Mersey Paradise



River splashes against the rocks
And I scale the slope
I hope the tracks won't
Lead me down to dark black pits or
Places where we fall to bits

If she were there I'd hold her down
I'll push her under while she drowns
And couldn't breathe and claw for air
She doesn't care for my despair

Or is it me ?
The one that's wrong ?
You see in this heat
River cools where I belong*
In my Mersey paradise

As I stare an oil wheel comes
Sailing by and I feel like
Growing fins and falling in
With the bricks the bikes the rusty tins

I'll swim around without a care
I'm eating sand when I need air
You can bet your life I'll meet a pike who'll
Wolf me down for tea tonight

A-one, two, three (a-one, two, three)
Gotta drown this song (drown this song)
You see in this heat
River cools where I belong
In my Mersey paradise

A-one, two, three (a-one, two, three)
Gotta drown this song (drown this song)
You see in this heat
River cools where I belong

Oh yeah

A-one, two, three (a-one, two, three)
Gotta drown this song (drown this song)
You see in this heat
River cools where I belong
In my Mersey paradise


Lyrics by:
Squire / Brown

Music by:
Squire / Brown

Written:
1987

Personnel:
John Squire (guitar)
Ian Brown (vocals)
Gary Mounfield (bass)
Alan Wren (drums, backing vocals)

Produced by:
Paul Schroeder & The Stone Roses

Available on:
She Bangs The Drums single (b-side)
The Complete Stone Roses (2.44)
Turns Into Stone (2.44)

First live performance:
In 1987.

Details:

 

 

Top: The Liver Building at Liverpool's Pier Head, overlooking the River Mersey.
Second row: The confluence of the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. To the left of the image is Irlam Railway Viaduct, which carries the Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester line across the canal.
Third row (left): The exhilarating '87/'88 Liverpool side, managed by Kenny Dalglish, featuring an attacking triumvirate of Beardsley, Barnes and Aldridge, was one of the finest teams England has ever seen. Linked by the M62 and only thirty-five miles apart, a rivalry divides Manchester and Liverpool, particularly fierce when it comes to football. The football rivalry can be considered as a manifestation of one which already had existed between the two cities since industrial times. During this time, both were competing with each other for supremacy of the north-west, with Manchester famous for its manufacturing prowess while Liverpool was famous for the importance of its port. Once the Manchester Ship Canal was built, ships could bypass Liverpool and transport goods directly into Manchester. This resulted in job losses at the Port and resentment from the local people of Liverpool. During the late 1970s and 1980s, the two cities were in decline due to the downturn of industries; Liverpool FC's domination in this time gave their fans something to cheer. Since then both cities have again grown and found success: Manchester hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, while Liverpool was awarded the title of 2008 European Capital of Culture.
Third row (right): Liverpool FC ruled England and Europe during the 1970s and 1980s, but was left devastated by the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough. Manchester United became the dominant force in the subsequent decade, ending a 26-year wait to lift the league title in 1993.
Fourth row (left): Fernando Torres reminds Manchester United fans who remains the most successful English club in Europe, as Liverpool beat their rivals 4-1 at Old Trafford, on 14th March 2009. An astonishing comeback from 3-0 down in the 2005 Champions League final versus AC Milan secured Liverpool's fifth European Cup. The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United has become so intense that, since the 1964 transfer of Phil Chisnall from Manchester United to Liverpool, no player has been transferred directly from one club to the other. Mersey Paradise turns 'In your Liverpool slums' entirely on its head. The numbskull line of questioning (Would you feel more comfortable slagging off Liverpool ?) which Ian rightly refuses to entertain in the extract above, is a mindset embodied most by Manchester United fullback Gary Neville, who managed to secure the services of the former Stone Roses frontman for his testimonial in May 2011. Neville is unashamadely vocal in his hatred of all things Liverpudlian, once declaring to a Manchester United fanzine: "I can't stand Liverpool, I can't stand Liverpool people, I can't stand anything to do with them." So flagrant was another of Gary Neville's anti-Liverpool rants that his father, Neville Neville, felt compelled to intervene and request that the interviewer's tape-recorder be switched off.
Fourth row (right): Speaking to ChannelBee in 2009, Ian has a rather rose-tinted view of the history of Manchester's two main football clubs. "I loved it in the 70s when United and City were one and two, so if we get one and two again, as long as United are still one, I'm happy." Manchester United and Manchester City were never at any point 'one' and 'two' in the 1970s. Leeds United were the strongest English club side at the beginning of that decade; Bob Paisley's Liverpool (pictured here demolishing Spurs 7-0 in September 1978) soon wrested control, dominating England and unseating Bayern Munich as the best club side in Europe. In the latter half of the decade, only Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest were able to break Liverpool's stranglehold on the First Division, in 1977-78. During the whole of the 1970s, Manchester United's solitary trophy success was an FA Cup in 1977. They were relegated in the final game of the 1973-74 season, losing 1-0, courtesy of a backheel from Denis Law of Manchester City. Following a European Cup Winners' Cup and League Cup double in 1970, Manchester City's only trophy success in the remainder of the decade was another League Cup, in 1976. Manchester City and Manchester United were one and two respectively in 1967-68, the year in which Manchester United won the European Cup, and it is the core of this Manchester United team that Ian is most probably remembering with fondness; in terms of the 1970s however, Manchester City and Manchester United can only lay claim to having been one and two within the city of Manchester itself, but no further. Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher must be feeding each other footballing fables, because Noel reels out the very same line in an Adidas promotional advert from 2010: "Coming from Manchester, it's a fantastic footballing city and y'know, when the two clubs are up at the top of the league as they are now and as they were in the 60s and 70s, it's the centre of the universe, y'know." Bill Shankly... Bob Paisley... do these names ring a bell ?
Bottom row: Six in the City... The One-Two Mancunian league positional hierarchy was eventually restored in an extraordinary denouement to the 2011/12 season, but not in the order of Ian's preference. With six games remaining, Manchester City clawed back an eight point deficit to pip their local rivals to the title on goal difference, in the final minute of the season. The ten-goal swing in goal difference inflicted by Manchester United's mauling at the hands of their noisy neighbours in October 2011 was to prove decisive in the outcome of the title race. Mani, when asked over the years when The Stone Roses would reform, often responded with the quip, "The day after City win the European Cup", or "When City win the fucking league." Thus, it was rather fitting that the wheels of The Stone Roses' reunion tour bus spun into motion not long after the sky blue and white ribbons had been tied to the Premier League trophy. Kicking off their tour in Barcelona, Ian Brown announced from the stage that "2012 is the year of the comeback. And there is a man at the back who knows all about that", alluding to City fan Liam Gallagher, who was watching from the sound desk.

The River Mersey is a river in North West England, approximately 70 miles long, stretching from Stockport, Greater Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. The river is now internationally famous due to the Merseybeat scene of the 1960s, a fusion of rock and roll, doo wop, skiffle, R&B and soul. The spiritual home of British pop music, the beat movement provided most of the bands responsible for the British invasion of the American pop charts in the period after 1964. Liverpool bands have found the river a great source of inspiration, with The La's perhaps epitomizing this most: "sail away on an ocean wave" (Liberty Ship) ... "get on the boat get out of Doledrum" (Doledrum) ... "to swim the endless sea of tragedy" (Endless).

 

Left: 'Here Comes the Sun' is to be found on 'Abbey Road' by The Beatles (September 1969). While painting for The Stone Roses' releases in the late '80s, John Squire listened to both Abbey Road and The Rolling Stones' LP, 'Sticky Fingers', non-stop for a few days on a loop. Around the release of his debut solo album, Squire tried putting music on again while painting, but found it to be too much of a distraction, and instead chose to work in silence.
Right: The La's.

Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles and I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better by The Byrds are the primary influences on Mersey Paradise. Like the sugar-smeared tunefulness of R.E.M.'s Near Wild Heaven, the song has a 'faded-polariods of summers gone' feel, but ventures into the darker fringes of childhood imagination ("I'll push her under while she drowns"). The lyric, "You can bet your life I'll meet a pike who'll wolf me down for tea tonight" has its source in poetry by Jim Morrison.

In this light, "wolf me down" doubles as both invitational and haste consumption.

* Ian pronounces some words on Mersey Paradise rather ambiguously. "River cools where I belong" sounds like "River kills where I belong" or "Liverpool's where I belong". "As I stare an oil wheel comes sailing by..." could be interpreted as "As I stare in awe you will come sailing by..."


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