New Song: We Are The North

Being Northern is a badge of honour that takes no skill or graft to attain. All you have to do is be born south of Scotland and North of, say, Stoke and you can claim your Professional Northerner status upon meeting anyone from The South. Or Abroad.

Like all Northerners, I play my card as often as I can. It’s shorthand for a kind of brusque, oddly-principled idiocy that is mainly about being against things: posh coffees, expensive trousers, anything to do with That London, Pret a Manger etc. Of course, it’s mainly done for laughs, but I think there is something in it as a concept that appeals to some part of the collective psyche.

I forget who it was who said, but to paraphrase: a Yorkshireman and a Lancastrian will hate each other until a Southerner turns up – at which point they assume a joint unity as Northerners.

In these troubled political times, with the uncertainty swirling around identities, nationhood, class and so on, a lot of people are asking “who am ?” and “who do I belong to?” The North is one such entity you can appeal to for affirmation that you belong to at least something.

Anyway, I do think there’s something different about the North as opposed to the South. It’s in the air, and in our bones, and the way we speak, and our little bastions of local pride that still cling wistfully onto a pre-globalised identity. It’s both bracing and fun and a bit silly and probably a bit backwards.

I’m making it sound like I put a lot of thought into this aren’t I? I’m retrofitting an explanation to what is, in truth, a bit of pop daftness. A 3 minute yobbish singalong with something of a country-and-western vibe and a chuckling bass line.

I’m slowly getting more confident with the recording and mixing of these things. It would never pass muster as a professional release – what with all the odd balancing, out of tune backing vocals and pops and crackles – but I’m increasingly of the opinion that it doesn’t really matter. As with live performance, you’re mainly listening to the song – not the sounds that surround it. It’s not Dark Side of the Moon.

I also realise that I’ve titled this post “new song” although in truth I’ve had it sitting around for probably 4 years in an unfinished, badly-strummed form. You’ll note the opening line is “they brought the Olympic torch through here – through Brighouse if you please!” which dates it to some time after the London Olympics.

One thing that recording does is bring a different kind of discipline to things. If I’d still been in a band, we’d have rehearsed this a few times, but never really made anything of it in terms of the detail – we’d have bashed through the chords and aired it in the middle of a set.

Now I’m recording, I’m starting to think about tempo and timbre and how the instruments work together. It’s a better use of my time than wanking, I guess.

We are the North

They brought the Olympic torch through here
Through Brighouse if you please!
For Coca-fucking-Cola
A state-sponsored jamboree

They say the Queen’s been on her throne since 1923
And we’re supposed to lap it up and clap her on TV

But we are The North and we haven’t gone away
From the top of Blackpool Tower to the shores of Cayton Bay
Yes we are the North and we’ll always be this way
We’re 200 miles from London, and 6 light years from Calais

They’ve opened up another branch of Starbucks here I see
With £2.80 flapjacks and fancy foreign teas
They say that everything’s Fair Trade – but that means nowt to me
There’s nowt that’s fair that I can see in a £3 cup of tea

Cos we are The North and The North we’ll always be
From the opening of Look North West to the fag-end of Tyne Tees
Yes we are the North and we haven’t gone away
We’re 200 miles from London and 6 light years from Calais.

Where has tha bin sin I saw thee?
Smoking fags, eating pies and watching Sky TV…

But we are The North and we haven’t gone away
From the top of Blackpool Tower to the shores of Cayton Bay
Yes we are the North and we refuse to go away
We’re 200 miles from London, and 6 light years from Calais

Cos we are The North and The North we’ll always be
From the opening of Look North West to the fag-end of Tyne Tees
Yes we are the North and we haven’t gone away

We’re 200 miles from London
800 miles from Paris
2000 miles from Berlin
Fuck knows how far from New York
We’re 200 miles from London
And 25 years from today

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