"Island Of Souls" as written by and Gordon Sumner....
Billy was born within sight of the shipyard
First son of a riveter's son
And Billy was raised as the ship grew a shadow
Her great hull would blot out the light of the sun

And six days a week he would watch his poor father
A working man live like a slave
He'd drink every night and he'd dream of a future
Of money he never would save
And Billy would cry when he thought of the future

Soon came a day when the bottle was broken
They launched a great ship out to sea
He felt he'd been left on a desolate shore
To a future he desperately wanted to flee
What else was there for a riveter's son
A new ship to be built, new work to be done

One day he dreamed of the ship in the world
It would carry his father and he
To a place they would never be found
To a place far away from this town.

Trapped in the cage of the skeleton ship
All the workmen suspended like flies
Caught in the flare of acetylene light
A working man works till the industry dies
And Billy would cry when he thought of the future

Then what they call an industrial accident
Crushed those it couldn't forgive
They brought Billy's father back home in an ambulance
A brass watch, a cheque, maybe three weeks to live,
And what else was there for a riveter's son
A new ship to be built, new work to be done

That night, he dreamed of the ship in the world
It would carry his father and he
To a place they could never be found
To a place far away from this town,
A Newcastle ship without coals
They would sail to the island of souls.


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

"Island of Souls" as written by Gordon Sumner

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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    General Comment. From All This Time, the album Sting recorded following his father’s death and the subsequent disappearance of his muse, I think he’s saying he wished life would have been different between his father and him. Perhaps he imagined he and his father were shipbuilders because ships are more glamorous than milk—his dad was a milkman. Being an observant and perceptive person, Sting couldn’t help but notice his father’s despair over working long hours for what he would have liked to be more money and consoling himself with drinking. Billy’s father dies in an accident. Sting’s father died of Cancer. I think the song suggests he loved his father very much but the lives they were leading made the relationship between them tenuous at best.

    The Island of Souls could be a heaven because it was a place to disappear in and no one was bothered by work—no coal on the ship—leisure sailing only.

    If I stretch to imagine a Sting with a wealthy father who was fairly content with his life, I might also see a son who perhaps took over the family business—maybe even with private reluctance, not wishing to upset the father he loved—experiencing song writing only as a weekend hobby and perhaps only performing at the annual community players’ productions.

    We are the splendid creatures we are because of the experiences we have had, not in spite of them
    sillybunnyon July 29, 2006   Link

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