Sunday, 22 November 2020

Skyline pigeon and the Liver Bird: fly to distant lands

 





Skyline pigeon is a song from the Elton John Empty Sky album, almost an antique since in appeared in 1969. The Liver Bird, which you can see if you look closely at the glass, is a mythical figure that really exists on key buildings on the Liverpool waterfront. Liver is pronounced like fiver, driver, arriver (?)


Listen here


So there we were, painting walls and ceilings in the family home we had just moved into and Radio City had a special evening or day or weekend, be patient this was a long time ago, when every other song they played was an Elton John song. Wow! Only nod wisely if you were born before Youtube and Spotify when you had to wait for your favourite singer at the mercy of the radio station planners, hang on until Top of The Tops on Thursdays at 7.30 or, painfully expensive, go to a shop and buy the record


So there we were, the most enthusiastic painters you could imagine: enthusiastic yes, fast no because we wanted to spin things out to be able to catch as many Elton songs as possible before lunch, supper, homework, bed or other interruption


And there it was, this strange song with unpop instruments including a harpsichord. I am not sure there even was a harpsichord in the whole of Liverpool in 1970, though the University Music Department might have had one very carefully locked away somewhere so that nobody could get to it.

I am resisting the temptation to retell the description of the sound of the harpsichord as per famous conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, which has something to do with a tin roof, skeletons and intimate physical activity. You can Google it and laugh. In 1972 Elton recorded the song again, with piano instead of harpsichord, so perhaps Sir Thomas’s was not the only one to think that about the skeletons


Never mind the strange instruments, just listen to the Bernie Taupin lyric: 

Turn me loose from your hands

Let me fly to distant lands

Over green fields, trees and mountains

Flowers and forest fountains

Home along the lanes of the skyway


Our Grandad, like many Liverpool grandads, had travelled to distant lands, sometimes on merchant ships and then on Royal Navy ships bravely risking their lives escorting ships which brought food supplies to under resourced UK families. But those days were going or gone, shipping was not what it used to be thanks to containers, and the chance of flying to distant lands seemed more of a relief of teenage angst, which we didn’t have in those days (!) than a real possibility


So here we are now, thanks to EasyJet, RyanAir and EU free competition rules, and members of our family have travelled the world, sometimes for trips and other times to stay and work


The only reason the Liver Bird has not flown away is because it’s held down by strong iron supports. Otherwise, I am sure it too would have followed us and soared away to fly to distant lands




I play music by Adele, Elton John, Robbie Williams and many more at my regular Cocktail & Piano sessions at the Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid @hotelurso 

Follow me on Instagram for updates @piano.tjo

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