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Kindly supplied to Crystal Music by Wayne Shelor.

Part I. As posted to echoes November 19, 1998.

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I spent a few days, recently, with Lee Saunders, whose album "A Promise of Peace", is highly thought of by many Pink Floyd Fans, and which has been addressed here on Echoes in some ever-burgeoning detail.

Saunders is a mid-30s Englishman from Brighton, a city of over 300,000 in southern England.

He has his own socc, er, football team (AFC St. Georges - named for the patron saint of England) and lives for soccer the way many Americans follow "real" football or baseball. Indeed, St. Georges won "The Double" the last two years running, and has lost but one game this season (while Saunders was in America! He found out about the loss via transcontinental telephone!).

Saunders formed his team in 1996, and now, in its third year, St. Georges is presently on top of the league and chasing its third championship. Of this, Saunders is enormously proud.

Although his recent trip to America was his first, Saunders has an absolutely remarkable knowledge of many things American. He also has a detailed understanding of world history that astounds (in conversations, he intertwines events from four centuries ago with those of the 20th century, and his theories and conclusions are all but bereft of ignorance); he has an expansive grasp of world politics; and he has a *low* tolerance for hate, bigotry, elitism and, in his words, "stupid people."

We spoke at length about many things, but I thought - for our intent and purpose here on Echoes - I'd address some of the vagaries, puzzles and themes imbued in "A Promise of Peace." Mike McInnis is preparing an analysis of APOP, and I'll not get into interpretations of the recording, but rather address only those clues and allusions that may have escaped those other than Britons (as so many did me!).

Let's begin with the album cover: the Union Jack flag (which - he pointed out pointedly!) is the flag of Great Britain, NOT the flag of England) was selected for use "Because the album is a reflection (of events) through an Englishman's eyes," Saunders explained.

"I also used it because the flag has been used over the years by The National Front Party in England. The National Front is a fascist/Nazi party. " Saunders said he's "taking back" the flag and all for which it stands. "To me, the Union Flag represents a Democracy. My grandparents fought under that flag in the battle for good against the evil Nazis. I find it sickening that an English Nazi party even exists, nevermind it using the Union Flag."

In our far-ranging discussions, it became evident to me that Saunders sometimes assumes Americans are as in tune with English/British culture and history as he is with the that of the States. On more than one occasion, he had to clarify events, beliefs and assumptions of mine that were flat wrong. Saunders told me that the flag is called the Union Flag when on land, becoming the Union Jack when at sea. So, in the song "Not Just A Phoney War, "it's referred to as the Union Jack because of the subject matter - that being the evacuation of Dunkirk by the Royal Navy. Hence "Tommy sleeps wrapped in a Union Jack/on a beach..." is a metaphor for "Tommy" (who represents, in the song, ALL British soldiers) being protected and saved by the Royal Navy. More on Tommy momentarily.

Saunders said there are ghost images of "ghost sailors" behind the flag on both the cover and the reverse. (Check it out: in good ambient light, look closely and carefully at the blue field surrounding the flag - the ghosts appear!).

"I had always known that one of my relatives died at sea," Saunders recalls. "Archie Bell, a great uncle on my mother's side, was torpedoed (while aboard a ship) by a German U-Boat in 1941. Just recently (post-APOP release), the Ministry of Defence in London was able to release information regarding his demise." (If anyone's interested in the details of Archie's life and death, write me personally, please).

During The Second World War, a radio announcer known as "Lord Haw-Haw" would broadcast German propaganda on frequencies picked up by radios in Great Britain. At the end of "Soldier On Tom" (which begins with a snippet of Morse Code and a report from The BBC Home Service), Lord Haw-Haw can be heard ("Germany calling ... Germany calling") in the mix below the hauntingly evocative cries of Sharon Woolf (very Clare Torry-ish voice and movement!).

"It has been said that my grandfather was involved in the capture of Lord Haw-Haw, and he actually was part of the escort of the traitor to a Scottish P.O.W. camp, where the man was hanged as a traitor."

The photograph on the reverse of the CD (not the liner notes) shows a VE Day party in 1945. The little boy at front right is Lee Saunders' father. The photograph was taken VE Day, May 8, 1945. "A Promise Of Peace" was released May 8, 1995, precisely 50 years to the day of that party, which celebrated the end of the war in Europe.

Now, in discussing the album and lyrics, I asked Saunders about a misspelled word. I didn't know the half of it!

"I've seen that many, many people just see the surface (of words *and* events), and don't really look or listen closely," Saunders observed. "Sometimes they see or hear what they *think* they see and hear, especially when it comes to politicians. Too many people are lazy, and just hear and see things at face value, (Adolf) Hitler being a prime example."

Saunders misspelled the word "Furher" (Führer) intentionally, but few seem to have noticed. "I think that word proved my experiment," Saunders said. "It *does* happen and people *do* take things at face value. But a German noticed. Lets hope people begin to take closer note of their leaders - and their leader's words - in the future."

Some of the lyrics in "For A Thousand Years" are taken from a Hitler speech in "Prelude" (and the spoken-word mix gives the song a heavy, Nuremberg feel.) "For A Thousand Years" alludes to Hitler's references to a "Thousand-year Reich," and later on on the record Winston Churchill also mentions a thousand-year Empire in the statement "If this Empire lasts a thousand years ...".

"It wasn't so different, really, in that *both* sides seemed to want to build a thousand-year power complex like the Romans," Saunders said. "Each side thought of the other as in the wrong, but both sides wanted a thousand-year reign." The phrase "Our propaganda is true" is also a reflection, Saunders said, that not everything is what it seems, as in powers trying to attain a Thousand-Year Dream.

Now, back to "Tommy." As mentioned, Tommy represents Every Man, but Saunders intertwined some more English culture that may escape those from other countries.

"You have 'tommorrow', in the title 'For All Our Tommorrows' " Saunders said. "But it's also seen by some as 'Tom-Morrows.' So I combined Tom, short for Tommy, and the old English meaning for Tomorrow. The spelling of 'Tommorrow' is correct within the songs."

The song "Overlord"? There's a *lot* going on there that many may have missed.

"The operation for the D-day landings was Overlord, and I thought that Over Lord, as in "when will it be over, Lord?" to be quite apt," Saunders said. "And I think the use of the Lord's Prayer is ironic, since services were held in great mass before departure (for battle). I mean, didn't the *enemy* believe in the same god? Even though Hitler was the main icon within Nazi Germany, many Germans still believed in a god."

Saunders sometimes gets on a roll when discussing the impetus and meanings of his songs. "The name ("Overlord") cries out for some divine intervention before the blood flows," he continued. "Like some great act from a higher being would put a stop to the mass killing that was about to start, and stem the flood of blood from both sides. It's that flag mentality again, and the powers-that-be were raising a banner for all to blindly follow."

Let's bring in a little English history and cross-century ties, now. In "The Killing Grounds Of Falaise," there is a passage "Once more dear friends unto the breach." Although it's not an *exact* quote, Saunders uses it to herald back to Shakespeare's "Henry V" (Act III, Scene 1), in which a speech within the play celebrates the famous battle of Agincourt, which, like Falaise, was fought in northern France, only several centuries earlier.

Knowing now, as do we, that St. George is the patron saint of England, it becomes evident that Saunders weaves references to the flag, the saint, blind(ed) loyalty and England into craftily constructed passages.

The lyrics mentioned above, "Once more dear friends unto the breach" conclude the idea with the phrase: "... for St. George and England they teach."

"That line questions the blind faith in which soldiers, sailors, even children at school were taught to follow flag and country," Saunders said. "It certainly wasn't without precedent - and it's still done today (Falklands War) - but the leaders preyed upon young men's patriotism to justify their means and wishes. (Margaret) Thatcher being re-elected on a wave of patriotism ... was that the hidden agenda (of the Falklands War)?"

The speech in "Henry V" begins with: "Once more dear friends ...", and ends with "Cry - God for Harry! England! and Saint George!" Saunders also pointed out to me that the film "Henry V" (Sir Lawrence Olivier) was made *during* the war to help boost morale among the English at home. "That gives an even *more* justified reason why I should throw in Shakespeare, and its double, double-meaning."

Now here's something rather more personal and approachable about Lee Saunders - his passion for socc, er, football (as it's called everywhere but the USA) is consuming and unfailing. As is his sense of country and patriotism. So it should come as no surprise that Saunders' football team is called "AFC St. Georges," and they fly the English flag (a bright red cross on a white field). They are, I believe, the "Knights Templar."

"Isn't sport war in disguise?" Saunders asked rhetorically. "And how many times have you heard a politician invoke sporting metaphors to make a point, particularly in times of conflict? Wasn't the World Cup Final in 1966 between England and West Germany a replay of World War I and II," Saunders wondered. "Deep in the minds of the people it was, and that's why the victory for England was so sweet.

"Also, the angle the press will take when the two countries in a football match. Also the slant with the World Cup match against Argentina in the summer (1998), a replay of the Falklands War. It's not one-sided either, both countries, press, and supporters - even players - would have had that on their minds. Its deep-rooted."

(Get Saunders on a football roll, and it's DAMN difficult to direct his attention elsewhere!).

The chanting of "ENGLAND! ENGLAND! ENGLAND!" between tracks 15 and 16 ("Poor Buggers, Pt. II" and "Tommorow's Going To Be A Lovely Day") is a socc, er, a football crowd.

Saunders said audio tracks from films were used on one track ("Not Just A Phoney War") to depict two things: "At that early point in the war, World War II was sometimes dismissed as 'The Phoney War'," Saunders said, "due to the fact that there hadn't really been a lot of conflict and military action since the official declaration of war against Germany was issued by the British and the French.

"There's not a lot phoney about young men dying, regardless of their flag."

Saunders - who is at times quite cynical, and is dismissive of inherited authority - said he also intended to tilt at the great epic war movies churned out by Hollywood and some English studios, "Since the purpose, largely, of those movies was to serve as a double-edged sword: entertainment, and a propaganda agenda."

"Most films we know now, were made after the war, and the winners re-wrote history to glorify themselves," Saunders said. "Hence the line in 'Poor Buggers, Pt. I': 'And do you think all those films with John Mills are true? Do you think that Pathe news tells all the truth?' "

The album concludes with "Tommorrow's Going To Be A Lovely Day."

"The opening line is how my father described waiting for *his* father when he heard the war was over," Saunders said. "My father waited for weeks and weeks for his return." Saunder's father's father *did* ultimately return safely home from the bloody battles in Africa.

I also learned from Saunders that the line "No more chip shops in the cities that day and night copped the lot" is about Fish & Chip shops, which sell the popular English food. He said that a standing joke among English survivors - especially civilians - was that "The bloody Germans blew up our Fish And Chip shop." A sort of an English way - black humour - to deal with a terrible situation. (The stinkin' bastards burned McDonalds?!?).

Finally, the album is dedicated to Saunders' deceased family and loved ones: his mother, father, grandmother, uncle, grandfather and a friend, in that order. (Their names are listed on the album).

There's a lot to share with you about Saunders and APOP, but this being a Pink Floyd list, I prefer to throw out only a few bits of Saunder's intentions that may help others (as they did me) appreciate the album in a sharper light. So I'll not delve too deeply into Saunders and his life.

(Oh, hell! How 'bout this: Saunders, when a lad, grew up in Hammersmith London, near the corner of Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith Broadway and Cromwell Road. Cromwell Road is where Syd Barrett had a flat during his Pink Floyd days. There are other Floyd-related anecdotes regarding Saunders and his music that I'll save for another time.)

Back to the conclusion: Saunders was initially mystified - upon release of APOP - by the frequent comparisons of APOP to the music and works of Roger Waters. But he's come to accept that - coincidentally yet undeniably - there are similarities in music, vocals and devices.

Saunders, like Waters, had family die in the war (albeit three generations removed, not quite like having your father never return) and said such a circumstance "... affected me not at all."

"But the death of both my parents - my mother in late '83 and my father in early '85 (in the space of 14 months), and my having to leave the University to raise my younger brother who was 10 at the time, affected me far more," he recalled. Still, unlike the resentful, soul-scarred Rog who seems to blame the world for his pain, Saunders' outlook is flush with promise and fraternity.

In conclusion, I trust most will appreciate the bits Lee Saunders has shared with us. And in leaving, I can offer a promise for the future: Saunders is preparing - imminently - to return to the studio to record his second album. If there's an indication of interest, I can share with you his plans for upcoming albums (which is why Saunders was in the USA in the first place).

Let me know ... wayne.

Thanks to Lee Saunders for giving this interview and thanks to Wayne for
his kind permission to post this exclusive interview series.
Copyright 1998, G. Wayne Shelor.

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