Party Songs Notes
The genesis of this album was my
interest in the Steampunk aesthetic. My hope was to develop a whole ‘Socialist Steampunk’ sub genre, incorporating fashion, literature and music. In the end that proved to be an overly ambitious and short-lived endeavour, and this album became
instead a collection of political songs. I’ve been writing songs since 1979, and have been a socialist since two years after that, active to a greater or lesser degree, but I’ve never successfully married the two aspects of my life. Hopefully,
this album changes that.
One idea for my ‘Steampunk Socialist’ album was to set it in an alternative future where the Paris Commune of 1871
had been successful, had spread to Britain and elsewhere, and led to the establishment of World Socialist. Here the narrative is looking back to the victory of the Communard on its 150th anniversary. One of the two songs on the album that was written
last year, in late 2017.
The Rats Are Returning to their Holes
As has been the case with my recent albums, I started with a list of titles which served as a guide for my song writing. The title of this
one are taken from a phrase that is attributed to Winston Churchill, ‘the greatest Englishman of all’, after the last of the Welsh miners returned to work six months after the collapse of the 1926 General Strike, words that he was indeed never
110a Scartho Road
This was apparently the address of my home town of Grimsby’s Workhouse, and is about the sort of hypocritically pious individuals who tended to run such establishments.
My first song to be written on ukulele, and my first recorded kazoo solo.
I wrote this after doing a little reading about the Opium Wars. The narrative is written from a Chinese perspective.
Nigger Slave Cotton
This was written about the brave Manchester cotton workers who risked their livelihoods by refusing to handle cotton picked in the American slave states during the during the American
Civil War, an early and selfless act of worker’s internationally solidarity.
Tatlin was a Russian Constructivist artist and architect who was commissioned by Lenin and the Bolsheviks
to build a tower in Moscow that would serve as the headquarters of the Communist International. Circumstances were such that it was never built, but the surviving designs show the monumental scope and ambition of the project. The song is written from the perspective
of a world where the tower was built, and stands as a centre of world socialism.
The song is a wry comment on the type of people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts without any understanding of
his hard line communist politics.
The Undeserving Poor
The divide between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor was invented by the Victorians and has sadly been powerfully resurrected
in recent years.
The other song that was written last year at the height of my Steampunk Socialist phase. A piano led satirical comment on the kind of ‘low level’ sexual
harassment of women that was once commonplace in workplaces. Partially inspired by the ‘Me Too’ movement, and also the fact that you do occasionally find references to ‘computers’ in Victorian literature, although the references are
actually to usually low paid young women who were paid to do calculations for businesses.
Last Words Are For Fools Who Haven’t Said Enough
These are apparently the last words attributed to Karl
Marx. I’ve actually seen other contenders mentioned, but these made for a good title and a good album closer.
So there it is, my Political Folk Album. A Party Songs 2 is not ruled out…