There are certain songs that you have heard so many times that the lyrics are practically imprinted in your brain. You sing along to them without really thinking about the words, and not giving a thought to what they actually mean.
Now that you are living on Sheffield turf, have another listen to some of our home grown bands, especially vintage ones like Pulp and Richard Hawley. They are littered with Sheffield references, you never know, you may find that you are living around the corner from a lyrical landmark.
Pulp’s songs are absolutely packed full of Sheffield-isms. In the song ‘Babies’, Jarvis sings about Stanhope Road, the street where he grew up in Intake S12. ‘Wickerman’ mentions The Moor, Broomhall, Forge Dam and The Leadmill. Sheffield Sex City, begins with a whole list of districts of town, Intake, Manor Park, The Wicker, Norton, Freshville, Hackenthorpe, Shalesmoor, Wombwell, Catcliffe, Brincliffe, Attercliffe, Ecclesall, Woodhouse, Wybourn, Pitsmoor, Badger, Wincobank, Crookes, Walkley and Broomhill, just in case we were in any doubt of what city the band were actually from! ‘Deep Fried in Kelvin’ mentions Meadowhall but mainly refers to the Kelvin Flats, the 13 storey towerblock that was demolished in the late nineties, a popular site for suicide and wrongdoing, these flats have always been a source of intrigue for all the wrong reasons.
‘The Fountain Down the Road’ that Jarvis sings about in Disco 2000, doesn’t exist anymore, but pretty much every Sheffielder knows exactly where it used to be (at the top of Fargate outside the entrance to Orchard Square if you’re not in the know). The Goodwin fountain was where everyone met before they started their night out, that is until it was demolished in 1998. A slight hiccup in Cocker’s plan to meet there in the year 2000!
Across the road from the site of the old fountain lies the ghost of another landmark immortalized in song, Coles Corner. Coles was the fond nickname given to Cole Brothers, the original name for the store which eventually became John Lewis. At the time, it used to be further down the hill, literally on the corner of Fargate and Church Street. The Richard Hawley song Coles Corner, romanticizes this other popular meeting place for lovers, making it sound a lot more poetic than the HSBC that stands there now. Naked in Pitsmoor is another of Hawley’s Sheffield based tracks, apparently this was written about him and his sister running around naked in the summer in Burngreave cemetery when they were kids. Too much information there perhaps?
The Arctic Monkeys, who originate from High Green are no strangers to bringing it back to Sheffield. They refer to the area where they grew up in ‘Red Light Indicates Doors are Secured’ when they sing “I said it’s High Green mate, via Hillsborough please”. In ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ they sing “He talks of San Francisco, he’s from Hunters Bar” and ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ is written about the prostitutes they used to see near their rehearsal space in Neepsend.
And finally, the instrumental track ‘Bus to Crookes’ by the Human League, is about exactly that. Apparently Phil Oakey was so inspired by his bus journey he decided to immortalize it in music!
So, listen up next time you are listening to our local bands, because our Sheffield artists really do like keeping it close to home.
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