THE Story in THE Song Clifford T Ward Home Thoughts From Abroad

A man misses his homeland and writes to a former lover about his despair.


A beautifully sad almost conversational song about a love letter to a lost love, written by a man who has left his country and the company of the woman he loved, only to deeply miss both. Why the lovers split up is unspecified, though he blames himself for breaking her heart.

Taken from the album, Home Thoughts, and issued as the B-side of his most successful single, Gaye this is Ward’s finest work.

The song is a lament for a man’s broken dreams and ambitions, and his reflections on what his lover, wife or girlfriend might be thinking and doing back in England. It looks as if she is not replying to his correspondence, if he actually sends his letters to her at all.

He wishes he had been a millionaire, and that he had a better ability to make her laugh, He deeply misses Worcestershire, and offers mostly small talk, remembering how she would watch television until she fell asleep. He remembers that she had some minor plumbing problems in her house and enquires as to whether anyone has sorted that out for her. His first stanza paragraph ends almost casually with a reference to her broken heart, as if it is just as minor a concern as the other details, though it is obvious that this is the real crux and concern of the letter.

There is no chorus. The song runs with a great sense of realism about the estranged lover’s reflections. He has been reading the romantic poets and draws specific reference to Robert Browning’s poem Home Thoughts From Abroad (hence the song title too).  He compares Browning’s homesick reflections to his own current mood and how much he misses his lover. He ends by asking pleadingly if she is feeling as sad as he feels and ends with a direct desperately melancholy statement of how lonely he feels now.

I get a strong sense that if his lover read this she would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it; that’s he would look up the Browning poem and then head to join her ex on the next available flight she could catch.

Ward tragically suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and died of Pneumonia in 2001 – a terrible loss of one of Britain’s most romantic popular composers.

The lyrics to Home Thoughts From Abroad

The song on Youtube

Robert Browning’s poem, Home Thoughts From Abroad

Arthur Chappell

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  1. I often wondered about that song.

  2. Cheers as always Rosetta – it is a wonderful song

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