Wednesday, 12 June 2013

My Top Ten Seaside Town Songs

Summer's here and the time is right for ice cream, donkey rides, deck chairs, fish and chips and slot machines...

Here's ten songs about British seaside towns where everyday isn't like Sunday...

10. Chas & Dave - Margate

It was this or Scarborough Fair. And much as I love both Scarborough and Simon & Garfunkel, there's something about Scarborough Fair that represents folk music at its most twee. Call me a philistine, but I'd rather have lyrics that sing, "Behave yourself grandad, or you won’t be going..." than, "Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme". Maybe when I compile my Top Ten Herb Songs...

See also Mussels of Margate, written by Kurt Weill. Seriously, you can't make stuff like that up.

9. Mark Eitzel - Southend On Sea

The lead singer of American Music Club probably isn't the first person you'd expect to hear singing a song about Southend... maybe that's why it works so well. Told from the perspective of "just another ugly American melting in the heat"...
You said to me
"You're from California
And you're as dumb as can be"
You said to me
"Are you the Scarecrow, the Tin Man
Or are you Dorothy?"
You said to me
"I'm beginning to think that you're
A part of the enemy"
You said to me
"If I was drowning would you save me
From Southend-on-Sea?"
8. Athlete - Dungeness

OK, so Dungeness isn't strictly a seaside town, it's a headland with a beach, a nuclear power plant and Derek Jarman's cottage on it. But let's pretend it's a big holiday destination, shall we? This song is quite, quite lovely.

7. Half Man Half Biscuit - She's In Broadstairs

Gets many extra marks for mentioning Filey, because Filey is ace.
Maybe she could tell her
I’ve still got her umbrella
She prized it rather highly
It saved her once in Filey
It came on all torrential
And therefore it’s essential
The band Luxembourg also had a song called Broadstairs but the internet hasn't ever heard of it.

6. Philip Jeays - Eastbourne

This is the last resort... I think Philip may be suggesting Eastbourne is full of pensioners.

5. Glasvegas - The Prettiest Thing On Saltcoats Beach

To quote my old music blogging hero, JC, The Vinyl Villain, "the b-side (to Geraldine) is a rather lovely romantic song about one of the least romantic coastal towns on Planet Earth." I've never been to Saltcoats so I'll have to bow to his native knowledge.

4. Luke Haines & The Auteurs - Bugger Bognor

The apochryphal last words of King George V, set to lush orchestration by the perennially grumpy southern Englishman...
Our business affairs are at the receivers
Our assets frozen
There's not much between us
So we put it on a horse
Called 'It's Grim Up North'    
3. Cud - Only (A Prawn In Whitby)

My favourite seaside town (I may even be there as you read this); I can think of at least two people who read this blog who would probably have made this Number One. And who knows, they may well be right.

2. The Beautiful South - Oh, Blackpool

Why do political parties always hold their conferences in seaside towns? Is it just so the waster politicians can ride the donkeys wearing Kiss Me Quick hats? A scathing attack on the Liberal Party (SDP) of the late 80s, this is "somewhat" dated now, but it still sounds wonderful. And there's no mention of Nick Clegg, which is always a bonus.
They wore enamel badges of
David Steel on their sleeves
And "nuclear power no thanks",
"Not sure" and "yes please!"
And their faces were two fold
And their teeth they were gold
And they wore their pinstripe suits
With a rip at the knee
I'm out tonight and can't decide
Between Soviet hip or British pride
See also Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier by The Manics, which already did very well in My Top Ten Songs About Elvis.

1. Queen - Brighton Rock

Songs about badgers, marrying Anita Dobson, that hair... Bryan May's crimes against cool are considerable. But it's possible to forgive him everything just by listening to the guitar solo on Brighton Rock, one of the best songs he ever wrote. Plus, Freddie sings a duet with himself, taking on both male and female vocals. The tale of a doomed holiday romance and the mums and wives who ruin it.
"Jenny will you stay? Tarry with me, pray
Nothing e'er need come between us
Tell me love what do you say?"

"Oh no I must away, to my mum in disarray
If my mother should discover how I spent my holiday
It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air
I'll say farewell..."
Other Brighton belters include Upside Down On Brighton Beach by Shirley Lee and You're Not From Brighton by local lad Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook. See also New Brighton Promenade by The Boo Radleys, though I suspect that'll be the New Brighton in Merseyside.

So... those are my favourite Seaside Town Songs... where will you be wearing a knotted hanky on your head this summer?


  1. Yes, it had to be Brighton. I might just take a Day trip to Bangor myself...

  2. Good call with Cud and the excellent Philip Jeays.

    I always thought Suede should write a song called The Seaside, and put it on the B-side. So the sticker would read...

    1. They should get a brass band on the track too, going tiddly om pom pom.

  3. Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From A Shell): "They do it down on Camber Sands / They do it at Waikiki / Lazing about the beach all day / At night the crickets creepy." Sheer poetry.

    1. I did a Top Ten Seaside Songs last year and that was near the top. Not quite on target enough for this one. However, I knew the innuendo would make that a favourite of yours!

  4. OK... the only other offering I've got is XTC's "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her"...

    1. Also a good choice... But still doesn't feature a seaside town in its title.

  5. "Rocking rollin riding, out across the bay, all bound Mornington many miles away"

    altogether now

    "are you going to Scarborough fair, PARSLEY, SAGE, rosemary and thymeeeeeee"

    oh lordy I could go on for ever here

    "I strolled into a deserted seaside café All on a winter's day" dadadadada "I order a cup of brown tea"

    1. I think I made my feelings on Scarborough Fair clear enough,but points for the rest.

  6. I'm sure Half Man half Biscuit have something about Llandudno somewhere in Back in the DHSS but I can't think of it.

    1. Afraid you'll have to make do with Broadstairs...

    2. 'He's the patron saint of Llandudno, the patron saint of Llandudno who...' Then it's tony someone. Garrrrrrrr it WILL come to me.

      'Parsley, sage, ROSEMARY and THYMEEEEeE'

      Oh loving it!

    3. I love you because!

      Me girlfriend looks like Peggy mount....

      Doesn't get close to being a seaside song but have found my ear work fr a week!


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