It was in 1986 John left the band that had made him a household
name. This album was recorded and released the next year.
I saw john solo at what was, I think, the 3rd Maleny Folk Festival.
Where he performed as well as taking a songwriting workshop.
I did ask him some question at the workshop, which was fantastic,
but I can't remember what it was, old age I'm afraid.
This is solid album, many of Schumann's favorite themes resurface.
In the opening track "Borrowed ground" is the theme of struggle
And I lie on my bed, staring into the red
and the overdraft won’t come down
And it’s hard work keeping your family together,
Living on borrowed ground
"Thunder across the reef" gives us the album title,
a wonderfully poetic song about a shipwreck.
Sailors arrive at their cross roads too
Lines on a chart, etched in blue
Stern to the wind, run with the sea
There’s thunder across the reef
But its "Holy Mary" thats my favorite,
the chorus was written by Marty Atchison, the only
lyrics on the album not written by Schumann.
Its a story telling song of the type John has written before,
a on the run, escape song, complete with Catholic overtones.
There was always yelling at our house
And thumping against the wall;
Dad didn’t like Mum very much,
Mum didn’t like Dad all
At night I lie awake
and listen to their marriage break,
My little sister crying in the room next door
I knew I had to get away…get away
Put a thousand down on a V8 panel van,
A little bit of rego and a sloppy front end.
Three hours later,
120 through the main street of Tailem Bend
and I was singing…
Holy Mary, pray for me,
In my hour of need
"For the Children" is a beautiful song, John response as
a songwriter, to becoming a father. When I hear it I
wonder why there are so few songs like this
and how much better the world would be if there were more.
The lady from the paper asked me
would I write a song for you,
I didn’t know you then but now I do.
And I’m stuck in this motel room
with an empty aching heart,
And the miles roll out between us
and they’re tearing me apart…
All I’ve got are tunes and rhymes -
this one’s for you.
May you always feel the sunshine
and take time to taste the rain,
May your friends be true and caring
and I hope you are the same;
And in your fleeting passage,
leave a little bit behind
For the children who will follow
in your footsteps,
along the sands of time.
I dreamed there was a world for you,
without the rush of rockets
And the thump of khaki gunships in the sky…
But there were rows of eucalyptus
and trains for little boys
And tadpoles in a still black creek
and playgrounds full of noise;
In my vision, fear and greed
and anger were the only things to die…
May the wind blow gently through your life,
may your principles be strong;
May you stand up and be counted
when they work out right from wrong…
May your nights be short and peaceful,
may your days be warm and long;
May your music be a service…
may they pause sometime and listen to your song
And here’s this little voice, reaching down the phone,
“Dad you’ve been away so long,
when are you coming home?”
May your eyes be filled with kindness,
may the seeds of wisdom grow…
May you seek for truth and beauty
and when you find it may you know…
May you help feed those who are hungry,
and comfort those who hurt
May you always fright for justice for all
of us who walk upon the earth