Sunday 30 September 2012

55: In My Liverpool Home

This is surely one of the best known Liverpool songs. Pete McGovern wrote the first few vaguely autobiographical verses in 1961, using the tune of the cowboy song 'Strawberry Roan'. Subsequently, the song has accumulated more and more verses, until it had hundreds of the things. In fact, in 1991 BBC Radio Merseyside released a casette tape with a 60 verse version of the song. Some of the verses floating around are from Pete McGovern himself, but many of them are not - people just kept adding to it. I haven't kept the song going for TOO many verses - just 9 of them!- but I've included a few of my favourites from different sources (some of these verses I know like the back of my hand from hearing so many people people singing the song; others I've picked up from online sources, in particular Gerry Jones' excellent Liverpool Lyrics website).

Of all of the songs that came out of the Liverpool folk revival, this is probably the one with the biggest claim to have become 'traditional', given the way that it's been passed on and added to (not to mention parodied). As was noted in McGovern's obituary in The Independent following his death in 2006: "The lyrics about overcrowding, sectarian violence and stealing from lorries may not be the image that Liverpool Council would want to promote, but the song is regarded as the city's anthem and it plays a significant part in its culture. 'I wrote it in 1961,' said McGovern, 'but a lot of people have said to me, "You didn't write that. It was written in 1848".'"

The chorus refers to the "exceedingly bare" statue outside the Lewis's department store (or at least the building that was the Lewis's deparment store until it closed in 2010). The sculpture (image above) is by Jacob Epstein and has as its official title "Liverpool Resurgent", although it is more colloquially known as "Dickie Lewis".

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