4 different songs Max Reinhardt has played of mine now so over the moon really – although shouldn’t I be rolling in money by now?

“vincent burke South Londons wry singer-songwriter and chronicler of our times has been busy cooking up a demo to make sure the chocolate hearts (on Valentines day) are bitter sweet – can I just explain?”

link to Thursdays Late Junction:

the video:can I just explain?