PJ: I seem to remember Steve coming to me with a song called ‘The Rebel’ which had a similar tune to the verses above: ‘You walk into town with a gun in your hand, six foot six, what a man’ – that sort of thing. Catchy. At the some time, mid to late 1999, I had been composing a song about people moving on from the past and unhappy memories. I called it Marred, after the first two lines of the first verse. I can’t for the life of me remember why I changed it to a song about Northern Ireland. I had been thinking about that situation a lot since the previous year’s Good Friday Agreement, mainly from a Unionist perspective, and I was determined to mark the past but attempt to celebrate the future. That meant reminding everyone of the horror of terrorism, but the importance of moving on. In fact, this is exactly what did happen as Ian Paisley took a leap into the unknown with Sinn Fein last year.
The chorus is about moving on from the past with the hope of heaven in the heart. One day, for those that believe (and many in Ulster do) this mad world of pain and broken relationships won’t be here and we will live in the perfection that Christ has won for us. The person in the chorus is one such believer in the Province who is trying to gain the heavenly perspective while under pressure from violence. This believer isn’t going to give in to it, but he will only resist by standing firm in the Truth that has set him free. Unlike some who may profess faith but confuse it with politics, he’s not going to resort to tit for tat, but will look to God for the victory.
There were slight changes between the 2000 and 2005 versions. Steve was always unhappy with the line about ‘crimes of the state’ and, with hindsight, I was too. The original line was really saying, ‘If a few people get shot dead by the security forces while carrying out a terrorist attack, then that’s the price you pay.’ What I really meant was that if the opposition calls that a war crime, or whatever, then that’s just a nonsense when we think about the potential loss of civilian life. However, if a democratic state is bending its own rules to do these things, then that’s on injustice, so I felt it wasn’t right to suggest this. The replacement line (key…armoury…knife) was about arms decommissioning. A terrorist group might put their weapons out of use, but it takes more than that to remove the propensity to violence from some of the followers of these organisations.
The other change clarifies the nature of the person in the middle 8 – ‘Billy’. He is, and always was, a loyalist carrying out his assassination mission while away from his day job. I think that in terms of pointing the finger, two verses devoted to IRA atrocities and one to the loyolists pretty much sums up how I see the situation. Thankfully, this brutality has now stopped and I hope and pray that it will never return.
Finally, the Son of God said that ‘whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’. This means that anyone, absolutely ANYONE, can come to Him for forgiveness. We all need it, and it is freely offered to everyone. Just because someone was in the IRA or the UDA doesn’t mean they can’t be forgiven. The emphatic answer to the first line of the song is ‘NO!’ – because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.