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SWEET LIBERTY


I

When the sun went down on my ancestors' town

There were tears but no recriminations

They simply packed their bags and left, without a sound

Single tickets for single destinations

And so a nation was born in the eye of a storm

In the moment they made their reservations

As the tired and hungry faces

Formed a line among the cases

Lonely people in their lonely situations

And in their hour of darkness and in their depths of need

They prayed for God's deliverance

And they prayed that they might see

Chorus

Sweet Liberty

Have mercy on these

Take them into your arms tonight.

Sweet Liberty

Take pity on these

Help them make it to start a new life.

Sweet Liberty, they have put out to sea

And the ocean is their only friend

Sweet Liberty

Please take them in.

II

In ships of no particular distinction

And from ports of ill-repute

Sailed the good folk and the bad

And the sick of being had

With faces that belied their youth.

In their arms they held the next generation

In their hands the remnants of their homes

Though some of them would grieve

Others knew they had to leave

And they loved and yet they hated all they'd known.

Another ship, another storm

Another baby being born

Another name for mispronunciation

Yet another mouth to feed

Another burial at sea

Another day another night without redemption.

And in their hour of darkness

And in their depth of need

The prayed to the god of Columbus

And Amerigo Vespucci

Chorus

III

So as the sun goes down over New York sound

There are cheers and there are celebrations

As they go back in their minds

To their ancestors' time

When the "Lady" was their only salvation

Give me the tired, give me the poor

Bring them to this Golden Shore

Bring the flower of forgotten generations.

Here your present grief will pass

And the future will be cast

In the fire of European devastation.

And in their hour of darkness

And in their dream-filled sleep

I'll light a flame to bear them witness

To "Our Lady of the Refugee"

Chorus

Sweet Liberty

Have mercy on these

Take them into your arms tonight.

Sweet Liberty

Take pity on these

Help them make it to start a new life.

Sweet Liberty, they have put out to sea

And the ocean is their only friend

Sweet Liberty

Please take them in.


Gerry Murphy


Marvellous Marvin Gaye

In September 1983 I went to play in Oslo, Norway for the first time. It was my Hamburg. I lived in basic but good quality accommodation in the infamous Regatta and played four sets a night for six nights a week. By the time I came home I was hot. We musicians established many friendships over in Norway, me especially with foreign players from the U.S., Scandinavia and as far afield as the Sudan.

I became great friends with one group from the Bronx called “High Lonesome” an Empire State country band, would you believe led by Irish-American Mike Heaphy. The played pedal-steel driven Country-Rock, worked out of  “O’Lunney’s” on 82 St. when home and together with Tommy Joe White’s band, with the Bear on Keys and Bart on Drums were just about as close to a university of American music as you could come. Their standard of playing was awesome but strangely enough they didn’t write. I did. I tried to put something together about Heaphy’s band because I loved the name “High Lonesome”, what I thought was a reference to a solitary cowboy on the range. I since found out different.

When I was in the US in early 1984, I looked the guys up, went to O’Lunney’s and “hung out” at their gigs. Still working on the song I had a snatch of a hook and the title, that was it. By the time I arrived home it had defeated me. I never forgot the hook, though, and when sadly, Marvin Gaye passed away that year, I dropped his name in where High Lonesome had been. I added the special ingredient,“Marvellous”  before the Marvin, taken from the great middleweight MarvinHagler, known as “Marvellous Marvin Hagler”.

I’d worked the hook so hard, the song just about wrote itself. When I played it for the first time, I knew I had a winner, the melody was much more adventurous than my previous stuff and the hook irresistible. As a middle 8 I used a phrase which was not only symbolic of the Gospel roots of Soul but the title of one of Marvin’s songs, “Can I get a witness?”.

It won an award in the 1990s but  is still chasing a big-name recording. Whatever. I’m proud of it, and always will be.

Marvellous Marvin Gaye

I

When he stood upon the stage

Singing soul serenades

He was really something

Standing tall beneath the light

Soul black as night

The angel's name is Marvin

And when he sang he turned night into day

Tell me, Lord why d'you take him away?

For he was marvellous,

Marvellous Marvin Gaye

II

He could break you down to tears

He sang so sincere

He was the Midnight Lover

He was black and he was proud

Of the Motown Sound

In those long, hot summers

Yes and when he sang he turned night into day

Tell me, Lord why d'you take him away?

For he was marvellous,

Marvellous Marvin Gaye

Middle 8

Can I get a witness?

Can I get a witness?

'Cos it makes me feel sad

Makes me feel bad

To know that dear Marvin is gone….

III

So I panic in the night

When I realise

How his songs they really moved me

When the Lord created Soul

He sure broke the mold

Marvin sang it how it should be

And when he sang he turned night into day

Tell me, Lord why d'you take him away?

For he was marvellous,

Marvellous Marvin Gaye.

©1984 Gerry Murphy All rights reserved



Gerry Murphy
Tonight We'll Be Down at The Cavern (Lilly's story)


By Gerry Murphy

Like every little kid in the ‘60s I came to hear of the Cavern through someone else, someone who actually went there. In my case that person was Lilly Addley who lived around the corner from us in Nettlestead Road, Norris Green.

Looking at what they call the “Boot Estate” now, it seems unbelievable today to say how wonderful it was to live in that area of the city with its parks and open spaces and its proximity to West Derby Village, but it really was. As kids we would play all sorts of games out in the street and summers really did seem endless.

That’s where Lilly came in. Lilly was a real organiser and probably the most fair-minded and wonderful member of the group.She was already fourteen years old but still played Rounders with us and helped organise us little kids.

It was early in the summer of 1962 when I saw Lilly coming out of her house. We’d all been getting more and more conscious of a British music emerging and becoming an increasingly significant part of our young lives and identities since Elvis went into the army and the release of Billy Fury and John Leyton songs, and Lilly had her finger on the pulse of where it was heading. As she came out of her gate I asked her if she was going to play Rounders with us this year and she said, no. Instead, she was in the Cavern whenever she could get there to see this great group called the Beatles who were going to be big one day.

Needless to say, I never forgot what she said. Later in the year I was amazed and delighted to see the Beatles debut on Granada’s “Scene at 6.30”. I did wonder how they would survive with a name like the “Beatles” but the rest is history.

Shortly after, Lilly had found a boyfriend called“Adge” who rode a racing bike and was always round at Lilly’s house. Within a year she was married and we heard nothing more as she was a woman by that time.

I missed her a lot and I think all the little kids did as she was the very soul of the caring city which I had grown up in. Years later I taught a girl in a school in the south-end of the city who was related to Lilly but I never saw her again. Wherever she is she is not forgotten and it is about her that I wrote my song “Down at the Cavern”.

I got to go to the Cavern in 1972 before it closed when it had a what was to become known as a Northern Soul disco on the ground floor and there were sailors in there in uniform. Downstairs, in the hallowed vaults, it was heavy, really heavy with lank-haired bands playing prog-rock. The Cavern was dying, it had run its course.

In 1984, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the new Cavern as founder and director of the fledgling Cavern City Tours. Included in the song is reference to the new Cavern. I have the honour to say that as a singer-songwriter, I have gigged on it many times down the years and never forgotten Lilly. God bless you wherever you are.

Gerry Murphy


"Down at the Cavern”

I

Lilly was a girl

Who lived down our street

When we were young we’d play hide and seek

She was a woman at sixteen years old

Made up her face to look like Bridget Bardot.

Lilly was as cool as you like

She made everybody look at her twice

Lilly knew what was neat

And I can still see her

As she said to me

Chorus

“Tonight we’ll be down at the Cavern

There’ll be thunder in Mathew Street

Tonight we’ll be down at the Cavern

Digging that Cavern beat!”

I’ll be the girl with the flying feet!”

II

Three years on

In an button-down shirt

Liverpool the centre of the universe

I can see Lilly with flowers in her hair

Bowling along without a care in the world.

Always heading into town

The latest styles and the latest sounds

It seems like only yesterday

That I can still hear Lilly

Proud to say

Middle

So now and forever, people will write

Of that Mathew St. cellar

Where Lilly would jive

We know it had something, we just don’t know why

They closed down the Cavern in the blink of an eye

Chorus

III

The years roll past and in the back of my mind

Lilly is a symbol of a simpler time

Sweet 16, not a day more

My Cavern Queen of 1964

Lilly where are you now?

I think you’d smile if you only knew how

The Cavern’s still rockin’ today

And I still hear people,

Proud to say……

Chorus



Gerry Murphy
THE BALLAD OF DIXIE DEAN

The story behind the song…..

In 1979 I went to work in Birkenhead. I became a teacher at Birkenhead Institute High School at the top of Tollemache Road in the infamous “North End “ of the town, home to the notorious “River Streets”, Illchester Square, Laird Street and of course the home turf of the legendary William Ralph Dixie Dean.

I spent three eventful years in Birkenhead Institute. My subject was Social Studies and my extra curricular interests were music and sport. In my second year I was asked to take a football team. It’s difficult to imagine now but taking a football team in those days was a great honour not an imposition. I loved it all from getting up and out on frosty, foggy Saturday mornings to staying late for training or mid-week games, playing local rivals like St. Hugh’s and the often better-fed, two-inch taller schools from the better-off South Wirral. Just like in Dixie’s day.

More than anything though, my players were winners.Through and through. What they didn’t have in height or muscle they possessed in organisation,intelligence and the inability to give up a lost cause. More than that, when they won, they won . I swear the opposition was often mesmerised by the ease with which the stick-thin centre forward, David Reeves rode tackles and slotted home goals. They stood back to admire him and I believe they knew they were in the presence of a great talent that never spoke, moaned or deviated from his single mission, to score the winner. He was the only player I saw actually miss a completely open goal, run back without any expression and later in the game stroke the single-goal winner. He went on to play for Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday, star at Carlisle and finish his career at Chesterfield. His brother Alan, also in the team played at Norwich, with the “crazy gang” at Wimbledon and finished at Swindon with Ruddock and the likes. Both played in the Premiership.

However, I don’t want to give the impression that this was a team led by a single star. It was just the opposite; it was a team in the truest sense and a credit to the downtown area of Birkenhead as winners of the national Boy’s Clubs’ five-a-side trophy, Wirral champions and winners of the George Wharton Trophy in 1980.

That was the year of Dixie’s death. It was March 1 to be precise.He was taken ill at a “derby” match, which we all agree, is where he would have chosen to be when the whistle finally blew.

His funeral took place in the week after. The lads from the school were barred from going to St. James’s Church at the junction of Hoylake Road and Laird Street but it never worked. We were all there outside watching my school-mate Mike Lyons and Brian Labone carry the coffin. It was then I began the Ballad of Dixie Dean.

I did it for three reasons. First, for the man himself, secondly for the students and thirdly to shut the great man’s detractors up. He had detractor salright. In Birkenhead more than anywhere. Birkenhead, I realised, felt left out of the party. They felt Dean left and forgot them and there were others who deserved recognition like “Pongo” Waring, and they were right but I still thought Dean was too precious to the community to be left uncelebrated by his own.

Dean was a genius. A genius who brought a new dimension to the game of football a game which had hitherto been played on the floor. Dean practised heading the ball by throwing a ball onto a church roof and running to head it when it came down. In the end you could name your brick in the wall and he’d hit it. He asked his parents if he could go to a borstal to play football all day… and they let him.He was a youth at ten years old capable of breaking a ‘keeper’s arm with a penalty and play for the under 15s town team. At fifteen, Dean was a man and played with the men.

Most of all in realising that the space above the playing field, the air, was unexploited he brought a new skill to the art of the game. In the end he could head it as hard as you could kick it. He was unswerving in his dedication to the poetry of victory and honour.That’s genius, sporting genius.

The song wrote itself once I had that in mind.

I

“On the Banks of the river Mersey

It is morning in the streets

There’s a boy in a football jersey

Playing music with his feet”

“Morning in the Streets” was the title of a television programme directed by Denis Mitchell and Roy Harris in 1959 which showed the rain drenched roofs of northern towns as in the Bert Hardy or Bill Brandt “Picture Post” style photo journalism which informed the opening shot of the black and white Coronation Street in the ‘60s. It also refers to those wintry Saturday mornings we all spent traveling by bus to school football matches in the frost and fog.

“Playing music with his feet” is a phrase we used to use to describe skillful players.

He is bound for greater glory

Than the North End has ever seen

Generations will tell the story

Of the legendary Dixie Dean

The “North End” is that same North End of Birkenhead, an area containing perhaps the greatest concentration of social deprivation I had ever witnessed up to that point when I began to teach in the area.

II

He’s a child of the dockside

In the age of the First World War

He is a railway worker’s boy child

In the days when they had nothing at all

He is the hunter in that frozen field

In pursuit of a leather case ball

Little does he know he is going to be

The greatest of them all

Chorus

The children sing

“Good old Billy Dean

You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen

How they say it is a pleasure to have been

To see you play

You are the legend of sixty goals

In one league season all told

The king of St. Domingo Road

And Liverpool Bay”

St. Domingo Road referred to the fact that Everton Football club grew out of St. Domingo's church and boys club in Everton.

IV

Well he started out at Tranmere

And “Dixie” became his name

From the ‘pool, Birkenhead

And all over Lancashire

In their thousands they came

He was the Goodison Park gladiator

He was working class royalty

And as the man strode up to take the F.A. Cup in 1933

The children sang….

“Working Class royalty” was what Dean was. A working man through and through.

Chorus

“Good old Dixie Dean……

You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen

How they say it is a pleasure to have been

To see you play

You are the legend of sixty goals

In one league season all told

The king of St. Domingo Road

And Liverpool Bay”

Middle

On the field he gave his best

He was always head and shoulders ‘bove the rest

And when he scored, how they roared

And then yelled for more.

To meet a cross how he leapt

And the ball would more than likely hit the net

And when he died, grown men cried to see such a brave one die

V

So on the banks of the river Mersey

We may be mourning in the street

Still the boys in their football jerseys

Play their music with their feet

They are bound for greater glory

In the ranks of our football teams

You can bet they will all know the story

Of the legendary “Dixie” Dean.

“Mourning in the streets” refers not only to the sad death of the great Dixie but also to the deaths of those at Heysel and Hillsborough.

Chorus

So goodbye Dixie Dean,

You are the greatest centre-forward ever seen

How they say it was a pleasure to have been

To see you play

You are the legend of sixty goals

In one league season all told

The king of St. Domingo Road

The best of all time so goodbye

You’ll never fade away.

Looking at Dean’s record it is no exaggeration to say he was the greatest ever seen. As for my song, it has endured and mellowed with the man’s eternal reputation, his legend. It has been an honour to eulogise him and to be part of the process of recognition of native genius and athletic achievement.



Gerry Murphy
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Sweet LibertyRow 1 Col 2Row 1 Col 3
Marvellous Marvin GayeRow 2 Col 2Row 2 Col 3
Voice of AmericaRow 3 Col 2Row 3 Col 3
Soulful SummertimeRow 4 Col 2Row 4 Col 3
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