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Not Before Time

“Not Before Time” is the first studio album written and performed by Guy Nottingham.

With decades of songwriting behind him, Not Before Time is almost a “greatest hits that never were” album – a collection of songs written over many years, with a rich blend of styles and themes.

From the gutsy blues-rock of the opener “In The Beginning” to the tenderness of “Wait For Me”, the album explores the themes of life, love, friendship, failure, joy, hard times, good times, and the struggle to create a better world.

To read the store behind the making of Not Before Time, click here

To buy the album, click here

  • 01

    In The Beginning

    Guy Nottingham

    In The Beginning

    Once before a time, there was nothing
    No one thing, a singularity
    One bright spark, lighting the darkness
    One big bang, then eternity
    Spinning away, in our cosmic storm
    Until gravity, gave us feature and form,
    A weaker force, keeping us grounded,
    Everything is everything else, and nothing at all

    In our time, we’re so sure we are in control,
    In our minds, we are here at the heart of it all,
    In our time

    Something’s beginning - don’t know where this thing might go,
    Something’s beginning – what it is I just don’t know,
    I feel it starting again.

    In my head, there was nothing,
    In my head, there was nothing at all.
    Then I saw you, and knew that something had started,
    I saw you, and I saw it all.
    It started with, a chance collision
    It started with, a big bang and a fall
    And on it led, from a shock ignition,
    Now in my head, it’s all or nothing at all

    If you don’t believe it, there’s nothing we can say or do.
    If you don’t believe it, there’s nothing I can do for you.
    If we believe

    Something’s beginning – don’t know where this thing might go,
    Something’s beginning – what it is I just don’t know,
    Is this the start of the end?

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 02

    A Long Way

    Guy Nottingham

    A Long Way

    Two generations since “I had a dream”,
    The sons and daughters of your children are born free,
    You died for their cause, but your voice is still booming loud today
    We’ve travelled so far: oh brother we’ve come a long, long way.

    No strange fruit hanging from the Poplar trees,
    No black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    No laws keep us apart,
    No Jim Crow to keep you away,
    We’ve travelled so far: brother we’ve come a long, long way.

    Where slaves and segregation were the social norm,
    Obama took a stroll across the White House lawn.
    Two little girls, joining hands with their buddies as they play,
    We’ve travelled so far: yeah brother we’ve come a long, long way.

    Now a scene familiar down on this side of the tracks;
    Black man in a pool of blood, bullet in his back,
    The cops are huddled round, checking that their stories all agree,
    We’ve come a long way, but it still don’t feel like freedom to me.

    The 1% get richer, and the ghettos only grow
    It’s a million miles from Wall Street to the mess they leave below,
    We were sold a land of dreams - the fathers spoke of true equality.
    We’ve come a long way, but it still don’t feel like freedom to me.

    There’s one rule for rich white men, and one for you and me,
    And there’s millions still swinging in the banker’s breeze,
    Tied to their ghetto life, bound in chains of poverty,
    We’ve come a long way, but it sure don’t feel like freedom to me.

    Together we may struggle, together we achieve,
    Together we may suffer for what together we believe,
    So join our hands once more, and fight so that our children live in hope,
    We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

    Let freedom ring aloud for you and me,
    That freedom bell – it’s the economy!
    We’re free to vote with our feet, free to stand up and fight for your soul,
    We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

    So here’s to you Martin Luther, may we realise your dream,
    You died so that our brothers and our sisters can breathe free.
    We’ll be free at last - in our real lives as well as just for show.
    We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 03

    In Perspective

    Guy Nottingham

    In Perspective

    It’s a cool clear morning - I can see for miles,
    Viewed from the top of this green hill, the river serpentines
    Through the valley below: half the sky beneath my feet,
    So still up here, no drama - no winning, no defeat.

    From this location, the world is green and calm,
    No cause for consternation, no reason for alarm.
    Three tiny people swimming by the wear,
    They could be laughing or dying - no way to tell from here.

    Those ants seem small and insignificant at first,
    But the girl three miles below fills up my universe.

    I see it all but I can’t believe it’s true,
    How could anything so tiny rip my heart in two ,
    With my little finger nail in front of my dry eyes,
    I can blot out everything I love,
    I can play almighty from above,
    From afar it seems no consequence,
    The distance dulls my human sense
    We’ll never see things the same way,
    But maybe we can keep things in perspective

    I recall the words now that you said to me,
    When you mourned the passing of how it used to be.
    You said you had to be truthful, but then you were so cruel.
    Although you see things clearly, I can’t see your point of view.

    We talk a different language - we see things so differently,
    I sweep broad brush strokes; you dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
    Have I lost proportion – can’t trust what I see
    Not hearing what you’re saying, it makes no sense to me,

    I can’t judge the distance when my vision’s dulled by fear,
    I hear the words you say, but the meaning’s far from clear

    I see it all but I can’t believe it’s true,
    How could anything so tiny rip my heart in two ,
    With my little finger nail in front of my dry eyes,
    I can blot out everything I love,
    I can play almighty from above,
    From afar it seems no consequence,
    The distance dulls my human sense
    We’ll never see things the same way,
    But maybe we can keep things in perspective

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 04

    Out Of My Mind

    Guy Nottingham

    Out of My Mind

    There was fire in those eyes
    And thunder in her heart
    She split the clear blue sky
    And ripped this world apart
    This force of nature
    Shook foundations from the floor
    And like a fool who knew no better
    I kept coming back for more

    Out of the blue came the hurricane
    Shattered the calm, blew me away
    Into the eye - deaf, dumb and blind
    Into the storm, and out of my mind

    The storm blew me away
    I had no place to hide
    There was no chance of escaping,
    So I hung on for the ride
    I thought that I could handle her
    Feeling so alive
    The pride before the fall
    And now the she struggle to survive

    Out of the blue came the hurricane
    Shattered the calm, blew me away
    Into the eye - deaf, dumb and blind
    Into the storm, and out of my mind

    Ground ripped from beneath my feet
    Air rent with primeval scream
    Crushed my sense of gravity
    Questioned what I’m all about
    Ripped me up and spit me out
    Showed me what the storm’s about
    Out of control
    What was I thinking?
    I was out of my mind

    The silence now is crushing
    In the calm behind the storm
    I lie clinging to the ground
    My wings are burned and torn
    Maybe I have lived and learned
    What you survive can make you strong
    Maybe next time I should walk away
    But I bet you that I don’t

    Out of the blue came the hurricane
    Shattered the calm, blew me away
    Into the eye - deaf, dumb and blind
    Into the storm, and out of my mind

    Ground ripped from beneath my feet
    Air rent with primeval scream
    Crushed my sense of gravity
    Questioned what I’m all about
    Ripped me up and spit me out
    Showed me what the storm’s about
    Out of control
    What was I thinking?
    I was out of my mind

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 05

    The Scheme Of Things

    Guy Nottingham

    The Scheme of Things

    You took my breath away
    You looked like heaven to me
    But then I heard a voice say that it could never be
    Gotta know my place in this world
    Gotta know you’re out of my league
    Gotta know that people like you aren’t here for people like me.

    So I read the signs
    Get no ideas above my station
    So I fall into line
    Always the poor relation
    In my place in the queue

    That’s just the way it is
    That’s just the scheme of things
    I’ve been losing so long not sure I’d know how to win.
    It’s just a matter of fact
    (Or maybe you haven’t heard)
    You gotta know where you’re at -
    It’s just the way of the world.

    I take it all on the chin
    I try to keep my head down
    But with the way things have been I’m tired and my faith is gone.
    We’re told to know our place
    and taught to know right from wrong,
    You’d never say so to my face, but you make it clear we don’t belong

    So we take our place
    Take the blows, swallow our medicine,
    Serve and obey,
    Doff our caps, bow our heads –
    We know when we’re outgunned.

    That’s just the way it is
    That’s just the scheme of things
    We’ve been losing so long not sure we’d know how to win.
    It’s just a matter of fact
    (Or maybe you haven’t heard)
    You gotta know where you’re at -
    It’s just the way of the world

    The days get ever shorter as the nights grow ever longer
    The weak are getting weaker: the strong are getting stronger
    The game grows ever tougher as the rules grow ever meaner
    History as ever is written by the winner

    That’s just the way it is
    That’s just the scheme of things
    We’ve been losing so long not sure we’d know how to win.
    It’s just a matter of fact
    (Or maybe you haven’t heard)
    You gotta know where you’re at -
    It’s just the way of the world

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 06

    A Good Night

    Guy Nottingham

    A Good Night

    Well I guess a good time was had by all
    Coz there’s sick on the carpet and blood on the wall
    Can’t feel my head, can’t feel my arm
    Can’t feel my tongue, slept through the alarm
    Last thing I remember I was heading home
    Then I bumped into some people who I barely know
    Another lost night, another lost day
    Another indication that I’ve lost my way

    It must have been a good night
    It must have been a good night
    I have to say
    I guess it must have been a real bitch of a day

    Who was the guy in the kilt?
    Who was that girl with the legs?
    Who was that prick on the stilts?
    Oh hell, mate, never again!
    Where is my brand new phone?
    Where is my old guitar?
    Where has my wallet gone?
    Where is my self-regard?
    Was it somebody’s birthday?
    (I don’t think it was mine)
    Where did all this change come from?
    Did somebody die?
    Was it my idea or was I led astray?
    Was I feeling no pain or was it just a bad day?

    It’s coming back to me now
    My God it’s worse than I thought
    Did we really do that?
    How did we never get caught?
    No wonder there’s a bandsaw cutting through my brain
    I don’t think my eyes can ever take the light again.
    I need a swim in the lake
    I need to go for a run
    I need a walk in the park
    I need some ice on my tongue
    I need to dry myself out before I fall off the brink,
    If I’m gonna survive I need to stay off the drink

    Shake in my shoes - I can’t control myself
    No clue if I’m still here or on my way to hell
    If the noises in my head are really bothering you
    I can drown them with another little drink or two
    Don’t need a shrink, no therapy
    No check up from the neck up, no lobotomy,
    Don’t need no-one to help me think
    I just need to get me ready for another good drink

    We’ll drink to the good times
    We’ll drink to the bad
    We’ll drink to the great times
    That we never had
    We’ll drink to the friends we left behind
    We’ll drink, drink, drink until we have a good time

    I need another good night
    I need another good night
    I need to sail away
    And drown out all the memories of another bad day

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 07

    Leave Me Alone

    Guy Nottingham

    Leave Me Alone

    I’m sick of hearing ‘bout the things you’ve done
    I’m sick of hearing where I’ve gone so wrong
    I’m sick of listening up to who knows best
    I’m sick and tired and I need a rest

    You talk so surely and you walk so proud
    I have no problem with that, fair enough
    But your opinions are so goddam loud
    Why dy’a have to make things so rough and tough

    So spare me your goddam lecture
    Spare me your rod and cane
    Though I’ll nod my head and yes sir no sir
    I’m gonna go my own way.
    No Mr President
    No offence meant
    I’m just gonna make my own mistakes

    Leave me alone
    I can mess up my own life
    Leave me alone
    Or I’ll mess you up too
    Leave me alone
    I can mess up my own life
    If you leave me alone
    Then I might just not end up like you.

    You say I gotta look out for number one
    You say that dreamers never get the job done
    Do as I’m told and I could be good someday
    If I do as you done, or do as you say

    Do you lecture me to show me you’re king?
    Or are you preaching just to prove that I’m not?
    I know enough to know that I’d not be here now
    If I knew as much as you say you’ve forgot

    Don’t wanna be unhappy
    Don’t wanna be untrue
    Don’t want things to always be this way
    Don’t wanna end up like you

    So Mr Einstein
    (Your words, not mine)
    Don’t want what you got, don’t wanna be you,

    Leave me alone
    I can mess up my own life
    Leave me alone
    Or I’ll mess you up too
    Leave me alone
    I can mess up my own life
    If you leave me alone
    Then I might very well end up like you

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 08

    Together We

    Guy Nottingham

    Together We

    I woke up this morning (an achievement in itself)
    The empty bottles lie defeated on the shelf
    Mocking me for all those things I never done
    I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m useless on my own

    I pick up my guitar, but the notes all come out wrong
    It hardly matters when I’m in the dark, alone
    What is the point when there’s just me, nobody else
    Sitting in a vacuum, playing to myself?

    By myself I sit and stew and wonder why
    By myself I ponder all those wasted days gone by
    A single note, crying out for harmony
    It’s time to face it - it’s clear I need some company

    It’s time to grow up
    Time to face the truth,
    No man’s an island - I need you
    I can’t do this thing alone, so how about we do a deal -
    I’ll be there for you, will you be there for me?

    Together we could laugh, together we could cry
    Together we could run, together we could fly
    Together we’ve a chance that we can make it down the road I just can’t navigate alone
    Together we have hope
    Without you I have none

    Now I know you have your troubles too
    We can share the burden, let me be there for you
    Comrades in arms, these bonds are forged in times of strain
    We help each other
    Share the pleasure, share the pain

    If I should stumble
    If I should fall
    If I should fumble and drop the ball
    Will you still be here
    Will we still be a team?
    I hope so, coz together we’re so much more than you and me?

    Together we can laugh, together we can cry
    Together we can run, together we can fly
    Together we can hold each other up when if I fall down on my own I won’t survive
    Together we are one, together we’re alive

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 09

    Solidarity

    Guy Nottingham

    Solidarity

    Where are we?
    Where did we hope to be?
    Is this our life?
    Is this our liberty?
    We fought for our rights, but now we’re told that we were wrong
    That we were following a clever singer, stupid song
    They pen the tune
    They write the rules
    They lead the game,
    A new veneer - but underneath it’s just the same
    The Eton Cambridge line - never deviating from the track
    Where is the righteous train?
    Where is the will to drive them back?
    So where are we?
    Where do we want to be?
    Is this our life?
    Is this our liberty?

    While ever we play, this new Rome’s on fire
    How quiet we stay as the flames grow higher
    While we take the blame
    The guilty reign
    While we stand idle
    We’ll never find our solidarity

    Do we care?
    Is there a cure for apathy?
    Can we only rail at who’s getting nailed on our TV?
    How cured must cancer be?
    When did we wipe out poverty?
    How great must be our lives to live them through celebrity?
    The system ain’t broke buddy - it works a treat,
    It helps the rich get richer and keeps you and I beneath their feet
    Fight for our rights - no point in hiding your real aims
    Let tyrants tremble - we’ve nothing to lose but our chains
    Surely this ain’t right - surely this ain’t what old Winston meant
    Did the old boys fight to give the world to one percent?

    We’ve a world to win
    A long long way to go
    With Unity we can overthrow
    We can overcome
    We can be free,
    But we’ll get nowhere if we don’t have solidarity.

    Black or white
    Yellow or brown
    Divided, ruled - keeping our heads down
    Sent out to fight each other - but always in a rich man’s war,
    When will the real fight start between the rich and the poor?
    You and I - Lord knows we never see eye to eye
    But we both can see that things ain’t how they’re meant to be
    If our cause is true it’s surely worth the sacrifice
    So can we put aside our animosity, our vice?
    I will lay down my petty pride
    And say to you: “we’re on the same side”

    Wherever you go
    I will go with you
    Whatever you feel
    I can feel it too,
    Whatever load you bear
    I will carry my share
    If we can walk together
    Will we then have solidarity?

    © Guy Nottingham

  • 10

    Wait For Me

    Guy Nottingham

    Wait for Me

    Our world is under siege and death is all around,
    The bullets fly above my head, there’s bodies on the ground,
    The enemy’s at the city gates, and rats around my feet,
    But I’ll survive the pain and hate, if you’ll only wait for me.

    The world is dark, the night is cold, there’s no fuel here anymore,
    The young, the weak the old, are first to die, not last I’m sure,
    But while I have you in my soul, they can’t touch me, I am free
    There is hope, wait for me, wait for me.

    Wait with all you’ve got, through the dreary yellow rain,
    And I’ll see you, Valentina, on the other side of pain,
    Wait, when from that far off place my letters don’t arrive,
    Wait, when those who wait with you, doubt that I’m still alive.
    Wait, when friends are saying I am lost and I am gone,
    Don’t drink their toast in bitter wine, don’t sing their tribute song,
    They will never understand how through the anguish and the strife,
    That by waiting for me, darling, you will have saved my worthless life,
    You are my first thought when I waken and my last one every night,
    The one thing they haven’t taken, the one reason I still fight,
    On this side or the other, you and I, we’ll be complete,
    So wait for me, wait for me, wait for me.

    You are the fire that burns inside of me,
    You are the light to see me pure and clean,
    So while the flame still flickers deep inside my soul,
    Wait for me, wait for me, wait for me.
    Wait for me, wait for me, wait for me.

    You are my rudder, and my anchor, you’re my heart, you are my soul
    You are my hope and inspiration, you are the one who makes me whole,
    I’m barely clinging on without you, but in us I still believe,
    I will somehow find a way home, if you’re waiting there for me.

    Now the final embers fade away and the end is drawing near,
    There’s nothing to sustain me now, no respite from the fear,
    Though I’m weakening and starving, in life or death we’ll be complete,
    Wait for me, wait for me, wait for me.

    © Guy Nottingham (Based on a poem by Konstantin Simonov 1941)