Introduction With Thanks To The Writing

Simon N

Ballad of Reading Jail

I walked out the door at seventeen
I thought I had nothing to lose
But then I couldn’t come back
Cause I felt I brought bad news

I sat on through the night
Waiting up for the rising sun
I drank and drank and hoped
My life would just be done

Where I come from it’s a joke
With parents selling crack
From the open front door
While the kids play out the back

We go from cradle to street
To a cell or an early tomb
And the girls ain’t no angels
In the teenage baby boom

I ended up in prison
And I thought my life was wrecked
They took my possessions
But not my spirit or my respect

Dear Mum read these lines
You know where I am
Locked up in a cell
The man with the plan

When I was young we were close
I never meant to make you sad
Your eldest will be back
With all the promise he had.


Simon wrote these as rap lines, but because of the nature of the project, we asked him if he could convert them to ballad lines. Our guide was: if you can sing it to the tune of ’The Yellow Rose of Texas’, then it’s a ballad. Then later it can be spoken or sung to an appropriate tune.