What a place Manchester is! Cradle of the Industrial Revolution, with those two rowdy infants, capitalism and communism, lying side by side, kicking each other. Powerhouse of science, invention, manufacturing, football and the arts. Melting-pot for people and ideas from all over the world … I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist. And music, of course.
And television. We start with Half The World Away (suggested by Australian reader deanofromoz, who’s half the world away from a lot of us) which is by Oasis, of course, but which to me will always conjure up the wonderful sitcom The Royle Family and its wonderful and much-missed writer and star Caroline Aherne.
And Salford, the Dirty Old Town. What is it about Salford, for heaven's sake? Is it in the water? Ewan MacColl was from Salford: his wife, Peggy Seeger, clearly wasn’t, but she had useful connections of her own and, together, they started the ‘folk revival’ of the late fifties. This song helped.
And the visual arts. One-hit wonders Brian and Michael introduced pop fans to LS Lowry, another Salford man, when Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs made it to number one in 1978. Lowry rejected five honours, including a knighthood, during his life but I like to think he’d have enjoyed being top of the pops – alas, he died in 1976 and never knew it.
And the weather. Apparently Didn’t It Rain wasn’t on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s setlist until she stepped down from that buggy on to the Wilbraham Road station platform in May 1964, when she decided it would be appropriate. The concert was filmed by Granada Television, the companybased in Manchester which makes the long-running soap Coronation Street, set in …Salford.
And poetry. John Cooper Clarke is the Bard of Salford. Oh, stop it – this is getting silly. He’s a performance poet who makes records, and one is called A Heart Disease Called Love. (He mentions the rain too.)
And taking the piss. That's a Manchester (and Salford) thing. Cabbage reckon they’ve heard one too many people who’ll Tell Me Lies About Manchester. Including the one about having “had a pint with every person who’s ever played in The Fall”, when this is clearly impossible.
And the mixing and melding of genres and styles, to produce something like Oceansize’s Music For A Nurse which Song-Bar regular Bethnoir describes as “deep and thoughtful”. So it is. So is A Longing To Be Absorbed For A While Into A Different And Beautiful World – a track which sells itself by name alone – from Leyland Kirby, a man of many names and many projects.
And recognising and finding solutions for social problems. This Is How It Feels and Still Standing are about families, but there are many more problems in this modern world. (And not just in Manchester, of course.)
And tolerance, compassion and understanding. Sit Down with James. Take pride in your history, even if you need to put on your Cabbage hat while the Times tell you about their Manchester. Share the music and the joy.
Manchester, we’ll always love you.
Ancoats to Zeus A-list Playlist:
1 Half The World Away – Oasis
2 Dirty Old Town – Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger
3 Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs – Brian and Michael
4 Didn’t It Rain – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
5 A Heart Disease Called Love – John Cooper Clarke
6 Tell Me Lies About Manchester – Cabbage
7 Music For A Nurse – Oceansize
8 A Longing To Be Absorbed For A While Into A Different And Beautiful World – Leyland Kirby
9 This Is How It Feels – Inspiral Carpets
10 Still Standing – Children of Zeus feat. DRS
11 Sit Down – James
12 Manchester – The Times
Ain't Heavy Brother B-list Playlist:
1 Salford Sunday – Richard Thompson
2 You’re Like Manchester – John Shuttleworth
3 Who You Looking At – The Salford Jets
4 Platt Fields – Franco and the Dreadnought
5 Friend Of Ours – Elbow
6 Fallowfield Hillbilly – Courteeners
7 Manchester – Kill Pretty
8 Longsight M13 – Ian Brown
9 Whippin’ Piccadilly – Gomez
10 Manchester – The Beautiful South
11 Disorder – Joy Division
12 He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies
Guru's WIldcard Pick:
Manchester United by Naomi Rose.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: This is the place: songs about or from Manchester. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.