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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

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Comment Wall (34 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 1:42pm on May 4, 2010, Reg Hayes said…
Hi Paul,

Thanks for the note. Yes, I did check that site out and others but so far no luck. Ah well. I'm in the middle of prepping for a gig at the end of the month. It's an annual festival called the Gathering Of The Scots that's held in Perth Andover, New Brunswick. Should be a lot of fun but trying to work out three hours of material that's appropriate takes time as does rehearsing it with the group. Whew! But it goes well.

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 11:07am on May 31, 2009, Reg Hayes said…
The wedding and reception were great fun. Got to play for a receptive group and with old friends and great musicians. Even got to play my harmonicas. Got home about 02:00 this morning - getting a bit old for that and will pay a price today I'm sure.

What I'd tried to write yesterday before being cut off by site maintenance:

I think the Latin Nova Scotia is probably a left over from a time when maps often used Latin for place names et cetera. Nova Scotia was certainly one of the earliest settled places in Canada. It's the only Province with a Latin place name.

The other thing was that I agree with you about how time flies. It's been about ten years since my groups last CD. The only recording I do is rehearsals and live performances to work on new tunes or presentation. Nothing for public consumption. I haven't written for a while, but the urge is returning. Now just need to get motivated!

Oh yeah, I also mentioned that my group HATband (Hayes, Andrews, Toner band) will be performing at the New Brunswick Highland Games and Scottish Festival this Sumer in Fredericton New Brunswick. I just mentioned this to illustrate the British Ilse influence here in Canada and in keeping with the Nova Scotia information.

Reg Hayes
At 8:43am on May 30, 2009, Reg Hayes said…
Hi Paul,

I was in the middle of writing a reply when "Acoustic Guitar community shutdown for maintenance. The sites back up now but my Reply seems to have disappeared. I have to leave for Saint John, New Brunswick shortly to set up gear and perform with others at a Wedding Reception for one of my musical chums. Should be a great session. I will write a better reply to your notes later.

Take care.

At 11:30am on May 29, 2009, Reg Hayes said…
Thanks Paul, I have clicked the button to add you as a friend on my page. Hopefully that works. I am enjoying your songs and very fine picking. For a person who lists himself as an "amateur or recreational musician" your "chops" are awesome. I've always been a big fan of British Isles acoustic guitar music and players and many "Pros" have little on you.

I visited the chat about Nova Scotia that was going on the other week, so I have visited your site before. As a person who lives next door to that Province and whose family hails from there I can add a little insight. Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland - fairly obvious. The Province was settled mainly with Irish and Scottish settlers in the 1700s after the French lost the control of the land that is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. That area had been called "Acadie" or Acadia by the French. The French people were driven out by the British in what is called "The Expulsion". They were called the Acadians and those who moved South and settled in Louisiana became the "Cajuns" a slang version of Acadian.

Anyway, my family were Irish and settled in Halifax but the part of Nova Scotia that is mostly Scottish in origin is the Northern part called Cape Breton. The music of the Maritime Provinces is strongly influenced by Irish, Scottish, British and French music. Many of the displaced French population eventually returned and resettled in the area. So fiddle tunes, pipes, tartans et cetera always abound. There is also a strong British influence because, after the American War of Independence, those loyal to the crown were exiled North to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and are referred to as the Loyalists. Of course, over the centuries there have been strong influxes of other cultures plus the local Native indigenous population who allied themselves with various invading peoples and managed to continue on to some extent and adopting and adapting the cultures they dealt with.

Nova Scotia's coastline and climate is also very much like Scotland's, hence the comparison and name given by settlers from there.

More of a history lesson than I attended. Sorry about that.

Ever listen to Andrew White, originally from New Zealand, I think, but now lives in Nova Scotia. I think you might like his recordings and playing style.

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.


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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