It turns out this is a theme so many people can relate to, from all over the country and from many countries; a rural town no longer the thriving centre it once was. Symbolised by how the once fine and established institutions have abandoned the people there.
A while back, I was arranging a weekend trip not related to music and thought, why not see if I can get a gig on the way back?
So I contacted a few peeps I know along the route, and ended up bagging a gig at a small pub for Sunday on the way back. Result!
On the Friday, I was running ahead of time so stopped off to see where I was playing, and as I walked up to the door about 3 in the afternoon it opened. I had a nice wee chat with the landlady, then took a little stroll. What I saw was both shocking the typical.
Shops that are no longer shops – closed down long ago. A wide street once busy and bustling now totally empty. And at the crossroads in the centre, a huge, imposing bank building. With fine looking features and beautiful etched windonws.
Except, it wasn’t a bank any more.
The next morning I awoke early at a friend’s house. A little theme was running round in my head; the closing of the bank as a symbol for a town that is no longer what it used to be. All changed. The day the bank closed its doors for the last time.
Sitting up in my sleeping bag, I reached for pen and paper and started writing. There and then, the song was born.
And on the way back a day later, at the gig in the pub, I played it for the first time. The gig went down well and I happily emailed the invoice over the day later.
Since then I have played the song to many audiences around the country, and often I ask the audience to guess which town inspired it. What surprised me is how many different towns are shouted out, from the deep South to the Far North and almost everywhere in between.
The lyrics are pasted below – see if you can guess which town inspired the song.
By the way, the pub closed down a few months after. I never did get paid for that gig.
The Day The Bank Closed Its Doors
For years it stood in the centre of town
Drawing folks in as they walked up and down
A castle to commerce, centre of trade
With unnatural high windows all etched nice and neat
Stone pillars and carvings commanding the High St
A cathedral where now there are none come to pray
The day the bank closed its doors for the last time
The day the bank closed its doors x2
This town was once a thriving old place
The focus for folk who lived miles around
But the highway drove by, then took trade away
There were still plenty of sheep to shave
But the stores have all closed now thanks to Pak n Save
And the old hotel sign starts to peel and fade
The station was the place for folk coming and going
Now windowless trains rumble by without slowing
Past the old village school, now childless and still
This town lost its heart and soul
The day all those doors closed
Though the name lingers on
So many have gone
Just letters on a plate by the speed limit sign
A word on the map by a big yellow line
The town struggles on while the world hurries by