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‘Black Swan Song’ is a powerful and moving song about the death of Joel’s grandfather. Joel picks up the story here, “September 1944 in the woods near Arnhem, Holland, my grandfather lay alone and badly wounded struggling to write a farewell letter to his new wife.
My grandfather Major John Pott died in 2005 at the age of eighty four in Lewisham Hospital London (the same hospital my daughter was born in, an experience that inspired the song 'Wires'). After suffering a heart attack he had felt it time to leave his home in Speyside, Scotland and go on farewell jaunt around the UK. He was very weak, but insisted upon travelling alone.
After a day sightseeing in London with my father, he collapsed and was taken to the hospital where I was able to see him and say goodbye. He held my hand and said "goodbye old chap!" and "bless you". He died later that night with my father by his side. My dad said it was like watching a soldier fight his last battle - there was some struggle but it was a triumphant end.
His death had such a big impact on us as a family and even though we were sad to say goodbye we all felt inspired by his amazing life and death.
The funeral was a very moving celebration of an incredible man. Swallows flew overhead as bagpipes played and comrades in uniform took it in turn to stand at the foot of his grave and salute him.
After his death I knew I wanted to pay tribute to him in some way but nothing came to me for three years. I was at our barn in Wales sitting outside looking over the hills playing the guitar. I started singing the lines "all my friends and family carried me, they carried me home, carried me home" and I instantly knew where the song was coming from. I wrote from my grandpa's perspective. I wrote about his early battles, but mainly about his last one and his longing to go to be with his wife (Anna Pott, who died a few years previously) in heaven. It was my grandpa's symphony, Black Swan Song.
Joel and his father David recently paid an emotionally-charged visit to Arnhem to mark the anniversary of the battle there in which Joel’s grandfather – a paratrooper - was severely injured. After lying in the woods for nearly twenty hours he was taken to a German military hospital and after a heroic, but thwarted attempt to escape on crutches, he remained in a POW camp until released by the Americans in April 1945.
All proceeds from the sale of the single will be donated to the Royal British Legion and Athlete will perform the song live at their Silence In The Square event at Trafalgar Square to mark Armistice Day.
‘Black Swan Song’ is the second single to be taken from the Ivor Novello-winning four piece’s fourth album ‘Black Swan’. The South Londoners have sold more than a million copies of their three hit albums and topped the UK album and airplay charts.