the song
title : What you do with what you’ve got
written by : Si Kahn, arranged by Eddi Reader and Roy Dodds
song copyright : © Joe Hill Music (Leosong) / MCA Music Ltd / copyright control
source recording : I’m sorry I don’t have any details of an original recording for this song. Please let me know if you can fill in this piece of the jigsaw.

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal, backing vocals
Phil Steriopulos double bass
Roy Dodds drums, percussion
with :
Aly Bain fiddle
Kim Burton accordion, Hammond organ
Dominic Millar guitar
Huw Warren cello
music
key : B minor
time-signature : 4/4
tempo : MM 134
form : i V V C v C C′ cx
lyrics

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

What you do with what you’ve got

{vocalise}

you must know someone like him
who was tall and strong and lean
with a body like a greyhound
and a mind so sharp and keen
but his heart, just like a laurel
grew twisted round itself
till almost everything he did
brought pain to someone else

it’s not just what you’re born with
it’s what you choose to bear
it’s not how big your share is
it’s how much you can share
it’s not the fights you dreamed of
it’s those you really fought {ah-wah}
it’s not what you’ve been given
it’s what you do with what you’ve got

{ah-ha etc.}
what’s the use of two strong legs
if you only run away
and what’s the use of the finest voice
if you’ve nothing good to say now, ah
what’s the use in strength and muscle
if you only push and shove
and what’s the use of two good ears
if you can’t hear those you love

– vocalise solo

oh what’s the use of two strong legs
if you only run away
and what’s the use of the finest voice
hah-ee-ah, hah-ee-ah
what’s the use in strength and muscle
if you only push and shove
and what’s the use of two good ears
if you can’t hear those you love

{ah-ha etc.}
between those who use their neighbours
and those who use the cane
between those in constant power
and those in constant pain
between those who run to glory
and those who cannot run
tell me which ones are the cripples
and which ones touch the sun?

– violin solo, guitar solo
hah-ee-ah-ee-ah [etc.]

…which ones touch the sun
hah-ha-ah

explanations
the lyrics for Eddi and Roy’s interpretation of Si Khan’s song were, finally, printed in the booklet accompanying the Japanese compilation of Eddi’s solo career on RCA and Warners, Seventeen stories. Although this has cleared up a couple of my earlier transcription errors, I am still convinced that the 5th and 6th lines of the first verse are sung as I’ve given them above and not as printed:

but his heart is like a laurel
all twisted round itself


I think the difference between ‘all’ and ‘grew’ is pretty conclusive and I like the better flow of thoughts which the change of tense at this point makes with the final two lines of the verse.

the recording
personnel
produced by : Kevin Moloney, Roy Dodds and Eddi Reader
recorded by : Kevin Moloney? at Shabby Road Studio, Kilmarnock and Terry Medhurst? at Helicon Mountain Studio, London?
mixed by : Terry Medhurst? at Helicon Mountain Studio?
remixed by : Thomas Dolby
mastered by : ? at Townhouse?
technical
track timing : 4:38
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Mirmama track 1
single : What you do with what you’ve got track 1
single : Dear John CDS track 3
album : Seventeen stories: the best of Eddi Reader   (comp.) track 1