From the album GLOBAL HEARTBEAT
At the time of World War II, the Burmese people were left to fend for themselves, at the mercy of Japanese forces, when the British fled. Elderly Burmese often speak of the strong relationship and respect they had for British colonial forces and how one day they looked forward to their return to help the country to rebuild. But this day never came. Burma, like many countries, was left in tatters after the war and the people subsequently endured over half a century of brutal military dictatorship, never receiving the help of their former colonial leaders over and above financial and cultural sanctions the effectiveness of which remains a matter of some doubt.
Compare that to 2017, when the Burmese, the most generous of peoples, treat the British with a warmth perhaps undeserved if the actions of our ancestors are a gauge. They are not a people to hold grudges for the cruelties of the past - and thank goodness, because as a population they arguably have a great deal to seek revenge for.
Modern day Burmese tell their departing British friends that they hope to see them back in Myanmar (the modern name for Burma) soon, which evokes such strong memories of similar sentiments expressed 80 years ago which were never fulfilled.
The song contains a clip of a recording by long time close friend of The Portraits, Derry folk singer Malcolm Wray whose death in 2015 prompted the duo to dig out and relisten to some old recordings Malcolm had left them of his singing. With the kind permission of the original songwriter Pádraigín Ní Uallachaín, The Portraits decided to use an excerpt of Malcolm singing 'The Willow Tree' in the middle of the song.