“Peace is a flower” – International Peace Day

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The International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September

Back when I lived in the Netherlands, I used to listen to the radio stations that were broadcasting from the North Sea between England and the continent. Countries around the North Sea didn’t have commercial radio and popular music got very little airplay on ‘state’ radio back then. So free spirited entrepreneurs in the 1960’s figured out that broadcasting popular music from international waters would be a legal loophole.

Pirate Radio

They bought used ships (not always the best), installed transmitters and antennas and started broadcasting from outside the 12 mile zone. In 2009, Richard Curtis made a movie, Pirate Radio, that kind of gives you an idea what it was all about. With lots of 60’s and 70’s music, I enjoyed the (light) movie.

I don’t really remember Radio Veronica or Radio Northsea International (RNI), sea based commercial radio stations that stopped in 1974 after a new Dutch law came into place, making it illegal to provide those ships with materials, but stations like Radio Caroline and Mi Amigo broadcasted for several years longer by partially taping the shows in advance (Playa d’ Aro, Gerona, in Spain) and ship the tapes to the stations on the ships at sea.

Peace is a flower

A song RNI often played at the end of the evening went something like ‘Peace is a flower, that grows in the sunshine’. I really liked that song at that time. But life goes on and I forgot about it.

Until a few months ago when it came back into my head for some reason (which appears to happen more often now I am getting older BTW). I searched for the song on the internet (without knowing the title nor the artist) and I discovered there was remarkably little information available.

Eventually I found a few tidbits here and there and figured out a bit more about the song. I also learned other people have really fond memories of the song too. It is one of those songs that brings people back to those radio years: memories of listening to transitor radios with a howling wind outside and rain pounding on the attic window. Nostalgia with a capital N.

Who actually sings “Peace”?

The song was sung by Peter Hallett, 18 years old at that time, written by Peter Gosling and arranged by Keith Mansfield. Peter Hallett is impossible to find on the internet but Peter Gosling is quite well known in music circles and active since the 1960’s but there is little information on him on line. Still active, he worked recently with an artist like Ed Sheeran. And he apparently worked with Peter -Show me the Way- Frampton via “the Preachers” and tons of others. He even worked for the BBC as announcer at some point.

Released in 1970 the song starts slowly with music fading in, Peter’s lone voice starting, eventually joined by background singers Sue & Sunny (the voices behind “With a little help from my Friends” – Joe Cocker) building up the song via a gradual crescendo with support of excellent studio musicians (including Canadian Maynard Ferguson from Quebec) and then going back to the single voice of Peter.

So what’s he singing?

Here are the Lyrics of “Peace”

Peace is a flower
That grows in the sunshine
Its petals are raised to the sky

Peace is harmony,
Love and understanding
Oh why can’t we have peace all the time?

Peace is a bird
That hangs on the breeze
watching the world hurry by

Peace is purity,
Faith and inspiraton
Oh why can’t we have peace all the time?

Is something there’s not too plenty of
And time is governed
By the almighty up above

Peace is a flower
That grows in the sunshine
its petals are raised to the sky,
to the sky
Oh Lord, to the sky
Oh yes, to the sky

It is a simple, yet powerful, song over half a century old now. Perhaps flower power hippie (naïve?), but what is wrong with that?

And now you want to hear it, so have a listen here on:

Spotify (track 9): Spotify – KPM 1000 Series: Music for a Young Generation

Youtube: Peter Hallett – Peace – YouTube

Tunes from a bygone era

While we are on to tunes from radio stations, older listeners may remember Les Reed’s “Man of Action”, a well known tune used by Radio Northsea International. Man Of Action – Les Reed Orchestra – 1970 45rpm – YouTube. And you may enjoy an instrumental version of Cliff Nobles’ “The Horse“.

With the war in Ukraine raging (and let’s not forget the other conflicts in the world that receive very little press coverage), we should be grateful we can cycle without being kidnapped in Ottawa by some secret police or arbitrarily be fined, jailed, hanged or shot for having a different opinion.

Sources:

Wiki – Peace — Peter | Last.fm

RNI – ‘Peace’ by Peter Hallett — Digital Spy

Peter – Peace – Ondergewaardeerde Liedjes (in Dutch)

Peter Gosling | ArtistInfo (metason.net)

Sue & Sunny Songs, Albums, Reviews, Bio & More | AllMusic

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