From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture
Here are two extracts, one from the beginning and one from
near the end of the book…
In the evening, especially when the sailors are gathered
in great numbers, these streets present a most singular spectacle,
the entire population of the vicinity being seemingly turned
into them. Hand-organs, fiddles and cymbals, plied by strolling
musicians, mix with the songs of the seamen, the babble of
women and children and the whining of beggars. From the various
boarding houses… proceeds the noise of revelry and dancing.
Herman Melville visits Liverpool, 1839
Liverpool is more than a place where music happens. Liverpool
is a reason why music happens. When the author of Moby Dick
sailed to Liverpool from New York he found a town obsessed
by entertainment: there was a physical appetite for life and
he was shocked by its ferocity.
Herman Melville’s descendant Moby (the singer is his
great-great-grand-nephew) came to Liverpool 160 years later:
‘We went down to Cream last night,’ he said, ‘and
were refused entry. Which was kind of ironic as they were
playing one of my songs at the time! I was amazed at how the
women in Liverpool were dressed. The vast majority wore really
tight short dresses. It makes me think people here are more
promiscuous. I’ve never seen anything quite like the
girls in Liverpool.’
What is it about Liverpool? Is it something in the water?
Why does so much music come from here? Why do they talk like
that? Why are Scousers always up to something? And why don’t
the girls wear more clothes?
Let’s take a look. Let’s begin where Liverpool
did, down by the river. Seagulls wheeling overhead, the phlegm
of old men beneath our feet, let’s walk the granite
lip of Liverpool’s waterfront.
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