The  Multi-Modal Mersey Gate

  

 

 

 

 

 

The Mersey Estuary

Liverpool

 

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King

The Catholic Cathedral

(Paddy's Wigwam)

 

 

Sunrise

 

Night Sky 1940s

 

 

John Coltrane

 

LittleRichard.jpg (330580 bytes)

Little Richard

 

 

 

The Beatles 

 

At Wembley

Bill Shankly

www.shankly.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been my intention for some time to set down a lifetime of anecdotal musical experience as a journal...40 years of life as a rhythm....and a series of insights into the daily routine and modes of expression that I have been using.

Each "chapter" will be headed up with a date and place...... these can then be placed in  chronological order.

 



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The Multi Modal Mersey Gate

               

    Introduction

The River Mersey  has a history that is both glorious...and shameful. Of the two 2000 year old Roman Ports that developed in the UK. in Chester and Bristol for more than a 1000 years, Chester ceased trading from its dock when the River Dee finally began to silt over after the weir had  been built in the 11th century.  By the 15th century....Liverpool  took over as the major port and gateway to Europe as explorers began to move around the world. By the 17th century.... trade was in full swing.... and the beginning of the most disgusting traffic in human cargo had begun. Cultural exchange.... transformation.. and both synergistic and parasitic relationships were formed with Africa.... The Far East... and The Americas. Many fortunes were made... and some lost. As White Colonialists spread their poisonous attitudes around the globe.... the onset of the 20th century brought about the Industrial Revolution... and as The Abolition in the USA was finally implemented... and The Black Codes of 1898 saw a transformation of Creole and Black culture in the Southern States.... we now know that a music began to develop in North America ....a music that bore no relationship whatsoever to the European Classical influence. A music that had to have come from somewhere! As a child.... all I knew was that there were Black people around parts of Liverpool ...... and they came from Africa.... and also the West Indies..... and I gradually became aware of Louis Armstrong.... Duke Ellington... and Count Basie..... and the swing Bands that my parents danced to when they were young. Looking back... now... I can say that it left me feeling that I wanted to know more.... but this was over ridden by a child like sense of ecstasy as music washed over me. All music... any music... but simple music with a pulse... heartbeat stuff.... it was my brother who did the Classical trip.... Mozart.... Bach..... Beethoven...et al.

It was in 1966 that I first heard John Coltranes’ “A Love Supreme”….this is covered briefly on the Study page at www.musicman1.net  ….but it was to be the moment that triggered my vacuum cleaner mind. The compulsion to soak up facts on any musical topic kicked in….and…while I knew that all roads lead to a musical destination… it definitely left others with the impression that I “never finished anything” 

I was 15 years old….at a boarding school…Science and Sport were all consuming….yet I already had begun to build a chronological archive of popular music.  The Beatles...The Rolling Stones...and the emerging American pop scene......but I had never really had the opportunity to listen to pre 1950s American Music.....ie. the stuff that had been developing since 1900. Then one night something happened....the Transistor Radio that I had under my pillow ...suddenly produced a spasm of noise...as I rolled the dial....Rainbows cascaded out of the Speaker... triggering colours in my brain. I was left exposed...my soul laid bare....as if sheets of rain were washing me from the inside.... and I remember thinking at the time... that this cacophony.... this confusion... was just like the inside of my head. Then a voice said "that was John Coltrane...Live in Antibes...A Love Supreme." My thinking was simple and straightforward from that day forward. Go along with the flow that was parenting and education…yet use every spare minute to absorb this raw passion and excitement ...this awesome use of a few pieces of metal and some hot breath...!!  This..... music...this ....Jazz...!! 

It had begun in 1957/8 with the discovery of the Everly Brothers. 7 years old… and Cathy’s Clown was just like a fix to an addict. Then followed Jerry Lee Lewis…Little Richard…Gene Vincent…Eddie Cochran…Billy Fury…and the songwriter of them all…Buddy Holly. Radio… and Black and White Television were the moments that I treasured and savoured.

Liverpool …in the 1950s…was a black and white kind of city…. having been bombed relentlessly in World War Two. Before being dispatched to be "poshed up" in Lincoln in 1962, I had enjoyed a childhood of typical scouse exhuberance. Born in Penny Lane in 1951, I can remember visiting the boats at the Pier Head and the itinerant fire-eaters and escape artists, who were struggling to eat. The war had not treated these public servants kindly. Their collections after the show were counted in old pennies.... 12 to the shilling... equal to 2.5 new pence. There was no psychological support. Post traumatic stress disorder was regarded by many, including my Dad, as "swinging the lead!" With hindsight, it was perhaps one of his greatest gifts to me that he approached life with a "smile and get on with it" vibe. I can also remember travelling through the old Mersey Tunnel in his 1950s Morris Minor on our way to Wales. We were going on holiday and when we passed the sign for Arrow Park, it felt like we really were a long way from home! Then there was Anfield! This was  the beating heart of Liverpool Football Club. Bill Shankly was later to turn Anfield into a fortress, and it has since become the spiritual home of  Liverpool people around the world. But back in the 1950s, the people were only just beginning to discover the feelgood factor… dancehalls had re-opened… music played loud and proud... new clubs were opening…. and travelling salesmen got to grips with a whole new market of imported goods. Hire purchase was invented. "D'ya do terms?" resonated around every street... and the docks were in full  tilt boogie. Only 100 years ago.... specially built sailing Clippers from Liverpool had carried their dreadful human cargo from Isle de Goree in Senegal, James Island in The Gambia, and the Coastal Prisons of Ghana… to New Orleans.  The Clippers had then returned to Liverpool burgeoning with Cotton and Tobacco! By the mid 1950s ... many West Indian immigrants... and all manner of things American... were arriving on the dock road. In particular ... imported music…and Rock and Roll….!  

My dad said that there was no future in this form of ecstasy because the young Rock and Roll singer Tommy Steele…now an extremely wealthy octagenarian… and right in the middle of the establishment…was thrown out of the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool for urinating up a wall. I can only remember the sense of all embracing liberation that exploded in my brain …when some ten years later …Mick…(now Sir Mick…) Jagger ….having been photographed with his fellow Rolling Stones relaxing while urinating behind a petrol station….. announced to the world “we piss anywhere man…!!”

By 1960…Elvis had been blacked out from the waist down…for sexually provocative movement… on the Ed Sullivan show….. and all holy shit had broken out in the optimistic post war Kennedy years. Even then it was obvious to a nine year old that the sexuality of African Americans was not only being copied by white folks… in music and dance… but that this was causing a Wilhelm Reich type denial from the white minority ruling class. In my mid teens I aquired a copy of an American novel.. “The Tight White Collar”…which basically told the story of how religion was used to suppress sexual desire. As we now know…the lid came well and truly off of the pot….sex eventually becoming the Pluto in Scorpio bomb that literally blew families apart. Repression was not an option….. and as the Kennedy Presidency ended with such definable grief…the Beatles landed in America… and us cheeky little chappies from Liverpool had arrived. Once Bill Shankly had put the red half of Liverpool up there with the 1965 Cup Final....…I only ever was interested in 2 things… Music…and Football….!!”  

If Bill Shankly was Moses with his tablet of Ten Commandments in 1965.......by 1966 John Coltrane connected me to God…to the Divine…to that Sacred place that Hollywood has spent billions of dollars trying to reach….from Charlton Heston…through Victor Mature… to Marylin Monroe… Julie Andrews…Ursula Andress.. and every other representative of synonymous beauty who has ever let slip a silk robe. Suddenly, I knew about stuff... it seemed then to be a bit pretentious to call it one's Soul, but I had an immediate sense of being alive! I contemplated my sexuality for a while. Was I gay ?… that lasted about 2 minutes…… for I enjoyed many many encounters with women of great passion … beauty… and also every day ordinariness. Sex was definitely fascinating..... and I was called sexually naive on more than one occasion. I explored the female form at every opportunity... but nothing... nothing...  came anywhere near that awesome experience that is …..Music…!!  

By 1969…when I was… in theory… supposed to take my place in the world of "big boys…and …grown ups"...  I was lost. Mature was a word that you used when talking about cheese! I had become completely and utterly clueless as to what the future was all about. I had failed almost every exam in sight… alienated everything and everybody who in any way prevented me from continuing this all consuming love affair with sound…. and yet I felt supremely confident to the point of arrogance…. that I would succeed. I continued to soak up a deliciously abstract drug that was freely available all day and all night. I was extremely confused, and expectation levels had become seriously high. I struggled to acknowledge to myself that I was heading off in a completely different direction to everybody else. So I deflected the agony of an impending cataclysmic parental implosion by visiting the nearest alcoholic establishment at every available opportunity. I also watched with great sadness as all of my contemporaries slowly fell off the party-party train and then settled into the most obviously predetermined pile of bullshit that was expected of them by their parents…peers…and most dominantly… their partners….!!  

It was only when the Almighty Thatcheriser (Margeret Thatcher...the worst Prime Minister of the 20th Century)... arrived some 20 years later.... that the ones with half a brain realised that getting a divorce was a kick-start to life… and the workhorse ethic of fuck me…father my kids…pay for it all…and fuck you… was a complete mistake.  

So here is a chronicle of my devotion to a life of service…of study….of a search for my place in the greater scheme of things…and the search for a language of music …that still does not exist….!  

It has been an honour and a privilege to work with an extra-ordinary list of players…composers…and above all…real people with whom I have shared the whole range of emotional experience…High…and Low…!  

If I am less than honest at anytime…..it is memory loss…or an attempt to protect the other party from their own misdemeanours….but my integrity and honesty are the two values that have always got me through….  

The Multi Modal Mersey Gate is now being submitted as the research for a PHD

The video and musical resources links are at  City Walls Music Page. Here   City Walls-Broadjam and Youtube

Paul Richard Hill


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