Lord Grenville

Album: Year Of The Cat (1976)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This is a classical Al Stewart historical folk-rock song, though more folk than rock. Sir Richard Grenville was born in 1542, and after a distinguished career as a soldier and explorer, he was appointed Vice Admiral of the British Royal Navy. He sailed to Roanoke Island (in what is now North Carolina) in 1586 to fortify a colony established by Sir Walter Raleigh, leaving behind 15 men who disappeared; Roanoke became known as the "Lost Colony."

    The song is written from the perspective of the 15 men who were left behind and know their end is imminent:

    Go and tell Lord Grenville that our dreams have run aground
    There's nothing here to keep us in this shanty town


    In 1591, Grenville sailed for the Azores in pursuit of Spanish treasure but found himself outnumbered when his ship the Revenge became separated from the rest of the fleet. After fighting 15 Spanish ships all evening and night, the Revenge was surrendered by his crew against his wishes. Mortally wounded, Grenville was taken prisoner and died aboard one of the enemy ships aged only 49.
  • "Lord Grenville" is the first track on Al Stewart's Year Of The Cat album, recorded at Abbey Road Studios with producer Alan Parsons. With the hit single "Year Of The Cat," it was a breakthrough, and his first album to make an impact in America.
  • Stewart considers this one of his "sea songs," along with "Old Admirals" and "The Dark And The Rolling Sea."
  • Stewart had a hard time hitting the high notes in the line, "Our time is just a point along a line." In an interview CD for the album, he said: "I sang this for two hours and Alan Parsons kept looking at me and glaring through the glass and I just could not hit this high note. Drove him crazy."

Comments: 2

  • Anonymous from Trinidad/tobagoWhen I first heard this song I thought it sounded like an Alan Parsons piece. Research proved me somewhat right. Great number...and the music is awesome
  • Timothy Moore Sr. from Tontogany, Ohwhat a great song!! I never heard this song till i bought Al'greatest hits cd now i need to buy year of the cat album!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Chris Rea

Chris ReaSongwriter Interviews

It took him seven years to recover from his American hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)," but Chris Rea became one of the top singer-songwriters in his native UK.

Gary Brooker of Procol Harum

Gary Brooker of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum, Gary talks about finding the musical ideas to match the words.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Dennis DeYoung

Dennis DeYoungSongwriter Interviews

Dennis DeYoung explains why "Mr. Roboto" is the defining Styx song, and what the "gathering of angels" represents in "Come Sail Away."

When Rock Belonged To Michelob

When Rock Belonged To MichelobSong Writing

Michelob commercials generated hits for Eric Clapton, Genesis and Steve Winwood in the '80s, even as some of these rockers were fighting alcoholism.

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.