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1939 Returning

Band songlist


1939 Returning is a song written by Peter Doherty, on which Amy Winehouse was supposed to play the acoustic guitar with Doherty on vocals.

In a February 2009 interview with NME, Doherty specified, "There is a version with Amy Winehouse duetting on this. She sounds amazing on it. ... But Stephen Street didn't really want to go ahead with it, which is a shame. But he just said that it would have made it a completely different song. I have the recording on a phone somewhere and she was up for [re-recording] it but... yeah, probably couldn't afford it anyway."

Doherty said that the lyrics of the song were inspired by a dream he had, in which he was washing the windows of an Italian 1930's butcher shop. The finished album version tells the story of his grandmother Dolly, to whom Doherty dedicated his NME Award for Best Solo Artist in February 2009. In an interview with The Sun, Doherty said of the song, "It’s my nanna. She was evacuated in the war and went out west. Three or four years ago, the council shipped her out west again to sheltered accommodation. I always said to her, ‘When I make it, I’ll get you a big house in the country’ but she’s so proud. She wouldn’t take anything from me."

Fans first heard the song when Doherty played it acoustically during an interview with BBC Radio 6. He has since occasionally played the song in live solo sets. In 2008 a video was posted on Doherty's Youtube channel in which Doherty, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, and solo album producer Stephen Street were in the process of recording the song.

On January 13, 2009, "1939 Returning" was reported to be track #3 on Peter Doherty's solo album, Grace/Wastelands. In its track-by-track guide to the album in January 2009, the NME described the song as "an atmospheric swirl that fits with ‘Arcadie‘ as one of the more ‘bare bones’ efforts..."

Appearing on

Grace/Wastelands Peter DohertyAlbum2009-03-16
BBC 6 Music BabyshamblesSession2007-10-06


Roundhouse, Camden Peter DohertyCamden Roundhouse, London2009-09-19
Paleo Festival Peter DohertyPaleo Festival, Nyon, Swiss2009-07-24


Captured clandestine
Crawled into the lights
He knew he was in for a shoeing
Just wasn't to be his night

Dragged out of the frozen Rhine
For the Motherland and the Third Reich
A toeing's as good as a shoeing
When it's not to be your night

Tread carefully, so carefully
Upon the drifting ice
Caught behind enemy lines
In 1939
For Germany he sacrificed his life
Caught behind enemy lines
There in 1939

Kids knee-deep in rubble
London urchins grey with dust
Packed off west in evacuations
To farmers' wives
Green and pleasant lives
Far from the doodlebugs

Nanna Doll she still remembers
Leaving town in worn-out shoes
Now she's back out west in sheltered accommodations
Homes for the old where pills aren't the only blues

Tread carefully, so carefully
Upon the drifting ice
Staring blank into the TV guide
In 2009
How it's hurting me, I've only seen her twice
Since she went west for the second time
Since 1939


Intro: Bbm / Gb7 / F7
Verse: Bbm / C7 / Fm / Cm / Db / Ab / Gb / Ebm / Ab / A
Chorus: Bbm / A / Dmaj7 / E/B / F/C
Outro: Bbm / Ab / Gb / Ab / A / Bbm

Name1939 Returning
BandPeter Doherty
CreditsPeter Doherty

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