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Welcome to Chicago and a song by the lead singer of AMSTERDAM

Written by Ron Noon at 14:13 on Thursday, May 28th 2009

I’m writing these lines in downtown Chicago, at Roosevelt University a few hours before I take part in a Labour History Conference which brings together academics, activists and other enthusiasts of “labor history and culture”. (Why can’t Yanks spell Labour?)

One of my final year History students has just sent me an account of a wonderful song that he composed which sums up so much about the City of Liverpool, the Port City and its River Mersey which helped make us the most American of all English towns. Ian Prowse is what we call a “crackin’ workin’ class lad”, a mature student with drive and determination, (he says he’s in his early 40s), and a true “Labor Troubadour”. This song is so good that Christy Moore, (who some say is bigger than the Pope back in the Emerald Isle), has recorded it and included it on his latest album. So with a special dedication to the delegates at the LAWCHA conference, and particularly Steven Ashby, CJ Hawking, Dan Lane, Art Dhermy and Jason Kozlowski,  written below are Prowsie’s reasons for writin’ what I think is a crackin’ record. I hope conference agrees! If you go back to the HOME PAGE and then click on THE PROJECT after reading Ian’s commentary you can scroll down to the bottom of that page and play the song. See if you agree with what his North American agent claims!


“Some songs take 15 minutes to write some take 15 years, either method can produce a cracker or a stinker. This song took 15 minutes. Well actually, most of it took 15 minutes, the final verses I had to think about long and hard.

Not many cities can stand up to this sort of examination in song and not end up boring the listener. Liverpool is exceptional though. In England but not of it, facing out across the sea with its back to the rest of the country, the once magnificent second city of Empire, as exemplified by its fantastic architecture. Liverpool people though lived cheek by jowl with splendour and utter depravity, most ripped from their motherland across the Irish sea by a great hunger which, if not facilitated by their new homeland was certainly exacerbated by it. Liverpool was always thus! A crazy seaport of the best and worst of all humanity.

I started the song with a rumour, the grave of McKenzie, a ghost story about a Liverpool merchant who entered into a deal with the devil. As ghost stories go it’s a brilliant one. Seaports specialize in these. I go on to contrast the mundane nature of commercial airliners flying out of John Lennon Airport with the completely unimaginable actions of a child on child murder. The dark and still not openly spoken about horror of Liverpools central position in the trade of human beings as slaves is firmly nailed, those Africans ripped from their homes and culture and made to work that most pernicious of needless crops, sugar cane, are honourably mentioned in my song.
 
The Beatles though not directly mentioned are everywhere in it really. Mathew street, the city’s most famous thoroughfare and home of the Cavern and Alan Williams the very first manager of the four mop tops who conquered America. He leads the charge most days in the old pubs like The Marlborough with stories of Merseybeat past, and the ghosts of long gone four piece beat groups will forever reverberate around the cellars of this city.
 
The final lines of my song concern the awful tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989 and the dreadful still not admitted mistakes made by the South Yorkshire police force were the most difficult to write. It’s still a burning issue within the city and everyone knows someone who didn’t come back that day. We all demand Justice for the 96.

  Listen to my song, then come and visit. Liverpool is alive, its people are its gold. Be warned though. Its just as likely to offend as to thrill. We have a river running through it and a sea that crashes inside all of us.”

They were the words of Ian Prowse lead singer of Liverpool band AMSTERDAM and an addict to the power of Education and working class history.

Thanks Prowsie.

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Below is a picture taken last October at the top of the City Talk tower with Margi Clarke (the Queen of Liverpool) in between Noon on the left and Prowsie on the right.


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