Farewell to Pripyat

Lyrics and Music: Tim Dennehy
Piano and Keyboards: Garry O'Briain

The fate of the people of Pripyat came to me in various images on the 26th April 1987 the first anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. Twenty years later Chernobyl remains the epicentre of a still-contaminated 30km-exclusion zone that straddles part of Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus. Nuclear power, out of favour for years after the accident, is now making a comeback as governments like the United States and China seek cleaner and cheaper alternatives to oil and gas. Meanwhile Pripyat still lies abandoned and nature has reclaimed its territory. Wolves roam the streets; elk and bears stalk the motorways; plants widen the cracks of the concrete buildings. The forest has eaten up avenues and smothered entire tower blocks. This song is a chilling reminder of one town's nightmare past and of the world's fragile future. 


It was a Friday in April 1986,
 And the day when the nightmare began
When the dust it rained down on our buildings and streets
It entered our bedrooms at noon.
Touched the soil and the trees, our bikes and our cars,
Our beds, books and picture-frames too.
As we stood around all helpless, confused,
Nobody knew what to do.

By two o’clock Sunday the buses arrived,
A fleet of a thousand or more.
And we were ordered to be on our way,
Not knowing what lay in store.
Some of our citizens fled in dismay
They looked for a good place to hide.
When four o’clock came and the last bus pulled out
'T was the day our lovely town died.

And the shirts, sheets and handkerchiefs crack in the wind,
On the windows lie our withered plants.
The Ladas and Volgas are parked by the door
The bike’s in its usual stance.
Our evergreen trees lie withered and drooped
For they’ve poisoned our fertile land.
And our streets speak a deafening silence,
Nothing now stirs but the sand.

The mementoes we’d gathered they were all left behind,
Our photos our letters and our cards.
The toys of our children lay untouchable now,
Toy soldiers left standing on guard.
Our village uprooted and planted elsewhere,
Each severed branch searing pain.
The dust from the past wiped clean from the slate
Yet fearful it might come again.

And a visit back home is so eerie today,
A modern Pompeii on view.
To see all the old shops and the Forest Hotel
And the Promyet cinema too.
The couch grass and weeds they push through the cracks,
Defiant despite man’s best ploys
And experiments flourish in this Paradise lost
With no pulse beat or no children’s cries.

So fare thee well Pripyat my home and my soul,
Oh your sorrow can know no release.
It’s a terrifying glimpse of the future you show
As your children lie scattered like geese.
The clothes-line still sways but the owner’s long gone
As the nomadic era returns.
The questions in black and white blurred into grey,
And the answers too easy to learn.