Cilla Black: Liverpool Lullaby (1969)

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Cilla Black: Liverpool Lullaby (1969)

Liverpool today is a very different place from the tough port city it was in the years after the war: a world perhaps only familiar from documentaries about the Beatles' early years where bomb-scarred buildings still littered the landscape.

That lost world is celebrated in song and commemorated in film

Today, if nothing else, there are new architectural projects and civic redevelopment along the Mersey and in the city centre. It was the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

So just how tough was the Liverpool of old? This song by Cilla Black gives you a hint.stan2_1

Written by local folk singer and Liverpool archivist Stan Kelly-Boodle in 1960 and using a traditional tune, the Liverpool Lullaby depicts a working-class world where the boozer is the man's retreat and a mother waits at home.

Surprisingly this song, fulll of latent violence and rather chilling in its depiction of daily life (this is a lullaby?) proved to be quite a hit for Cilla Black in '69 (it was the flip-side of her belting ballad Conversations) and has been widely covered, among them a version by Judy Collins.

How tough is tough? Here are the lyrics, ask yourself if this would play well today. 

Oh you are a mucky kid
Dirty as a dustbin lid. 
When he hears the things you did, 
You'll gerra belt from your Dad. 
Oh you have your father's nose, 
So crimson in the dark it glows, 
If you're not asleep when the boozers close, 
You'll gerra belt from your Dad.

You look so scruffy lying dur 
Strawberry-jam tats in yer 'air, 
Though in the world you haven't a care 
And I have got so many. 
It's quite a struggle every day 
Living on your father's pay, 
The bugger drinks it all away 
And leaves me without any.

Although we have no silver spoon, 
Better days are coming soon 
Now Nelly's working at the Lune 
And she gets paid on Friday. 
Perhaps one day we'll have a splash, 
When Littlewoods provide the cash, 
We'll get a house in Knotty Ash 
And buy your Dad a brewery.

Oh you are a mucky kid, 
Dirty as a dustbin lid. 
When he hears the things you did 
You'll gerra belt from your Dad. 
Oh you have your father's face, 
You're growing up a real hard case, 
But there's no one can take your place, 

.... Go fast asleep for yer Mammy. 

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

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