I’ve always been a great fan of Lindisfarne and, even though they are Newcastle boys, I’ll forgive them on this occasion.  I pretty much have all of their albums and have seen them several times over the years – even taking Ben and Annabel to see them at Newcastle City Hall a couple of years ago!

Lindisfarne wrote many a great song (Fog on The Tyne, Meet me on the Corner, Lady Eleanor, We Can Swing Together, Run For Home, to name just a few). However, this is, without a doubt, Alan Hulls finest moment. He was never more tender than singing here, the subdued fury mixing with angst ridden empathy for a broken humanity. The final line of each verse accentuates the despair and deepens the heartache he feels.

The sad thing is this song was written 50 years ago and the problem of homelessness hasn’t gone away. I’m moved every time I listen to this and I’m sure you will be too.

This was filmed at the Newcastle City Hall in December 1984 at one of Lindisfarne’s legendary Christmas concerts at Newcastle City Hall. And I was there.

When winter’s shadowy fingers
First pursue you down the street
And your boots no longer lie
About the cold around your feet

Do you spare a thought for summer
Whose passage is complete
Whose memories lie in ruins
And whose ruins lie in heat
When winter comes howling in

When the wind is singing strangely
Blowing music through your head
And your rain splattered windows
Make you decide to stay in bed

Do you spare a thought for the homeless tramp
Who wishes he was dead
Or do you pull your bedclothes higher
Dream of summertime instead?
When winter comes howling in

The creeping cold has fingers
That caress without permission
And mystic crystal snowdrops
Only aggravate the condition

Do you spare one thought for the gypsy
With no secure position
Who’s turned and spurned by village and town
At the magistrate’s decision
When winter comes howling in

When the turkey’s in the oven
And the Christmas presents are bought
And Santa’s in his module
He’s an American astronaut

Do you spare one thought for Jesus
Who had nothing but his thoughts
Who got busted just for talking
And befriending the wrong sorts?
When winter comes howling in
When winter comes howling in

The Lindisfarne Story: 50 Years of Fog

Live at Emmanuel: Billy Mitchell & Bob Fox

Some of you may have heard this cover version by Sam Fender – but it’s not a patch on the original!!