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All the Years of Trying

An Ode to Patrik Fitzgerald

Part music documentary, part concert film, Dom Shaw’s  film concerns ‘lost’ punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald, a big influence on the likes of Benjamin Zephaniah, Chumbawumba and more recently, King Blues and Milk Kan. Born in 1956 in Stratford, East London to working-class Irish parents, he began performing and recording his acoustic bedroom anthems during the punk rock explosion of 1977. Kicking against the punk orthodoxy by performing waif-like and vulnerably alone with an acoustic guitar and a tattered book of poems at the height of the punk revolution, his anthem ‘Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart’ struck a chord that’s been felt into the next generation of singer songwriters. The film mixes archive footage, interviews with Fitzgerald’s contemporaries and culminates with his recent live performances in London and as part of a Patrik Fitzgerald festival in Norway .Press Release  

NB: This film is a bit stuck for distribution at the moment for want of funds to clear the music licences. 


As punk rock snowballed in 1977, a few performers didn’t subscribe to the block-chord, tougher-than-tough template. Inevitably, those individualists now stand apart. In 1978, at age 18, Dom Shaw was making the music verité film Rough Cut And Ready Dubbed. Catching the maverick as well as the stars, Rough Cut… memorably featured Patrik Fitzgerald’s desolate Island Of Lost Souls, a counterpoint to the hostility of the era. Now, thirty years later, comes Shaw’s Patrik Fitzgerald chronicle.

Patrik Fitzgerald stood apart. Taking the stage solo with the tool of the folkie – an acoustic guitar – he became a target. Bottles were chucked and he was spat at. With lyrics addressing the day-to-day, personal politics, estrangement and anomie he wasn’t sloganeering. Yet this wasn’t folk. The music press decided he was the punk poet.

Poets Benjamin Zephaniah and Attila The Stockbroker pay tribute to their inspiration. Boff Whalley of Chumbawumba – who covered Fitzgerald’s seminal Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart – reminisces about his first Fitzgerald show. He was shocked that a performer this impactful was playing to a London audience of 25. Fitzgerald himself is eloquent, humble even. After all the years, Dom Shaw has demonstrated it’s time the world caught up. Journalist and Nirvana biographer Everett True says Fitzgerald is “one of the superstars of my world.” Kieron Tyler

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