“Days of Fire”: a witness to terror

“Days of Fire”: a witness to terror

With the shocking Mumbai attacks still playing out as I type this, I can’t help thinking back to other attacks and other wars with their cast of innocent victims. But attacks also leave witnesses. Nitin Sawhney and Natty appear together on the remarkable “Days of Fire”, the opening track on Sawhney’s latest album “London Undersound“. It recounts the feelings of someone whose ordinary routine – and perhaps later life – was affected by the London terror attacks. What was ordinary takes on a new aspect. There’s a sense of disconnect, of time slowing down.

The lyrics are remarkably personal and sober, without playing on any easy emotions. The opening lines are very simple, an attendant presumably telling the author to find another way home:

There’s no more trains going that way
There’s no more trains coming this way
You better make your way home, son
There’s something going down in London

When the blasts occur, he records the emotion, without resorting to cheap shots or flag-waving.

Now it’s all gone slow motion, everything slow motion
The lights gone out – I feel no more emotion
I’m all out of emotion, I’m out of emotion

On these streets where I played
And these trains that I take, I saw fire
But now I’ve seen the city change in
Oh so many ways, since the days of fire
Since the days of fire

It’s interesting that nowhere does he refer to the dead, apart from mentioning the “Brazilian name all over TV”. So he rigidly steers clear of cheapening the song, or turning it into a “tribute”. It’s a simple statement about the day the city changed.

Remarkable writing, that is well served by the railway track rhythm of the Sawhney’s guitar. There are no strings or minor chords. It’s a clear, personal and honest account of one person’s questions faced with a monumental change. Get it here.

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