Following my last post numerous people have asked where 'Bevington Bush' was.
It was located on the west side of Scotland Road, just north of Leeds Street. The area has changed massively. All the crowded slums and enormous brick warehouses were swept away in the 1960s to create the rather bland mish-mash of 1970s council houses and perimeter fenced private developments.
When a city undergoes great changes it is often a catalyst for the creation of songs that reflect that change. In my last post I posted 'Beggars Bush' replaced 'Bevington Bush' when the song was sung in Ireland, moving the area from Liverpool to Dublin. A similar thing has happened with the song 'Dirty Old Town' - I have heard it attributed to describing Manchester, Dublin, Belfast, Derry and Liverpool.
The reality is that the song was written in 1949 by Ewan MacColl about the town of Salford. The song was written amongst the bleak post-war streets of industrial England and although often thought of as a sentimental song is really about the welcome destruction of the 'Dirty Old Town' as the lyrics show:
"I'm gonna make me a big sharp axeShining steel tempered in the fireI'll chop you down like an old dead tree
Dirty old town
Dirty old town"
Dirty Old Town is perhaps an atypical folk song. Most folk-songs celebrate the past and embrace sentimentality even to the point of mawkishness.
In my next few posts I am intending to explore the idea of songs as a reaction to the changes in Liverpool's urban environment. I will be discussing the BBC documentaries created about post-war Liverpool and the folk revival of the 1960s but I will start with a song from the 1830s called: 'Liverpool is an Altered Town'.