I’m writing this letter to explain how the “Come So Far” song came to be released as a single.
Like many artists, I respond to events in the world around me and, one day a year or so ago, I heard the harrowing story of a young man who had fled conflict in his homeland. On the advice of his mother, he attempted to make a long, dangerous (and illegal) journey across Europe to find a future free of the troubles which had beset his people. After three years, he managed to arrive in London. It was an almost mythically ideal destination for him, yet he struggled to come to terms with the shortfall between dreams of a safe and secure future and the harsh realities of his new life as an illegal immigrant.
This, of course, is just one story of the millions which could currently be told. But, in a way it stands for them all and, for me, it became the beginning of a song about the struggle of those who find themselves in such dire need, and how we all bear some responsibility in finding solutions.
We’ve all seen the migrant refugee crisis in Europe grow to unprecedented levels of desperation. The issue has become a political football, kicked around in arguments about European identity as well as delivering “shock value” to newspapers eager for sales-boosting headlines. And we’ve all heard the difficult stories of those escaping fear and war as they were repeated time and time again. I listened to some in the notorious “Jungle” camp near Calais, where people planned their final desperate steps in the hope of a better future. We saw on TV that many also ended in tragedy, especially amongst those travelling by sea. And, as so often happens, women, children and the elderly were hardest hit.
It is also clear that, whilst there is always a cause of such migrations, conditions along the way have also not been made easy - sometimes even as a deterrent. European policy has often not been friendly or welcoming to people in such obvious need. Sometimes, it’s openly hostile.
In a sense, this is nothing new. In the story of humanity, there have often been mass migrations of necessity. But this is the one which faces us now and which, by our heartfelt humanitarian responses, we can definitely do something to improve. As nations, cultures and communities we’ve come a long way, but we can easily go so much further. We know that, at the most basic level, we share a common kinship which is above all differences and this can be expressed with our sympathy and support.
If you have downloaded, streamed, or otherwise bought this recording, thank you. All money raised by online sales, and all profits from the vinyl release will be passed directly to Médecins Sans Frontières. They are crucially involved in dangerous but very necessary work which alleviates terrible suffering. Their experience on the front line of the crisis also qualifies them to propose much needed improvements to government policies. I commend MSF, to you. (www.msf.org.uk
Any way we can help, no matter how small, will make a difference to many of the millions caught up in this tragedy of our human family.
Tom Bailey March 2016.
About Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is the world’s leading emergency medical humanitarian aid organisation. We provide emergency assistance to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics and natural or man-man disasters, without discrimination and irrespective of race religion, gender or political affiliation. We work in over 60 countries and go to the places where others cannot or choose not to go. In 2015, MSF provided medical assistance to almost 100,000 refugees in Europe and continues to provide medical care to refugees and migrants in Greece, Italy, FYROM, Serbia and France.