"Alternative Ulster" as written by Jake Burns and Gordon Archer Ogilvie....
There's nothin' for us in Belfast
The Pound's old, and that's a pity
OK, so there's the Trident in Bangor
And then you walk back to the city
We ain't got nothin' but they don't really care
They don't even know you know
They just want money, we can take it or leave it
What we need

Is an Alternative Ulster
Grab it and change it, it's yours
Get an Alternative Ulster
Ignore the bores and their laws
Get an Alternative Ulster
Be an anti-security force
Alter your native Ulster
Alter your native land

Take a look where you're livin'
You got the army on the street
And the R-U-C dog of repression
Is barking at your feet
Is this the kind of place you want to live?
Is this where you want to be?
Is this the only life we're gonna have?
What we need

Is an Alternative Ulster
Grab it and change it, it's yours
Get an Alternative Ulster
Ignore the bores and their laws
Get an Alternative Ulster
Be an anti-security force
Alter your native Ulster
Alter your native land

They say they're a part of you
And that's not true, you know
They say they've got control of you
And that's a lie, you know
They say you will never
Be free, free, free

Alternative Ulster
Alternative Ulster
Alternative Ulster
Alternative Ulster

Oh, you've done it now!


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"Alternative Ulster" as written by Gordon Ogilvie Jake Burns

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Alternative Ulster song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentThis definatley sums up the mood of Belfast and the rest of the province during the 1970's and in many areas of the country even now, despite what the media might have the tourists believe.

    The Trident was a punk venue in Bangor, and the R.U.C. (Royal Ulster Constabliary) were the police force of the time renowned at the time for their heavy handed tactics towards nationalist protest,
    StereoNationon April 02, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSeriously you guys, you know, this page is called "Songmeanings" so please.... could someone... post the meaning of this song, 'cause you know, there are some people who is not from Ireland and there is some others whose english is not their first language who would like to know what this song is all about. Thank you
    cidvon September 09, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAlternative London was a book that gave outsiders a view on the hippy scene in London in the 60s.
    Around about the same time, the Troubles started in Northern Ireland (Ulster). Due to the breakdown in law and order the entertainment scene became controlled by the para military organisations on both sides of the divide (the hoods, aka IRA, UDA, UVF.
    Bands were scared to go to Northern Ireland, and local bands were encouraged to adapt a more "family orientated" style of music. The result was that Ulster's music scene was dominated by middle of the road bands doing covers of country and pop tunes, they were called show bands.
    The song is a protest against the fact that there was no outlet for kids who were interested in what was going on outside the province.
    It's a cry to kids on both sides of the divide to unite against those who are keeping them down.
    The Pound was a run down venue in the centre of Belfast. The only other place was a venue called the Trident in Bangor. Shows there finished so late that there were no buses back to town - hence "you walk back to the city".
    That's because the Hoods just wanted the kids' money, they weren't interested in entertainment.
    So the only answer was for them to reclaim their country "grab it and take its yours".
    The British Army had originally been deployed to protect the nationalist (catholic community) however by the time of the song they were seen as an army of oppression by that side. Protestants on the other hand saw them as their defenders.
    Jake Burns was very clear that he did not support either side, and that the conflict itself was what was really holding people back.
    So the point was "whatever side you are on, can't you see it's not normal to have the army on your streets?"
    The RUC is the Royal Ulster Constabulary - a retrograde police force who would take a dim view of anything that changed the status quo. Bear in mind that punk was seen as a threat in other UK cities, and punk bands were not allowed to play at all in places like Glasgow. (I can't believe this happened in my lifetime.)

    So to summarise the song is a protest against the fact that kids in Northern Ireland were being denied what was available to their peers in the rest of the UK. Freedom to enjoy the music they wanted to hear and to enjoy the freedom of lifestyle choice that was available elsewhere.

    I'm not from Northern Ireland, but many of my friends from there say that The Troubles held back their society for over 30 years. When the peace agreement was signed, culturally their country was still living in the 1960s (1960s Britain/Ireland not 1960s Haight - Ashbury).

    I can't stress enough how important it is that people realise this song has nothing to do with supporting the Nationalists, or the Unionists. It was about seeing beyond the divisions.
    JohnWhyteon December 20, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is one of the best punk songs I have ever heard.
    black_cow_of_deathon December 14, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, it's pretty self-explanatory. A couple of things people might not know are that the RUC was the old police force in NI, and that Bangors quite a middle class seaside town about 15 miles from Belfast.
    Yer_Maon August 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe rawness, anger, and frustration of being brought up during the troubles in Belfast is channelled brilliantly. powerful album too.
    ramptonon June 10, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery true rampton.
    slf are brilliant and this is definitely one of there better songs.
    speraticalon June 16, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBest punk-song EVER
    alice_in_wonderlandon April 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhy isnt white noise on the list, methinks its cos the owner thinksits racist when its actually not. they had some really bad misinterpretaions of the song but its actually asking people to recognise the racism going on not only against people with different skin colour but also those who are from another country or talk differently eg, them,being irish,moving to england and getting lots of hassle for it.
    iamtheowlon March 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm getting back into punk at the moment and this is my favourite punk song. When I heard this song the first time round, as a kid, I was a bit confused because I thought it was called alternative ULSER!

    think your right about white noise, the previous poster.
    kinginkon May 12, 2005   Link

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