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Written by and performed by Dominic Behan Liverpool Lou is part of the connection between Ireland and Liverpool. That connection, cultural and physical is the sea. Our ancestors came in from the sea and went out back out on it. My grandfather came in through Garston docks from Wicklow, and went down with his ship as a Merchant sailor in the last days of the war. That ebb and flow has brought not only people but the sounds that accompany them. Together with Johnny Todd, The Leaving of Liverpool, and Maggie May, among others. Songs followed the migration of people from the farms and fields of the South through Liverpool and on to the USA. Ireland, the sea, and music, are part of the lifeblood of Liverpool. Westward facing Liverpool took in the influence of Ireland, and sailors from the world over were among the first to import American Blues and Rock and Roll. Music and culture that influenced the Beatles
Johnny Todd the theme tune for Everton football club.
and by Bob Dylan
The Leaving of Liverpool has been performed by many bands over the years including the Dubliners, The Scaffold, and here The Pogues
I remember watching Rod Stewart’s Maggie May on Top of The Pops in 1971 and my mother saying it was based on an old Liverpool song, here are the Beatles with the original lyrics which relate the story of a prostitute robbing a sailor.
Oh dirty Maggie Mae they have taken her away
And she never walk down Lime Street any more
Oh the judge he guilty found her
For robbing a homeward bounder
That dirty no good robbin’ Maggie Mae…
I have always found the slogan ‘The World in One City’ used to celebrate the capital of culture annoying. The difference between the slogan and reality has been stark. It would be fine if Irish, African, Chinese culture were celebrated when they arrived on our shores, or since. The reality however has been far from this. Irish culture was suppressed in favour of Catholicism, the African social clubs of Liverpool Eight were closed one by one during the nineties as a prelude to gentrification, and the Chinese community was devastated by deportations following the Second World War.
The World does in exist in one city in Liverpool, it exists in it’s people, but like most things in life it is contested, and if we can’t speak the truth about it, and we can’t live up to it we shouldn’t use the slogan ‘World in One City’.