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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While waiting in line to cross the border back into Canada at the Port Huron, MI./Sarnia, ON., crossing, a vehicle close by was playing folk music. One of the songs, sung by a female, was about Newcastle and the Tyne. I had never heard the song before but it did prompt me to start this thread. So, what songs or poems have been written about your city?

likes beer
Cosmic chimp
12,940 Posts
Sea shantys anyone?

Blow the man down

As I was a-walking down Paradise Street,
To me way, hey, blow the man down,
A fat Irish Bobby I chanced for to meet,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

Says he, ``You're a Black Baller from the cut of your hair;
I can tell by those high red-topped sea boots you wear.

``You've come from some ship that flies the Black Ball,
And you've robbed some poor Dutchman of his clothes, boots and

Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away,
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him to stay.

Says I, ``Oh, no, sir, you do me great wrong,
I'm a Flying Fish sailor, just home from Hong Kong!''
So I blew him right down, and I stove in his jaw;
Says he then, ``Young feller, you're breaking the law!''

So six months I did, boys, in Liverpool town,
For kicking and punching and blowing him down.

Oh, blow the man, down, bullies, blow the man down;
And a crew of hard cases from Liverpool town.

Spongebob Squarepants theme is based on this

What are sea shanties and why was Liverpool sung about so often in ships which plied the trade routes across the world ?

Shanties were work songs, sung on board sailing ships in the mid / late 19th century to ease the hard and brutal work and to keep up the rhythm of repetitive tasks like pulling on ropes, pushing around the capstan and working the pumps. They helped men to work together and get the job done better and faster. The Shantyman would sing songs appropriate to the work, making up new verses as needed, and because many of the crew members either came from Liverpool or had passed through, the city's name would be a popular choice on board ship

Shanties had a short life, in regular use only from the middle of the 19th century until steam power took over in the early 20th. But in their heyday their impact on the speed of a ship was great, particularly on the tea runs where speed was vital as the first clipper back got the best prices.

Shanties were only used on the commercial Merchant ships, they were forbidden on Navy ships. It was said that to a shipowner a good Shantyman with a pair of leathery lungs and a flair for varying songs was worth 10 sailors. For that reason he was often given lighter duties. Shanties most likely grew out of the worksongs of the many nationalities and races making up the crews, who would have used rhythm, chant and music for planting, marching and rowing.

Forebitters were not work songs but were a mixture of self-penned, adapted and favourite popular songs which the sailors sang in their leisure time (what there was of it!) sitting at the front (fore) of the ship on the iron bollards (bits) used to secure the ropes.

Many of the shanties you will hear were collected by the last British shantyman STAN HUGILL (1906-1992) and can be found in his book Shanties of the Seven Seas.

18,269 Posts
most shanties go on about Liverpool. It was the magical city to sailors, catered for all of their needs like no other city!

beatles did a good few about Liverpool places, then there is the likes of Ferry cross the Mersey and Heart as big as Liverpool by the mighty Wah... the Bangles, that girl band did 'Going Down to Liverpool'

Liverpool is the setting for lots of novels too, one of the Sherlock Holmes stories is set here, then there is the Cruel Sea, Liverpool is the main setting for Herman Melvilles 'Redburn' (see above about the magical city of the sea)

What would be more interesting is to list titles etc that are about a certain city, but not created by someone from that city.. helps define that city's impact on the wider world, as we can all wax lyrical about our own burghs!

15,522 Posts
Yes; that was the first thing we did — trim the yards of that wreck! No one was killed, or even disabled, but everyone was more or less hurt. You should have seen them! Some were in rags, with black faces, like coal-heavers, like sweeps, and had bullet heads that seemed closely cropped, but were in fact singed to the skin. Others, of the watch below, awakened by being shot out from their collapsing bunks, shivered incessantly, and kept on groaning even as we went about our work. But they all worked. That crew of Liverpool hard cases had in them the right stuff. It’s my experience they always have. It is the sea that gives it — the vastness, the loneliness surrounding their dark stolid souls.

likes beer
Cosmic chimp
12,940 Posts
Not really about Birkenhead, but of interest nonetheless. An excerpt from Rudyard Kiplings “Soldier an’ Sailor Too”

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ’and, an’ leave an’ likin’ to shout;
But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An’ they done it, the Jollies—’Er Majesty’s Jollies—soldier an’ sailor too!
Their work was done when it ’adn’t begun; they was younger nor me an’ you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin’ in ’eaps an’ bein’ mopped by the screw,
So they stood an’ was still to the Birken’ead drill,2 soldier an’ sailor too!

The troop ship HMS Birkenhead sank in shark infested waters off the coast of south africa. The troops were paraded on the deck of the sinking ship, and ordered to stand still, which they did, to allow women and children to get in the life boats. Hence the "Birkenhead Drill".

20,852 Posts
Avril Lavigne - I wish I was back in Liverpool lyrics
I wish I was back in Liverpool

Liverpool town where I was born

Where there ain't no trees, no scented greens

No fields of waving corn

But there's lots of girls with peroxide pearls

And the Black and Tan flows free

There's six in a bed by the old pier head

And it's Liverpool town for me

'tIs seven long years since I wandered away

To sail the wide world o'er

Me very first trip on an old steamship

That was bound for Baltimore

I was seven days sick and I just couldn't stick

That bubbling up and down

So I told them Jack you'd better turn back

For dear old Liverpool town


We dug the Mersey tunnel, boys, way back in '33

Dug a hole in the ground until we found

An old cold wall ye see

Then the foreman cried:

'Come on outside the roof is falling down'

Well I'm telling you Jack, we all swam back

To dear old Liverpool town


Well, there's every race and colour of face

There's every kind of name

But the pigeons on the pier head they treat you all the same

And if you walk above to Parliament Street

You'd see faces black and brown

And I have also seen the orange and green

In dear old Liverpool town

I don't know why she's supposedly sung this,seems a bit strange.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The sun beams bright on Rio,
And likewise Lima Town,
For over all the south'ron seas
The dawn shines like a crown.
But I'd rather be in Liverpool
An' listenin' to the rain
As it rattles on the windows
In cosy Crooked Lane.

Farewell, farewell Fernandes,
An' Andes' burning rock,
My heart it goes where Mersey flows
Down by the Wapping Dock.
So it's rolling home to Liverpool
Across the heaving main,
to sing beside my ingle nook
In cosy Crooked Lane.

Unregistered User
4,129 Posts
It's not poetry or song but Sheffield is famously quouted as - 'Sheffield is probably the ugliest town in the world' in George Orwell's, Road to Wigan Pier.

Oh, it's mentioned in 'This Is England' by The Clash - 'This knife of Sheffield Steel, this is how we feel'.
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