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Paul J Openshaw
  • Male
  • Dorset
  • United Kingdom
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Paul J Openshaw's Groups

Michael McCarthy at Bunkfest

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from the deep south of England...hello!



1.) Terra Nova: Ideas for this song came after being captivated by an illustrated book about Scott of the Antarctic. I revisited the ideas recently.

Lyrics for Terra Nova

Down to the south where the albatross flies.

Down below zero is where that land lies,

Where Wilson drew sketches of penguin and gull,

Life below canvas and barnacled hull,

The shivering timbers and the creak of a mast,

Scantily clad for the chill and the blast.

Terra Nova

Frost bit the finger and blackened the toe.

They ate all their ponies and they drank melted snow.

The paraselena played tricks on the eye,

Reflecting the moon through the ice in the sky.

By a flickering candle they managed a brew,

And sometimes they thought they might even get through.

Terra Nova.

Fighting to muster a resolute tread.

Working like dogs to pull on a sled,

'Til the weather closed in and extracted its toll,

An ocean of space between them and the Pole.

Slip out for a moment and no-one will mind,

Not even a mark or a print left to find.

Terra Nova 

To some it would seem the whole journey was tragic,

No sense of adventure, no moment of magic,

No stomach to push to get close to the edge,

But to shrug off complacency out on some ledge,

I'd go there if I could, in a boat made of wood,

And I'd stand in the shoes where those people once stood.

Terra Nova, Terra Nova, Terra Nova...

2.) Soldier was written at the time of the Hungerford Massacre in UK. A man with a machine gun lost the plot and murdered several school children. How could anybody do such things? It is also a thumbnail sketch of someone with whom I used to work. The two aspects are unrelated, but it does make you wonder. I play this in open G. 

3.) Say You're Mine is a simple love song. Sometimes simplicity is a good way forward. I play this in DADGAD.

4.) Florence Nightingale jumped off the pages of a school history book. It is fairly self explanatory. I play this in Drop D with capo at the third fret. 

5.) There Will Always Be A Place In My Life For You is in standard tuning. Again this is a fairly simple song. I like the words. The song employs stuff you get at school eg alliteration. My English Teachers (from all those years ago) would have been proud of me!

6.) Atheist is ironic because it is in fact a prayer. I play it on 5 string banjo in C tuning without finger picks! Don't play banjo much these days and certainly not in C tuning. Ah me - - - how things change?

7.) Striving To Be Someone was written for my daughter. For her, twenty years or so down the line from writing this song, I would still wish all the same things. Also in DADGAD.

8.) Half Open Doorways is a song which ponders on teenage years on the outskirts of smoggy Glasgow in the 1960s/1970s. All the angst of growing up against a background of perceived expectations, and trying to pull life into some sort of perspective. I play this in DADGAD capo three, but capo two would have probably been better for my voice.

9.) Nova Scotia is in standard tuning. It reflects on the highland clearances, when the Scots were   driven out of their homes to make way for......sheep! It also touches on hardened attitudes towards southerners, and possibly one in particular who found himself fighting "auld feuds" time and again in the school playground. 

10.) My Sister's Eyes is written from the perspective of a conjoined twin. I wrote it after reading a book called The Girls by Lori Larsens. This song was voted into the final twenty in the Oldie Composers song contest in UK 2012.

11.) If You Should Take Your Love From Me 

Paul J Openshaw's Blog

website is my new website. These things are a new venture for me. Any constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Paul.

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 4:22am

Bunkfest 2011 Songwriting Workshop (Writers in the Round)

"Michael McCarthy" goes to Bunkfest.

This was my contribution to "Writers in the Round" at Bunkfest 2011. Bunkfest is a music festival in Wallingford, England. This was a great experience. It is such a good way to showcase songs in a very relaxed atmosphere. Click on Michael McCarthy to open the link.

Posted on September 19, 2011 at 4:00am

Friend or Foe (Lyrics)

Friend or Foe

Click on continue and it will sort it out.

Verse 1

He was baffled and bewildered for it beggared understanding

Why men should shoot their own when they heard the bugle call

It was not what he’d expected and he dared not move a muscle

As he waited and he wondered at the things which could befall


He didn’t sign up for glory, he didn’t sign up for praise.

When the bullets started flying, he kept his head down… Continue

Posted on February 8, 2009 at 4:30am

Paul J Openshaw's Videos

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Comment Wall (30 comments)

You need to be a member of Acoustic Guitar Community to add comments!

At 10:51am on June 10, 2012, Paul J Openshaw said…

I have recently launched a new CD (The Potting Shed) I have also just launched a new website ( Extracts from the Potting Shed are on the website.I am new to a lot of this stuff and therefore it has been quite a learning curve. I would be grateful for any feedback.


At 11:48am on December 21, 2011, Warwick Slade said…

Best of luck in the Oldies comp. hope you make the next round

Peter (Warwick)

At 1:56pm on December 20, 2011, Paul Stoddard said…

Hi Paul

Just listened and voted for "My Sister's Eyes."  Great stuff.  It reminds me a bit of a folk singer from here in Canada, originally from Scotland, named David Francey.  Check him out on the internet if you have a chance.



At 1:39pm on October 13, 2011, Chris Wolf said…
Thank you Paul for the kind words. I don't get on here much but I should. So many great artists including yourself. I really like the Michael McCarthy song. Right up my alley!!
At 11:26pm on March 1, 2011, Shaun Porter said…
Nice to meet you here at Acoustic Guitar Paul.
At 3:07pm on February 2, 2011, Jeff Lustick said…



Came to your page via Ken Brodie and I'm really gald I did. I am listening to your songs as I type this-"Say You're Mine" is simple and beautiful. I am going to keep listening (that was the first one I heard)-I love your playing and if those lyrics are typical I'm in for a real treat!!!!



At 1:34am on October 15, 2010, Dave Keir said…
Hiya Paul! Great stuff!

Edinburgh is fine - at least at weekends when I'm there. Weekdays I'm in Aberdeen still and well, Aberdeen is... Aberdeen!
At 6:10am on July 17, 2010, Tim Wilkinson said…
Hi Paul, thanks for listening. I am glad to meet you and hear your songs. I play mostly in DADGAD and I was fascinated to hear your songs in the same tuning. They are all of a high quality, and "Say you're mine" in particular made a fine impression. I do get down south - especially at the moment as I make fairly frequent trips to Devon where Brook Guitars are building my new acoustic.
At 6:49am on October 10, 2009, Jim Scanlan said…
Hello's Saturday morning here...Top o' the Mornin' to ya...very pleased you accept your friendship. It's wonderful to be able to comunicate with music makers from all over the world. I'm quite taken with your songs..listening as I post this..have a great day.
At 4:50am on October 10, 2009, Luis Motta da Silva said…
I really like your high-spirited songs! I'm listening to them once again. I guess you're a little younger than me ( I'm 59), but, somehow, your singing has a lot to do with the songs that made my adolescence, that means the time when I fetched my father's guitar and tried to get something out of it.
PS: just for the sake of fun, do you fancy old "Shadows" tunes?
At 4:19pm on October 9, 2009, Jim Scanlan said…
Greetings Paul...
Really enjoy your music...sorta found you by accident..but entend to make regular visits to your site. your songs are a lot like mine, only mine are "Yankeefied", having lived in the colonies all these years. Have a blessed day..and keep on singin'.
At 2:18pm on October 9, 2009, Luis Motta da Silva said…
Just dropped into your page. Spent a while listening to the songs. Just loved them, and the accent, too. One of the great things about this community is the diversity of the people and music you can find here. If you have the time to have a look at my page, you will understand what I mean... Please carry on with the good work, congratulations!
At 3:57am on July 16, 2009, Andy D Jackson said…
Hi Paul,
Thanks for the DADGAD session at Rogers Rant.
Could you email me the info
At 11:00am on July 1, 2009, Paul Stoddard said…
Hi Paul

I enjoyed your songs. My wife and I often hear music of your style at folk festivals here in Ontario. I like songs that tell a story like yours do.

At 2:23pm on May 8, 2009, Walt Pilcher said…
Thanks, Paul!
At 2:48pm on May 1, 2009, Leanne Regalla said…
Hi Paul,

Just checking in to say hi. Yes, I'm still loving the new axe and working hard on new songs. Hope you are well.

At 6:54pm on April 15, 2009, Brian Gore said…
thanks paul!!
At 12:42pm on April 14, 2009, Bob Prince said…
Fine guitar work and your voice has a wonderful quality. And, "yes"...I bet your English teacher would have been proud of your lyrics.
At 6:35pm on March 17, 2009, Edward Sparks said…
Hi Paul,
Anyway you could post the chords to Half Open Doorways? I would love to learn it for my wife...I would do it in standard tuning somehow, so I only need the chord names...thanks, Edward
At 1:48pm on March 16, 2009, Mark Thomson said…
Hi Paul, great songs, and thanks for the kind words!

Latest Activity

paul stokes replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Good to meet you too Paul."
Feb 6, 2015
paul stokes replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"No prob, just being honest."
Feb 6, 2015
Rodney Mark Harrison replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"I though that too, there is a track on a Wishbone Ash album that has just that, almost like a tattoo. you can simulate it with some of the features these DAW's have got."
Feb 5, 2015
Paul J Openshaw replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Thank you Paul and good to make your acquaintance here."
Feb 4, 2015
paul stokes replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Great tune Paul, doesn't need 'owt else. Production is excellent too. Good job. Loved it."
Feb 4, 2015
Paul J Openshaw replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Hello Rodney and thank you for your thoughts. My guitar is a Martin JC-16GTE and I play the song in DADGAD using the key of G. Someone sowed the idea for the song in my mind. At first I shied away because I have no experience of such things but…"
Jan 28, 2015
Rodney Mark Harrison replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Just heard your track and I have to say it was truly well performed, the guitar playing is spot on and the vocals are perfect. I'd love to play around with it on my cubase doing a bit of orchestration but the song is so touching.  Once I…"
Jan 28, 2015
Walt Pilcher replied to Paul J Openshaw's discussion Normandy (It Could Have Been Me) in the group Songwriters
"Thanks for the well-wishes, and Happy New Year to you as well. I should also have specified your guitar arrangement is clever and moving, and your playing is superb. Your audiences are very lucky to have you.  "
Jan 26, 2015

Profile Information

Which one of the following describes your involvement in music? (Check all that apply)
Amateur or recreational musician
How many years have you been playing guitar?
More than 30 years
Which of these instruments do you own or play?
Flattop steel-string acoustic guitar, Banjo
The make and model of your guitar(s) and/or other instruments and gear.
Martin JC-16GTE
Martin DCXE
What is your website address?
What type of music do you like to play?
Irishy tunes and self penned songs mostly
Do you subscribe to or regularly read Acoustic Guitar?
I purchase copies at newsstands/bookstores

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