I was Born in The Holy Land. Moses, David, Isaac and Jacob Streets are known affectionately in the Southend of Liverpool as “The Holy Land” and in a city where family ties are sacred the Holy Land maintains a reputation for being particularly clannish. Despite the surrounding streets having been flattened for redevelopment, the Holy Land remains, a reminder of a way of life which has all but disappeared.
The Other Maggie May Challenged by John Coleman to re write the traditional Scouse anthem, this song tells the story from Maggie’s point of view. Based on the traditional tune it tells the story of what happened to the young girl who was deserted and left to the mercy of a hard world, describing the events which turned a good girl to the bad.
The Caged Linnet. Between 1645 and 1650, the English under Cromwell transported about 50,000 Irish people, mostly women and children whose only crime was to be related to a rebel. They were used as indentured workers (and sometimes “comfort women” ) in the tobacco plantations of Barbados and Virginia. (See Hell or Barbados by Sean Callaghan)
The Liverpool Girl is the story of an old salt whose home is the sea. He looks back on a life e spent wandering freely, and only “allows his heart to break” late at night, when he yearns for the Liverpool girl who once loved him in his youth; maybe she wasn’t unlike Maggie May?
The Lowlands of Holland (trad) This version of a popular folk song from the Napoleonic Wars shares a tune with The Boys of Wexford. The latter was a rallying tune a hundred years ago, for the Liverpool Irish during the bad old days of sectarianism in the city. The tune was also known as The Flight of the Earls.
The Scaler Lad. When steam replaced sail, one of the maintenance jobs that had to be done was the de scaling of the steam boilers in the ships’ engine rooms. Little boys were the only ones small enough to climb inside the boilers and it was a dangerous, unpleasant job. This song tells the tale of hapless Johnny who graduated from being a scaler lad to becoming a trimmer; an equally dehumanising occupation, trimming coal to the stokers in the boiler room. The tune is based on the traditional folk song : The Sailor’s Life .
It Was Never Like Downton Abbey Harry Smith, a wonderful gentleman and nonagenarian was the inspiration for this song . When he spoke at the Labour Party Conference a few years ago, he used this phrase. Point of fact : £25 per annum (yes per year!) was the usual wage for a housemaid a hundred years ago.
The Gunner’s Prayer Is a song dedicated to the brave men of the Arctic Convoys of WWII.
Lampedusa Tells the true story of a fisherman in Lampedusa who went to the rescue of a boat load of refugees which sank in the Mediterranean. The women and children were below decks and the men above when the boat sank suddenly. It is a tragedy which continues to be played out again and again out there on the high seas.
When The Wind Blows Up From The Mersey Describes a way of life long gone ; from the point of view of the wife left behind who never knew whether her sailor Johnny was going to come home to her or be tempted by an easier life with another woman in America (or anywhere abroad) In houses with no bathroom, men often shaved at the sink in the kitchen… as the song describes…. And here’s brief Glossary
The Husky – is Huskisson Dock
The Maurie – what RMS Mauretania was called by locals. Blind Scouse is vegetable stew without any meat, eaten during hard times. Jars Out – celebrations with alcohol
The Throstles – The Throstle’s Nest Public house on Scotland Road Liverpool
Scotty Road – Scotland Road Liverpool.
My Cheating Heart Liverpool took Country and Western music to its heart; popularised by the Cunard Yanks in the fifties who brought home the music from America. The tales of hard lives and broken hearts sung by Williams, Cash and Cline resonated with the people of the city. This song, inspired of course by the fabulous old Hank Williams classic, tells the story of a lady whose constant companion in her chaotic love life is her cheating heart.
Over Sea Under Stars An instrumental tune inspired by my Father’s birthplace, Shell Cottage on the cliffs in Cullenstown, Bannow County Wexford.