Monday, 24 August 2015

My Top Ten Blackpool Songs

As we're not getting a summer holiday this year, this is as close as I'll get to the seaside. I was always an East Coast lad myself - Scarborough, Brid, Filey - but I've had the occasional foray to the Las Vegas of the north over the years (last time we went, I swore off rollercoasters forever after Louise persuaded me to go on The Grand National).

Blackpool has produced many a great musical son and daughter - including Robert Smith, Maddy Prior, Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys... and some of the artists featured below.

Special mention to George Formby and his euphemistic little stick of Blackpool rock.

10. The Delgados - Blackpool

Motherwell's finest obviously went south for their childhood holidays...
Can't imagine, how excitingWas to come here, so invitingWhen we were young in September days
This gets pretty weird in the middle, but Emma Pollock's dreamy vocals are always worth a listen.

9. Therapy? - Tatty Seaside Town

Originally recorded by Blackpool's punk sons, The Membranes, this is their tribute to those hot August nights when it all kicks off in the 'pool.

The Membranes were apparently the first band ever signed by Alan McGee to Creation... until the deal fell through because McGee didn't have the cash to pay their studio fees. According to t'internet.

Having said all that, I prefer the cover by this bunch of Irish punk-tuation freaks. Sorry.

Punk fans: see also Blackpool by Sham 69 who aren't from Blackpool... they're from Hersham.

8. Roy Harper - Blackpool

Another famous Blackpudlian tunesmith, though Harper doesn't appear to have much to say about his hometown on this eponymous ode. It's mostly instrumental (featuring some fantastic guitar work from Roy) punctuated by one short verse...
The rain falls like diamonds
Pinpricks the still waters
Spreadeagles its laughter
Across the green sheet of
The sleeping sea
Do we get the feeling Roy was biting his tongue...?

7. Graham Nash - Military Madness

Arguably Blackpool's most famous musical son (fans of The Cure are most likely to argue), although Nash's mum moved him back to Salford after the war. There, he became a founding member of the Hollies before buggering off to California to super-group team up with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and (occasionally) Neil Young.

Military Madness tells of his childhood in Blackpool and his anger over the war that took his father.

6. Jethro Tull - Up The 'Pool

Lyrically, this is the best song about Blackpool you'll find anywhere, and if this blog was completely objective, it'd be Number One with a Kiss Me Quick Hat. But though lyrics are often a priority for me, the tunes below are better: in my humble opinion. Still, a good effort from the beardy seed drill inventors...
There'll be bucket, spades and bingo, cockles, mussels, rainy days, seaweed and sand castles, icy waves. Deck chairs, rubber dinghies, old vests, braces dangling down, sun-tanned stranded starfish in a daze.
5. Soft Cell - Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Blackpool born David Ball was the Chris Lowe of Soft Cell... curiously, Lowe is also from Blackpool, yet Chris doesn't ever appear to have persuaded Neil to set any songs in his hometown. Marc Almond, on the other hand, was happy to reference Blackpool's famous gay nightspot The Flamingo in one of Soft Cell's biggest hits.
Standing in the door of the Pink FlamingoCrying in the rainIt was a kind of so-so loveAnd I'm going to make sure it neverHappens again
4. Blur - This Is A Low

One of my favourites from Blur, a love song to the Shipping Forecast they used to listen to while on tour in America to remind them of home.
And on the Malin head,
Blackpool looks blue and redThe Queen, she's gone round the bend Jumped off Land's End
3. Manic Street Preachers - Elvis Impersonator, Blackpool Pier

The Manics obviously have something to say about the slow death of pop culture here...
All American trilogy in used up cars and bottled beer
All American trilogy the future's dead, fundamentally
Great tune though.

2. The Beautiful South - Oh Blackpool

Paul Heaton's ode to Blackpool from the first Beautiful South album is actually a stinging attack on the Liberal Democrats - or were they the SDP in 1987? It's a jaunty pop tune that shows Heato's Housemartins roots more than most BS tracks and challenges the notion of a left wing party swinging to the "centre (right)" just to get more votes. Still topical, then.
I'm out tonight and can't decide
Between Soviet hip or British pride...
Heaton has written more songs that mention Blackpool than any of the other artists in my record collection: see also When I'm 84 and Get Here. Strange, considering he's a lad from the opposite side of the country. Do people from Hull really go all that way for their holidays?

1. The Kinks - Autumn Almanac

Blackpool only gets one mention in Ray Davies' tribute to Muswell Hill's hunchbacked gardener, but it stands out amid the wonderfully quirky lyrics...
I like my football on a Saturday,Roast beef on Sundays, all right.
I go to Blackpool for my holidays,
Sit in the open sunlight.
Moreover, this is another Kinks song that celebrates Britain in all its oddball glory - a land of toasted, buttered currant buns, rheumatism and disappointing summers. And that says Blackpool to me more than all the trams, tower and illuminations...

Which is your pop Pleasure Beach?


  1. Impressive - I would have struggled to have come up with one

    1. Thank you, Chic. It took a while, but I enjoy a challenge.

  2. Morrissey, Every Day Is Like Sunday - coastal town that they forgot to bomb?

    1. I did - OBVIOUSLY - consider this, but I couldn't find any evidence that Moz had written it about Blackpool. I always think it's a much smaller seaside town he's lamenting... like Seahouses. I went to Seahouses once when I was a kid and I didn't even win a cheap tray.

  3. I'm a Blackpool snob I am afraid: never been but I hate it.

  4. I just wrote a song about Blackpool that is better than any of these. I was there 3 days and it blew me away. LOVE Blackpool and got tired of hearing it being called a shithole.

  5. As of now it's only recorded on my phone. Need to BMI it etc. Don't know if I'll do a studio version or hope someone from Blackpool wants to record it. It's a pop-anthem-style hit. No brag. Just fact.

    1. I look forward to hearing it on the radio, Roger.


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