Lyrics & Analysis: Please Mr. Wilson

Please Mr. Wilson
Won’t you spare a thought for me?
I’m a thousand miles from home
And I’m still caught up by the freeze
I’ve got worries by the column
I’ve got trouble by the score
If I stick my neck out further
Well, I’ll only ask for more
Please Mr. Wilson
Won’t you spare a thought for me?
I’ve got a hat full of troubles
And it’s worrying me

Sax solo

Please take your hat off
Blow your nose and wipe your feet
You’ve got fog inside your head
And your whole life is in a heap
If you don’t take much more care
It won’t be long before you’re dead
So you better take it easy
Here’s some coffee, jam and bread
Please Mr. Wilson
Won’t you spare a thought for me?
I’ve got a hat full of troubles
And it’s worrying me
	Hear my plea
	Is this my destiny?
	Am I just sent down here to be sad?

	Hear this part
	It comes straight from my heart
	I say, ‘Where is there fun to be had?’

Double sax solo

Jim Pembroke 1967

Artist: Blues Section
       Jim Pembroke, vocal
       Hasse Walli, rhythm guitar
       Måns Groundstroem, bass, piano
       Ronnie Österberg, drums
       Eero Koivistoinen, saxes
Release: From the album BLUES SECTION, Love Records LRLP 3, 1967
Studio: Finnvox
Producer: Atte Blom, Otto Donner
Engineer: Erkki Hyvönen

General comment: This is the sixth track (Side 2, Track 1) on Blues Section’s one and only ‘real’ LP. For more general comment see ‘Only Dreaming’.

The Music: In 1967, sing-along novelty tracks and songs built over descending bass lines were all the rage in British Pop. This song features both. The chord sequence is typical for a song composed on a piano. The playing is fine, including a few deliberate ‘errors’ (such as Groundstroem’s bum note near the start). The singing is top notch, of course. Blues Section is often referred to as a Finnish band, but in fact Pembroke to this day can be more English than many people who actually live in England (it’s as if he has a little ‘England 1966 Capsule’ he can get into whenever he likes). Still, the fact that the rest of the group are Finnish makes for a different sound than you would expect from a British band. It’s hard to pin down exactly, but there is definitely a unique sound that can be found in rock groups throughout all the Nordic countries, from Karelia to Reykjavik. There is a freshness and cleanness – and often a jazz influence – to the approach and delivery that seems to reflect the light, climate and the quality of the air in those places. That the alcohol consumption at these cold latitudes is abundant, too, reflects in the sound effects used on this track: a bunch of drunken Finns, growling and smashing bottles, with poor Pembroke laughing pathetically at jokes he doesn’t understand. Anyone who has read Veijo Meri’s novel ‘Peiliin piirretty nainen’ (does it exist in English?) will recall the amusing portrait of a group of young men sharing a flat in Helsinki.

Towards the end there are two saxes playing solo, though one of them might actually be a clarinet.

The lyric: Judging from his lyrics Jim Pembroke often had a hard time in Finland, during his first many years there. This was long before the EU and the Single Market, and moving country could be extremely difficult and nerve-wracking. There were residence permits and work permits you had to apply for, at least once a year. On top of that, you might have problems with you own embassy as well. Finland’s difficult relations with Russia at the time could well have made it extra problematic for English people trying to take up residence, I suppose.

In this song, addressed to the then-British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, Pembroke lets it all out. It’s a very personal and in some ways desperate song, but with a significantly humorous touch. As such, it predicts ‘Pembroke the Absurdist’, if the idea of Absurdism is to point at the rubbish in this world, but in a manner so that we end up laughing at it.

In fact, there is a surreal element in the second verse, where it becomes uncertain who is saying what to whom – and what exactly is going on. However, as a description of Pembroke’s feelings of being far away from London, while the Helsinki winter comes howling in, it is quite clear and easy to sympathise with. Even more importantly, perhaps, this is a highly rhythmical and singable collection of words.

Otherwise, the lyric is a feast of English every-day expressions that are now obsolete. They are quite self-explanatory I won’t go into them any further.

This is a short lyric that gives some significant clues to how it must have felt to be Jim Pembroke in 1967: tough at times, but because of the good music and his (and his friend’s) healthy sense of humour he got by.

-- Claes Johansen with thanks to Nic Stayt, 2007