By The Landlord
"Manchester is a city which has witnessed a great many stirring episodes, especially of a political character. Generally speaking, its citizens have been liberal in their sentiments, defenders of free speech and liberty of opinion." – Emmeline Pankhurst
“To convey one’s mood / in seventeen syllables / is very diffic.” (Haiku)
“Poverty - the one thing money can't buy.” – John Cooper Clarke
“He’s rude, arrogant, intimidating and lazy. He’s the angriest man you’ll ever meet. He’s like a man with a fork in a world of soup.” - Noel Gallagher on brother Liam
It’s been a difficult week, to say the least. I confess that the atrocity that occurred at the Manchester Arena on Monday night has hit me very hard. For someone born and brought up in that city, and who has experienced much family tragedy in the past few years, it’s all come into sharp focus. And even stranger right now, that for a city that prides itself so much on a rich history of football culture and success, that even he usually massive high of winning a European cup competition last night seems merely a minor, and temporary lift. So excuse me if this week’s introduction is fairly brief and a little muted.
Yet the Manchester way, like many great northern cities, is all about getting on with it, and many of you may have been moved at how Manchester has shown how to refuse to give into division and hate, one in which Muslim and other communities have worked together, whether that be in offering free taxi rides, food and accommodation, and long queues of people offering to give blood. And while tears may flow, with this also comes wit as dry as the weather is wet. It’s a humour coming from rich diversity, and centuries of struggling immigrants, from the Irish to Jews somehow converging in an atmosphere of Mancunian mirth and friendliness. Irony runs through Manchester like the River Irwell, or the Bridgewater Canal. And with all the industry, and hardship, and humorous sense of the worst can always happen, flowing out of all of that is also music.
So this week we’re looking to pay tribute to the victims and all those affect by Monday’s bombing with a celebration of music all about Manchester. Not all music from Manchester (that would be too unwieldy) but much of it will be from artists born or having lived in or around the area, but the key thing is that in lyrics, or sound, they express something about the sites, stories, people, history, culture, accents and eccentricities of this place and it’s surrounding areas.
How to sum up a city in a few words? Here’s the tall poet Tony Walsh, aka Longfella, doing a terrifically moving tribute this week outside Manchester’s town hall. I hope you will find this equally inspiring for song nominations.
So your songs could be about the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation, killing 15, and injuring hundreds, many of them women. Or it could the development of computers in Manchester, the struggles of Emmeline Pankhurst (born in Manchester’s Moss Side), the beginnings of railway, the cotton industry, the history of its famous football team and players.
But as much as that your songs might mention specific areas of the city, streets, or capture the phrases, attitudes and accents of the area. So that could be anything from from classical to dance, punk to poetry, folk to funk, electronic to indie to acid, and anyone from Barry Adamson to Badly Drawn Boy, Black Grape to the Buzzcocks, Ian Curtis to Walter Carroll, Cabbage to the Courteeners Peter Maxwell Davies to Duritti Column, Georgie Fame to Freddie and the Dreamers, Barry Gibb to the Hollies or the Houghton Weavers, A Guy Called Gerald to Goldblade, Davy Jones to Morrissey and Marr, Genesis Breyer P-Orridg to Jon the Postman, Frank Sidebottom to Bernard Sumner, Vinny Reilly to Shaun Ryder, Mark E Smith to John Squire …
And so then, as I try not to sound too much like Tony Wilson exhibiting civic pride, I'm very happy to announce that this week’s honorary Mancunian, who in fact will be a neutral stance on the city from the relative safety of Milton Keynes, is our very own artful amphibian, treefrogdemon. Put your Manchester-inspired songs in comments below by last orders at 11pm UK time on Monday for playlists published next Wednesday.
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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.