Jeffrey James

In October 2013 Geographical magazine had an article (which was actually an extract from a book) about migrants trying to climb the fences into the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta in North Africa. I found the whole thing really shocking but fascinating, particularly as this was at a time before the term ‘migrant crisis’ had been coined. One of the lads featured in the article was called Jeffrey James and I wrote a song about his story. I finally did a live recording of it last month with my new folk band Heads or Tails.

Hope you enjoy (if that’s the right thing to say when you’re singing about the plight of migrants)…


Jeffrey James

The ground is dry and the horizon sways
In the rising heat of the desert sun’s rays
Down a beaten trail that migrants know best
A lone figure walks heading east to west

With eyes peeled for bandits up the road
He travels light, ‘cos he carries no load
Sweat drips from his brow and his feet are sore
From walking this road he’s walked 20 times before.

Jeffery James
Says if you don’t succeed
Try and try and try again,
So he tries again, again.

When he makes it to the next town
He’ll stowaway in a cargo train when the sun goes down
Hide himself away for a night and a day
Make it to an outlaw camp where he can stay

In the dead of night they run at the wall
Where 20 times before he’s had the fall
Caught by authorities and kicked around
Dropped back in the desert on dry hard ground

Jeffery James
Says if you don’t succeed
Try and try and try again,
So he tries again, again.

Jeffery James
Is just one of thousands more with no names
The dangers he braves
To try to find a life in European enclaves
What a world that this is better than his home
Beaten and cut in the desert he roams
Dreaming of a life he can illegally be
Out of Africa and free

Jeffery James
Says if you don’t succeed
Try and try and try again,
Jeffery James
Is one of thousands more who’re born with no names,
Jeffery James,
While we all shout and finger point and just try to shift the blame
Jeffery James tries again.

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