> Frankie Armstrong > Songs > Anti-Carol


[John Pole]

Frankie Armstrong sang John Pole’s classic song of homelessness, Anti-Carol, in 1973 on her album Out of Love, Hope and Suffering which got its title from the song’s last verse. She also sang it in 2008 on her CD Encouragement, and she commented in the CD’s liner notes:

I think John’s ability to catch the London vernacular of the 70s and create powerful poetry is extraordinary. This tale is timeless, being about the most widely known refugee family in history, or mythology, depending on your interpretation.


Frankie Armstrong sings the Anti-Carol

It weren’t no picnic
It weren’t no picture post card
It was cold as ’taters in the mould
When the couple come lookin’ for a room
Cold shouldered they were when the landlords looked at her
And saw the baby in her womb
Cold comfort they got
Was there a room? There was not
The town was crowded for a start
And it was cold, cold, cold, cold
Cold as a beggar boy’s heart

It could have been in Jo’burg, Detroit. Chittagong, Calcutta
So long since it happened
I’m wrong! It happened yesterday
It happens now more and more...
Then somebody said he could lend them a shed
Crashing down on the floor
Just concrete and iron and a blanket to lie on
They’d been walkin’ all day
And their home was such a long, long, long, long,
Long way away

They never heard no angels
Just the big police siren
When the light come fumblin’ through the night
Her waters broke. The kid begun to come
"Is there a doctor?" "No fear,
Only poor people here
What would you pay him with, chum?"
There war ice on the door.
She sweated; he swore
He saw the head of his child
And then together him and her
Helped it into the world

There weren’t no cattle watching
Just a rat and twenty cockroach
The kid cried. His dad soon had him washed and dried
When his mother woke she give him breast
He shared his parents’ love
And he was heir to their poverty
It war all they possessed
And then the rumors got ’round
There were soldiers in town
With orders "Search and Destroy"
They didn’t want to get wasted
They left town a bit hasty
The man, his wife and their boy, boy, boy, boy,
Young wife and new baby boy

He was theirs they made him
Out of love, hope, and suff’ring
God’s son? Or just another one!
More like millions born to slave, starve, and die
Oh p’raps when he grows and sees how the world goes
He’ll help to change it by and by
Let’s hope the soldiers don’t hang this new son of man
Like they done one before ...
Will he bring peace or a gun?
When his kingdom does come
It’ll belong to the poor, poor, poor, poor.
The homeless and poor