This project is inspired by Jon Boden's A Folk Song A Day, and John Thompson's An Australian Folk Song A Day. I was a keen follower of what Jon Boden was singing, and when I saw the Australian Folk Song A Day project born in its wake it got me thinking: could you do the same with songs connected to Liverpool?
Liverpool is where I was born, it's where I live. True, I've headed out of the city often enough for study and work, but I keep finding my way back. And although I've picked up all kinds of music from all kinds of people, when I'm singing in pubs and folk clubs nothing seems more real to me than singing about my home.
In the end, I figured that having to post about a song every day might drive me mad, so I decided to set up this blog with the slightly more resonable aim of presenting 52 Liverpool folk songs: one for every week of the year. I'm going to try and put up a good spread of songs here - sea songs, 19th century broadside ballads, songs from the folk revival, some recently written songs, children's songs, football songs, etc. Some songs will be well known, others less so.
What counts as a Liverpool folk song? Basically, they're songs tied up with the place - some songs tell stories about the city and its history. Some songs were collected in the city at various points in the past and were well-loved by those who lived here. Some were written by songwriters born here and steeped in the atmosphere of the city. There's no hard and fast rule - basically, I'm happily considering anything collected in the city or written here (although a mere mention of Liverpool in passing probably wouldn't make it a "Liverpool song" for me!). And I reckon stuff associated with the nearby towns of Bootle, Birkenhead etc is fair game too. I'm not a purple bin fascist!
Some of these songs I've learned from hearing other people sing them, but when I draw on a written source for the words or music, I'll point the reader towards that.
Some sources that have been enormously valuable to me have been:
Gerry Jones' Liverpool Lyrics site
Stan Kelly's Liverpool Lullabies songbook (online version, with just the words, here)
Stan Hugill's Shanties of the Seven Seas
There are lots of other sources that I've looked at that will come to mind when I talk about each song in turn.
I don't have any pretentions to having a great voice or providing professional level recordings. All of the recordings are going to be unaccompanied and straight through a mic into a minidisc player in my house. I'm just doing this for fun, out of love for my city, and with the hope that people will hear the songs and learn them.